The History of Texas Hold’em Poker

8 months ago
The History of Texas Hold’em Poker
23 Jan

Texas hold’em is by far the most popular variant of poker in the world today. It has been that way for decades but never more so than during this millennium  following the poker boom.

The origins of the variant are shrouded in mystery, with very little known except the birth of the game being around the early 1900’s in Robstown, Texas. For decades the game spread like wildfire around the Lone Star state, but no further than its borders. 

It wasn’t until 1967 when legends Doyle Brunson, Amarillo Slim, and Crandell Addington upped sticks and moved to Las Vegas that people began to wonder what his new, exciting game was all about.

Beginning of an Era

At the beginning, Texas hold’em was only found at the Golden Nugget Casino, which hindered the game’s growth as the card room there wasn’t the nicest around. In fact, most professionals who were resident in the city wouldn’t consider going there.

It wasn’t until the road gamblers played a game in the entrance of the Dunes Casino that word started to spread. This was right in the middle of The Strip giving the game maximum exposure.

Around the same time a man called Tom Moore was trying to get the best poker players in the world to play at an event named the Gambling Fraternity Convention. For whatever reasons he couldn’t pull it off, so in stepped Benny and Jack Binion who bought the rights from Moore and changed the name to the World Series of Poker.

In 1970 the WSOP circus headed to Binion's Horseshoe Casino where a series of cash games would be the format. Several games were spread with one of the variants being no limit Texas hold’em.

The Binions Take a Risk

This didn’t go unnoticed by observers who persuaded the Binions to change the format to what we still have today—a NL hold’em tournament.

It definitely took a while for the game to grow. In 1972 there were only eight entries, but this grew to around 10,000 at the peak of the poker boom.

During the 70’s Texas hold’em continued to grow in popularity, but not by as much as the top players hoped. Those guys could really see what a great game it is and wanted others to understand. It wasn’t nicknamed the Cadillac of Poker without reason.

Doyle Brunson then took matters into his own hands by writing the original classic Super System. This was the real beginning of poker growing into what it is today. 

The growth, although welcome, wasn’t exactly booming. It took a few events for it to really get going. 

The year 1998 was significant for a couple of reasons. It was the release date for the classic poker movie Rounders, and also when online poker was introduced to the world. Poker started to make some serious headway at this point but nothing prepared us for what was to come five years later. 

In 2003 an accountant from Tennessee called Chris Moneymaker won the NL Texas hold’em WSOP Main Event after winning his seat in an $86 online qualifier. 

All of a sudden, Texas hold’em was synonymous with poker. Everybody now knew the game where you got dealt two cards and had to make a five-card hand in combination with the five community cards. 

And it looks so simple. Almost everybody who played the game thought they were great at it. The poker boom that took place over the next few years was unlike anything seen before because of this.

The game of NL Texas hold’em is why poker is what it is today. It is still the most popular poker variant in the world despite serious competition from pot limit omaha, and we expect that to remain the case for many years to come.

New fans of poker could do far worse than learning how to play Texas hold’em.

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Mark from Stamford in the UK is a professional cash game player, and part time journalist. A massive chess fan and perpetual traveller.He also produces strategy content for our sister wesbite more


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