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The History of Texas Hold’em

Home » Lifestyle » The History of Texas Hold’em

The History of Texas Hold’em

Male poker player lifting the corners of two aces

Texas hold’em is one of the most popular card games in the world. Today, millions of people play online poker, with big tournaments offering huge prize pools to the best players. Although many different poker variants exist, hold’em is almost always chosen for the feature events.

The history of poker is as interesting as the game itself, although there are disputes over where and how it was invented. Learn more about Texas hold’em poker’s backstory, including its creation and when it started to become popular.

Early Versions of Poker

Poker arrived in the United States in the 18th century, though early players were inspired by much older games. Throughout history, people all around the world have gambled on games of chance. In 10th century China, bone tiles known as “dominoes” were the most popular way to play, and these likely inspired early playing cards.

Playing cards appeared for the first time in Persia during the 16th century, when people used them to play a game known as “as nas.” The rules bear a striking similarity to modern poker, where players bet that they have the highest-ranked hand. 

Over time, as nas spread across Europe, inspiring games like “brag” in England, “pochen” in Germany, and “poque” in France. The specific rules of these early versions of poker varied quite a bit. However, they all featured the same concept of beating opponents with a higher-ranked hand. 

French settlers in New Orleans likely helped to popularize poque with the locals in the 18th century, where it soon became known as poker. There were many different versions, including stud and straight poker. In addition, two-player games would typically feature 20 cards rather than a standard 52-card deck. 

Who Invented Texas Hold’em?

Throughout the Mississippi River region, the game of poker continued to spread. However, different regions of the country developed distinct rules and ways of playing. The American Civil War saw the game popularized among soldiers. Later on, players began using community cards, too.

So when was Texas hold’em invented? It’s hard to say exactly. However, records show that players in the 19th century likely developed it. Texas has formally recognized Robstown as the birthplace of Texas hold’em poker. Blondie Forbes, a Texan gambler, is often credited with creating the modern rules in 1925.

How Texas Hold’em Became So Popular

Young woman wearing a hat plays poker

There are hundreds of ways to play poker, which makes it interesting to think about why Texas hold’em has become the most popular. Unlike other versions, such as draw or stud poker, this game uses community cards. In addition, it features four betting rounds rather than just two. 

The community cards and extra betting rounds offer the potential for far more bluffing and strategy. In turn, this helps to make every game exciting. Knowing when to represent a hand and when to fold in Texas hold’em can be really difficult. Many players just love to take on the challenge of mastering such a nuanced game.

However, even after its creation in the 1920s, hold’em remained largely unheard of for several decades. Players still preferred other games like draw poker. 

Viva Las Vegas

It wasn’t until the 1960s that Texas hold’em really started to take off after Las Vegas casinos began to offer games. While it was Blondie Forbes who invented Texas hold’em, it was someone else entirely who helped make it the popular game it is today. 

In 1963, Felton “Corky” McCorquodale introduced this new form of poker to the California Club casino, a pivotal moment in Texas hold’em history. It would quickly become the new way to play. Soon, gamblers all over the strip were enjoying it, though it was just known as hold’em at the time. 

Why is Texas hold’em called Texas hold’em, then? Simply to distinguish it from other forms of hold’em poker. Omaha used to be known as Omaha hold’em, for instance. Naming games after the place they emerged from may have made sense at the time, but it’s a practice that’s largely been dropped nowadays.

World Series of Poker

In 1969, the Gambling Fraternity Convention held a poker tournament, with Texas hold’em included as one of the games. Benny and Jack Binion, father and son casino magnates, bought this organization a year later. They renamed it the World Series of Poker and made no-limit Texas hold’em the main event. 

The first-ever World Series of Poker only featured eight participants, but by 1982, it had expanded to over one hundred players. It quickly grew to become the biggest and most influential event in poker. 

Hold’em Books

Around this time, players could read the first-ever poker strategy books. These offered new insights into the game and how to play Texas hold’em. Perhaps the most famous of all was written by WSOP legend Doyle Brunson. His “Super/System” is arguably the most influential poker book ever written. 

In 1983, a publisher released “The Biggest Game in Town,” a book detailing the world of professional poker and the WSOP. This helped people to learn even more about the game, introducing poker to a wider audience and further increasing the number of people playing.

Texas Hold’em in the Media

A poker player betting all of his chips in a hand of Texas Hold'em

Books may have helped people learn about poker and the strategy involved in the game. However, they weren’t the only type of media to help establish Texas hold’em in the mainstream. Highly quotable movies like “Rounders” (1998) showed a somewhat romanticized version of high-stakes poker, helping open up the game to many new fans. 

Television channels tried to offer highlights of high-stakes poker tournaments, such as those from the WSOP, over the years. However, it wasn’t until the late 1990s that they really started to take off. This is largely due to the invention of the hole card cam, which showed audiences the hands of each player at each table. The cameras made it much easier to follow the action, offering a more interesting spectacle. 

From that point, interest in hold’em continued to grow, especially thanks to ESPN’s coverage of the WSOP. After Chris Moneymaker won the 2003 WSOP Main Event, the popularity of online poker simply exploded. During this period, dubbed the “poker boom,” Texas hold’em became ingrained as the main game played at sites worldwide. 

Poker Today and the Future of Texas Hold’em

The poker boom may be over, but Texas hold’em and other game variants are still hugely popular. Not only that, but it’s easier than ever to learn about the game and start playing. 

There are countless videos and articles to help you develop your poker skills. Playing online hold’em is also better than ever, thanks to sites like BetMGM, which make it straightforward to register and play. Join hundreds of real money cash tables and exciting tournaments today.

Texas hold’em is the most popular way to play poker today, but it’s a relatively new game. Learn the history of Texas hold’em, including how it was invented.