Televised sports may be America’s favorite pastime, but gambling is a close second. If any casino game is truly all American- it is Poker. While the game of Poker evolved from a tradition tied to the origin of tarot cards (as do all modern card games), popular modern forms of the game like Texas Hold ’em, and 7-Card Stud are about as American as a card game could be in the Red White and Blue. But where did it start?
The game of Poker can be dated as far back as 1377, around the time of the first appearance of the standard playing card deck made up of 52 cards ranging in value from 1 to 10. There are records of similar games being played in China around the year 950AD. With their history of inventing complex and engaging games that remain popular for hundreds if not thousands of years, it wouldn’t be surprising to learn that Chinese immigrants, having come to work on the railroads, had brought an early form of the game with them. From there it was refined an Americanized into what we see today.
For hundreds of years, Poker has been an iconic game of chance, skill and high stakes. It conjures an atmosphere of rough and rowdy frontier intrigue and can make even the tamest player feel like a storied and dusty wrangler fresh off the trail. The modern version of Texas Hold ’em seems to have had its birth around the early 1920s after it came to light that the rules of Stud Poker could not accommodate the many ranchers who wanted to play. It’s a game that suits the ‘wide open spaces’ of the state of its conception and generates a feeling of largeness and bounty which goes a long way to explaining its appeal.
Over the last 15 to 20 years with the boom in celebrity darling culture and the screaming rise of the Internet, Poker has exploded in popularity. Perhaps the biggest shot in the arm to online competitive Poker has been the success of otherwise ordinary people who have become professional Poker players, some of whom have gone on to win world championship titles in the game. This has boosted the appeal and reputation of the game from the levels of a seedy male-only vice, to a venerated international sport. Nowadays, people who might never have allowed themselves to be caught playing the game openly embrace it.
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Gambling is an American Tradition
To understand the precipitous boom in the popularity of online poker, you have to look at no fewer than four factors. The first is the game having skyrocketed from a simple weekend game between working class guys to a worldwide sporting event with its own federation and regulating body. Mainstream media coverage of the first championship competition has a great deal to do with this. When you put a thing on TV and show the aching millions that there’s money to be made doing it, bam – it’s mainstream. It was the 2003 World Series of Poker that’s probably most responsible for taking Poker out of smoky back rooms, placing it on an international stage, and shooting it full of glamor. The game has found a home in sports media ever since and attracts players of every stripe from all over the world.
Probably the second most important factor in the meteoric rise of the game is the crowd-pleasing nature of Texas Hold ’em. This version of Poker evolved in an environment where lots of people wanted to play and where the social audience dynamic was a major influencing factor. Having developed in a setting where few to no other forms of entertainment could compete, Texas Hold ’em slowly became very finely tuned to entertain large amounts of people. You simply couldn’t have run a comparable development stage for even the best-funded network game show. Simply put, Texas Hold ’em has evolved, in the truest sense of the word, to be a crowd pleaser.
Never to be underestimated is the influence of the third reason behind this enduring fad, the (repeatable) rise of a folk hero. This is exactly what you’ve got with names like Chris Moneymaker and Mark Fleddermann. Rags to riches stories like these aren’t just big in the United States. People all over the world love to see a Cinderella story play out in real life right in front of their eyes, and with international Poker, there’s no shortage of those.
Finally, there’s always a touch of lottery madness wrapped up in the worldwide culture of Poker mania. With fabulous amounts of money to be made, and seemingly nothing anyone shouldn’t be able to learn to do barring the way, people flock to online poker tables like a Target outlet on Black Friday.
If you love card games there are so many reasons why playing online Poker is a great way to pass the time and have a lot of fun doing it like…
- You never have to leave your house.
Save gas, entry fees and get the thrill of bluffing and calling without ever getting out of bed! If you can manage to hold your own at a table, you might have found a career where you can trade in your desk for a mattress.
- Low rake.
The rake at an online casino is almost always considerably lower than the rake you’re likely to get at a brick and mortar casino. Live casino rakes are usually about 10% of the pot while online casinos tend to impose rakes about half that.
With online poker, you can simultaneously play an amount of tables only limited by your ability to multi-task and the limitations of the online casino you’re visiting. If you’ve got your game down to a better than 50% win rate, you can essentially multiply your earnings by playing multiple online tables.
- You can take notes on your opponents.
Since everything is virtual, there’s nothing to stop you from writing down a few things about your fellow players. In a live game at a physical location, there’s no way you could sit there and write down notes about the peculiarities of your opponents. At best, you might lower your hand accidentally. At worst, you could get yourself kicked out and banned. Taking notes on other players is a sure way to exploit any tells they may have in later games. This is a fantastic way to drive your winnings through the roof.
- It’s much easier to hide your own tells.
Beyond the questionable wearing of sunglasses you often see in televised competitions, playing online allows you to hide lots of unconscious clues that you would have little control over when you’re playing in person.
Finally, the advantages of online poker are all down to the technology behind it and the lack of physical presence, which is actually good for some but not for others. Either way, if you’re the type of person who loves risk-taking, challenge, winning money, and competition there simply isn’t a better deal than the most popular card game in America.