Although poker has remained consistently popular ever since its inception, over time different variations of the game rose to prominence. Three games in particular could be said to have dominated the poker scene at different points in history and defined what the majority of gamblers were playing.
The complexity of poker has certainly increased from the earliest variations, leading to the ultimate dominance of one particular type of poker that today is the most popular and frequently played at online poker rooms.
The game of 5 Card Draw, although not particularly popular during the Civil War, suddenly shot to prominence following it and became the most popular variation of poker for almost an entire century. Difficulty arose when the morality of gambling was being questioned, as it often still is, and the state of Nevada decided that running a betting game was a felony. A law was passed to enforce this, supposedly making all forms of poker off limits.
However, the Attorney General of California questioned Nevada’s legislation. It was proposed that as Draw variations of poker were based on skill rather than on luck or chance, the anti-gambling laws could not apply to them. Stud poker, on the other hand, which was definitely a chance based game, was deemed illegal. Since Draw was the only legal game left on offer, Draw poker games had a great opportunity to develop and grow, until eventually Nevada reversed the law in 1931 and casino gambling was legalised.
Just prior to the start of WWII, the 7 Card Stud variation of poker increased in popularity and overtook 5 Card Draw as the country’s favourite game. For about forty years 7 Card Stud remained top of the table, riding the booming business that flooded into the newly developed casino industry of Las Vegas.
It was during the 1970s that the so called “Cadillac of poker” arose. Texas Hold’Em shot into the public eye when it was featured as the important title game in the World Series of Poker, and since then it has remained the top dog of poker variations. Although other types of poker are still played such as Omaha, Manila and Razz, it is almost impossible to compete with the popularity of No Limit Texas Hold’Em.