Dating back 100s of years, Poker is one of the most well-known games across the globe. Alongside a staple card game, poker forms a core aspect of the gambling industry, which is currently projected to be worth $145 billion by 2030. Even individual games of poker have now become legendary, with some pulling in millions of dollars in payouts.
One of the most beloved card games
Back in 2013, a single game of poker saw the biggest payout in history. Antonio Esfandiari, one of the winners of the World Poker Champion title, once walked away with $18.3 million USD in winnings from just one single game. Surprisingly, he isn’t even the #1 in terms of total money won from Poker, demonstrating just how much money and community devotion there is in this game.
But how did Poker evolve from a little-known card game into a world-renown sensation? In this article, we’ll trace the exciting history of poker and demonstrate exactly how this game came to be the cultural force we know today.
Early history of Poker – Persian, French, and American iterations
While there is a heated debate around the exact origins of poker, the reality is that we don’t really know. But, we do have some general ideas or inklings which we can trace back through history. Many sources report that poker was first played in China during the tenth century BC.
China being the country of origin for the game is hardly surprising, considering that playing cards themselves were most likely invented in China during the 9th Century. This revelation suggests that an early version of Poker could well be over 1000 years old. Yet, poker as we know it did not originate until much later.
In the 17th Century, early poker had traveled from China and was now alive and well in the Middle East. Many believe that the Persian card game As-Nas is the earliest form of poker which resembles the modern-day game.
During the French Renaissance, there were many reports of Poque being played across France. However, others believe that modern poker came to be in the United States, where As-Nas with gambling was played throughout the region of the Mississippi river during the 1800s.
One of the first pieces of Western literature which discusses Poker, the 1837 ‘Hoyle,’ contains a line as follows: “Poker, as first played in the United States […] is undoubtedly the Persian game of As-Nas.” Although the United States might have modified the game, introducing the elements of betting, there is no mistaking the early origins of poker to lie within the Middle East.
Poker goes international during the long 20th century
While poker was already an established game across several pockets of the world, it wasn’t until the 1900s that the popularity of the game really skyrocketed. In the early 1970s, casino culture was booming in the United States.
The 1970s saw the rise of poker tournaments, with the best poker players from across the states traveling to be a part of these casino-led competitions. Poker became so popular, both for professionals and amateurs, that this decade also saw the release of several poker strategy manuals. These would guide amateur players through the game, giving useful tips and strategies about how to play better.
Two major political changes also facilitated the fast growth of poker in the States. The first of these came in 1987, when California legalized alternative poker games, boosting the ability for people to get involved and play how they liked. In casinos, users could play different variations like hold’em and have more fun with the game.
Just one year later, in 1988, seeing the widespread prosperity that California was obtaining from poker, Congress published the Indian Gaming Regulatory Act. This new decree legalized the construction and commodification of casinos on Indian lands. From this, there was a steady boom in new casinos that were opened, with the higher density of casinos across the States providing even more locations for people to get involved.
The move to the digital age
The late 90s into the early 2000s were a time of incredible progress for the poker industry. This was almost completely due to the rise and popularization of the internet, which provided an online way for people to play poker.
While physical locations like casinos had facilitated the early expansion of the poker industry, many novice players were intimidated by them. Equally, if there wasn’t a casino near you, then traveling out of your way to gamble wasn’t realistic for many people. The rise of internet poker games fixed this, providing an accessible and anxiety-free way of playing the card game.
In 2001, poker revenues were sitting at around $82.7 million USD a year. By 2005, this number was at 2.4 billion USD, demonstrating the hectic expansion that Poker had. Of course, early poker giants like Planet Poker and IRC poker were very much behind this. They offered real money cashouts from 1998, allowing people to have exactly the same experience online as in person.
Beyond just getting more people playing, online poker is significantly cheaper to run than a brick-and-mortar site. From paying staff to renting a building and keeping the lights running 24/7, casinos can get incredibly expensive. Online platforms can rapidly onboard people and keep them playing for longer without nearly as many upfront costs.
Online poker saw this industry completely explode, moving from a slight hobby of a select few to a worldwide sensation. Currently, PokerStars – the world’s largest poker platform – will have upwards of 200,000 people playing at any one time. The international audience provides an around-the-clock flow of players for the industry.
Equally, as technology has continued to improve, poker has become even more accessible. People can now play from their phones, on mobile applications, or via a laptop or computer.
Poker ventures into the metaverse
Poker has always closely followed advancements in technology, using them to expand its industry domination across the globe. From brick-and-mortar sites to online gaming, poker has always mirrored tech innovations.
Most recently, poker has made its way into the virtual world of the Metaverse. The Metaverse allows poker players to get exactly the same experience they would have if they were to travel to a casino. While online poker allows people to play the game, virtual reality brings poker to life.
Web 3 companies like Decentral Games have created virtual environments where players can create an avatar that looks like them, enter into a game, and sit at a virtual table with other players. Individuals from all over the world have started moving to this technology, using the power of VR to emulate a real-life poker table game.
Currently, ICE Poker is the world’s leading metaverse poker game, offering tournaments, challenges, and an international community of players. Its rapid development has provided a new stage for poker players to move into.
What’s so fantastic about this advancement is that it combines the accessibility of online poker with the fun of a real-life brick-and-mortar experience. Taking the very best of both of these forms of playing, Metaverse poker offers something new yet completely familiar.
Considering poker’s long history and its use of technology to expand, we’re unsurprised that this game has already found its way into the Metaverse. Metaverse poker gives users an exciting way to play the world’s favorite card game.
As VR technology continues to advance and become more accessible, we’re only going to see even more progress in this field. With the way Web 3 is going, we won’t be surprised to see the world of online poker make a complete transition to the Metaverse in the next ten years.
And, as history has shown time and time again, poker will be right with it at the front of the charge.