Long pinned as a symptom of a guilty profit race, poker is getting a makeover. Now considered a “sport,” he tries to erase his black legend, made up of cheating, unsealed addictions, and illegal practices. With the legalization of online games, there is no doubt that he cannot remake himself a less gloomy image. Without denying his story, which Franck Danios traces in an informed and alert essay.
Despite the severity displayed in high places against the dazzling and immoral profit of poker, the land of nascent capitalism could only adopt a hobby where the propensity to take risks and the frenzy of the game combine.
On the origins of poker, the specialists are still arguing. But all agree on its emergence in Louisiana, where the practice of gambling takes refuge very early on the boats that crisscross the Mississippi, where people in business are the ideal pigeons of professional players facing the ire of the leagues of Presbyterian morality. “Childhood” of a game that seeks its rules by going from 20 to 52 cards and ruling on the rules of betting rounds. After the era of maturation, came the era of diffusion.
The Civil War (1861-1865), by shoving the geography of Mississippi, spread the game throughout the federal territory. It’s time for smoky saloons where sheriffs and bounty hunters challenge each other at the table before making the powder talk. This bloody folklore is quickly overtaken at the dawn of the 20th century when the prohibition of the exploitation of gambling sends poker back to the family circle, or the underground and its underworld. However, at the last stage of this turbulent history, the legalization relaying criminalization, that Danios devotes the most pages.
A new epic where the fable has its share – but bluffing is part of the sport – opens with its heroes, its places (the Californian Gardena competing Las Vegas), its encroachments on a prohibition defeated. The craze is becoming global, accentuated by the creation of virtual casinos and the “spectacularization” of the parties that follow. Currently, the most prominent game, thanks to the internet, poker is now a mark of American identity. A social trait was even more than a cultural fact. In any case, the last avatar of the American dream offered to the whole world.
The history of online poker is relatively young: it begins in 1998, with the launch of Planet Poker and a few “follower” sites. The largest poker room of the time was called Paradise Poker, which at one point held 80% of the market.
However, the market was still quite small, and most players already had a history in games or in poker. The great growth actually began in 2002, with the first televised WPT tournaments and the appearance of innovative venues on the market, such as Party Poker (also linked to the World Poker Tour). Poker players are sometimes real sportsmen. Since the beginning, the popularity of online poker has grown extraordinarily, with an increase of more than 2000% in player attendance.
Its growth in leisure time can also be explained by its flexibility and comfort provided by online gambling, as well as its accessibility by the net 24 hours a day, 7 days a week.