The best estimate is that there are 60 million regular poker players in the US and well over 100 million around the world. However, these numbers are only estimates and actually the number of people enjoying it poker Games around the globe is probably much, much bigger.
But what makes the relatively simple card game so popular? How did a game invented 192 years ago stand the test of time and remain popular for decades? In short, why is poker a global phenomenon? Read on to find out.
talks about money
Most of the games we play to pass the time don’t have a monetary element beyond the initial purchase. However, poker is a game that has always had and always will have money at its core.
Since its invention, players have wagered money on the outcome of their hands and attempted to make bold bluffs in order to win the prize pot. This financial element is one of the main reasons poker has remained relevant over the decades.
In other games and sports like Soccer, financial rewards are usually reserved for those who successfully master their craft and become professionals. You don’t have to be a pro or even that good at poker to win money at poker.
Playing against people of similar skill level gives you the same chance of winning the prize pot as a pro sitting down at a WSOP table. The potential financial rewards of poker is also what initially attracts many players who then fall in love with the game.
There is a now-defunct theory that 10,000 hours of training would qualify you to compete with the best in the world. If that were the case, then the thousands of hours the author of this article spent playing football growing up would see him playing for Real Madrid instead of writing this article…
Excellence in sports and most games tends to depend primarily on natural talent, but that’s not the case in poker. Anyone can go from a small stakes online game to a fight at the WSOP as poker has no skill cap.
If you want to get better at playing cards, you can do so very easily by studying hands, probabilities and strategy. In this way, hard work trumps natural talent, making poker one of the most egalitarian games out there.
Take Chris Moneymaker, for example, a man who worked as an accountant around the turn of the millennium and played poker in his spare time. Three years later, in 2003, he pulled off arguably the biggest bluff of all time against veteran card shark Sammy Farha to win the WSOP.
His transformation from nobody to global sensation was the result of demanding self-improvement and online practice. He couldn’t have gone from amateur tennis player in 2000 to Wimbledon winner in 2003, but in poker, where success comes from hard work rather than natural talent, he could achieve the equivalent.
Undoubtedly, one of the main advantages of poker is that it is a social game that brings people together. Whether you’re a casual player or an aspiring pro, poker can be a great way to connect with your friends or to branch out and make new connections.
There’s nothing quite like heading over to a friend’s house on a Friday night after a hard week’s work and having a few beers while you play Texas Hold ‘Em. Likewise, when you play online, you can keep in touch with friends in other cities and also meet new friends.
While poker games in official tournaments and at high-stakes tables can be very serious and full of excitement, games between friends can also be light-hearted and played at a much slower pace. Perhaps it’s this flexibility that has allowed the game to live on for so long.
The reason why we all like sports rugby lies in its ability to constantly generate shock and excitement, including cricket, despite all indications to the contrary, and the same goes for poker.
Even if you know the odds inside out and have honed your strategies, poker can still make you look like a fool.
A draw of a card that was statistically unlikely can completely change the outcome of a hand and shake a kingpin. At the top level, where the margins between success and failure are so small, luck can play a large part in the game.
This level of risk makes poker fun to play but even better to watch, especially when you are invested in a particular player’s fortune.
Poker is hard
Most of the games we play are hard, but poker is just the right level of difficulty. It’s not easy enough for a beginner to grasp and master in a few minutes, but it’s hard enough to capture the imagination.
That’s because it’s not only a test of your math problem solving, but also a test of your determination and amateur psychology. There are relatively few games out there that present as many different challenges as poker.
This makes winning a lot more important than in other games because when you win a hand you know you’ve really been tested. The trickery of poker also gives players a clear path to progress as your practice and research almost always leads to better performance and bigger wins.