In the long, distinguished, and sometimes controversial world of card playing, one game stands head and shoulders above the others when it comes to enjoyment, fame, and popularity and that game is of course poker.
This king of card games can be traced back to at least the early 19th century, with a popular game of the time known quite enchantingly as ‘The Lying Game’, and it is perhaps this aspect of poker that has made it so widespread and able to develop into today’s famous versions such as the ubiquitous Texas Hold’Em.
For poker is much more than a simple game of chance. It requires skill, memory, prediction skills, and – crucially – a large element of psychology. A good poker player pays as much attention to their opponents’ body language and motives as to the cards in their own hands, and poker is a game played as much in the mind as on the card table.
Poker in Popular Culture
The way that poker has settled into western culture is clear from the amount of phrases which it has lent to the English language: ‘keeping a poker pace’, ‘calling his bluff’, ‘upping the ante’, ‘having an ace in the hole’… that’s quite a lot of influence for a game which some less joyous sections of society have tried to label as unwholesome or even dangerous.
Poker has also made its presence felt in Hollywood, playing a major plot role in films from James Bond’s Casino Royaleto the Steve McQueen classic The Cincinnatti Kid, and some of today’s biggest movie stars including Matt Damon and Ben Affleck love to play semi-professional tournament poker when not on set.
Modern Day Poker
Although poker is still a stalwart of the casino tables, it’s with the arrival of the internet that it has really taken off worldwide. It’s now easy for poker fans to play from their armchair with none of the hassle and intimidation a casino visit can involve.
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Whether you want to play a fast and furious game of multi-hand poker for low stakes and fun, a more intense bout of Texas Hold’Em in a virtual room with fellow gamblers from across the planet, or a simple session of video poker to pass the time, online poker is the easy, enjoyable, and hopefully profitable way to do it, with companies such as Pokerstars providing the world’s biggest poker rooms with dozens of games and thousands of players worldwide.