The History of Poker—20th Century

THE HISTORY OF POKER

20TH CENTURY—NEW GAMES, CALIFORNIA, LAS VEGAS

In the last article, we were right at the beginning of poker’s growing popularity in the Old West. As America pushed west, poker not only became more prevalent, but also started being developed further.

During the early days, the game would be played with a deck of 20 cards, and the play would be primarily based on who was dealt the highest-ranking hand with little chance of bluffing. However, the 52-card modern deck was introduced with time, and the flush became a new hand ranking.

THE GENESIS OF SEVERAL NEW GAMES

As the game took over the American frontier, there were several new inventions along the way. Some of the new poker games invented during this time included stud poker, lowball and split-pot poker, and community card poker games.

Even though several states in the West had prohibited poker, there were still plenty of games running for anyone interested. Over time, the laws would change and become more accepting of poker.

For example, Nevada had criminalized poker and other card games in 1909. Yet by 1919, most cities in the state had licensed card rooms that offered legal games within its premises like Bridge, and by 1939, the state decided to fully legalize all games of chance.

Over the next few decades, Nevada and California would become the new hubs for poker players and Las Vegas the new hot destination.

POKER STRATEGY GETS FORMALIZED, USHERING IN A NEW ERA IN THE 70S

During the 1970s, a lot of things were changing. As a result, the decade is often referred to by historians as a pivotal moment in history where the world went through post-war prosperity and faced a reckoning of traditional values with new progressive ones.

It was also a monumental time for the game of poker. The World Series of Poker, considered the biggest poker tournament in the world, was started in 1970. It gave us the early legends like Doyle Brunson, Johnny Moss and Puggy Pearson.

A lot of work was done on poker strategy as well. Some of the most influential poker books were published during this time, including time-tested classics such as Super/System by Doyle Brunson and The Theory of Poker by David Sklansky.

From being a wild game played by fantastic people, a sense of sophistication and commerce had seeped into the poker world by now. The cultural obsession with poker also kept growing through the 1970s and into the 80s.

THE POKER BOOM IN CALIFORNIA AND LA IN THE 80S

By the 1980s, it was clear to everyone that poker was booming. Along with the developments of the previous decade, the legalization of flop games was a massive factor in making poker even more popular. Flop games like Hold’em were much more appealing to new players than draw games.

Legendary venues like the Bicycle Club and Commerce Casino were established in California by 1984. These rooms would attract countless players across the country, tempting them with the budding scene in the state. However, within a few years, The Mirage would be established in Las Vegas and would be home to one of the best poker rooms in the country.

By the 1990s, the game was becoming popular across the entire country. In Atlantic City, the newly established Trump Taj Mahal would feature one of the most well-known poker rooms on the other side of the country.

THE NEXT PARADIGM

By the 1990s, poker had transformed into a mainstream game of chance and skill in America. There were tons of venues and professional players, books on strategy, and poker had become a niche aspect of culture itself.

However, the poker boom in the 1980s was minicircle when compared to what was about to come. The following article focuses on how the internet and television pushed poker beyond what anybody thought was possible. Even when drowning in the optimism of the 80s and the 90s.

Note, this article is intended for interest and entertainment only. It is not related to, nor a reflection of, Global Poker, its views, its products, content, or its games. Just enjoy it.