A Brief History
On September 11, 1998, Rounders, an American drama film about the underground world of high-stakes poker, opened to mixed reviews and earned only a modest box office. Nevertheless, with the poker boom in the early 2000s, the film later became a cult hit.
Playing cards have been a form of entertainment for a huge number of years, with a simple deck offering a host of possibilities when it comes to gaming fun. In recent decades, the cards have particularly become synonymous with casinos and gambling, with one of the most popular games available in that arena being poker.
In fact, the game is arguably more popular now than ever before in poker history, thanks in no small part to the incredible rise in online gambling in the past few years. The global online gambling market is expected to be worth more than $94 billion by 2024, with the industry ensuring that people have access to a host of games at the touch of a button.
Probably the most popular variation of poker in the world today is Texas Hold ’em, and in this article, we take a look at how this form of poker emerged to become one of the world’s best-loved pastimes.
What is Texas Hold ’em poker?
While it may feature slightly different rules compared to other forms of poker, Texas Hold ’em still ultimately revolves around the same key objective. Put simply, players who take part are competing for money or chips and can succeed either by using the strength of their hand or their own wits.
The key basics of the game are fairly straightforward to master, as it starts with players receiving two cards – known as ‘hole’ cards – each. A stage known as the ‘pre-flop’ is then held when players can choose to check, bet or fold and following that three shared cards are dealt face-up in the middle of the table, which is known as ‘the flop’.
Another round of betting then takes place before a fourth shared card is added, with this stage being named ‘the turn’. More betting occurs and then the final card – ‘the river’ – is added before a final round of betting. Players then have to make the best possible hand of up to five cards using the combination of their ‘hole’ cards and the shared cards in the center of the table; however, one of the things that makes poker so hugely popular is that the game is not always about having the best hand. As 888poker outlines in its look at Texas Hold em poker strategy, the fact that players can bluff and ultimately pretend to have a strong hand means sometimes poker is “a game of people, not a game of cards”, which marks it out as different to the likes of blackjack or roulette, as poker variants like Texas Hold ’em, stud and others feature an element of skill while those arguably are more focused on luck.
How Texas Hold ’em developed
Considering its huge popularity and position as the dominant force in the poker world, it can be easy to forget that Texas Hold ’em is simply one of the many variants of the game which exists. To see what marks it out, it is important to compare it to another version of the game like Omaha Stud.
The fundamental differences are that while players receive two hole cards in Texas Hold ’em, Omaha Stud players receive four, which has a major impact on the game, as it, of course, means that Omaha players can build many more different combinations of hands using the extra cards at their disposal. Another key issue is that Omaha players are obliged to use two of their four hole cards to make the best hand. In contrast, Texas Hold ’em players have plenty of flexibility and can use both of their holes, just one or none as they go about creating the best combination.
But just where did Texas Hold ’em emerge from to become such a force in the world of poker? Considering its name, it will not be a huge surprise to hear that its origins are linked to the Lone Star State, as it is thought to have originally developed in Robstown in the early 1900s; however, the game took its first steps towards global stardom when it was introduced to Las Vegas in the 1960s and became a big part of the poker scene at resorts like the Golden Nugget casino.
What has made Texas Hold ’em so popular?
In the decades since its introduction to Sin City, Texas Hold ’em has grown to become a huge part of the sports world due to its use in a range of major events. For instance, the game has been involved in the World Series of Poker since its earliest years and has been played at the Main Event for a long time.
It is also a form of poker that has had a huge amount of exposure through the years, with WSOP and other major events being broadcast on TV and proving to ultimately be a fairly big draw in terms of audience numbers. The game has even made a splash on the big screen thanks to films like Rounders, a 1998 drama starring Matt Damon and Edward Norton which features Texas Hold ’em prominently within the storyline.
Perhaps the biggest factor in the game’s rise, however, is – above all – its simplicity. As we hinted at in our comparison of Texas Hold ’em and Omaha poker, the former is ultimately a straightforward game for players to get their heads around, and its wide availability means people have plenty of opportunities to hone their skills.
A true card game classic
When it comes to the great debate about the biggest card games of all time, poker undoubtedly deserves to be part of the discussion. The game is an absolute classic, and Texas Hold ’em in particular has dominated many tables for the best part of around 60 years.
So many trends have come and gone in that time, but Texas Hold ’em is undoubtedly a huge amount of fun for both experienced card players and beginners alike. At this point, it is hard to bet against it remaining the top poker game in the world for another six decades.
Question for students (and subscribers): Have you ever played Texas Hold ’em? Please let us know in the comments section below this article.
If you liked this article and would like to receive notification of new articles, please feel welcome to subscribe to History and Headlines by liking us on Facebook and becoming one of our patrons!
Your readership is much appreciated!
For more information, please see…
Mills, A.J. Playing Texas Hold’em Online – The Professional’s Guide. 2019.
The featured image in this article, a picture by Thomas van de Weerd from Utrecht, The Netherlands from Pokeravond of hole cards in a game of Texas hold ’em, is licensed under the Creative Commons Attribution 2.0 Generic license. This image was originally posted to Flickr by Thms at https://www.flickr.com/photos/81203773@N00/232514897. It was reviewed on by FlickreviewR and was confirmed to be licensed under the terms of the cc-by-2.0.