The effect of poker on pop culture

Poker might be one of the oldest card games in existence, with the belief it was first played in the 18th century, however it could be argued that the last six decades have had the greatest impact on the game.

What was once a game played in Wild West saloons and then gradually enjoyed in back alleys or underground, the 1970s onwards were when poker started to boom. Players would start to find new ways in which they were able to play, with new events and technology playing their role to help take it to new heights.

Nowadays, players are able to play in global competitions online, while they can also access resources that teach them everything they need to know. They can enhance their game by understanding each of the poker hand rankings or by learning and adopting strategies into their gameplay to try and improve their chance of winning when sitting at the table.

But how has the game evolved over recent decades, and how has it helped set the next decade up for the success enjoyed as a subsequent domino effect?


The 1970s were when poker first boomed with the arrival of the World Series of Poker event. Created by Benny Binion in 1970 and played at Binion’s Horseshoe Casino in Las Vegas, it gave the game a chance to thrive in the public eye. It helped to take away the negative stigmas and taboos that had followed it years before, as more became attracted to the game and started playing themselves.


The 1980s showed no signs of a downturn or even a reduction in the pace of growth for poker. The game continued to enjoy a meteoric success in this decade, as mainstream media decided to get involved and broadcast the tournaments that were being played. ESPN were among the first to do so, as they had exclusive coverage of the WSOP, and this only helped to shine a light on the game and attract even more to get involved. As poker’s popularity began to increase, books and other publications started to be published, teaching individuals who wanted to play the basics before going into strategies that could be used.


Even more people were playing in 1990 as poker continued to achieve growth at a steady rate. It was in this decade when the game turned into a multimillion-dollar industry and started to become something many took seriously. In fact, the decade saw the introduction of players going professionally, as they were able to compete for competitive prize pots. The decade also saw other variants of poker start to grow in popularity, while the end of the decade began the digital revolution as the first poker site was created.


The 2000s can be argued to be the decade in which poker changed forever and is the reason so many view the game in the way they do today. It was the first full decade of the internet’s impact, and as online poker was born, it was embraced in a way that had never been experienced before. Player participation grew to new heights as convenience was offered, while 2003 and Chris Moneymaker’s win at the WSOP after qualifying as an online player only helped to boost interest in the game.


The 2010s had its own role in helping to put poker in the place that it is today. Technological advancements have made the game more accessible, while software providers have been able to create new experiences in various ways. Some have created new versions and variants, while others have been able to use technology to create a more immersive experience. The 2010s also saw the rise of numerous icons from the poker world, with some individuals managing to gain a level of status through social media from the game that others never managed to achieve who had played in earlier decades.

What does the 2020s promise?

While it is difficult to know what might happen in the future, it would not be a surprise if there were a number of improvements experienced that ultimately further boost poker’s place. The game is becoming more and more popular with each passing year, with events held globally and jackpots being worth millions. Future tech could also play a role in making the game more accessible and immersive, with the metaverse, virtual and augmented realities likely to play some part before the decade is out. There is definitely a lot that could happen over the course of the 2020s.