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10 things you didn't know about poker

10 things you didn't know about poker
The game we know as poker has been around in various forms for two hundred years or more. It’s spread to every part of the world (and since Big One for One Drop organizer Guy Laliberté spent eleven days on the International Space Station, it may well have spread beyond the world). It’s picked up a lot of history along the way, and the swell of popularity of the game in the past dozen years means nobody ever knows everything about poker. It is, after all, a game of imperfect information.

So, here are some facts about poker to make your information more perfect.
  1. Texas Hold’em Was Not Your Father’s (Or At Least Not Your Grandfather’s) Poker Game
The same goes for your mother or grandmother. If you’ve ever played mixed games or a dealer’s choice game at home, you’re well aware that all kinds of crazy poker are out there. But, you’d be wrong to assume that they derived from Texas Hold’em just because it’s the most common poker variant in the world today.

If you see poker being played in an old movie, a photo, or even a famous 19th-century painting of dogs playing poker, they depict multiple cards in the players’ hands (or paws). Games with community cards — like Texas Hold’em and Omaha — were uncommon through the first three-quarters of the 20th century. The 1950 edition of Poker: The Nation’s Most Fascinating Card Game, a free pamphlet published by the United States Playing Card Company, includes rules for draw and stud games, with 2-7 variations for lowball and high-low — even wild card games like baseball — but no community card games.

Credit Image / Image Source: Wikimedia.com
  1. Online Poker Has Been Around for More Than 25 Years
Well, sort of. Way back in the early days of the publicly available Internet, some nerds with an interest in the game set up a free, no-prizes no-limit Texas Hold’em tournament called the WRGPT (World Rec.Gambling Poker Tournament), named after the online forum where they talked about poker. All bets and actions were conducted by email and a computer server read instructions from player emails and told players when it was their turn. Each hand at a table could take several days (take that, Ofer Zvi Stern critics!). The 25th annual tournament started in October 2015, and it drew more than 780 players.
  1. ‘Tricky Dick’ May Not Have Been As Good At Poker As Reputed
Everyone’s heard the stories about how President Richard Nixon financed his first run for Congress with money he won during his days manning an island in the Pacific during World War II. We’ll never know if that was reality, but his later political career seems to have involved a lot more bluffing than made hands. What we do know is that Tip O’Neill, later Speaker of the House of Representatives, said of him: “Any guy who could screech over losing forty bucks I always thought shouldn’t be President.”
  1. Gambling Language Permeates Our Culture
Not just “our poker culture,” but our entire world. Phrases and terms from gambling of all types have made their way into the casual conversation of even non-gamblers. It's not just “All in” that’s caught on over the centuries.

“Hazard” isn’t just a warning; it’s the name of a dice game from the Middle Ages. “Playing without a full deck” is obviously not a good thing, in a card game or life in general. “Rigamarole” is a long spew of nonsense, derived from a list of characters used in a medieval game called “Rageman”. I feel like I could go on with this list forever; I’m really “on a (dice) roll”.

 Credit Image / Image Source: Wikimedia.com
  1. The Biggest-Ever Poker Tournament Had More Than A Quarter of a Million Entrants
In October 2015, online poker site PokerStars ran the largest (so far) tournament of all time, with 253,692 entries. If the tournament had been held in a live venue, it would have required more than 28,000 tables (assuming play was nine-handed), and if they’d used cheap, folding poker tables — rather than larger permanent tables — and left space between for chairs, they would have covered more than a third of a square mile (or 64 American football fields, or 48 football/soccer pitches).
  1. The Largest Live Poker Room Outside the U.S. Is In… Prague?
Yes, you heard that right. For whatever reason, King’s Casino Rozvadov in the Czech Republic is bigger than any of the poker rooms in London, Paris, Macau, or Melbourne.

Credit Image / Image Source: Wikimedia.com
  1. Nobody Really Knows What the ‘Dead Man’s Hand’ Was
There are a lot of apocryphal stories around the history of poker, particularly that part of the history that took place in the Old West. The conventional wisdom is that when Wild Bill Hickok was shot during a poker game in Deadwood, South Dakota in 1876, at the ripe old age of 39, he had suited black aces and eights and some other card that nobody mentions. A museum in Texas has what they claim are the actual cards, donated by a delivery man who was in the saloon in Deadwood, and while there are two aces and two eights (and a queen of hearts), one of each of the ranks is red.
  1. The Kings Have Names
In French tradition, the kings in the deck are named Alexander (clubs), Caesar (diamonds), Charles (hearts), and David (spades, hey, David Spade!), for celebrated rulers of Macedonia, Rome, the Holy Roman Empire, and Israel. The queens and jacks are named, as well.
  1. The Suicide King Was All a Mistake
Modern renditions of the king of hearts depict him with his sword apparently behind — or plunged into — his head, resulting in the nickname: ‘suicide king.’ Some card historians attribute this to the period when card printing was banned in England, and poorly-drawn black-market copies of French playing cards resulted in Alexander’s axe losing its blade and being straightened into a sword that intersects with his head.
  1. The One Weird Nickname for a Card
There are a lot of odd poker nicknames and superstitions. Did you know that the four of clubs is also known as the ‘devil’s bedpost’? I guess he just needs one. Either way, it’s supposed to be bad luck. Fortunately, it’s only one out of 52 cards!!
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