The hugely popular card game poker has had many different shapes through the ages.
Most of us have probably tried online poker, watched a tournament on TV or maybe even played Texas Hold’em around a real casino table. Poker play has a much older history than you might first think, and here we take a look at poker’s history, different forms of play and the pros and cons of these.
The ancient poker
Like many other popular games, poker has an extremely long and solid history. Some scholars even believe that an early form of the game was played already during the Chinese dynasty a couple of centuries before Christ. However, most indications are that one of the forerunners of today’s modern poker spread from the Middle East to southern Europe during the Middle Ages. Then, just like now, the focus in the game was on some form of betting and the ability to bluff the opponent. The name poker itself is said to have come from the French Poque, or the German Pochspiel, both of which were card games that were very similar to today’s poker. However, a more detailed description of the current form of poker was written down during the American Wild West in the 1830s. Then the form of play was very popular, especially among the lawless as it was played wildly about large sums inside the saloons.
World Series of Poker and its significance for the game
Few tournaments are as much associated with poker as the mother of the tournament: the World Series of Poker (WSOP). The tournament has really pulled its straw to the stack to put poker on the map and make it a room-clean phenomenon. The first tournament was launched as early as 1970 in the gaming’s promised land Las Vegas. The founder behind the tournament was Benny Binion, who owned the casino Binion’s Horseshoe and who saw it as a natural step to continue with a pure poker competition. To begin with, there were only a few poker talents in the country, and it was the same name that recurred year in and year out. The star players of the time were Doyle Brunson, Amarillo Slim Preston, Johnny Moss and Puggy Pearson. The very first WSOP winner was Mr. Moss, not because he had won the most, but because he was voted the best all-round player on the last day of competition. When the American TV channel CBS eventually started broadcasting the tournament in 1973, the game got a real boost. It was also now that the different types of poker variants were developed. Seven card Stud, Razz, Deuce-to-seven Draw and No Limit Hold’em were examples of some of the first variants. Since then, interest in poker and the WSOP has only grown. From being a tournament with only 54 participants in the 70s, the number of participants went up to 200 in the 80s. The trend would continue upwards, and in 1999 the number of participants was 393 players. Today, the number of participants is often over 7,000 and the WSOP, also known as the Poker World Cup, the highest ranked poker tournament in the world, and the main game, Main Event, is the most prestigious one you can win in poker.
The development of online poker
Although you could play internet poker in some chat rooms as early as the 90’s, the real impact of online poker came in the 00’s. The first online poker star was Chris Moneymaker who won the WSOP in 2003 after qualifying through PokerStars. This event obviously gave internet poker a real boost, and next year’s tournament was also won by a PokerStars qualifier, namely Greg Raymer. The consequence of this was that the line between “real” analog poker players and online poker players was slowly blurred. As more people opened their eyes to online gambling and more and more ordinary people with an interest in poker began to sit down in front of the computer, game providers also did their best to meet demand, which has led to online poker being available to almost anyone today.
Pros and cons of classic vs. online poker
Of course, there are pros and cons to playing poker online compared to traditional casinos. It gives a more genuine feeling of playing live, and you often come up with higher amounts, but being able to play online has made the game available to everyone, and it is a good way to hone their skills. There are very few who get the chance to get up to an advanced level of play and get to a physical poker event in person. Online, on the other hand, you can sit at several tables at the same time, and play for much smaller sums than you do at a real casino. As a rule, a round goes even faster online as it is a computer that shuffles and gives cards. This can be a good option for those who want to learn the basics without the risk of going into a physical casino and losing large sums, especially as many internet casinos offer free trial rounds to attract new players.
In other words, we have the WSOP and the World Cup to thank for the modern variant we play today, and as poker became an accepted form of entertainment, interest in the game completely exploded in the 00’s. When online players also started to qualify for the big world championships, it was clear that the online version meant that anyone could now learn to play, and also go really far with the right talents. With this in mind, all indications are that online poker is here to stay.