Poker is a game that has been around, in various forms, for hundreds of years. Today there are a virtually infinite list of different poker games to choose from. Texas Hold’em was largely popularized during the poker boom of 2003, when Chris Moneymaker became the most fitting World Series of Poker Main Event champion possible.
While poker has always been in casinos, not every casino had an actual poker room. This changed in the early 2000s, when, at one point, just about every casino in the country had a poker room of one form or another. As the poker boom itself began to slow down into the 2010’s, many casinos were forced to close down their poker rooms due to lack of traffic. Plus, casinos know they can monetize the square footage that a poker room requires in much easier ways.
Types of Poker
There are a number of different poker games that are played in card rooms around the world. As each decade passes, many games have risen and fallen in popularity. In the 70s and 80s, Stud games like Seven Card Stud and Razz were the most popular. These, and other limit games, were the only poker games that you would be able to find until the late 80s and early 90s, when No Limit games like Texas Hold’em began to take over the poker landscape.
Current Poker Environment
Today, No Limit Texas Hold’em remains the most dominant game in the United States and around the world. Falling right behind NLHE in popularity is Limit Hold’em, the toned down version of No Limit poker, where players can only raise one blind increment at a time.
After these games comes Pot Limit Omaha. PLO is one of the most gambling intensive, action driven games around. If you are playing PLO, you should expect to be involved in many all in hands. This is not a game for the faint of heart. Many believed that PLO would eventually become the most popular form of poker once No Limit Texas Hold’em died down, but this idea never quite came to fruition. Instead, PLO remains the second choice of gamblers, but it is a favorite among high stakes players because of its very risky and volatile nature.
Biggest Poker Regions
Poker is a game that is played around the world. For the most part, neither currency nor language can break down the universal language that is the game of poker. Whether you live in Macau, China or Palm Beach, Florida, No Limit Texas Hold’em is spoken in the same way. If you have the money, you can play the game anywhere that it is available.
Poker is most prominent, naturally, where casinos with table games are in existence. Until the past few decades, this meant that you could only play live poker in either Atlantic City or Las Vegas. Today, however, casinos across the country offer poker.
In California, poker is typically offered in a “card room” which, while called a casino, usually only offers a handful of table games in addition to poker. These card rooms do not have any slot or video poker machines like you would find in a major casino. With the exception of Indian owned land, casinos in California are all basic card rooms. In other parts of the country, poker rooms are built into regular casinos.
For the most part, the main poker regions can be broken down by East Coast, Florida, Las Vegas, and Los Angeles. There are other parts of the country, like Oklahoma, where large poker rooms exist, but they do not constitute full poker regions. In the East Coast, players can drive just a few hours and play in either Atlantic City, Philadelphia, or Baltimore. In Los Angeles, close to a dozen rooms can be found within a short distance (at least in terms of miles). And, of course, Las Vegas is the mecca for casinos and poker events alike, with the World Series of Poker being most notable.
There are many differences that exist from region to region, with some being more noticeable than others. For example, most East Coast and Los Angeles poker rooms offer bad beat jackpots, but almost no Las Vegas rooms do the same. Another big difference can be found in how rake is charged. Los Angeles is notorious for very high rake, collected according to number of players dealt in a hand, while AC and Las Vegas each have a relatively small take. From here, typical buy in structures change from region to region, as does game availability, skill levels, and more. As you experience poker in a variety of areas, you will begin to see the differences.
Each poker region has its own quirky histories and nuances. With time, regulations and dynamics of each region change, and World Casino Index stays ahead of the curve with our poker section.
Areas Missing Legal Poker
There are still many areas of the United States where live poker is simply not available, or at least not in a legal establishment. You can go to just about any city and find an underground game if you do enough searching, but this brings with it a lot of risk and uncertainty.
If you choose to play in these home games or back room games, you need to be willing to take the associated risks. Poker rooms in New York City, for example, are known for their big time action and loose players, but they are also known for frequent crime and busts from the police. Casinos and poker rooms continue to pop up throughout the country, and we expect to see legal poker rooms expand even further in the US with the addition of more casinos.
In the United States, accessibility to online poker is very limited. Though online poker helped give rise to poker as a whole, the UIGEA act of 2006 helped to, for all intents and purposes, kill the landscape of internet poker in the US. There are many different offshore online poker sites that are available to US players in the majority of states. In Nevada, New Jersey, and Delaware, players can play on legal, regulated online poker rooms. For the most part, however, as of now, the best poker options for players in the United States will be found in safe, legal, brick and mortar casinos.