Nowadays, Texas hold’em is widely considered to be the most popular card game. Thanks largely to online poker platforms, which have helped spread the game far and wide, it’s now played all over the world. However, that wasn’t always the case.
Discover precisely why Texas hold’em is loved so much by so many and how it came to be. From its presence in big-screen movies to its easy-to-grasp rules, there’s no shortage of explanations for why it’s so popular.
History of Texas Hold’em
To understand this topic, you must look at how Texas hold’em has evolved over the years.
The game of poker originated in the early 19th century. However, the variant many players love the most today, Texas hold’em, evolved around a century later. Even though the exact origins are hard to pinpoint, the Texas legislature officially recognized Robstown in Texas as the game’s birthplace.
Its first major surge in popularity came during the 1960s. The game spread through Texas before it finally hit the Las Vegas casinos. Here, the popularity of hold’em, as it was simply referred to back then, grew steadily.
Perhaps the most crucial year in the history of hold’em is 1970. Two gambling pioneers, Benny and Jack Binion, rebranded an existing tournament as the World Series of Poker (WSOP).
The WSOP features many forms of poker and has always done so. However, it only took one year before the organizers decided that no-limit Texas hold’em should be played as the Main Event. As you can imagine, this was an important boost for hold’em to become one of the most popular poker variants.
Skill and Strategy
Good things kept happening for the popularity of hold’em. Johnny Moss won the WSOP in 1970, 1971, and 1974, while Doyle Brunson was the back-to-back winner in 1976 and 1977.
Why would that be good for Texas hold’em? Because it implied that this wasn’t just another game of chance. If it were all luck, it would be implausible for the same player to win multiple times against the world’s best players.
The players already using poker psychology and other advanced techniques consistently recorded top finishes. This was undoubtedly one of the reasons why, in 1988, Texas hold’em was declared a game of skill in California. Soon afterward, most card rooms in the state organized events. In turn, this helped to legitimize the game and differentiate it from games of chance.
TV Broadcasts and Online Accessibility
Thanks to hold’em becoming seen as a legitimate game, everything was set up perfectly for massive expansion. That happened in the late 1990s and early 2000s, with much help from television and the World Wide Web.
The biggest poker tournaments, like the aforementioned WSOP and the World Poker Tour (WPT), were now televised. A large segment of the population was thus exposed to the excitement poker could offer. Seeing players leverage their skills to win big was a huge draw. Additionally, there was no shortage of popular poker movies and series, further highlighting the game.
On top of that, the evolution of online poker meant that you no longer needed to visit an actual casino. You could now enjoy Texas hold’em online in the comfort of your home. And, with so many freeroll tournaments around, you wouldn’t even have to pay to play.
The game changed forever when Chris Moneymaker won the WSOP, becoming the first player to do so after qualifying via an online satellite. His triumph showed that anyone could compete, regardless of their bankroll. It inspired a whole new generation to play poker online games and try to become the best, causing WSOP entry figures to skyrocket.
So, you’ve heard about the critical moments in hold’em history that helped shape its popularity. But what is it about the game itself that people love?
Easy To Learn
First and foremost, Texas hold’em poker rules are relatively simple. If your friend wants to learn the basics, you won’t need a whole afternoon to explain them. How important that is for the game’s popularity cannot be overstated.
If the rules of a game are too complex, it doesn’t matter how much fun it is. There are just too many people who won’t bother to learn the rules. Complexity is always a barrier to popularity.
Compare Texas hold’em to something like Magic: The Gathering, one of the most popular trading card games. The latter uses a multiple-page rule book and thousands of different cards. Chances are you’ve never played it. You might not have even heard of it.
However, you probably know how to play hold’em at home already. You only need a standard deck of playing cards and something to use as chips. The complete rules can be described on a scrap of paper. That’s a significant advantage for Texas hold’em compared to many other card games.
Challenging To Master
The game being easy to learn is undoubtedly important. So, why isn’t everyone playing Go Fish? After all, the rules for that game are extremely basic.
While simplicity is important, a popular game must also be challenging to master. There has to be enough nuance in the game for strategies and skills to come into the equation.
Hold’em checks that box. You could spend months studying when to raise and fold in Texas hold’em. That’s just one of many concepts, though. There are so many intricacies that you need to understand to truly master this game.
That’s why players keep coming back to Texas hold’em. Every game is different and offers a chance to learn something new. That’s not the case with something less challenging like Go Fish or a simpler form of poker, like Razz.
Gambling was one of the few industries that embraced the Internet from the get-go. The first real money poker game online took place on January 1, 1998. As the internet blew up, so did the opportunities to play poker from anywhere on the planet.
Not only did the internet make it much easier to play, but forums and strategy websites also popped up all over the web. The wider community grew quickly, too, all feeding into the game’s popularity.
Get on Board Today
So, now you know why hold’em is so popular. It’s easy to learn but difficult to master. Thankfully, there are many more opportunities to improve your game than ever before.
Register at BetMGM today and play Texas hold’em games at a wide variety of stakes. You can also enjoy many other popular forms of poker, whether playing cash games or tournaments.