Everybody loves a fun fact, something unique about a film, game or even an advert that adds backstory and depth.
For instance, we ran through five fun facts about the wordplay marketing campaign from Pepsi recently, adding some insight to something we’d all seen and engaged with. As that went down so well, we decided to pick another American institution on which to focus the fun facts this time.
Poker isn’t an American game, but it has developed a worldwide appeal here. It’s synonymous with bar room brawls in the Wild West and often linked with shady gangsters playing big money games in basements. In the modern-day, poker is as much a part of Las Vegas fabric as bright lights and spinning reels; the World Series of Poker is held there every year, and the world’s top poker players often locate themselves in the city to be close to the action. Poker is almost a part of America as rock and roll, blue jeans and apple pie.
The game is also loaded with great facts to enjoy, adding character and personality to an already beloved American institution. Here are five to enjoy ahead of your next game of poker.
America Hosted the Longest Ever Poker Game
The Wild West certainly has plenty of influence over today’s poker; the term Dead Man’s Hand comes from Wild Bill Hickok, shot to death whilst playing poker. It’s believed he had a pair of aces and a pair of eights, known now as the Dead Man’s Hand. While the Wild West influenced the modern game, a poker record was also broken back then, starting in 1881. A game of poker began in the basement of the Bird Cage Theater in Deadwood, Arizona, and it lasted for eight years, five months and three days.
Chips Were One Made of Clay, Wood and Bone
Before these important pieces of poker paraphernalia were standardized, players used to wager with gold coins, gold dust and nuggets. It soon became hard to assess the value of a pot, so the need for a single currency was needed. That’s where today’s poker chip values originated, but unlike today’s chips, they weren’t colored different to indicate their value. Instead, they were made from different materials to denote value. Wood, clay, ivory and bone were all used, each having a different value.
Early Poker Decks Only Had 20 Cards
By ‘early’ poker games, we mean much earlier than the Wild West; players only started using 52 cards in the 1830s. Before this, four players were dealt a five-card hand from a single deck of 20, and wagers were simply placed on who had the best hand. It doesn’t quite have the same feeling of excitement as today’s games!
Richard Nixon Funded His First Presidential Campaign On Poker Winnings
History perhaps doesn’t sell Nixon as good at bluffing, given how he exited the Oval Office, but his poker record suggests otherwise. He was so successful in the Navy he was banking more in poker winnings than he was from the paycheck. Eventually, he used his money, much of it poker winnings, to reach the highest office, only to fold when his bluff was called over Watergate.
Poker Was First Played in America in New Orleans
Back when it was a game of just 20 cards, it was known as Poque, and came from France. English speakers began playing with the French inhabitants in the Big Easy, and they mispronounced the name, turning it into poker. The two languages met at the time of the Louisiana Purchase, the acquisition of the territory from the French First Republic in 1803.