A History of Texas Holdem Poker: It’s Kind of a Big Deal!

Whether you like grabbing a Texas Holdem poker game at a local casino or you prefer to sit around in your puffy pants and take your chances at an online casino, it’s always a good idea to know the history of Texas Holdem poker—-just in case you want to show off next time you've got a great hand in public or you’ve gotten into a trivia competition.

You don’t have to be an armchair archeologist to get proof that the roots of poker can be found in the Persian game of As-Nas. As merchant traders moved from country to country, they brought with them the rules of As-Nas and given language differences, the game was given many different names.

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This rudimentary form of poker required 32-card deck once it evolved over time and historians say that the version of poker we know today emerged from English-speaking societies. Poker was firmly entrenched in U.S. culture when the rise of Mississippi riverboat gambling achieved new heights throughout the 1700s and 1800s.

How did the version of the game we now know as Texas Holdem wind up being named for the Lone Star State? That mystery hasn’t been solved, but we do know that this version becomes part of the Robstown, Texas gaming culture during the early 1900s. As decades passed and players became fans who began to spread the word, it was only a matter of time before the game took up residence at the epicenter of gambling in 1967: Las Vegas.

Who can you thank for sharing the wealth and making Texas Holdem a sensation? Dudes named Amarillo Slim, Crandell Addington (introduced to the game in 1959) and Doyle Brunson. They are said to be responsible for the rules change that first set Texas Holdem apart: Declaring aces high rather than low. What a difference an ace makes!

Where could you find the hottest early Texas Holdem games back in the day of 33-cent-per-gallon gas and the Beatle’s legendary vinyl, “Sgt. Pepper's Lonely Hearts Club Band”? At the Golden Nugget Casino. Forget the glitz and glitter. Back then, this joint had sawdust-covered floors, but for gamers who had fallen in love with Texas Holdem, who cared what floors liked like? By 1969, other casinos added it to their menus.

A poker tournament held that year included Texas Holdem for the very first time, and just a year later, the Binion Brothers bought tournament rights, christened the event the World Series of Poker and moved the festivities to their house.

While plenty of avid Texas Holdem Poker players say they’d rather play than reading, sales of Doyle Brunson’s “Super/System” poker guide sold like crazy for $100 per copy beginning around 1970. It might as well have been a New York Times Bestseller, say poker fans who adopted the book as their Bible and cited it as a full legitimization of Texas Holdem’s inclusion in the world of gaming.

Would it surprise you to learn that by the time Internet gambling had grown from a fun online activity to a phenomenon that turned the world into a gaming parlor, Texas Holdem had become an expected fixture on international online casino websites? Probably not. Some contemporary gamblers can't recall a day when Texas Holdem didn't exist!

But you can bet that for those who prefer Texas Holdem to all other card games, no gaming website worth its salt would dare to omit it from their online library. And that’s just how Texans meant it to be from the time they took credit for what began as an ancient Persian game nearly 60 years ago!

Lukas Mollberg

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