US Poker

History of Poker in US

The United States is the birthplace of modern poker, and considering the melting pot of people that have come to the shores of the US over the years is there little wonder that this American game can trace its roots back to numerous countries across the globe?

The current game we call poker is believed to have first been played in Louisiana in the 1830’s and 1840’s, from there brought to other parts of the country via the Mississippi River, and from the earliest days the United States has had a love affair with the game.

Over the years the respectability of poker in America has ebbed and flowed, but its popularity has always been high, with an estimated 50 million Americans –there are less than 350 million of us in this whole country—considered to be regular poker players!

Poker has gone through many “booms” in the US, first along the Mississippi, then in the Old West, next was WWI and WWII where GI’s played poker to pass the time, followed by a golden age in the 60’s and 70’s when poker was brought to Las Vegas Casinos. But nobody was quite prepared for what happened in 2003, when a perfect storm of events propelled poker into the mainstream of US pop culture, as an aptly named accountant named Moneymaker, the Internet, and the Hole-Card cam all came together and gave us the poker boom.

Famous US Poker Players

The US still reigns supreme when it comes to the number of poker players, as well as the number of top poker players in the world. Phil Hellmuth, Doyle Brunson, Erik Seidel, Phil Ivey, Allen Cunningham, Chris Ferguson, Barry Greenstein, Stu Ungar, Johnny Moss, Chip Reese, and Ted Forrest amongst the “old-school” players from the US, while names like Tom “durrrr” Dwan, Daniel “jungleman12” Cates, Vanessa Selbst, Ben Lamb, Jason Mercier, Scott Seiver, and Phil “OMGClayAiken” Galfond represent the new generation of US stars.

Here is a look at just a few of the poker legends from the United States:

[sws_grey_box box_size=”510″]Texas Dolly Doyle Brunson

  • 10-time WSOP bracelet winner
  • Two-time WSOP Main Event Champion
  • won WSOP bracelet for 4 consecutive years (1976-1979)
  • Author of Super System
  • WPT champion


[sws_grey_box box_size=”510″]Phil Hellmuth the brat Phil Hellmuth

  • 11-time WSOP bracelet winner
  • 1989 WSOP Main Event Champion
  • Known as “The Poker Brat”
  • Frontrunner for 2011 WSOP POY award
  • Over $13 million in career tournament earnings


[sws_grey_box box_size=”510″]Tom durrrr Dwan Tom Dwan

  • Online Poker legend
  • High-Stakes poker legend
  • Founder of the “Durrrr” Challenge
  • Over $1.5 million in live tournaments and more than double that in online play
  • Member of Team Full Tilt Poker


[sws_grey_box box_size=”510″]Annie Duke poker Annie Duke

  • Epic Poker League Commissionner
  • $4.2 million in career tournament earnings
  • 2004 Tournament of Champions winner
  • 2010 NBC Heads-Up Poker Champion
  • WSOP bracelet winner


[sws_grey_box box_size=”510″]Erik Seidel poker Erik Seidel

  • Winningest tournament player in poker history with over $16 million
  • 8-time WSOP bracelet winner
  • Won $100k Super-High-Roller tournament at WPT Championship
  • Won $250k Super-High-Roller tournament at Aussie Millions
  • 2011 NBC Heads-Up Championship winner
  • WPT champion


Online Poker in the US

It’s been a tumultuous ride for online poker in the US. Considering the US was the birthplace of online poker in the late 90’s the industry was basically left unregulated and on the “out-of-mind” list by the US government. That was until 2006 when UIGEA legislation clamped down on online poker operators, forcing many sites to leave the market.

From 2006 through 2011 US players saw their choices drying up as the government continually increased their enforcement of online gaming laws like the UIGEA, until on April 15th, 2011 –forever known as Black Friday—the US government delivered a death blow to the industry as we know it: Indicting the three largest US sites, and basically eliminating all options for US players.

While a few online poker rooms still service the US market, the real goal is for the government, whether at the state or federal level to legalize and regulate the industry, which many feel will begin a second, even larger, “poker boom”.

Under the current circumstances we cannot recommend US online poker sites at this time.

Where to play poker in the US

Live poker has been thriving since 2003 as casinos look to add poker tables and lavish poker rooms to bring in the high-rollers and major tournaments –prior to the poker boom casinos were cutting back on their poker rooms or eliminating them altogether.

While there are casinos and poker rooms across the United States there are still basically four key areas for poker activity: Las Vegas, Atlantic City, Connecticut, and California. You’ll also find new card-rooms springing up in Florida, Pennsylvania, Arizona, and many southern locales as legislation to legalize table games continues to pass in these states.

Poker laws in the US

Poker laws in the United States vary from state to state, but the most common understanding is that it’s legal to play poker so long as the house does not take a cut or a rake. That said, I highly recommend you look at the laws in your area before organizing a home game.

As I stated above, online poker is basically a no-go at the current time in the US, with UIGEA legislation forbidding banks from processing payments from online gaming sites –which makes it very difficult for US players to get their money to and from an online poker site. But, there are a number of legislative bills on the table that could regulate online poker in the near future.

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