Poker is the most popular card game in the world today, and the tournaments that are played online and offline attract attention from all over the world. With so many people interested in the game, and with such a long history behind it, it’s easy to see how Poker tournaments have evolved, and over the years it’s clear they have come a long way.
Several different cultures and card games contributed to Poker, and it grew from these basic beginnings to a set of different events with very clear rules. The tournaments that are played today can be watched live on television, and online, with winners and major stories often making news headlines across the globe.
A lot of debate swirls around whether to categorize Poker as a game or a sport, and if it really strikes a balance between the luck of a game and the skill of a sport. Either way, its mix of intellectual activity and pure chance certainly attracts as much attention from spectators and punters as betting sports do, while it requires plenty of practice.
Early Origins of Poker
All of the games that contributed to Poker’s development have the principles of ranked dominos or cards and bluffing to opposing players in common. Some people believe that the seeds of the game we know now must have been sown before 969 AD, when Emperor Mu-Tsung is recorded to have spent New Year’s Eve playing Domino Cards with his wife.
Egyptians are also known to have used cards in the 12th and 13th centuries, and 16th-century Persians played many bluffing games with a set of 96 intricately-decorated Garijfa, or Treasure Cards, that were made of paper-thin wood or ivory. The 4 suits that are required for regular Poker games were invented by the French and standardized throughout Europe by 1480. Cards were also important to the Spanish in the 16th century, who developed a game called Primero.
In the 17th and 18th century’s popular games in France and Germany, Pogue and Pochen, arose from Primero and may have been the catalyst towards the name Poker being invented. Since Pogue and Pochen are considered early versions of Poker and they were both inspired by Primero, the Spanish game is often called the mother of Poker.
From here it seems that Western settlers took these predecessors to America and Canada. The English brought Brag and similar games to frontier towns in America. These games were first described in writing by Joseph Cromwell in 1829, and became so popular and widespread that Native Americans took them up as well.
Jonathan H. Green described Poker under the moniker ‘The Cheating Game’ in his 1834 text, An Exposure of the Arts and Miseries of Gambling. This might have been the first formal description of the games we know today, and since a cheat scheme was known as a Poke, this might also be where the name Poker comes from. Riverboat gambling on steamboats that cruised the Mississippi, and other rivers in the South, became popular around the 1850s and helped to spread the game even further across the country.
Poker games just kept becoming more and more popular, with 3-Card Monte and Stud Poker becoming the most widespread. In the 1920’s, Texas Hold’em was created in response to the fact that the Stud Poker games couldn’t accommodate everyone who wanted to buy in and play. Stud continued to gain favour, but really came into its own when it became the game of choice for the World Series of Poker (WSOP), and later the World Poker Tour (WPT).
Poker Tournaments TodaY
There are plenty of online and offline Poker tournaments held globally, with many tours holding competitions in different parts of the world. The Asian Pacific Poker Tour (APPT), for example, covers different countries in the Asian Pacific and is sponsored by the legendary PokerStars brand. Sister tournaments include the UK and Ireland Poker Tour, the European Poker Tour, the North American Tour and the Latin American Tour.
Tournaments are different to Cash Games – also called Ring Games – in that the chips involved do not designate how much money has been won, but only the finishing positions of the game. As the different stages of the tournament are played, the competitors remain standing until there is one winner who takes the final pot. Betting on these games can be very lucrative, and for those who triumph at the table it can be even more rewarding. According to Forbes Magazine, World Series Poker is the 9th-richest event in the world, and on this listing is classified as a sport rather than a game.
Online tournaments work in the same way as offline tournaments, although there are some key differences. It’s possible for online tournaments to accommodate more players in one game or round than in land-based games, and in addition to the usual types of scheduled tournaments there are also Sit and Go Tournaments. Players indicate their interest in these, and then begin to play when the quota for contestants has been reached rather than at any set starting time.
Starting Your Own Poker Tournament Journey
While the major Poker tournaments might seem out of your reach, it is important to remember that Poker requires practice and the top players such as Daniel Negreanu, Vanessa Selbst, Phil Ivey and Erik Seidel didn’t get where they are today simply due to good luck. Start playing and practicing, and see how far you get! There are plenty of high-quality online Poker sites that allow you to practice and refine your skills from the comfort of your own home, and they often allow you to play in tournaments for free without putting down any buy-in’s.
Free tournaments are an invaluable practice arena, but remember that your opponents may also be starting out and not be very strong competitors. When you’ve built up some confidence in these games, try some of the tournaments with small buy-in’s and develop your skills a little further. As your confidence grows you can start looking at tables with bigger stakes.
Remember that there are also several useful online tools and strategies to help you develop your Poker game, so take full advantage of these and test them all out in the free games section. Every time you play you’ll learn more for future games, both online and offline. Just remember that offline games have different tells. As a result of sitting with the other players the dynamic of the game may be a bit tense.
Poker tournaments have grown at a rapid rate, and thanks to the Internet these games have become accessible to a far greater number of players. A game that captures the world’s attention, makes news headlines and is a favourite of players from all walks of life, Poker always seems to keep people coming back for more.