The History of Poker—The Players



They say poker takes minutes to learn but a lifetime to master. In the early days, people only played for recreation. Although many technically played poker for a living, the concept of the modern poker player did not emerge until the late 20th century.

The early professionals had no option but to play at physical casinos. Some pioneers of that era, like Stu Ungar, even refused to use bank accounts. The “wild man” ethos of poker players wasn’t new; previously, the best players were sometimes outlaws in the old west.

However, as the world modernized and online poker started taking off, the game was suddenly accessible to more people than ever before. Since anyone could play poker from anywhere and anytime, some kept on grinding and became professionals earning millions of dollars every year.

Today, the idea of a professional poker player is quite accepted. Moreover, several players like Antonio Esfandiari and Doyle Brunson are celebrities outside the world of poker. We have a group of articles—The Players—which look at the various types of players who played the game throughout history; starting from the early 19th-century theorists to the modern TV heroes of poker.