Poker has risen to become one of the most popular card games of all time, expanding from its simple roots to become part of our cultural lexicon. It has inspired music, films, and novels, from 1998’s seminal high-stakes poker film, Rounders, to the Kenny Rodgers song, The Gambler.
Poker is also a game that has diversified significantly over time, with multiple rule sets, like Omaha, Razz, and Seven-card Stud, and different tournament styles, like the faster-paced Zoom Tournaments and the more directly competitive Knockout Poker, where you earn money by eliminating other players.
Online poker has also become hugely popular, taking the game out of the casinos and card-rooms and putting it in people’s pockets. However, despite all of these changes, Texas Hold’em remains the most popular form of the world’s most popular card game.
In today’s article, we’ll be looking at Texas Hold ‘em’s history and why it beat out all other forms of card games to become one of the most popular games of all time.
What is Texas Hold ’em Poker?
At its most basic, poker is a betting game based on patterns of cards. The Texas Hold ’em variant of the poker rules sees players receive two cards, face down, often called ‘the hole’, at the start of the game. The first round of betting occurs at this point.
Three communal cards are then dealt face-up in the center of the table, generally known as ‘the flop’, followed by another round of betting. Two more communal cards are dealt, with rounds of betting in between, with the fourth card being called ‘the turn’ and the fifth and final being called ‘the river.’
The player’s aim is to attempt to make poker ‘hands’ from their two personal cards and the communal cards in the center of the table.
When Was Texas Hold ’em Poker Invented?
It’s relatively hard to trace the exact roots of the Texas Hold ’em form of poker. Poker itself can possibly be traced back to a domino-like card and tile game played by a 10th-century Chinese emperor. Another possibility that has been put forward is that modern-day poker can trace its roots back to a Persian betting game called As Nas.
As Nas arrived in ports in France around the late 16th century and may have been the basis on which the French and German games of Poque and Pochen were created. Both of these games involved personal cards, communal cards, and betting rounds in between cards being dealt with.
All of these games arrived in the US along with French, German, and Spanish colonists, and would eventually be combined and evolved into the game we understand as modern-day poker.
Still, the Texas Hold ’em variant was probably developed in the town of Robstown in the early 1900s, although it didn’t become prevalent until it hit Vegas in the 1960s.
Why is Texas Hold ’em so Popular?
A significant part of what makes Texas Hold ’em so popular is the level of exposure it has gotten. While there are tournaments that use all the varieties of poker rules, Texas Hold ’em is the official ruleset of some of the largest events, like the World Series of Poker and World Championship of Online Poker.
Poker-based movies have also traditionally featured Texas Hold ’em, with the makers of the James Bond film Casino Royal famously choosing to use the game over the more book-accurate Baccarat because of the audience’s familiarity with how Texas Hold ’em works.
When it comes right down to it, the principle reason that Texas Hold ’em has risen to become king of the poker rules is most likely down to its simplicity. The game itself is easy to teach, easy to learn, and easy to play, yet still difficult to master.
This approachability, especially for a game where money might change hands, is most likely why Texas Hold ’em remains the most popular card game in the world.