Texas Holdem History

Texas Holdem Guide to the History and Origins of the Game

Known as holdem in its early days, Texas Holdem can be traced back to the early 1900s. Although little is known about when and how the game was actually invented, the town of Robstown, Texas has been named the birth place of the game.

The game quickly spread all throughout Texas but did not break the borders of the state until 1967 when Doyle Brunson, Amarillo Slim, and Crandell Addington took the game to Vegas. In the beginning those who wanted to try out the new poker variation had to go to the Golden nugget to get their turn. Because of its location and decor, this poker room did not receive many high rollers, and as a result, professional players looked for a more high class establishment to play.

The game remained in the background until a game was played in the entrance to The Dunes casino, which was right on The Strip. This brought out the professional players who wouldn't go to The Golden Nugget to play. This pop up game proved to be very rewarding for a number of the professional high rollers, which gave the game its much needed attention.

A man by the name of Tom Moore tried to establish a convention for gambling in Vegas around this same time. His idea was to gather the best of the best in the poker world together but his attempts to get the convention he called the Gambling Fraternity Convention failed.

So in 1970 father and son, Benny and Jack Binion, bought the rights to the Gambling Fraternity Convention and changed its name to the World Series of Poker. This was a huge milestone for Texas holdem.

The Binion's chose to have the first WSOP tournament at their casino, The Binion's Horseshoe. These games took place as a series of cash games that included five card stud, deuce to seven low-ball draw, razz, Seven Card Stud, and Texas holdem.

The winner in 1970, Johnny Moss, was elected by his peers as the first World Champion of Poker and received a silver cup as a prize. After its first year, a journalist, Tom Thackrey, suggested that the main event should be no limit Texas holdem.

The Binion's agreed and ever since no limit Texas holdem has been played as the main event. The following year the main event would be a no limit Texas holdem game. Although the amount of entrants was small at first, 8 in 1972, they grew steadily over the years and now thousands of people compete in the main event of the World Series of Poker each year.

The game continued to gain recognition but still had not received the attention the original players thought it should have. So Doyle Brunson decided to write a book. Being one of the most popular poker players helped him to write the strategy book, entitled Super System, released in 1978 and it completely changed the way people viewed and played the game.

It was one of the first books to discuss Texas holdem, and is today cited as one of the most important books on this game. Another book, by Al Alvarez was published in 1983; The Biggest Game in Town was a documentary account of 1981's World Series of Poker. The first book of its kind, it described the world of professional poker players and the World Series of Poker. Alvarez's book is said to be the beginning of the genre of poker literature and with bringing Texas holdem to a wider audience.

Outside of Vegas however Texas Holdem was still a relative unknown game. Interest in holdem began to grow in the 1980s as well. However, California even with its legal card rooms made holdem illegal and it took a court case for this to be overturned. In 1988 Texas holdem was declared in Tibbetts v. Van De Kamp.

Almost immediately, card rooms across the state offered Texas holdem games.

This court case deemed holdem a game of strategy and not a game of chance which was why California had deemed it illegal to begin with. The game even made its way to the world of Europe in the early 1980's. Terry Rogers and Liam Flood introduced the game to European card players in the early 1980's after a trip to Las Vegas.

The game became very popular in the early 2000's after the movie Rounders came out. This movie gave the game a boost but the thing that really brought the game to the fore front was in 2003 when a relative unknown came from an online winning spree to win the main event at the World Series of Poker.

Holdem tournaments had been televised since the late 1970s, but they didn't become popular until 1999, when hidden lipstick cameras were first used to show players' private hole cards on the Late Night Poker shows in Europe. Holdem exploded in popularity as a spectator sport in the United States and Canada in early 2003, when the World Poker Tour adopted the lipstick cameras idea as well.

That same year, on ESPN's coverage of the 2003 World Series of Poker, everyone got to watch the unexpected victory of internet player Chris Moneymaker, an amateur player who won his seat at the tournament by successfully playing a series of online tournaments. Moneymaker's victory initiated a sudden surge of interest in the series.

Holdem Variations

Texas Holdem has changed the way poker is played and it has evolved into many different games that use it as a base. One of the games that holdem has had an effect on is Seven Card stud. Seven Card Stud was the most widely played poker game in both home games and in casino game rooms. This game, unlike holdem does not have any community cards and has a limit to the amount of players that can play the game.

Holdem replaced this game in most casinos but it can still be played online and in home games. Home games have become more popular and with that people have become more inventive with the game of holdem. Each of these games plays in the same manner as regular Texas holdem with the exception of minor changes. The list that follows shows the changes to the original game play.


Players are dealt three hole cards and discard one after the first betting round.

Crazy Pineapple

Is just like Pineapple with three hole cards being dealt. The only difference between the two is that the extra card is discarded after the flop.


This is a wild version of holdem. Players are dealt four hole cards. One card is discarded before the flop, and another is discarded after the flop. This game got its name from the world famous Aviation Club in Paris, France, where it originated.

Speed Holdem

Players are dealt four hole cards, then immediately discard two of them. Five community cards are then flopped. The one and only betting round then takes place; followed by the showdown.

Super Eight

Players are dealt three hole cards, but do not discard any of them. Players may, of course, use all five community cards their three hole cards to make the best five card poker hand.


Tahoe is very similar to Super Eight holdem with the only exception being that you may only use two of your three hole cards to make the best five card poker hand.

River of Blood

This version is also known as Red River and is played based on the color of the river card. If the river card is red play continues, meaning there is another betting round and a sixth community card is dealt. Another betting round takes place followed by a showdown, that is, as long as the 2nd river card is not also red. Play continues until the river card is black.

The River Wild

The river card is just that - wild. In fact, all of the cards of the same rank as the river card are wild. This type of game can get really interesting. Since there are so many opportunities to get a wild card many players will hold out until the end to take their chance in hopes of getting one of those wild cards.

Two Time Holdem

Players are dealt four hole cards which they then split into separate pairs. The pairs must be kept separate throughout play of two separate hands. A round of Texas holdem is played under normal holdem rules. A player will eventually fold or showdown a hand. It's the player's choice which hand to showdown or fold, but once a hand is shown or folded, it's dead. After the first hand is played, a second hand follows without a shuffle in between.

Double Flop

In Double Flop, two separate boards are dealt exactly opposite each other. This means that during each deal, flop, turn and river, two sets of cards come out. Players make a separate hand with each of the two boards, with the pot being split between the high hands for each board.

Speed River Runs Wild

In this variation you no longer have to worry about missing your straight draw. Because a four card straight is a hand.

Omaha Holdem

The game that's growing in popularity that is most like holdem is Omaha holdem. These two games are very similar in the way they're played.

Omaha is a fairly new game that didn't come on the scene until 1982. The game was found in casinos in Las Vegas and it became a hit and one of the most popular poker games in recent history. The only difference between the games is that Texas Holdem only allows players to have 2 hole cards instead of 4, which allows for less variance in hand combinations.

Some early versions of Omaha only allowed players to be dealt 2 hole cards. The players then have to use those two cards along with the five community cards in order to make their strongest 5-card hand. The difference between the two games is that Omaha required players to use both hole cards where Texas Holdem allows players to make the strongest hand available by using any of the hole cards and community cards on the table.

The strong requirement of having to use two of the four hole cards is one of the fundamental rules of Omaha that makes the game what it is. In the beginning Omaha was not very popular when played like Texas Holdem with only 2 hole cards because there wasn't enough variance. Once the hole cards were increased to four from two the game quickly gained a loyal following.

Another version of the game can be played with 5 hole cards. This version is not popular because it limits the number of people that can play the game. Using four cards seems to be just right because it gives the option to have many different variances with the hole card restrictions and it allows more people to play so this is now the standard of Omaha poker that is most popular and is played most in today's poker world.

Even today, Omaha is one of the top games besides Texas Holdem and it's still growing in popularity, especially pot limit Omaha. This game holds a lot of action, which is great for tournaments and involves plenty of strategy and this is why it became such an excellent gambling game to play.

One of the exciting features of Omaha is the high variance of winning combinations of cards. It's easier to get extremely powerful winning hands because each person has more cards to make combinations with, so four of a kind and royal flushes were much more frequent and this makes it very exciting.


As you can see, Texas Holdem brought a whole new life to the game of poker. It brought younger players to the game and has sprouted many variations which give home players and professionals alike a more challenging and fun game to play.

Holdem brought with it some of the world's best players in Brunson, Amarillo Slim, and Addington, and has since made household names of people like Stu Ungar and Chris Moneymaker. This game is all about strategy and allows for even the players without a lot of experience a chance at winning big.



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