Poker is played across the globe in casinos, private homes, card clubs and the Internet. It is estimated that poker is more popular than golf, fishing, football or even basketball. Take the World Series of Poker for example. It attracts more than 4,000 players from around the world and more than 40 million people watch this tournament. In the United Kingdom and Europe, there has been an exponential rise in poker, mostly due to tournaments being televised.

Land-based casinos in the UK offer a wide choice of poker games ranging from five-card stud, seven-card stud, Texas Hold-em and Omaha. In addition, many casinos now offer Caribbean stud poker, which is played as a banker against the casino. Poker is also played on video poker machines. Approximately 10% of the players who visit Las Vegas play video poker machines. More people play this game than craps, keno or roulette.

Famous Poker Players

In 1979 the hall of fame was founded to honour the top poker players. Each year a new player is added. Poker players who’ve won the World Series gain entry automatically. Players in the Hall of Fame are:

  • Benny Binion (1904-1989): Former cowboy, gambler and owner of the Horseshoe Casino, the venue for the World Series. Skilled at many forms of poker; your quintessential poker player. 
  • Doyle ‘Texas Dolly’ Brunson (1933-): In the 1950s he gave up his career as a salesman to become a professional poker player. He realised that he could earn ten times more money from playing poker. He honed his playing skills by practising 20 hours per day and in back room card games. 
  • ‘Wild Bill’ Hickok (1837-1876): A poker player with a short but eventful life. During the American Civil war he was a scout, a marshal in Kansas and toured in Buffalo Bill’s Wild West Show as a sharpshooter. The hand that he was holding at the time, a pair of Aces over Eights, has gone down in poker legend as ”Dead Man’s Hand”.
  • Johnny Moss (1907-1997): Won the World Series of Poker three times (1970, 1971, and 1974). He once played a game against Nick the Greek which lasted five months. He won $2 million in this game. 
  • Nick ‘the Greek’ Dandolos (1893-1966): Was a notoriously high-staked player. His gambling career took off when he won $500,000 in horse racing. He lost his fortune in card and dice games. A hardcore gambler with a never say die attitude, he decided to study card games and won more than $6 million at stud poker during his lifetime. 

Some Interesting Poker Facts

  • The Chinese were the first to invent playing cards.
  • In 1937 “A Fifth Suit” was added, it never took off since players had to purchase all the new decks.
  • Poker is played frequently by 65 million U.S citizens.
  • Aces and Eights are better known as “Dead man’s” hand.
  • When a player gets dealt a Ten and a Deuce it is also known as” Doyle Brunson”, because he won two consecutive World Series of Poker events with this hand.
  • In the 1800s, there were approximately 2,500 riverboat casinos offering poker on American Waterways. At the time “A straight” beat a “Flush”.
  • Casinos in Las Vegas are not legally compelled to settle their gambling debts.
  • As a result of French influence: Spades signify Royalty, Diamonds signify Merchants, Clubs signify the peasants and hearts signify the clergy.
  • Edmond Hoyle lived to be 97 and passed away 150 years before the invention of Poker.
  • During the 1300’s card playing was introduced in Europe.
  • When Christopher Columbus arrived in North America in 1492, his men picked wide leaves from trees, drew pictures on them and played cards.
  • Historians agree that Bill Hickock was a dreadful poker player.
  • Groucho Marx got his name, since he carried his poker money in a “grouch bag”.
  • During WWII, Ex- President Richard Nixon won $6,000 playing poker during his first two months in the U.S. Navy. This amount more or less equates to $50,000 in 2010. Nixon used his poker winnings to fund his presidential campaign, when he ran for the U.S. Congress in 1946 which he won.

Tips for Progressive Video Poker players:

  • Only 21% of the hands that are dealt in video poker win for example Jacks or better whilst 79% are downright dogs. In essence this is the distinct difference between those who win and those who don’t. It’s up to the player to study poker and to groom the 79% of his/her hands into winning hands. Seek out Jacks or better machines that play 9 coins for a full house and six coins for a flush.
  • Players should rather play progressives that pay 8 coins for a full house and 5 for a flush and where the jackpot is over $250 on a nickel machine, $2,500 on quarter and $10,000 for the dollar.
  • Bet the maximum amount of coins to get the bonus for royal flushes.
  • If you are a novice player, play the lowest denomination slot game until your level of skill improves.
  • Don’t underestimate the Jack! The Ace is not the most important card in the deck. Holding the Jack over the Ace gives improves a player’s winning odds of making more lucrative hands than the Ace.
  • Obtain video poker skills using either a PC or a hand-held video poker game. The added benefit from this training it hones your skills without financial risk or ruin. It’s best to learn video poker by playing Deuces Wild or Jacks-or-better.
  • By no means keep a kicker with any pair. Holding a kicker to any pair reduces your chances of winning by 5%.
  • By no means draw four cards if you can draw three to a royal flush.
  • Don’t break a flush even if you can draw one to straight flush, however, break a flush to draw a “Royal Flush”.
  • Don’t break a straight to draw a straight flush, never draw five if you have Jacks-or-better and don’t keep a Ten for a four card draw.
  • Flop: Is the first three community cards dealt face up at the same time onto the table.
  • Kicker: It is the top unpaired card in a player’s hand.