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30 Poker Facts You Probably Didn’t Know

Despite poker being over 200 years old, there are still facts that can blow your mind and change your perception of the game. We present to you 30 facts about poker that you may not have known.

№ 1. Poker was not invented in Texas. Historians believe that the birthplace of the game is America, specifically the city of New Orleans, Louisiana. However, the exact location of the first game has not been determined. By the way, it is currently not legal to play Texas Hold’em in Texas.

№ 2. It is well known that poker is played with a deck of 52 cards. However, in the early days of the game, a 20-card deck was used, only in a 4-max format. At that time, poker was hardly considered a game of skill: each player was simply dealt 5 cards, and whoever had the best combination won. It is said that the full deck of 52 cards began to be used only from 1834.

№ 3. The longest continuous poker game in history lasted 24/7 for 8 years, 5 months, and 3 days. The marathon took place at The Bird Cage Theatre in Arizona. The game involved Doc Holliday, George Hearst, among others. The game had to be interrupted due to the flooding of the theater.

The Bird Cage Theatre

№ 4. When poker first emerged, gold nuggets, gold coins, and even gold dust were used as chips for the game. There wasn’t any standard betting unit. Soon, gambling houses and saloons invented chips specifically for poker. The first chips were made from ivory, clay, and even wood. Just like today, the chips depicted the amount of real coins they could be exchanged for immediately at the gambling house.

№ 5. Nowadays, poker broadcasts are nothing new. But did you know that the first broadcast of a poker tournament took place in 1973? As you might have guessed, it was the broadcast of the WSOP from Las Vegas.

№ 6. А hand consisting of two Eights and two Aces of clubs and spades is called the dead man’s hand. Wild Bill Hickok held this combination when he was shot in the back of the head. It was the only time Bill changed his habit of sitting with his back to the wall and instead sat facing the entrance. Death was instantaneous.

Wild Bill and his killer Jack McCall

№ 7. The 37th President of the United States, Richard Nixon, was so good at poker that his first political campaign was funded with money he had accumulated from playing poker while serving in the Navy.

№ 8. Poker pro Tom Dwan started playing online poker with $50 his father gave him for his birthday. After 3-4 years, Tom Dwan earned over $5,000,000 from online poker.

№ 9. A casino sued two men who exploited a bug in a video poker machine and won $500,000. The lawyer argued that the men did nothing illegal; they simply pressed a combination of buttons that they were entitled to press. The case was eventually dismissed.

№ 10. A man named Ray Karpov was so deeply immersed in poker that he wagered his wife when he ran out of money. And he lost. His wife, furious at her bankrupt husband, left him for the winner.

№ 11. Richard Brodie, the creator of Microsoft Word and the red squiggly line that highlights errors in text, is an avid poker enthusiast. He has been playing since 1988 and has earned $243,000 in live tournaments.

Richard Brodie

№ 12. Poker pro Isaac “westmenloAA” Baron, after a successful investment in a friend’s startup, bought a new 2007 Lexus IS 350 Sport. He parked the car and forgot where. He contacted the police, and after 5 months, he received a call from the insurance company. The brand-new Lexus had been parked all this time.

№ 13. In the history of the World Series of Poker, no one has won the Main Event with a pocket pair of Aces.

№ 14. The Angola Prison Rodeo is one of the most brutal entertainments in the state of Louisiana. It’s a coliseum with American flair. Angola Prison is one of the oldest and largest in the world, where since 1964, the tradition of holding the Angola Prison Rodeo has emerged. Four inmates sit at a poker table in the center of the arena. Then a bull is released. The inmates simulate a poker game and maintain a poker face. The last one remaining at the table wins a prize of $250. An additional $500 can be won by retrieving a chip stuck between the bull’s horns.

№ 15. Ben Affleck is one of the most skilled players in Hollywood. In 2004, he won the $10,000 California State Poker Championship tournament with 90 registrations, earning a prize of $356,400.

№ 16. The name of the Japanese mafia, “Yakuza,” is related to the Japanese variation of poker called “Oicho-Kabu.” Yakuza is an anagram of three words: “ya” (“eight”), “ku” (“nine”), “za” (“three”) — the worst combination in this Japanese game. Presumably, the Yakuza could have been named “ShichiNi” (“seven,” “two”).

№ 17. The WSOP hosts a women’s tournament with a $1,000 buy-in. However, men can participate by paying $10,000.

№ 18. The 29th President of the United States, Warren Gamaliel Harding, lost a set of Chinese porcelain tableware to the wife of General Douglas MacArthur in a poker game.

№ 19. In the state of New Mexico, there is a law that in the event of a tie in elections, the winner is determined by some form of game. This law was used in the town of Estancia in 1998. James Farrington and Joan Carlson tied in votes. James suggested playing poker, while Joan suggested dice. In the end, they flipped a coin to decide the game. James won in the poker game.

№ 20. The founder of the WSOP, Benny Binion, was convicted twice for murder and by the 1940s had become the leader of the mafia in Dallas.

Binion’s Horseshoe founder Benny Binion. March 1978. SUN FILE PHOTO

№ 21. In 2015, Doug Polk, Dong Kim, Bjorn Li, and Jason Les emerged victorious against the artificial intelligence “Claudico,” which used 16 terabytes of RAM to play Texas Hold’em.

№ 22. The term “jackpot” originated from one of the variations of 5-card poker, where the pot accumulated from antes until one player had a pair of Jacks or better on the first round of betting.

№ 23. In 2010, Phil Laak set a Guinness World Record by playing a session lasting 115 hours at the Bellagio.

№ 24. The four card suits symbolize the four estates: clergy (hearts), peasants (clubs), merchants (diamonds), and soldiers (spades). The 13 card denominations symbolize the 13 weeks of the year, and the 4 suits symbolize the 4 seasons.

№ 25. The fifth suit was added to the deck in 1937, but the public did not adopt the new deck.

№ 26. The first live broadcast of a poker tournament showing hole cards took place in 2003. It was the WPT broadcast on the Travel Channel. Gus Hansen won the Five Diamond World Poker Classic at the Bellagio. The show immediately appealed to viewers and became popular.

№ 27. Johnny Moss is the only holder of the WSOP champion title who didn’t have to win a tournament for it.

№ 28. Cary Katz, Rick Salomon, and Talal Shakerchi are the only players who have participated in all tournaments with a $1,000,000 buy-in.

№ 29. The river is the fifth card on the board. According to legend, the term “river” originated in the 1800s when poker was played on ships. Dishonest players caught cheating were thrown overboard directly into the river.

№ 30. The ratio of men to women in poker is approximately 10 to 1.