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5 interesting facts about Poker
(15 May 2021)

Many consider Poker to be the gold standard of card games. In fact, it’s considered to be the most skillful game one can find in a casino, where the house edge and luck play less of a role. Online Poker has become bigger than real-life Poker, in part due to its accessibility and convenience. Never having to wait for a table or crumble to the pressure of keeping a straight face, lockdowns around the world have rewarded introverted Poker players.

Here are five interesting facts about Poker that you may have never heard before:

1.       Poker is old

Poker being an old game may not sound surprising, but just how old it really is may. The game of Poker was thought to originate in China around the 10th century, making it over 1000 years old. However, there is also a conflicting theory that Poker was born out of a Persian game called nas, around the 1500s.

What we are more sure about is that Poker became popularised in France, and particularly in New Orleans saloons, which was originally a French colony during the 1800s. This is where the rules of poker became more established as the ones we know of today, though it was still far from exactly how we play it. In fact, at this stage, they were playing with a 20-card deck. By the end of the 1800s, the deck expanded to 52 cards and poker evolved into a drawing game.

1.       Poker has been in hundreds of films

Somehow, Poker became the popular game of choice. Not just in real life, but in films too. To this day, there have been hundreds of films that have featured games of Poker. Most famously, James Bond’s Casino Royale and The Gambler. The reason for this is the drama that can build in a game of Poker, as stakes grow larger and the game heads towards a peak.

It’s also because Poker players, and the game itself, are glorified and admired for their slick straight-face manipulation, along with being gutsy and smart. This is perhaps why it’s more appealing for a movie than Roulette, which is essentially someone a matter of fate and luck.

1.       The first $1 million Poker game took place in 2012

This was the first time that Poker proved itself to be especially high-roller and not just a working mans’ game. In 2012, Guy Laliberte, who is CEO of Cirque Du Soleil, created a Poker tournament with a $1 million buy.  Named Big One for One Drop was headed for failure, with skepticism that any one person would pay $1 million to buy into the tournament.

By the time the gates shut, there were 48 entrants all paying $1 million each to participate. US Poker player Antonio Esfandiari won the tournament, with a $18,346,673 prize. Since then, Laliberte has hosted several other million-dollar tournaments, though none have resulted in quite as many participants as the first.

1.       Poker games last longer than you think!

Whilst many of us are under the presumption that poker games last a few hours, we have seen instances of games running endlessly longer. It all depends on how many players there are at the table and the structure of a tournament’s rules. The longest game in history lasted over 8 years, which ran in the Bird Cage Theatre in Arizona. The tournament, which had a $1000 buy-in, lasted almost a decade. Of course, this isn’t representative of most tournaments, and we are talking about 1881 – a wildly different time.

1.       Celebrities love Poker

Poker is no stranger to a celebrity. In fact, even some incredibly famous politicians, such as Richard Nixon, were partial to a game of Poker. Nixon was thought to have funded much of his political career through Poker winnings. Mark Twain is another well-known name that was very much into Poker. There have been several references to card games in his novels, which reflect his affinity to Poker.

Toby Maguire, who is a leading actor in many blockbusters such as Spiderman, played online Poker for 15 years. He also joins Ben Affleck and Matt Damon to a game or two!

Some other fun facts about Poker is that there are over 300 million unique card combinations that can exist in a Poker hand of 7 cards. This means that Poker players really have to adapt to each and every situation, along with the context of the table (i.e. who is betting, their patterns, and so on). 

Finally, body language has become one of the biggest skills in gaining an edge in Poker. It’s not only understanding the body language of your opponents but also how you yourself can falsely indicate signals that can throw off other players. However, there will always be an element of luck involved in Poker from how the hands are dealt – but generally, we accept that it’s not always the person who has the best hands that end up winning.

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