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Why Did Texas Hold’em Become the Most Popular Form of Poker?

- March 5, 2024 By Riley Wilson -

Texas Hold'em Popular Game

A historian could devote their whole career and life to trying to understand poker and the way it has evolved, and they still wouldn’t understand every nuance of how the game came to be so popular.

Back in 1937 a book called “Foster’s Complete Hoyle: An Encyclopedia of Games by R. F. Foster” spoke about poker, and explained the rules as having five cards given to each player from a pack of 20 cards, and claimed it was derived from a Persian game called As-Nas, though there was also a French game called “Poque” that was played beforehand, which may well be linked, especially if you consider the naming of the game.

With so many different influences and historic versions of the game, it is little wonder that poker has so many varieties and different ways of playing. Hold’em is by far the most popular form of the game now, and online casinos as well as in-person casinos often treat this as a sort of default form of playing, even though there are a lot of other methods available.

The Simplicity of Hold’em

Not understanding the rules of a casino game or table game can put people off, and they probably would rather play a game that has a simple set of rules they can pick up in a matter of minutes rather than having to study them, so Hold’em fits the bill.

It doesn’t take long for players to get to grips with the Texas Hold’em poker rules for beginners, and this means even a complete newbie can be playing the game online or with friends in a matter of minutes, and though they won’t be a master they will understand what is going on and the premise of the game.

We won’t go into all of the rules of Hold’em here, but basically, there are two cards drawn to each player, before a total of five community (shared) cards are drawn face up on the table, three first (the flop) then a fourth (the turn) and a fifth (the river). There are rounds of betting in between the cards being revealed, in which players can choose to raise the stakes, call their opponent’s bet, or fold and stop being involved in that hand of betting.

It is said that “simplicity is the ultimate form of sophistication” and such a straightforward game and set of rules in the game enable people to try their luck, A few of the other types of poker can be a little tougher to fully understand and this means people may switch off, or just find them less exciting than Hold’em. Straightforward rules also mean players can follow along pretty easily when watching poker tournaments on TV, watching a cash game at a local casino, or on a trip to a casino in Vegas or another famous casino.

An Underdog Story

In the early 2000s, we started to see poker become more popular online as well as being shown more regularly in the media, and the “poker boom” of this time saw millions of players trying out the game online, some of them were likely inspired by the strange story Chris Moneymaker, who had an incredible underdog victory.

Moneymaker was an accountant who was playing online card games on satellite tournaments when a poker tournament with an $86 buy-in saw him qualify for a huge poker tournament, which allowed him to compete against some of the big guys in the world of poker, and the amateur player went on to stun the world with his win and take home the $2.5 million first prize.

Moneymaker’s book, “How an Amateur Poker Player Turned $40 into $2.5 Million at the World Series of Poker” has the incorrect buy-in figure in the title, but it was a popular and inspiring poker book.

Media and Other Coverage of Hold’em

Seeing things in the media has the power to greatly influence the popularity of a game and around the early 2000s there were a lot of references to this variation of the game, as well as coverage of actual tournaments on television.

1998 film Rounders focused on the game and was very popular, and in 2006’s Casino Royale film in the James Bond franchise, a scene focused on Texas Hold’em due to its bigger appeal than baccarat, a game that was originally the focus of this tense scene in the book.

Currently, there’s a lot of news coverage regarding poker and other forms of gaming as more locations look to regulate the industry and open up gambling in more locations, partially driven by the economic benefits that the industry provides in the United States.

Conclusion

Texas Hold’em rules the industry when it comes to popularity, but players online have plenty of choice in the types of games they can play, and there are many other varieties of poker that are evolving all the time. Hold’em is still king of the varieties as things stand having driven the boom of the early 2000s.

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