Texas Holdem, known as Holdem in its early days, can be traced back to the early 1900s. Although little is known about when and how the game was actually invented, the city of Robstown, Texas, was named the birthplace of the game.
The game quickly spread across Texas. But the game did not make it over the borders of the state anytime soon. It wasn’t until 1967, when Doyle Brunson, Amarillo Slim, and Crandell Addington brought the game to Vegas, that the game was able to spread to locations other than Texas. In the beginning, those who wanted to try the new poker variant had to go to the Golden Nugget in order to play. Due to its location and setup, this poker room did not receive many high rollers. Because of this, professional gamers began looking for a more elegant environment in which to play this game.
The game stayed in the background until a game was played in the entrance of The Dunes Casino, which was right on the Strip. This brought out the professional gamblers who wouldn’t go to The Golden Nugget to play. This pop-up game proved very rewarding to a number of the professional high rollers who gave the game its much-needed attention.
Vegas as the new center for Texas Hold’em
A man named Tom Moore was trying to establish a gambling convention in Vegas around this time. His idea was to bring together the best of the best in the poker world, but his attempts to get what he called the Gambling Fraternity Convention failed at first.
So father and son Benny and Jack Binion bought the rights to the Gambling Fraternity Convention in 1970 and changed their name to World Series of Poker. This was a huge milestone for Texas Holdem. The Binions decided on the first tournament in their casino. These games took place as a series of cash games that also included Texas Hold’em. 1970 winner Johnny Moss was voted the first world champion of poker by his peers and received a silver trophy as a prize.
Texas Hold’em as the new main game through book releases
Due to its great success, the Binion family decided to bring the game more to the fore. The following year the main event was a no-limit Texas Holdem game. Although the number of participants was small initially, 8 in 1972, it grew steadily over the years. Today thousands of people play in the main event of the World Series of Poker every year. The game continued to gain recognition, but it still hadn’t received the attention the original players wanted for it. So poker player Doyle Brunson decided to write a book. When one of the most popular poker players wrote the strategy book called Super System and it was published in 1978, it completely changed the way people saw and played the game.
It was one of the first books to discuss Texas Holdem and is cited today as one of the most important books on the game. Another book by Al Alvarez was published in 1983; The Biggest Game in Town was a documentary about the World Series of Poker in 1981. The first book of its kind, it described the world of professional poker players and the World Series of Poker. Alvarez’s book was supposed to mark the beginning of the genre of poker literature and bring Texas Holdem to a wider audience.
Legalization in California
Outside of Vegas, however, Texas Holdem was still a relatively unknown game. Interest in holdem began to grow in the 1980s. Yet California made it illegal even with its legal card rooms, and it took a lawsuit to overturn this. This lawsuit viewed Holdem as a game of strategy rather than a game of chance, which is why California initially held it illegal. The game even made it into the world of Europe in the early 1980s. Terry Rogers and Liam Flood introduced the game to European card players in the early 1980s after a trip to Las Vegas.
Further spread in the 90s until today
1998 was significant for several reasons. It was the release date for the classic poker film Rounders, and also the time when online poker was introduced to the world. Poker was starting to make some serious strides at this point. A few years later, however, there was, quite unexpectedly, a huge boom due to some events.
Holdem tournaments have been televised since the late 1970s, but they didn’t become popular until 1999 when hidden lipstick cameras were first used to show players’ private punch cards on late night poker shows in Europe. Holdem exploded in popularity as a spectator sport in the United States and Canada in early 2003 when the World Poker Tour also took up the camera idea.