Because of the coming changes to the poker economy from the decentralization of it, players are faced with an age old question “What is poker?” In order to understand poker today to build a model of poker for the future, it’s helpful to begin at the start and take a look at the history of poker.
We can see that the history of poker (the known history) goes back to the 1800’s in which players played on the Mississippi river (one wonders if this is where we get the term ‘river’). What is interesting about this period is although poker had 52 cards, games with less players used less cards. For heads up play only 20 cards might be used. One wonders if before this there was either less or more cards used for the game. It seems clear then poker wasn’t played the same way then that it is today. So in thinking about what poker is in the future, we might think about the evolution of it on its long term scale.
The origin of the word is possibly Irish, and may have Germanic roots. This brings up other questions of how poker worked in relation to the rules and the function it played in the past societies around the world.
In asking ‘what is poker?’, we must wonder if it came from a specific society, or if it evolved over time from the bridging of many or multiple cultures. Just like cards may have evolved over time and may not even have been cards in the past. The game might even have changed so much that archaeology cannot match the ancient versions of ‘poker’, and so much so that we might actually have ancient ‘cards’ and not even know them as such.
(Texas) Hold em has a seemingly interesting history as well. Hold em seems to have been introduced to Vegas by a group of Texan gamblers including Addington, Bruson, and Slim. Again one can wonder about what function poker played in the Texan communities, and whether or not that same role was carried along in the Vegas model. Also, whether its role remained the same for players like Doyle and Amarillo in relation other players that were learning the game at the time and the places that were holding them.
The 1st world series of poker was only 1 table (well 7 players), which would have been a great low variance game for the professionals. One can think about the amount of draw the game had vs the amount of seats used for the game, and one might wonder how much or even if any rake was taken from the prize pool.
In the following years as the game become more and more popular eventually there was the Chris Moneymaker boom and as this aspect of the poker economy gained popularity we can see for sure the economic model of live poker had change.
Fast forward to the online poker boom, that seemed to carry this momentum in a global fashion. In which many people including both owners and professional players seemed to be able to effectively ‘print their own money’ Poker at this time was booming both live and online and new players were flocking to the game. Everyone seemed to be having a good time, and poker had a very great image.
Then Black Friday happened.
If we look at poker today we see a game in which its image has been destroyed. Many countries aren’t even able to participate. Many pros have lost their love for the game, and many recreational players firmly believe that online poker is rigged. If we understand the economy of it, it may be that professionals should agree.
For poker in the future the players face a new problem that needs a new solution to how they might better their economic model given today’s changing technology.
Part of the solution involved might include changes to the game, changes to the rules, changes of procedure. It might involve new games (already zoom and rush seem to support this new model perfectly). One wonders what types of new games might arise that might be interesting and fun for recreational players while remaining profitable for professional players.
With the coming technology players face another question about what to do with their global meta data that they will now own. And knowing this change is going to make the game harder, players can consider future changes to the game that may re vamp the drive for skillful means as well as the drive for technological advance in the form of poker strategy.
Players in the future might model the game in such a ways that the math they are fueling driving and creating can benefit the global community as a whole.
So if you are a poker player, whether professional or recreational, you have a question to ask yourself in which your voice counts….and in such a way it never counted before….
What is poker?