Online Card Games Enjoy Popularity Print E-mail
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The World Cup final is coming this Sunday and you may need some nighttime entertainment to keep you awake until the kick-off time at 3 a.m. Playing a few rounds of card games such as poker or go-stop, will surely be a good idea to that end and you will find your card buddy on the Internet.

Gambling is largely illegal in South Korea but there is nothing to worry about if the bets are made with cyber money. The only restriction in entering cyber casinos is that you have to be over 19 years old.

``Go-Stop'' Rules in Online Casinos

What’s the most popular sport in South Korea? Football could be an answer if the term ``sports'' is limited to physical activities, but many wags like to say that go-stop is the true national sport of Korea.

Go-stop is a variation of hwatu, a flower card game known as Hanafuda in Japan. It has unmatched popularity among various types of gamblers in Korea regardless of gender and age and whether played on- or off-line.

Every online games portal in South Korea offers a go-stop game. Traditionally, the game is played by three or four people but most online sites have adopted a two-people rule called matko.

In ``Sin Matko,'' the most popular online go-stop game, players win a game when they earn more than seven points, or keep it going by calling a ``go.’’ One point equals 200 won in the beginners’ level and in top-class servers, one point is 500,000 won worth of cyber money. When players run out of money, 100,000 won will be automatically replenished every ten minutes.

The popularity of online go-stop has brought a number of mutations. The most notable of such variations is Hangame's ``Double Matgo,'' which uses two decks of cards in a two-men duel.

With plenty of cards to play, the game naturally becomes a high-scoring affair. By the game's rule, the current hand's score doubles each time a go is called after the third go. Theoretically, you can call go up to 18 times in ``Double Matgo'' _ that is 32,768 times the original score.

The highest score so far reported is 125,952 points, won by a user named Upanishad, who stopped at his 12th go.

You Don’t Need a Pokerface in Online Poker

Most casual games played on portals in Korea have five-card draw or seven-card stud poker games. These western card games are becoming increasingly popular but they are still falling short of the popularity of go-stop games

The most popular poker game is Hangame's ``Seven Poker,'' where up to five gamblers play, with the winner dealing the cards.

The biggest difference between real-world poker and online poker is that most players do not take more than one second when making their bet, or deciding to fold. The starting bet is 3 won for each player but the table money easily goes up to 100 million won within a matter of seconds. Players also get bonus points when they complete a rare set, such as a flush or four of a kind.

It is obvious that the poker currency is inflated too much as bets often reach astronomical numbers. Players can start with 50 million won in a new account, but high-class gamblers often keep trillions of won in their stashes.

There are several online marketplaces that trade cyber money for real money. It is controversial since gambling is illegal in Korea, but such trading sites are operating without being punished.

The main reason that the government is overlooking such sites is the low exchange rate. At current market price, 10,000 won of real money is roughly equivalent to 10 trillion won in cyber poker money. Even for the most degenerate gamblers, it would take a full day to simply get rid of that amount of money in online poker games.

Though real money is not involved, there are nationwide online poker tournaments taking place. The Korea Poker Tournament began on July 1 on Hangame after two weeks of warm-up rounds. The event adopted the Texas Hold'em rule, which is played in most major real-world competitions such as the World Series of Poker and the World Poker Tour.

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