With an estimated 100 million pro and amateur players globally, there can be no doubt that poker is one of the most popular card games of all time and one of the best games to learn and teach strategy. In terms of player numbers, only blackjack comes close. Just about every country in the world has a poker community of like-minded players who meet up in casinos or play online poker. But what exactly is poker’s secret sauce? There are a number of reasons for its popularity, as you’ll discover in this post.
It’s a Player-Banked Game
One of poker’s most attractive aspects is the sense of community one finds among players. There’s a special sense of camaraderie when you meet a fellow poker head — it’s almost like being part of the same club. And in a sense, you are. That’s because poker is a player-banked game. What that means is that the players themselves provide the money for every pot that’s contested. This has a profound impact on the gaming experience because instead of playing against the house, you’re going up directly against other players. As you can imagine, this makes for much more intense, competitive play. In addition, it means that everyone has the same odds to win. Because there’s no house edge, a player with a good poker strategy can make money over time — which explains why poker is the number one game among professional gamblers.
Anyone Can Play
Poker is an extremely accessible game with simple rules yet complex outcomes. As a result, anyone can learn to play poker. All you need to get started is to learn how the different poker hands stack up (from high card to royal flush) and how betting works. Different poker variants may have slightly different rules, but the essential knowledge is the same. The most popular variant at the moment is Texas Hold’em poker, which also has the simplest rules outside of draw poker games such as Five Card Draw. This was the original version of poker which was brought to New Orleans from France by now-forgotten poker players who traveled up the Mississippi on riverboats, spreading the game throughout the mining camps and saloons of the American frontier until poker became an established phenomenon from coast to coast.
It’s a Game of Skill
Don’t let the elegant simplicity of the game fool you. It may be dead easy to learn to play poker, but mastering the game is a completely different story. That’s because there are so many variables at play. You have to learn which poker hands make sense to open with from which position, when to call, when to fold, and when to go all in, how to size your bets and calculate pot odds, and how to think two streets ahead. Mastering these strategic poker challenges is a reward in its own right.
You also need to be focused and observant, as well as have an inquiring mind. Why are your opponents acting as they are? Are they representing value, or are they bluffing? This aspect of poker is unique to the game. The ability to read other players and interpret the information to your advantage is a gift that keeps on giving. If you can go beyond that and also learn how to bluff effectively, you’ll be on your way to becoming an expert player. Needless to say, these skills are transferable to other walks of life.
It’s a Game of Chance
The skills needed to be a poker pro may seem somewhat daunting, and in truth, the majority of players won’t make it to pro level. What’s great about poker is that even amateur players have a chance to beat the pros. That’s because poker is a game of incomplete information, where the element of chance can guide your hand to victory. That’s what happened at the 2003 World Series of Poker when an amateur player named Chris Moneymaker came from nowhere to win the Main Event. He didn’t even have the $10,000 for the buy-in but qualified through a satellite tournament. You could say that this makes poker a more democratic game than, say, chess. You don’t stand a chance against a chess grandmaster like Magnus Carlsen, but you can beat advanced poker players from time to time. It’s a tremendously satisfying feeling when this happens. The trick, of course, is to transition from getting lucky occasionally to making your own luck, which is the hallmark of an expert player.
Experience Poker Online Games
An additional plus worth mentioning is that poker is totally available online. The only requirements are an internet connection and a laptop, desktop, or mobile phone. Then, all you have to do to get started is sign up at a licensed poker site like BetMGM. You can discover different poker variants, meet like-minded players, and join your first cash games and online poker tournaments with stakes and buy-ins to suit every pocket and skill level. At the same time, you can also explore the world of online casino games, with a broad range of entertaining options such as slots, variety games, and live dealer casino games of blackjack, craps, roulette, and baccarat.
Keen to get your game on? Register at BetMGM.