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Poker in America - U.S. Poker Rooms

Texas Hold'em has given poker in America a brand new life - in fact poker around the world has exploded. You'll fine Texas Hold'em and poker tournaments everywhere from private home poker games, to bar tournaments all the way to casino poker rooms.

Here are some useful poker pages we have put together to help the novice learn the games of Texas Hold'em, and more, plus learn the poker jargon they need to understand the game of poker. Please note that poker game rules can vary from place to place - these rules are specific for Colorado Gambling, but will give the basic rules and ideas of the game:

Texas Hold'em Rules
Omaha Hold'em
Caribbean Stud
Five Card Draw Poker

The rise of Texas Hold'em and the Resurrection of Poker in America

"We who are about to die, salute you!" In ancient days Gladiators strove against one another in life or death combat to the amusement of the crowd. In later, but still long past times gritty frontiersmen faced each other down with little more than a six-gun and an iron will.

In today's world of moca-café-half-calf cappuccinos, sidekicks and dot-coms, such visceral competition seems the stuff of gossamer legend; unless you are sitting in on a game of No Limit Texas Hold'Em. Here the characters abound; T-Shirted, fresh-faced college students, grizzled, snake-skin wearing veterans and stone faced men who hide their eyes behind sunglasses, all with one thing in common: give them the slightest opening, and they will eat your lunch.

Poker's Origins

Poker is one of the most widely played games in the world, especially in America; classified as a "vying game," where players hold cards in secret and make wagers into a common pot, with the winner of the game winning the contents of the pot, poker has been around for a very long time. While exact accounts of its origins are nearly as varied as the different types of the game, there are references stretching all the way back to China in 969 A.D. Egypt, India, France, Germany and Spain all have links to the origin of Poker, with the likeliest of direct influences being the French game poque. Poque comes from the Spanish primero, and was brought to Canada by French settlers. It found its way to New Orleans, and travelled up the Mississippi from there.

Poker's rise in America

"The cheating game" was what Jonathan H. Green called it in 1934. One of the earliest references to poker in its modern form, his writings detailed the rules and gave the game its name in his book An Exposure of the Arts and Miseries of Gambling. Poker's gain in popularity most likely had a lot to do with the infamy of its closest companion, Three Card Monte. In Three Card Monte you bet against the man who holds the cards; in poker you bet against your companions, thus was perceived as requiring more skill and being more honest.

It is hard, even today, to hear "poker" and not have visions of the Wild West, with sawdust-floored saloons hosting "pick-up" poker games played by cowboys. Riverboat gambling, too, is an old-time poker table. From these heady beginnings the game has taken off. When Nevada made gambling a felony, poker enthusiasts were in danger of losing their sport. However, the California Attorney General ruled that Five Card Stud took more skill than luck, and thus was exempt; as a result, draw-style games surged to the fore and topping poker popularity. In 1931 Nevada reversed its anti-gambling legislation and legalized casino gambling. After that, Seven Card Stud became the poker game of choice for nearly four decades, as Las Vegas life become more and more popular among gamblers, vacationers, and Hollywood. Then, it happened:

Texas Hold'em takes over

Of course this game would be from Texas; no limit bets, huge pots and prizes, and the opportunity to stare down a table full of folk while you take their money. In the 1970's the World Series of Poker made Texas Hold'em their headliner game, and it has streaked to stardom in a rush ever since. The most popular of community-style poker games, Texas Hold'em can be played with up to 22 players, with the most common groupings being between two and ten. All poker games have their rules, of course, on betting and play, but Hold'em's lingo has become water cooler talk and common in many households in recent years.

Poker as a spectator sport

In 2003 Bravo aired "Celebrity Poker Showdown," hosted by actor Kevin Pollak and poker maven Phil Gordon. In this tournament stars such as rocker Dave Navarro, friends star Matthew Perry and son-to-become poker expert Mimi Rogers all competed for charity. While many poker purists may have been turned off by the "Hollywood" approach to their favourite game, this and similar shows did a lot for the sport of poker in general and Texas Hold'em in particular. Soon Texas Hold'em "starter kits," complete with chips, cards and instructions, began showing up in Targets and Wal-Marts from Washington to Florida and everywhere in between. Lest it be thought that only celebrities can make poker palatable to TV audiences, "genuine" poker tournaments that are televised started the surge of popularity with small cameras placed in the table, allowing audiences to see each player's "pocket cards," and thus join in on the fun.

Internet poker is huge today; the net-savvy can find free games to whet their appetite against the computer or they can find money-games and cut their teeth against others just like them. The skills to be gained this way are no laughing matter. Chris Moneymaker shocked the poker community when the then-27 year-old, after teaching himself the game and rising to prominence online, he showed up at the World Series of Poker No Limit Hold'em Championship in 2003 and walked away with the 2,500,000 dollar prize.

Texas Hold'em's Hold on America

Hold'em carries a certain swagger, even in the rules and terms used in the game. The betting is regimented and designed to keep the milk-sops away from the table (or at least soon bust them and spread their money out to the rest of the players.) After the ante, two players must bet, with the person to the left of the dealer position (marked by a chip called the button, which moves clockwise around the table) placing the small blind and the person next in line placing the big blind.

In order to stay in the game, each player has to call each round, putting in enough money to cover the bet. Play stars with each player being dealt two cards they keep secret, called pocket cards. Each player then has the opportunity to bet, after which the dealer will toss one card, called the burn card, aside, and deals the Flop, three cards face up in the middle of the table. More betting, followed by another burn card and a fourth face-up card, called the Turn. Betting again, another burn card, and the fifth and final card, the River, is added to the middle of the table. Each player tries to make the best hand out of five of the seven cards in play: the five community cards face up on the table, and their two secret pocket cards. Winner takes all. Which can be quite a bit, considering one of the reasons Texas Hold'em is one of the most popular poker games ever, and also why it's called "no limit." If a player does not have enough to cover the bet, or wants to make a power play, he or she can go All In, and shove their entire pile of chips into the pot. Between this dramatic aspect and the ever-increasing antes in tournament play, Texas Hold'em is a game designed to be no-holds-barred, win or lose blood sport that will continue to captivate retirees, housewives and cowboys-in-spirit alike for years to come.

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