popularity is partly because anybody can play the game
ALL IN: A friendly game
of poker with some friends. / Photo by Rich McHenry
By Rich McHenry
October 23, 2006 | Gut shot, ante, big and small blinds,
kicker, all-in. Haven't heard these terms before? Welcome
to the world of Texas Hold 'Em poker.
In the last three years, poker has became increasingly
more popular than in the past. One of the biggest reasons
is because of the World Series of Poker (WSOP) tournament
that was held back in 2003. The normal entry fee in
this tournament is $10,000. Online poker sites, such
offered a free entry spot if you won their online tournament.
An accountant, Chris Moneymaker, 27, got the free entry
and went on to win the highest award given in poker,
the WSOP bracelet, and $2.5 million.
After this tournament, every online poker player thought
they could compete with the professional poker player.
This notion still stands today. The media coverage of
such events has also popularized poker into mainstream
culture. ESPN, the biggest sport station in the country,
regularly shows such events.
Showing poker on TV has changed with the "pocket cam."
This gives the audience at home the opportunity to see
what every person at the table has in their hand. It
also gives odds as to how strong or weak that hand is.
"Watching the tournaments on TV always gets me excited
to play with my friends," said Mike Goodman, a senior
majoring in engineering.
Along with TV, even the big screen took notice of
the popularity of poker when they came out with the
movie "Rounders" starring Matt Damon. The movie is about
two young men who pay their debt off by playing underground
poker. This movie has influenced a lot of young people
into believing they can also live the same life that
the main character does.
The popularity is not only with males. According to
the Boston Globe, in 2005, more than 600 females entered
the ladies Texas Hold 'Em tournament, almost three times
the number from 2004.
"There's no disadvantage to being a girl when you
are playing with guys," said Courtney Tye, a junior
majoring in math education, "and it's a lot more satisfying
when you beat them."
Hold 'Em has become popular because anybody can do
it. It doesn't require any physical capabilities besides
looking at two cards and placing betting chips on a
table. Being a professional isn't anything except a
label. As Chris Moneymaker proved, an amateur can win
playing with professionals. It's also very easy to learn.
Much easier than chess. Like chess though, it's a different
game each hand. You'll never get the same reaction on
any given hand.
"Besides the competition, I like being with friends
and people that make me laugh and smile," Jared Stewart,
a freshman, said.
This is another big reason why poker is gaining popularity.
It promotes competition, brings friends, and sometimes
enemies, together in the same room. Playing with people
that enjoy the game will always bring good memories,
even if you don't end up taking home the bracelet.