Texas Hold ‘Em is an American card game that has gained world-wide attention and popularity as a high dollar tournament game. Back in the early days, stud and draw poker were the games that most people played, with seven card draw being the top dog. Texas Hold ‘Em took that title when it was introduced to the Las Vegas crowd in 1967 by Crandell Addington, Roscoe Weiser, Doyle Brunson, and Amarillo Slim. Slim is quoted as calling it more of a ‘Thinking man’s game’ compared to draw poker, because in draw poker you only bet twice, in Hold ‘Em you bet 4 times.
Hold ‘Em differs from other types of poker in many ways: to begin the game, the cards are washed (spread out along the table and mixed up) and each player picks a card. The highest card gets the ‘Deal,’ or the ‘Dealer’s button.’ (Ace of spades is the highest ace if more than one ace is picked).
The person to the left of the dealer has a mandatory bet of a percentage of the ‘Blind’ (usually 1/2). This is called the ‘Small blind.’ The person to the left of the ‘Small blind,’ has a mandatory bet of the full amount of the blind. This is called the ‘Big blind.’ These are the only two players required to bet before the cards are dealt, or what is called ‘Pre-flop.’
The dealer then deals each player two cards face down, in a clockwise order, starting with the player directly to his (or her) left.
The first bet begins with the player directly to the left of the big blind and goes around the table in a clock-wise order with each player having a chance to bet (minimum bet is the big blind), call, raise or fold. The big blind has the last option to raise.
The dealer then places the top card face down in a pile (this is called the ‘Burn card’) and then turns three cards face up on the middle of the table (these are community cards). This is called the ‘Flop.’ The betting then moves from the first player to the left of the dealer (the small blind if he is still in–if not, the player closest to the dealer on his left).
The betting then goes clockwise again with each player having a chance to bet, call, raise or fold. This action is repeated two more times with the fourth card being called the ‘Turn card,’ and the fifth card the ‘River.’ After everyone has finished betting, the players still in the hand compare their cards (using the community cards to build their hand) and the best hand wins.
In most poker games the biggest stack can force the players with less chips out of the game by betting more than the player can afford to call. In Hold ‘Em, there is a bet that is called ‘All in,’ to prevent this from happening. If a player pushes all of his chips in, but it is not enough to call the bet, he is allowed to bet, but his winnings are limited to the pot that he was able to match with his ‘All in,’ bet. The rest of the chips are put into a side pot and only the players still in the hand who were able to match the bet are eligible to win those chips. If the player who is ‘All in’ wins the hand, he gets the pot that he was able to match with his ‘All in’ bet and the second best hand decides who gets the side pot.
Texas Hold ‘Em was initially only played at the Golden Nugget casino in Las Vegas. In 1969, professional poker players were invited to play at the now defunct Dunes Casino on the Las Vegas Strip.
In 1969, Tom Moore added the first ever poker tournament to the Second annual Gambling Fraternity Convention, with several games including Texas Hold ‘Em.
In 1970, Jack and Benny Binion acquired the rights to the convention, moved it to the ‘Binion’s Horseshoe,’ and renamed it the ‘World Series of Poker.’
It was Tom Thakrey, a journalist, who suggested that the main event be Texas Hold ‘Em.
In 1972, there were only 8 entrants to the main event (Texas Hold ‘Em), by 1991 there were over 200 entrants, and today, as a result of the televised exposure, the on-line version, and popular literature surrounding the game, millions of people play world-wide. WSOP and WPT (World Poker Tournament) are the most popular Hold ‘Em tourneys in the world.
Doyle Brunson is credited with writing the first Hold ‘Em strategy book in 1978, “Super System.” It is called the most important read concerning the game, self published costing the reader a hefty $100 US.
Al Alvarez is credited for bringing a wider audience to the game in 1983 with his best seller, “The Biggest Game in Town.”
In 1988 Texas Hold ‘Em won a suit in California court that ruled the game to be a game of skill in the case of Tibbetts V. Van De Kamp.
In the 1980s the game was introduced to Europe who was not as liberal with their court rulings as California was. In 2010, the Switzerland Supreme Court ruled that Texas Hold ‘Em is indeed a game of chance due to the fact of the winning hand having more to do with luck than skill–therefore it was held to the same laws as other casino games and subject to the same 50% tax on house profits.
In a Pennsylvania appellate court, Texas Hold ‘Em was ruled an illegal form of gambling because the outcome of the game is more dependent on chance than on skill.
Supporters of the game would argue that the psychological element of the game (which includes how and when to bet–as well as bluffing) is a skill, and that it is more important to the outcome of the game than the actual cards the player has in his hand.