10 crazy facts you never knew about poker

  • Poker’s long and fascinating history stretches across the globe and spans centuries
  • The table game you play today doesn’t look quite like it used to

Poker is the world’s most famous table game and has been since way back in the journals of time. While you might think you know everything there is to know about the versatile card game, here are a few nuggets that might take you by surprise.

1. The longest game ever played is fabled to be over eight years in length

It’s hard to be sure exactly what the longest ever game was, but it’s bound to be longer than you thought, with the most extended game on record being an 8-year, 5-month and 3-day marathon.

Bird Cage theatre poker game
The world famous Bird Cage theatre, home to the world’s longest ever poker game… apparently. Photo: RE Hawkins

It began in 1881 in the days when annual leave was presumably less rigid and took place in the Bird Cage Theatre, Tombstone, Arizona. Winning that epic stint would’ve certainly been cause for celebration.

2. The original game had 20 cards

Poker used to be played with only a 20-card deck and four players. They were each dealt five cards and had to bet on who had the best hand. That is until 1824, when 52 cards first made an appearance, so unless you’re a time-traveller you’re unlikely to have played the original version.

3. Telly poker arrived in the 70s

Now a regular feature and often covered by ESPN, the game first made it to the small screen in 1973, when CBS showed the world series from Las Vegas. With a first prize of $130,000 and the world watching, there was everything to play for.

Poker history televised
Televised poker goes all the way back to the 1970s, when CBS viewers were treated to some tournament fun

Inflation may have moved things on considerably since then, but it’s still a far from shabby sum, even by today’s standards.

4. Prague has the second largest live room

The second largest live poker room is in King’s Casino Rozvadov in Prague (Czech Republic), with the largest being – unsurprisingly – in the USA. It’s a glitzy casino, the kind of place James Bond wouldn’t appear out of place and one of the hotspots in Europe for a serious flutter in luxury.

5. Lady Gaga sang about Texas Hold ‘Em

The Lady Gaga song eponymous with the table game is all about her comparing love play with playing Texas Hold ‘Em (see, poker even benefits your love life).

lady gaga mohegan sun casino
Gaga’s Poker Face throws references to Texas Hold ‘Em

The song Poker Face sold over 14 million copies and is one of the best selling singles of all time.

6. There’s a pro player who’s also a writer and health expert

New Zealand’s top pro poker player, Lee Nelson (not to be confused with the British comedian – an unlikely medical expert – or poker player for that matter) is also a health and wellness doctor, having written books on both the game and the treatment and care of prostate cancer.

7. The first million dollar tournament was 5 years ago

The first million dollar buy-in tournament took place in 2012 and was instigated by the CEO of theatrical sensation Cirque De Soleil. 48 players took part and the winner bagged a cool $18,346,673.

8. Groucho Marx was named during a game

Groucho Marx and several of his mates received their nicknames during a game of poker. He was possibly so called because he carried around a grouch (small money) bag, or because he had a propensity for moodiness while at the table.

Poker facts Groucho Marx
Groucho Marx picked up his nickname in a poker game, but whether it’s due to him carrying around a ‘grouch’ or that he was a just a moody player we’re not sure

9. The UK hosted the largest ever game

The biggest ever poker game was held in the little old UK. The 2013 poker tournament took place in Onchan, Isle of Man and had 225,000 players who played for a $25,000 top prize.

10. Poker was born in the USA

Poker was born in New Orleans to be specific, also the home of deep south jazz. Records note the game’s development in Louisiana and the rest, as they say, is history.

Whether you’re a poker aficionado with your “face” perfected or brand new to the game, you’re now armed with some trivia tidbits ideal for your next dinner party. So, if this has whetted your appetite for some table fun, you can find out more and play the world’s favourite table game here.

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