Poker is the real deal. The game has enjoyed a renaissance in the last two decades, driven by the Internet and the evolution of online casinos and poker rooms. In its purest form, it is little more than a betting game of bluff; a competition to find the best liar in the room.
The roots of poker stretch back to 17th century Persia and a game called As-Nas. This ancient game is played with a small pack of cards; the game play is all about raising, folding, and bluffing. The best hand takes the pot.
The modern game evolved in early 19th century America. There are three main types of poker: draw, stud, and community card. Within each of these, there are scores of different rule tweaks and variations.
Since the turn of the millennium, the popularity of poker has exploded. The arrival of the online game gave everyone the opportunity to try their hands. Now familiar with the rules, the game returned to the real world where players could try to discover their inner Wyatt Earp. Here are out five reasons why poker is still the king in the pack.
#1. The Perfect Combo
Without doubt, the single most popular iteration of poker is Texas Hold’em. In this community card game, players all share up to five cards, with multiple betting rounds. It’s a brilliantly structured game that combines bluff, luck, and strategy in a note-perfect combination. Poker pro and television commentator Mike sexton famously described Texas Hold’em as a game that “takes a minute to learn but a lifetime to master.” It is one of the few games in a casino that requires skill to play at the highest level. There is a small clique of poker professionals that win time and time again. Although luck is 50 per cent of the game, the other half is all about playing the man.
#2. It’s Social
Poker is a great way to spend some time with your friends. Structurally, the game encourages banter. Getting your opponents to react, and reveal their tell, is all par for the course. Poker is all about betting money but you can keep your costs down by playing a tournament. Every player chips in £20. If there are five of you that equates to a £100 pot: perhaps £70 for the winner and £30 for second place. Everyone gets a stack of chips and the game can run for hours. A great way to spend the evening and no worries about going bust and losing your shirt.
#3. It’s Universal
Poker is a little like a pandemic. It arrives in a country, catches on, and spreads rapidly. The United State is still the game’s spiritual home but countries like Indonesia, Brazil, Mongolia, Malaysia, France, Armenia, and Cambodia are all setting the Google Trends heat maps on fire for “poker”. If you find yourself stuck in an Ulan Bator bar, surrounded by some serious looking folk, reaching for a pack of cards could be your way out of a sticky situation. The game is ubiquitous and, if you are lacking in language skills, a tap on the table is all you need to signal a new card or a call.
#4. It’s Online
One of the best things about poker, and the driving force behind its 21st century revolution, is the fact that you can practice and play online. Although, there is no direct human interaction, the online game is packed with nuance and subtlety. You can study a player’s betting pattern to gauge a virtual tell.
The online game has proved to be a conduit for professional players. University students, studying degrees in advanced mathematics, playing online to earn extra money, have suddenly found themselves sat at the final table in the World Series of Poker. Online casinos and poker rooms are a great way to discover the game, Online video poker will help you understand hand rankings. Free online poker will help you understand the subtlety of this amazing game and get you in the mood for a real game.
#5. It’s Cool
Poker has made a cameo appearance in scores of films. In Casino Royale, Bond plays Texas Hold’em instead of Ian Fleming’s original choice: baccarat. One of cinema’s most iconic scenes is the game between Paul Newman and Robert Shaw in the classic 1973 film The Sting. In the scene, Newman out cheats the cheater. It’s a stone cold classic.
Poker has been the central theme for several films, including Rounders, Mississippi Grind, Maverick, and the Cincinnati Kid. Poker pros like Johnny Chan (Rounders), Daniel Negreanu (Wolverine), Phil Laak (Runner, Runner) are just a few of the professional players who have put in cameo appearances.
Poker has also been a lyrical inspiration for many musicians, including everyone from Motorhead’s Lemmy and Lady Gaga, to the legend that is Kenny Rogers. Finally: poker is almost the perfect betting game; an entertaining blend of chance and skill, combined with social interaction. It’s also not an easy game to chase. Playing poker takes time, allowing pause for thought. If you are prone to a crazy punt, just listen to Kenny and: ‘know when to fold them’.