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Texas hold ‘em is easily the most popular form of poker in the world. In fact, when compared to most other pastimes, playing Texas hold ‘em ranks as one of the world’s favorite things to do!

However, the game as we know it today wasn’t always this way. The subtle rules and traditions have evolved and changed over centuries to make the game what it is now.

One of the biggest shifts in recent years has been the influence of online poker. Where before people would only be able to play with a group of friends or at a casino, anybody can now play texas holdem online for real money

In this article, we’re going to be taking a look at the origins of Texas hold ‘em and track the journey it has been on into the modern day.

Early days

Whilst the game of poker can be dated back to the early 19th century, Texas hold ‘em didn’t come around until the early 20th century. It’s not entirely clear exactly where or when the game actually came from but most people agree on a few clear factors.

Primarily, it seems pretty obvious that the game originated in the state of Texas, with the official legislature recognizing that it came officially from Robstown.

However, hold ‘em grew massively in popularity when it was introduced to the gamblers of Las Vegas around 1963.

Moving to Vegas

It was an instant hit with those in Las Vegas who played it first, with many claiming it was a massive step up in strategy and thinking from the previous iterations of poker. For example, draw games were the most popular poker varieties at the time but were based much more heavily on luck than skill.

5 card draw only allowed players to bet 2 times, while Texas hold ‘em presented 4 opportunities to bet on every hand. This meant much more complex strategies could be developed.

However, the game didn’t have an immediate spread throughout Vegas and the rest of the world. In fact, during its first few years in Vegas, there was only one casino that ran any Texas hold ‘em games: The Golden Nugget Casino. Unfortunately, at the time, The Golden Nugget was seen as a low end joint. Because of its poor location and ‘interesting’ interior decor, there weren’t many high rollers frequenting the establishment, so it was difficult to get the word out to the rest of the city about how good hold ‘em was.

In 1969, Texas hold ‘em finally got its big break, with a game being organized for professional players in the Dunes Casino, on the famous Las Vegas strip. From this point on, Texas hold ‘em became more and more popular in the city, every week.

The World Series of Poker

Anyone familiar with Texas hold ‘em in the modern day will have heard of the World Series of Poker (WSOP).

It began in 1970 when Jack Binion and Benny Binion bought the rights to the Gambling Fraternity Convention and renamed it to the WSOP. It was an annual series of poker tournaments that were hosted in the Binion’s Horseshoe casino.

During the first year of the WSOP, Texas hold ‘em was not considered for the main event. However, from the series’ second year to the modern day, hold ‘em has always been the game for the WSOP main event.

The WSOP didn’t have all the fame and glamor that it does now, back in the 1970s. In fact, in 1972, there were only 8 entrants to the main event. That number increased gradually over the next couple of decades and shot up in the 21st century.

The Moneymaker effect

One of the biggest names associated with the WSOP is Chris Moneymaker, the winner of the main event in 2003.

Moneymaker was a completely unknown amateur player who had won an $86 satellite to gain entry to the $10,000 WSOP main event.

He went on to win the $2.5 million first prize and instantly became a well-known name around the world. His amateur status and fantastically appropriate last name inspired millions of people across the globe to take up poker. After all, if that guy could take on the world’s best pros, anybody could!

This ‘Moneymaker effect’ resulted in what’s now known as the poker boom. Millions of new players took up the game in the following months and years. In fact, the number of entrants in the WSOP main event went from 838 in 2003 to 2576 in the following year, all thanks to MoneyMaker.

Hold ‘em in the 21st century

Of course, nowadays when you talk to someone about poker, the assumption is that you’re both discussing the game of hold’em. That’s because, by the year 2000, hold ‘em had eclipsed all other varieties of poker in terms of popularity.

Around this time, televised poker tournaments, including the WSOP main event had given more people than ever access to watch and learn the game.

Many people attribute the game’s rise in popularity to the invention of the ‘hole card cam’, which was used in television broadcasts to show viewers what cards each player was holding. Of course, this allowed commentators to give insights on strategy and people at home to learn more about the game than ever before.

Similarly, plenty of people recognize the role of fictional TV and film in the game’s rise in popularity. Probably the most influential in this was ‘Rounders’, a film starring Matt Damon which depicted the lives of professional poker players. Not long after, the James Bond Film, ‘Casino Royale’, depicted a hold ‘em poker tournament which brought the game to the attention of even more European players.

Even then, many amateurs didn’t enjoy the prospect of going to a casino and losing thousands of dollars. That’s why the advent of online poker was just as influential. Amateurs watching poker on their TV could easily log onto a poker website and play for relatively small stakes at whatever time of day or night they wanted.


New players of Texas hold ‘em might not have realized how young the game actually is. Compared to other forms of poker which have been around for centuries, hold ‘em is still in its infancy.

However, it’s impossible to deny how popular the game is, thanks to its thoughtful, strategic nature.

Of course, as with any form of poker, there is still plenty of luck involved, so don’t be too disheartened by taking bad beats on the river!

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