History Of How Poker Has Changed
The history of how poker has changed provides a fascinating glimpse into the world of high stakes gambling, the rise of Las Vegas, and how the Internet and television have transformed poker into a billion dollar global business. Poker has been around for centuries but has exploded in popularity in recent years, with the largest poker tournaments paying out huge prizes of millions of dollars to the lucky winners.
Poker traces its roots back to various games played in the 1700s. It was firmly established in its modern form using a standard 52 card deck in the US by the early 1800s. Poker became synonymous with the Wild West and the gold rush during the mid 1800s, quickly spreading throughout the western US where gamblers had plenty of money to play with. Five card draw and stud were the most common games played, and the history of how poker has changed was relatively uneventful from then until the mid 1970s.
The establishment of Las Vegas gave poker a permanent, legitimate home where it was played in most casinos. While poker didn't generate huge profits for casinos, it provided a backdrop for the next big evolution in the history of how poker has changed: the poker tournament. Benny Binion (the owner of Binion's Horseshoe casino) launched the World Series of Poker (WSOP), which was quickly adopted as the unofficial world championship of poker.
While 7 Card Stud was the most popular form of poker played for many years, the World Series of Poker would help make No Limit Texas Hold'em the game of choice, as its faster-paced action and simplicity made it a much better draw for poker tournaments. By the early 1990s the WSOP Main Event (which features a $10,000 buy-in) was paying out the winner well over a million dollars each year, setting the stage for poker's next big explosive growth stage.
The rise of the Internet and special hole cameras for televising poker fueled the next stage in the history of how poker has changed. Internet poker sites proved to be hugely popular, bringing more and more players to the game as they could learn the ropes and how to play poker without ever leaving home. Special cameras that showed the hole cards of players during hands also helped fuel the poker boom, as televised poker tournaments became very popular since watchers at home could now see when players were bluffing or making great folds.
While the game of poker itself didn't change (with No Limit Texas Hold'em still by far the most popular version of poker being played) the stakes suddenly became much greater. Attendance at the WSOP Main Event exploded, culminating in 8,773 players entering the 2006 WSOP Main Event, which saw the winner Jamie Gold pocket a record $12 million for his victory.
Legal restrictions in the US and other countries saw poker's popularity dip a bit, but the Main Event still draws fields of well over 6,000 players and millions of more poker fans play at online poker sites each year. If the history of how poker has changed is any indication of its future, poker is likely here to stay, as the combination of fun, gambling, and huge potential paydays continues to attract players to the game each and every year.