The History of Texas Hold’em
Despite the huge popularity it enjoys, not much is known about the history of Texas Hold em. According to the best information available today, this cards game originated in Texas in the early 1900s as another poker variation but its beginnings were quite modest. It was played behind the closed doors in bars and home games but during the first few decades after being invented, it didn’t really catch up.
Hold’em in Las Vegas
In the mid-1960s, Hold’em poker found its way inside the casinos in Las Vegas. It was introduced by a group of players, including two of the game’s legends and cards sharks – Doyle Brunson and Amarillo Slim. The game was quite different from other forms of poker that were available at the time, especially because of its particular betting structure, allowing for more action than most draw games that were popular at the time. In those early days, though, the game was simply called Hold’em.
Although it had clear potential to become a big hit among the players, Texas Hold’em poker game didn’t explode immediately. For a while, Golden Nugget was the only casino in Vegas to spread this variation. Back in those days, Golden Nugget wasn’t the venue it is today, though, and it didn’t attract very many rich clients. Because of this, it would take some time before the game found its way into other cards rooms.
Birth of the World Series of Poker
In 1970, Jack and Benny Binion, launched World Series of Poker after acquiring rights for the Annual Gambling Fraternity Convention. They changed the name of the event and moved it to their legendary Horseshoe Casino in Las Vegas. This would turn out to be the first major breakthrough for Texas Hold’em.
Namely, it was decided that the main event of the Series should feature Hold’em instead of any other poker variation popular at the time and this was the beginning of the game’s claim to fame that would continue in the years to come. From the very first year to this very day, players in the Main Event play Texas Hold’em poker and this isn’t likely to change any time soon.
Over the coming years, the interest for World Series of Poker continued to grow. To start, it was a small event, attracting only a handful of players. However, in the next couple of decades, the number of entrants surged to over 200, paving the path for the latest poker variation to obtain the huge popularity it enjoys today.
World Series of Poker 2003
Over the coming years, the game continued to gain more and more momentum but it was still just another variation that some of the players enjoyed. It would take a special kind of an event for Hold’em to really come to the top and leave all other games behind.
By the early 2000s, World Series of Poker has become a staple event for poker fans all over the globe so this alone helped a lot. The fact that poker has started to receive a lot of TV coverage as well was another important feature in turning Texas Hold’em No Limit into what it is today. But, the Main Event of the 2003 World Series of Poker would change things forever.
It was the year when Chris Moneymaker, a regular Joe who qualified for his seat online, won the main Event and took home USD 1,000,000. Not only did he win but to get the victory, he defeated Sammy Farha in the heads up battle for the title. Farha was well-known to poker fans from all over the world as he regularly played on High Stakes Poker, one of the best poker shows to date.
The Poker Boom
This unlikely victory created a chain reaction unlike anything the poker world has seen before. Since the Main Event had TV coverage, the whole world could witness Moneymaker’s moment of fame and, all of a sudden, everyone wanted to play. The poker dream was born, giving everyone hope that they could be the next in line to take home the prestigious title and the huge prize money that came with it.
If the Main Event happened to feature Stud Poker, Hold’em would likely never gain the momentum it had. But, since it was Texas Hold’em that was played, the game basically became the synonym for poker. If someone was talking about poker, they were likely talking about Hold’em, even if there are at least a dozen of other game variations out there.
That’s the history of the game in a nutshell. Today, Holdem is the best and the most popular poker variation by far, played in all major tournaments and many high stakes cash games. Of course, these days there are other cards games as well competing for popularity but they all still have some catching up to do.
The Variants of Texas Hold’em Poker
There are several different types of this game variation. Although they all use the same main Texas Hold’em poker rules, there are some differences, primarily when it comes to betting. Knowing how you can bet in poker and what your options are has huge influence on the overall strategy, so these variations, albeit similar on the surface, are quite different.
No Limit Hold’em is the most popular variation by far. Like the name suggests, there are no betting restrictions here. Players can bet any amount of chips they like at any point. The minimum bet size is defined by the big blind but beyond that, everyone is allowed to bet all of the chips they have in front of them whenever they want regardless of the cards they have.
In Pot Limit Hold’em, the maximum bet size is defined by the size of the pot. While this is still a big bet game, players can’t bet whatever amount they like. If the size of the bet is larger than the size of the pot, it won’t be allowed. Some tournaments are played as pot limit and there are some cash games that often employ the pot limit rule before the flop.
Limit Hold’em is actually one of the oldest variations of the game. In this particular format, bets on all streets (flop, turn, and river) are fixed, i.e. players can only bet and raise to certain predefined amounts. There is also a cap to the total number of bets that are allowed to go into the pot on each street.
Finally, HORSE is a special poker variation that includes several games – Hold’em being one of them. Other games included in the mix are Razz, Omaha, Seven Card Stud, and Seven Card Stud Eight. When played as part of HORSE, the game is played in its limit format.
Top 6 Texas Hold em Players
With Hold’em being the most popular poker variation in existence, there are quite a few players out there who made their mark and achieved a great success. While it is hard to say exactly who are the best players in the world, these are some of the names that are certainly in the very top of any list of great players.
Often referred to as the Godfather of Poker, Doyle Brunson has left a huge mark on the game and is one of the main “culprits” for introducing Hold’em to wider masses. Apart from being a great player in his own right, with ten World Series of Poker bracelets to his name, Brunson has also made great contributions to Texas Hold’em strategy with his Super System, the book that changed the game forever, revealing many tactics that only the pros were familiar with.
Daniel Negreanu is definitely one of the best known faces in the poker scene. For a long time, Negreanu was the main ambassador for PokerStars, the biggest online poker room out there, which only contributed to his popularity. During his career, this Canadian player has had many remarkable results, earning USD 41.8 million from live tournaments. With his career still going strong, this number is likely to get even bigger. Daniel has also won six WSOP bracelets as well as a WSOPc ring.
Member of the young guard, Daniel Colman emerged onto the live poker scene from online background. He made his claim to fame in 2014 when he took down the second WSOP Big One for One Drop tournament featuring the buy-in of staggering USD 1,000,000. For this win, Coleman took home USD 15.3 million after defeating Daniel Negreanu in a grueling heads-up battle. This wasn’t the only big result for the young American, though, as he has managed to amass well over USD 29 million in live tournament winnings.
Justin Bonomo, better known for his online handle ‘ZeeJustin’, is another young player who learned the ropes of Texas Hold’em games online before joining the live scene. It was a very successful transition, though, as Bonomo is one of the biggest tournament winners in the history of the game. To date, he has amassed USD 48.5 million in live winnings, won three WSOP bracelets, and he still has a lot of time ahead of him. It is interesting that Bonomo discovered poker after being an avid player of another cards game, Magic the Gathering, and was instantly attracted to the competitive element of poker.
The man who needs no introduction, Phil Hellmuth is easily the most colorful and entertaining characters in the professional poker world. Never the one to hold back his thoughts, Hellmuth has entertained millions of poker fans all over the world for years now. However, he is much more than just an entertaining TV character. Phil Hellmuth, popularly called ‘The Poker Brat’, actually holds the record for the most WSOP bracelets, with fifteen of these trinkets to his name. This is the fact that Phil is very proud of as even the closest competitors have a lot of catching up to do if they want to threaten his record.
Popularly known as “Tiger Woods of Poker”, Phil Ivey is, according to many, the best poker player to have ever lived. Although he is experienced with other forms of the game, such as Pot Limit Omaha and Razz, Ivey’s best results have come from Texas Hold’em. With close to USD 26.5 million in tournament winnings and ten WSOP bracelets, it isn’t hard to see why Ivey is considered the best by many. But, beyond this, he’s been a regular member of the highest stakes cash games around and, according to what we know, he’s done really good in these over the years.
Top 6 Texas Hold’em Events
With Holdem being so popular around the world, it is no surprise that some of the biggest poker tournaments around are played in this format. There are thousands of events taking place each year, but these six are definitely the biggest, most popular, and most rewarding, offering huge prize pools and big cash for the winners.
World Series of Poker Main Event
Taking place during the summer of every year in Las Vegas, the WSOP Main Event is considered by most players the world championship of poker. The tournament features a buy-in of USD 10,000, which is definitely not a small amount, but that doesn’t prevent players from all over the world to come and try their luck. Growing year after year, modern Main Events attract thousands of players and create huge prize pools, with winners regularly taking home large seven and even eight-figure amounts. The most recent Main Event (2019) gathered 8,569 players and the eventual winner, Dario Sammartino, took home USD 10,000,000.
European Poker Tour (EPT)
Although it is a series of tournaments taking place every year all over Europe, EPT is definitely one of the biggest poker tours, right after WSOP. Tournaments take place over the year in Spain, Italy, Germany, the UK, and many other countries. Every stop features a number of different events, with the EPT Main Event usually featuring the buy-in of EUR 5,300 and winners walking away with big six and even seven-figure scores. Players can earn their seats in these tournaments even playing Texas Hold’em online free.
World Poker Tour (WPT)
The World Poker Tour (WPT) is the American equivalent of the EPT. Taking place all over the United States, the WPT offers players a chance to compete in big events and fight for huge cash prizes. Buy-ins for the Main Event are usually between USD 5,000 and USD 10,000, depending on the location, and the number of players. Each season culminates with the WPT World Championship, featuring a buy-in of USD 25,000.
Aussie Millions is a legendary poker event taking place in Crown Casino in Melbourne, Australia. The entire event spans over three weeks, with numerous different tournaments taking place during this time. Of course, the main focus is on the Aussie Millions Main Event with a buy-in of AUD 10,600. The event attracts thousands of players from all over the world every year and Gus Hansen is probably one of the most notable winners, having published a book describing his run in the tournament in 2007, where he ended up winning and taking home AUD 1.2 million. The book is called “Every Hand Revealed.”
The Big One for One Drop
The Big One for One Drop was the largest-ever poker tournament in terms of the buy-in when it was announced in 2012. Players had to put staggering USD 1,000,000 for their right to participate, which was particularly insane a few years ago. The tournament was a part of the WSOP schedule and the winner, Antonio Esfandiari, was awarded a special bracelet alongside the USD 18.3 million prize. Although it doesn’t happen every year, this is one of the most anticipated tournaments around for the players and poker fans alike.
WCOOP Main Event
Online poker is certainly as popular as its live counterpart so the Main Event of the World Championship of Online Poker (WCOOP) is definitely one of the biggest Holdem tournaments around. Taking place on PokerStars, the event regularly attracts several thousand players, each putting up USD 5,200 to fight for the prestigious title. Over the years, WCOOP winners have taken home prizes well in excess of USD 1,000,000.
Where Can I Play Texas Hold’em?
If you want to play Hold’em, you can do so from the comfort of your own home. There are many great online poker sites you can play at and you can use our comparison as the guide to find just the right room for you. Check out what they have to offer and make your pick!
FAQFrequently Asked Questions About Texas Hold’em
While many people see Holdem as gambling simply because it is a game played with cards, the correct answer would be that this is a skill game with elements of luck. While this poker format does involve some gambling, players with more skills and more knowledge of the game always come out on top in the long run.
There isn’t much information about how Hold’em was invented. We know it originates from Texas but there is no particular name that is mentioned as the inventor of the game. What we do know is that it started to gain popularity in the second half of the 1906s when it found its way into Las Vegas casinos.
Playing the game in the casino isn’t much different from playing in your home game, although there might be a few differences in the rules. There will still be blinds, antes and the button and Texas Hold’em poker hands rankings are still the same. And, if you happen to make a mistake, don’t worry too much, you’ll usually just receive a kind warning.
Before the flop, the betting starts with the first player seated to the left of the big blind (Under the Gun). The player has the option to call (match the big blind amount), fold (give up their hand), or raise, at least doubling the big blind amount. After the flop, action starts with the small blind or the first still active player seated left to the small blind.
The game is usually played in the no limit format, where players can make the staple texas hold’em all in move whenever they want. In the limit variation, this isn’t possible. There is a fixed betting structure that dictates the size of each bet and raise on every street and players can’t deviate from these rules.
Like every game, Holdem does have its etiquette and players are expected to observe it when playing. While these aren’t rules set in stone, you should know about them and observe them because it is a nice and polite thing to do. For example, it isn’t nice to slow-roll your opponents when you have the nuts (i.e. a nut flush on an unpaired board).
There are many resources out there for those looking to become better. Sites such as this one provide many great tips and tricks to help you improve your game and get to the next level. However, you must be willing to put in the time and effort to achieve this goal.
If you watch players play on TV, you’ve probably seen them do some cool stuff with their poker chips. The best way to learn some of these tricks is by watching YouTube videos explaining how it is done or have someone who already knows teach you. While this isn’t essential to your success in the game, it is certainly a nice touch at the tables and will keep your hands occupied.
It doesn’t matter if you just want to play to pass some time or if you have bigger aspirations and hope to turn your hobby into something more. There are really no limits as to where you can go if you devote enough time and effort to the game. So, why not kick start your poker career today and see where it takes you? You can do things at your own pace and with no pressure, so it’s going to be a fun and challenging adventure.