Poker Facts You Never Knew About Until Now

Photo by Chris Liverani / License

Poker is a favorite past time for gamers past and present. While digital poker is becoming more popular, the nostalgic activity remains a face-to-face sport as well.

Imagine a poker table surrounded by friends, cigar smoke filling the room and a friendly competitive spirit moving through the air. On the contrary, picture serious faces, silence and high-stakes betting. In the modern world, envision someone focused on a screen in deep concentration.

The game’s rich history tells us that a poker environment can take on many forms. It was first developed in the USA (Louisiana, to be exact) and spread like wildfire throughout the world.

Some people assume poker is a hard game to learn, but that is only a myth. While the game can seem intimidating at first glance, it does not take long for the average person to catch onto the rules. 

Here are some facts on how poker evolved into the mind sport it is today. These tidbits may surprise you.

1. Poker took on a more simplified form prior to 1834

Today poker is among the most popular games globally. In its early days, poker was played with only 20 cards and four players. Each player was dealt five cards, and the person with the best hand played first. This is a stark contrast from the 52-card decks used today. Today, seven is typically considered the ideal number of players for a poker game. However, it can be played with as few as two people, and the number of 7-card poker hand combinations exceeds 300 million.

When poker was born, it was named poque by the French residents of New Orleans. As it began to gain popularity among English-speaking settlers, the name gradually became known as poker. 

2. The longest game of poker lasted 8.5 years

Spanning 1881-1894, the longest-running poker game ever recorded spanned close to a decade. It went on continuously for 24 hours a day, 7 days per week for 8 years, 5 months and three days. The game took place in the basement of The Bird Cage Theatre in the US city of Tombstone, Arizona. 

During this time, such historical figures as Doc Holliday and George Hearst made appearances at the table. The buy-in was $1,000, and 10 percent of proceeds went to the Bird Cage. 

3. There are many superstitions surrounding poker 

While there is no shortage of poker superstitions, one of the most common is that of the lucky outfit. If a player does well in a particular set of garments, it will become their lucky outfit. Some poker players also believe that playing in dirty clothes will enhance their luck. A lucky piece of jewelry or other wearable items can also come to be a symbol of winning to players. 

Another popular poker superstition held in the United States is that $50 bills will curse your luck. This phobia has caused many casino cages to eliminate the face of Ulysses S. Grant altogether. 

Photo by Chris Liverani / License

4. Body language can be telling

Humans are guided by their instincts, which often comes across in their movements and other behaviors.  

Some body language experts say that when a poker player leans forward or backward in his or her chair, it suggests they have a strong hand. Another nonverbal cue can be the speed at which a person places a bet. A person with a weak hand may tend to bet faster than a contemplative person who has a strong hand. 

The eyes can also be an indicator of how a poker player will act. If a player stares away from the game after peeking at their cards, it could be a clue that they are intending to bet or raise. 

Photo by Amanda Jones / License

5. Poker chips have come a long way

Poker chips were not always cookie-cutter pieces. Our poker ancestors played poker using non-standardized nuggets of gold, ivory, wood and even paper. Gold dust was also a common betting tool. 

Next time you find yourself sitting around a poker table, these fun poker facts can make intriguing conversation starters. You may even learn some new age-old morsels of information from other players. 

Written By: A. Quintana

Nakoa Davis