You see it everywhere you go. People playing a game of poker on their cell phones or laptops at a local coffee shop. In fact, you might play poker yourself once in and while — but what’s the truth about how poker has changed over the years? How popular has it become since its early days? Who’s winning all the money now? And what are some of the biggest trends in poker today?
How popular is poker today?
According to the World Series of Poker (WSOP), more people are playing poker today and spending more money on it than ever before. In fact, the total number of players in the WSOP Main Event in 2005 was 6,358, which was the largest number of players in WSOP history. Today, it’s over 100,000. So, how has it changed? For a long time, there have been people who considered themselves above the game of poker. But after talking to some original poker players, including early pioneers like Wallace Bergrin (a famous syndicate card player), and even modern-day stars like Phil Ivey (a two-time World Series of Poker champion), I understand how poker has evolved into the multi-billion dollar industry it is today. Today, I’ll share some of the biggest facts about poker that you need to know (so you can understand the newbies and potentially become a better player yourself).
Let’s start by sharing a few of the most important laws and regulations surrounding poker today: Poker is strong marketing. According to Forbes, poker is one of the “fastest-growing sports business in America” because: “Over the past seven years, hospitality income has been one of the fastest-growing areas of the U.S. economy as people have sought out rooms to host everything from wedding receptions to barbeques to happy hours. Hands up who remembers the lockdowns and stay-at-home order? Those days are over. And a return to business as usual and relaxed restrictions has been credited for much of the stabilization that’s taken place in the hospitality industry during the pandemic.” The digital age certainly has been a major driver of what poker has become today. Back in 1995, the structure of the Internet was pretty much the same as it is today. In fact, those who played from that era complex understand and remember the fear many had towards the potential of hackers and scammers, aka quacks. Despite the initial fears that many had, the Internet has allowed a flood of players to compete in poker, which hasn’t gone unnoticed today.
Why are so many people playing poker online now?
A lot of people are playing poker online now. The reason is that online poker is very convenient. It doesn’t require you to be physically present at a poker table. You can play poker with your friends without needing to travel to a physical poker table. To begin my journey through the history of money in poker, I thought it might be interesting to play a game of doppelganger. I created an account, put on my cardigan, cracked a beer, and started playing online poker from 2004 to 2019. Poker is a popular pastime among American adults as of 2018. Americans spent $8.4 billion playing poker in 2018, according to the National Gambling Impact Report (NGIR) conducted by the National Academies of Sciences, Engineering, and Medicine.
There are various definitions for what makes a game “poker-like”, but when defining online poker as a game, the main verbs to use are “casino” and “Internet”. Casino refers to the actual physical casino that people can play games of cards or blackjack at the moment. Blackjack is a game of skill, as opposed to chance, and is considered the most basic form of gambling. The last time I played blackjack at my local casino was in 2008. Since then, I’ve lost thousands of dollars playing poker online. I wasn’t the only one. In 2018, there were 19 million online poker players, with revenues of $4.3 billion. On the other hand, there were only 1.6 million total slot machines in American casinos at the end of 2018, according to the U.S. Census.
More than money, online poker is about social interaction. For many people, playing poker provides player interaction. There’s something about being “in the zone” that allows players to engage in conversations and make genuine connections. A game of blackjack in a typical casino is about players making decisions and predicting outcomes. A poker game requires bluffing, building relationships, bluffing, building relationships, and more. Additionally, poker allows players to make profitable trades.
What changes have been made to the game of poker over the years?
The game of poker has changed massively over the years. Back in the 1970s, poker was played with a deck of 52 cards and included hands like the “Gutshot Straight”. Over the decades, poker has evolved to include more players, more betting rounds, and the use of multiple decks of cards. Historically, poker was a $5,000 a day game that was limited to white-collar professionals in urban areas. Most players couldn’t play for more than a few hours at a time, and if they got busted playing multiple hands of cards, they got fired. In the past 30–40 years, however, the popularity of the game has skyrocketed. In fact, attendance has increased significantly throughout the past five decades.
In 2008, a quarter of all Americans reported playing poker for money. The cards are really all up to you in this game. There are the basic 52 cards from the original Amerhaus Main set which include Ace, Queen, Jack, 10 of Spades, and 11 of Hearts. There are also a few Joker, suit, and rank variations, but those are just a small selection of the 220+ cards that you’ll find in modern sets. Players have been taking the game online, however. The game has been played for a long time in the United States and it’s taken off across the world in recent years. T
here are hundreds of different online poker websites where you can play against other players or in tournament settings. Currently, poker is really big globally, especially in Southeast Asia, and online play is growing all the time. There are a few popular internet poker sites where you can play basic games against other players or in tournament settings. Most recently, online poker has exploded in popularity in India and China. One of the most popular games is the “Colonel Chaos” version of Texas Holdem, one of the oldest and most popular online poker games. The game is played in what many call the “Money Game” (or simply the “GML”).
How you can become a better player in 2021 and beyond
If you’re a competitive gamer like me, you’re always looking for ways to get better and improve your skills. Here are a few tips:
- Find a team and play with them.
- Make a plan and follow it.
- Adjust your strategy based on peer evaluations.
- Rinse and repeat.
The industry is said to have started as simply as local coffee shops offering drinks, but it eventually grew to the point where there were several restaurant locations offering games. I only remember playing poker in my local slot parlors. They typically held tournaments for local high school athletes and college students to play for little money. These tournaments usually ran for a couple of weeks and we’d all bring together a few of our friends from class and stay there for a few days while going over our statistics, taking down the blinds and watching as we battled for money.