Poker is one of the most popular casino games in the world, dating back centuries. The game is a staple in many casinos today, but has faced its fair share of trials and tribulations along the way. From the riverboats of Mississippi, to the Wild West, Civil Wars, and even our television sets, Poker has travelled far and wide – and was even used as inspiration for one of the first ever slot machines.
Read on to discover Poker’s journey into popularity, and how it evolved into the game we know and love today.
A brief history
It’s believed that the game of Poker originated from a popular card game called Poque, in 1400s France. Much like the game we play today, Poque was played with a standard 52 deck of cards. The name ‘Poque’ was thought to have been ‘American-ised’ to Poker, when French colonists took the game overseas to North America.
The 18th century saw Poker gain some traction, and became famous when it was used as a pastime on the riverboats across the Mississippi river and surrounding areas. In 1872, Colonel Jacob Schenck wrote the rules of Poker and sent them over to England, spreading the game even further round the globe.
In the 19th century, the game of Poker became popular in saloons, as it gave people a way to face their opponents without facing a bullet. The Civil War also helped with the expansion of the game, as soldiers would play during their time in the camps, so everyone knew the rules.
The 20th century saw the introduction of the Texas Hold’em game, which added a twist to the game of Poker and helped it grow even further in popularity. Poker eventually moved away from being outlawed, and started to become a mainstream pastime activity, that was also enjoyed by women. Prior to this, Poker was a male-dominated game, so women getting their foot in the door and being recognised as eligible components was revolutionary.
World Series of Poker
In 1970, the first World Series of Poker (WSOP) took place in Las Vegas. Despite being an invitation-only event, it was the building blocks for the massive events that take place today.
In 1973, WSOP hosted the very first televised Poker event. The tournament was translated nationwide and the game saw a boom in popularity amongst players and observers.
In 1980, Texas Hold’em was legalised, further promoting the game of Poker.
How Poker became popular
In 1996, the first online casino was launched, followed by the first online Poker room in 1998. With the game available to anyone – anywhere there was a computer and access to the internet – Poker was revolutionised.
Online Poker was the reason an unknown accountant from Georgia – Chris Moneymaker – was able to qualify for the WSOP main event in 2003. He took home $2,500,000, bagging himself the first-place title, beating well-known Poker favourites and 839 contestants. Moneymaker inspired many people to start chasing the ‘Poker dream’, and online Poker experienced extreme growth.
2013 saw a record-breaking 225,000 players in a single tournament, and the expansion of the industry continued, creating the popular Poker industry we know today.