It’s no secret that poker is one of the most popular card games in the world. After all, a study from the World Poker Tour in 2019 found that there are over 100 million professional poker players across the globe. This statistic doesn’t include the number of active players using casual poker apps like Tiger Gaming, Zynga Poker, as well as World Poker Club. And iGaming is something that has seen a huge spike recently, according to CNBC.com’s research.
Poker tournaments are also have some of the biggest prize pools — largely thanks to their huge viewership, which gets them lots of high-profile sponsors. For example, the World Series of Poker’s prize pool, which has earned the title of “the largest, richest, and most prestigious gaming event in the world,” never goes below $1.5 million.
But why is poker so popular? Today, we’ll explore some of the reasons why:
It’s easy to learn.
Poker is easy to teach and easy to learn. Most, if not all, poker variants use the same five-card point system, for which the ranking chart on Poker.org provides a very good overview. For instance, a flush or five cards of the same suit is stronger than a straight or five consecutive-ranking cards. But a full house — or three-of-a-kind and a pair — is stronger than a flush. That knowledge alone can help people remember the rest of the card rankings (for example, a straight is higher than a three-of-a-kind but not a full house). Plus, not much happens in one round, so new players tend to pick up the rules quickly.
Unlike other social games like chess and Monopoly, the only thing you need to play poker are the cards and chips. So, whether people are at home, visiting someone else’s apartment, or on a picnic (with the proper safety procedures, of course), they can play poker as long as they have a deck of cards and some chips. Additionally, you can even play with your friends through a free app like Zynga Poker, as mentioned before.
It involves strategy.
It doesn’t matter if your hand is bad — if you can analyze your opponents correctly, work out the odds and remember the cards that are left in the deck, you can work out what your percentages are of winning a hand. In fact, the best poker players in the world are analytical thinkers. For example, Chris Ferguson, a professional poker player with a $180 million net worth, is globally known for his computer-like play and highly theoretical strategies. Similarly, Andy Beal is a mathematician who won the largest single hand in poker history ($11.7 million) back in 2004.
It has mental benefits.
Poker offers a plethora of cognitive benefits, like increased concentration and improved memory. Studies on Thirveglobal.com also emphasize how card games in general are good training for logical thinking. You need to be able to deduce what cards your opponents are holding based on what’s left in the deck and how they play. For example, if a poker player takes one look at their hand and folds that could mean that they have got a poor hand. If they show similar “tells” when they fold during other parts of the game or are visibly excited when they have a good hand, you will be able to start reading their behavior.
Moreover, some opponents will purposely stall their moves to throw you off your game. And even if you get a good hand, it’s never a guarantee that it’s the best. In this case, poker can teach you how to stay calm and think rationally.
Poker is a game that’s easy to play but hard to master. As such, it appeals to every kind of player, from casuals to the more competitive types. As a game that has thrived for over a 100 years, it goes without saying that there is still room for poker to grow over the next 100 years and beyond.