The Old Regime and the Poker Revolution


There is no doubt that poker is in the middle of a renaissance, fueled in large part by the increasing coverage poker tournaments have received on television as well as the growth of the online poker industry. Poker has enjoyed a long history and in the time since its inception in the early 1800s there have been many big names associated with the game.


Henry Green was held to be an even-tempered player who was skilled at all forms of poker. He was inducted into the Poker Hall of Fame in 1986. Julius "Little Man" Popwell was considered a gambler of near-mythic stature. He had played against Johnny Moss and Henry Green in the 40s and 50s and was inducted posthumously into the Hall of Fame in 1996. Nick the Greek was famous for making astronomical wagers, he was near broke and playing low-limit poker late in his career. T.J. Cloutier made his name as a tournament player. Despite winning all three types of Omaha poker in the World Series of Poker, he has never won the Main Event.


In modern times, the game of poker has spawned many greats. Names like Johnny Moss, Amarillo Slim and Doyle Brunson are peppered throughout its modern history. Johnny Moss made his name as during a marathon poker game in 1949 against Nick the Greek which lasted 5 months. The game was set up by Benny Binion who would eventually come up with the idea for the World Series of Poker. Moss went on to win the tournament in 1970, 1971 and 1974.


These giants of the game got their start and made their names in the old fashioned manner: in brick and mortar casinos, saloons and poker rooms. In the late 1990s and the early 2000s, a new breed of poker player began to emerge: the online player. The game of poker had gone from casinos to stand-alone computer games, to online games and tournaments. These online casinos soon began to spawn their own heroes. Men like Chris Moneymaker and Greg Raymer became household names and dominated the game.


The World Series of Poker has become the single biggest draw for poker players in the world. With its $10,000 buy-in, the tournament has grown from somewhat humble beginnings in the 1970s to a star-studded event broadcast to the world on television. Breaking new records every year for attendance and prize money, the tournament is the pinnacle of poker tournaments.


The World Poker Tour championship has also added to the spike in poker's popularity as has the highly publicized European tournament, Poker Million, televised on Sky Sports. Atlantic City also hosts the United States Poker Championships at the Trump Taj Mahal.


Because of the large television audience for the tournament and many other televised poker matches, including several celebrity tournaments, the game has spawned some of its own celebrities. These players are held up to the spotlight like any sports great or Hollywood celebrity. Books and magazines by and about them are springing up on shelves. This newfound celebrity has also added a new dimension to the game. The knowledge that they are celebrities and the realization that their actions may be aired for the public.


Several of the old guard poker celebrities have tried to make it to the World Series of Poker tournament's final table. They have all been relatively unsuccessful at breaking into the poker revolution. The closest to come to achieving this was T.J. Cloutier, who made it to the final table twice in 1985 and 2000, but has had to settle both times for runner-up.


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