Texas Hold’em poker variant is now the most popular form of the game played today, but it was not always so. In its early days, draw poker and stud poker were played more frequently than Hold’em in cardrooms in Las Vegas and other places.
This particular form of poker, though, remains unclear in regard to how it was created and when. It has been widely agreed, though, that the game originated in the town of Robstown, Texas, sometime during the early 1900s. Nonetheless, it remained virtually unnoticed for decades before Las Vegas decided to make it a popular game in 1967.
An influential figure within the Las Vegas poker scene, Crandell Addington described the game as a “thinking man’s game” because it relies less on luck than other poker versions. He also highlighted how strategy is needed with this game in order to win; something that had initially appealed to punters, although it has been argued since that the game’s location may have also played a major role in Hold’em remaining virtually unknown upon its debut.
The Rise of the Game We Know Today
The Dune casino launched a Texas Hold’em tournament in 1969. This ultimately changed the playing field (pun intended). High-stakes players from all around were drawn to The Dune because it was located in a prominent location on the renowned Las Vegas strip and offered an immersive gaming experience. The beginning of Hold’em’s meteoric ascent in popularity is frequently credited to this single occurrence.
Hold’em solidified its position in prestigious poker circles the next year even further. Benny and Jack Binion, a father and son combination, changed the name of the previous Gambling Fraternity Convention to “World Series of Poker” in 1970. The pair made Texas Hold’em the centerpiece of the competition in 1971, and enrollment was relatively low. But every year saw the game acquire momentum, popularity, and significance, and as a result, the annual World Series of Poker tournament now attracts thousands of players.
Literary works helped Hold’em gain traction in the gaming community. Doyle
Brunson’s book Super System was released in 1978 and changed people’s perception of poker. Al Alvarez’s The Biggest Game in Town chronicled the 1981 World Series of Poker, allowing readers to learn more about the game.
Texas Hold’em at the WSOP
In 1969, Tom Moore established the Gambling Fraternity Convention and added poker tournaments to the Second Annual Convention, including Hold’em. Benny Binion bought the rights to this convention and renamed it the World Series of Poker (WSOP) before moving it to his casino, Binion’s Horseshoe.
During the second year of the World Series of Poker, the Main Event was a no-limit Texas hold ’em tournament. It drew only eight players, compared with several thousand that compete in it annually in Las Vegas, with many more playing online poker from the comfort of their homes, too.
In the 1980s, when legal card rooms in California started to disseminate the game, Hold’em poker’s popularity grew even more. Irish bookmakers Terry Rogers and Liam Flood, who had first seen the game in the early 1980s and brought it to Europe when they got home, contributed to this growth. The second-longest running tournament worldwide behind the World Series of Poker Main Event was created by them: The Irish Poker Open.
The game’s popularity continued to grow during the 2000s, thanks partly to the invention of the “hole card cam”, which allowed viewers to see cards played and other information about the players.
Then, in 2003, the appropriately titled Chris Moneymaker won an online satellite with a $38 buy-in. He received a place in the WSOP Main Event as compensation, which he later won for $2.5 million. Moneymaker, formerly an accountant, inspired hundreds of aspiring poker players because he defeated the pros in their backyard, at their own game, and won the game’s most significant prize.
In 2003, Moneymaker defeated an 839-person field; in 2004, patent attorney Greg Raymer defeated 2,576 people to claim the crown. Before reaching an all-time high of 8,773 participants in 2006 when Jamie Gold won the $12 million first prize, the
field grew to 5,619 by 2015. While those dizzying heights have never been attained again, the WSOP Main Event has never had fewer than 6,352 participants since Gold’s incredible victory.
These circumstances combined to create the ideal storm of popularity, propelling the game from obscurity to notoriety among gamers of all ages and ability levels. Texas Hold’em has unquestionably set its mark on contemporary popular gaming culture worldwide, appearing at the biggest casinos in the globe as well as social gatherings among friends and even online.