Poker in the Media

For several decades, Las Vegas was the major location for legal poker games in casinos. This began to change in 1970 when the World Series of Poker was introduced.

Confined at first to Las Vegas, the WSOP expanded as Atlantic City legalized gambling in the 1990s. Then Native American tribal groups throughout the country began to develop their own casinos to bring income to people living on reservations.

Three poker games have dominated legal poker at U.S. casinos: five-card draw, seven-card stud and Texas Hold ‘Em. Five-card draw rose up during the Civil War and remained the most popular poker game for the next 80 or so years.

Shortly before World War II began in 1939, casinos re-introduced the game of seven-card stud, which had been banned as a game of authentic chance, whereas five-card draw was deemed a game of skill.

Stud poker games took over and held the gaming throne until the 1970s, when Texas Hold ‘Em took over in popularity, thanks to the WSOP.

Along with the WSOP, serious books on poker strategy began to appear in the late 1970s. The most notable book was Super/System by poker great Doyle Brunson, followed by Caro’s Book of Poker Tells by Mike Caro and The Theory of Poker by David Sklansky.

The invention of the World Wide Web, an easily accessible portal to the Internet, allowed the game of poker to move into online gaming. Planet Poker held the first “real money” online poker game in 1998, and within five years poker tournaments had become major events on satellite and cable television.

Viewers could follow the action as poker pros and big-name celebrities played in the World Poker Tour and the WSOP. Poker pros joined the ranks of celebrities, inspiring fans worldwide to enter pricey tournaments in hopes of winning a chance to compete against their new idols.