Texas Holdem Poker Sites


Texas Hold’em is the most popular version of poker played both live and online. The game has quite a rich history and in this article we’ll show how poker went from a game played by outlaws, cheats and knife makers on riverboats, to the celebrated and sometimes televised sport that is today.

This transition was in part thanks to the invention of the Texas Hold’em variant of poker. We’ll then conclude the article with some tips on where to play Texas Hold’em online, as well as run down additional games you can play, special bonuses when you deposit and play online, as well as why it’s very beneficial (as either a novice or a pro) to play poker on the interwebs.

Texas Hold’em is by far the most dominate form of poker played today. It is everywhere including televised poker tournaments, and millions of people logging onto internet sites such as Full Tilt Poker. You can also find games in bars, pubs, or at just about any casino in the world be it Las Vegas, Reno, Southern California, New Orleans, Tunica MS, Biloxi, Atlantic City or anywhere else in the US.

The popularity of Texas Hold’em doesn’t stop in the US; most European and Asian casinos have Texas Hold’em ring games and tournaments 24/7/365 and even South Africa and Pakistan have high stakes Texas Hold’em poker tournaments scheduled in 2010.

Texas Hold’em was invented in North America so in order to really look at the history and how the game came about we’ll now briefly cover some of the games precursors, and talk about a few of the best real money Texas Holdem poker sites to play the most popular version of poker around the world.


Best Real Money Texas Hold’em Poker Sites

Rank Poker Site Bonus Learn More
1. Bwin Poker 100% to $1000 Bonus Bovada Poker
2. Spin Palace 100% to $2000 Ignition Poker
3. Bwin Poker 100% to $600 Bonus Intertops Poker
4. Bwin Poker 100% to $2500 Bonus BetOnline Poker
5. Bwin Poker 100% to $2500 Bonus Sportsbetting Poker

Casino Gambling in the USA

Casinos first started popping up in North America in the 1820s. It is believed a casino called Brown’s Saloon, which was established in 1822 bordering Utah, Colorado and Wyoming was the first casino in America. How it worked in the early days: casinos followed miners. Wherever the miners settled, casinos (then called saloons) would soon be developed in that same area. These early casinos had a dominate poker presence and the games of choice were 5 Card Stud and 5 Card Draw.

Poker didn’t have too much time to develop in the 1800s because after James W. Marshall stuck gold at Sutter’s Mill, in Coloma, California in 1848, many casinos gamblers rushed to California in search of Gold. This period known as the California Gold Rush (1848-1855) brought 300,000 people rushing to California from the rest of the United States and abroad. It’s even believed more than 75,000 of the Gold Rushers traveled over 1,500 miles on foot in search for gold.

During the Gold Rush periods casino gambling boomed in the USA, with casinos set up all over California as well as the popular routes Gold miners traveled. Poker however was not popular during this era. These gold rushers who were made of those who just struck it rich and others who were desperate for quick riches preferred fast paced games such as roulette as opposed to poker. It was not till the end of the gold rush that things settled back down and the demand for poker games returned.

Gambling and Poker Made Illegal

As the demand for poker returned, there was also a lot of public outcry over the negative effects gambling had in various counties. While the professional gamblers who ran the games considered themselves businessmen that took advantage of America’s demand and obsession with gambling, the public viewed them much different. The average consumer participated in gambling games as a form of entertainment and did so in moderation. The professional gamblers on the other hand had no regard for moderation and simply worked to extract as much money as possible from their customers and this often involved cheating. It was not long before professional gamblers were viewed as conmen who contributed nothing to society and simply existed to con others out of their hard earned money via whatever means necessary.

From 1860 to 1931 gambling fell into a bit of a dark period. While it was still tolerated in some area for the most part it as illegal. During this period new poker games were developed with wild cards, lowball rules, community cards, and split-pots. One theory, supported by Texas State Legislature, is that Texas Hold’em was invented during this period in Robstown Texas in 1925. This seems to be just a feel good story however as there is no strong evidence to support this.

Poker Booms in Legalized Nevada Casinos

In 1931, Nevada legalized casino gambling in order to raise funds for public schools, there however was not an initial rush to build as illegal casinos were already well spread throughout the state. However, In 1941 a boom was triggered as development began for the El Rancho Vegas Hotel-Casino which was located where the vacant lot across from the Sahara is exists today. During this building boom the Last Frontier, Thunderbird (Still standing as the Arubu Hotel & Spa) and Club Bingo were developed. The most celebrated Vegas strip casino was the Flamingo which opened on New Years Eve 1946 and shortly after it was opened the full Vegas boom was in effect. During the 1950’s dozens of hotels would be built and during the 50’s poker in legal casinos grew rapidly in popularity.

Rounders who spent years in illegal and often dangerous games ran by organized crime in other parts of the country, embraced the idea of legal poker games. During the 1950’s and 1960’s road gamblers from all over the US especially Dallas, Chicago, and New York City areas flocked to Nevada to play poker in legal card rooms located mostly in Las Vegas but also in Reno. It was here that the old meld of 5 Card Stud and 5 Card draw was broken and other games such as 7 Card Stud, Kansas City lowball draw, razz, and ace-to-five lowball draw became the games of choice.

Poker flourished in Las Vegas during the 1960’s though the games primarily consisted of high stakes professional players called rounders and rich businessmen tourist. During these days few could imagine what would happen in the coming years.

Perhaps the most pivotal moment in poker history occurred in 1967 when four Texas road-gamblers Crandell Addington, Roscoe Weiser, Doyle Brunson, and Amarillo Slim landed in Las Vegas. Addington had discovered Texas Hold’em for the first time in 1959 and along with this group of gamblers had helped it become regularly spread in Texas road-games. Shortly after their arrival, that same year these gamblers convinced Golden Nugget in downtown Las Vegas to spread Texas Hold’em.

Texas Hold’em was not a big sell however. For two years the only casino to spread it remained Golden Nugget, which didn’t attract many rich drop in gamblers due to its downtown location and budget décor which included oil covered sawdust flooring. This didn’t stop these road gamblers from trying; they lived for a couple years making money off the rich gamblers they could recruit off the strip to their downtown poker home at the Golden Nugget. Things would change dramatically in their favor after the caught a huge break in 1969.

First Ever Poker Tournament

In 1969 Tom and Lafayette Moore hosted a gambling fraternity convention to promote their Holiday Hotel in Reno, Nevada. This convention was heavily marketed as the world’s first poker tournament where a weeklong series of Texas hold’em, Kansas City lowball draw, razz, stud, and ace-to-five lowball draw would be played to decide a champion of poker.

This event attracted the who is who of poker with about 30 entrants showing up including Johnny Moss, Doyle Brunson, Crandell Addington, James “Longgoodie” Roy, Aubrey Day, Benny Binion, Amarillo Slim, Puggy Pearson, Jimmy Casella, Minnesota Fats, Bill Boyd, Jack Straus, Felton “Corky” McCorkindale, George Barnes, “Sailor” Roberts, Johnny Joseph, and the notorious father of actor Woody Harrelson, Charles, now serving life for the 1979 assassination of John H. Wood, a U.S. District Court justice in San Antonio.

At the end it was the man who discovered and spread Hold’em throughout Texas and then introduced it to Nevada, Crandell Addington who was crowned poker’s first champion via a vote by his peers. He rarely gets credit for that victory as the World Series of Poker did not start until the following year when Benny Binion was so impressed with Tom Moore’s idea he purchased rights to it, renamed it the World Series of Poker and hosted it at Binion’s Horseshoe Casino in downtown Las Vegas.

World Series of Poker Fuels the Poker Boom

The first two World Series of Poker Main Events were won by Johnny Moss, also via vote by his peers. In 1972 for the third annual World Series of Poker, Benny Binion acted on a new idea. He decided to make the Championship event (now called the Main Event) a $10,000 buy-in Texas Hold’em freeze out tournament.

Amarillo Slim won this event and went on to appear on talk shows such as the Tonight Show to promote his success as the World Champion of Poker and more importantly make major pushes to make the game mainstream. In the years that followed, media was present throughout the World Series of Poker events and each year thereafter all events used the fixed buy-in freezeout format.

Doyle Brunson’s Impact on Texas Hold’em Growth

In the early days no doubt the most influential promoters of Texas Hold’em were Crandell Addington, Benny Binion and Amarillo Slim. Their good friend Doyle Brunson who had been there all along would take over that roll in the years to follow. After winning back to back WSOP Main Event bracelets in 1976 and 1977, Brunson released a book called Super System. This book was the most definitive guide to poker strategy and still today can be referred to as one of the most influential poker books ever written.

Doyle Brunson and Amarillo Slim continued to promote the game along with Benny Binion, Johnny Moss and other poker greats and then when California legalized it in 1988 it became the game of choice in casinos across the USA. After receiving only eight entrants in 1972, the number of entrants to WSOP grew each year with over one hundred entrants in 1982, and over two hundred in 1991.

“Rounders” and Internet Poker

The poker boom was coming regardless, but in 1988 a Miramax film called Rounders was released. This film stared Matt Damon and Edward Norton in the world of high stakes poker. Here poker champions Johnny Chan and Erik Seidel were immortalized as was the World Series of Poker and the idea of being a professional poker player. The Matt Damon character several times mentioned reasons why Texas Hold’em is the greatest form of poker. This movie was a huge hit and that same year real money internet poker was born.

Televised Poker Boom

As the century turned, in 2000-2003 dozens, if not hundreds, or real money online poker sites were launched and before long poker was making a stride towards becoming main stream. During this same period the World Series of Poker added hole card cams to their WSOP Main Event broadcasts on ESPN, a weekly poker series sponsored by the World Poker Tour landed on the travel channel, and before long other poker shows were introduced to television as well.

Chris Moneymaker and the “Internet Poker Boom”

As far as the internet and televised poker boom perhaps the biggest event occurred in 2003 when an accountant from Tennessee named Chris Moneymaker was successful in parlaying a $39 tournament entry at PokerStars.com, into a World Series of Poker Main Event title and the $2.5 million in prize money that accompanied it. This triggered what would later be dubbed as the Moneymaker effect. After ESPN aired this WSOP final table over and over showing Moneymaker’s improbable run, before long tens and tens of thousands flocked to internet poker sites looking for their shot at becoming the next Chris Moneymaker.
To illustrate the effects of Chris Moneymaker winning the 2003 World Series of Poker let’s take a look at the number of entrants the past 10 years.

2001 WSOP: 613 Entrants
2002 WSOP: 631 Entrants
2003 WSOP: 839 Entrants (Year Moneymaker won)
2004 WSOP: 2,576 Entrants
2005 WSOP: 5,619 Entrants
2006 WSOP: 8,773 Entrants
2007 WSOP: 6,358 Entrants
2008 WSOP: 6,844 Entrants
2009 WSOP: 6,494 Entrants
2010 WSOP: 7,319 Entrants

As you can see the Chris Moneymaker effect had a huge impact and a testament to how popular Texas Hold’em now is: each year an average of 7,000 people ante up the $10,000 Main Event buy-in to play a Texas Hold’em tournament that could potentially crown them the World Champion of Poker.

Where to Play Texas Hold’em Online?

Texas Hold’em is here to stay. In fact in many circles the word “poker” is assumed to mean the Texas Hold’em variant as opposed to the broader meaning which would include other variants such as Omaha, Stud and Draw games. If you’re looking to play Texas Hold’em online our recommendation is leading online poker site Full Tilt Poker.

Full Tilt Poker has more professional endorsements than any online poker site. Many of these pros are following in the footsteps of Amarillo Slim, Doyle Brunson, Johnny Moss, Benny Binion and other legends of the game that helped Texas Hold’em become main stream. Poker however is about money, and often about immediate money or immediate opportunities for money that will pay off now as opposed to later. So while the good for the game and history aspect is feel good and all, it doesn’t relate unless it is good in the immediate for the average poker player. The good news is Full Tilt also has that area covered. At Full Tilt new players are welcomed with a 100% up to $600 sign up bonus and also have a plethora of promotions and incentives at their disposal.

Full Tilt even has a new proprietary version of Texas Hold’em called Rush Poker. The game is the same Texas Hold’em players have grown to love, however it is played at a much faster pace. In Rush Poker players do not remain at the same table but are rather transferred to a new table the second they fold their hand. This allows for hundreds of hands to be played per hour. That’s the equivalent of player 10-15 hours for live poker over a 60 minute time span. If you’re a winning player we’re sure this will be great news at it greatly increases your expectation per hour.