The game of poker has gone through numerous changes in its evolution from the early games of Mississippi riverboats to its modern incarnation. These changes have seen the game evolve from humble beginnings to a complex format that is enjoyed by over 100 million people across the globe. The reason for the changes, range from the types of poker variations, to simply the places where a person can legally play the game.
One of the most visible changes to poker is in what game is popular at any given point in the game’s history. The earliest forms of the game to rise to prominence were Five Card Stud and Five Card Draw, both of which originated in the American Civil War and were played extensively in the years that followed. The new century saw Seven Card Stud take over the lead position due to the many more possibilities afforded by the extra two cards. Now, the most popular game is clearly No Limit Texas Hold ‘Em, considered to be the “Cadillac of Poker.”
There have also been rule changes that affect the actual structure of the game, most notably being with the betting limits. Playing for table stakes was not always the norm and the early games were unfair in that they favored the player that brought the most money to the table. Pot Limit and Fixed Limit games helped to fix this problem as well as the establishment of table stakes as a standard rule of play.
The gradual transition from the illegal games of the past into the legal games of today has also been a positive indicator of poker’s progress over the years. Games in casinos and televised poker shows have elevated the game to new heights and helped to remove most of the negative connotations of the game from previous years.
Poker tournaments have also seen a large amount of growth in the past decade. As more people have become interested in the game, the tournament format allows them to try their luck for a fixed amount of money without being put in a position to lose a serious amount. From online small buy-in tournaments to the $10,000 World Series of Poker Main Event, these tournaments have quickly become the most popular way to experience poker firsthand.
With all of the new players, the level of skill needed to be successful at the game has also evolved, moving from reliance on tells to a deep understanding of the mathematical basis of the game. In modern times, a player needs to be aware of how to interpret both types of information and use them to inform their decisions at the table.
Knowing where to play is a big change as well. Online poker websites, such as PokerStars, have brought legal poker to the masses and more local casinos are now spreading Texas Hold ‘Em and other variations of the game. All of these changes have shown that poker is a very mutable game and only the future will show which new poker adaptations will happen.