Poker has a rich history of iconic events and personalities that have redefined the game and sometimes history. Poker has a personality of its own, big, proud and undeniably exciting – this makes it more than a game, it makes it a revolution.
Here are some of these moments and the poker legends whose fierce determination and outrageous charisma helped redefine the game.
Dead Man’s Hand
James Butler “Wild Bill” Hickok PokerLegenda the most legendary poker player of all time. Born on May 27th 1837, Hickok was an American frontiersman, marksman and law enforcement officer. He spent most of his time playing poker in saloons, where he sat in the corner of the room to prevent an enemy from stealing up behind him.
Ironically, on August 2nd, 1876, Hickok was shot dead from behind while playing poker in a saloon in Deadwood, now known as South Dakota. The hand he held at the time was a pair of eights and a pair of aces, which became known as “Dead Man’s Hand”.
Grand Old Man of Poker
Johnny Moss played his first game of poker at the age of 10. He was brought into the world of poker by a pack of cheaters and grifters who taught him the tricks of the trade such as bottom dealing and card marking.
Moss started his poker career by traveling the country in search of gambling action. He used his childhood training to avoid tricks and scope out venues for peeps. In 1949, Moss, backed by Benny Binion, participated in the longest poker marathon recorded, and after 5 months of grueling action, Moss managed to pocket a total of $4 million dollars from Nick “the Greek” Dandalos.
Icons like Binion and Moss are responsible for the rise and rise of poker popularity and their love for the game led to the creation of The World Series of Poker. Moss took 3 titles under his belt in 1970, 1971 and 1974 and won a total of 8 WSOP bracelets during his career.
Moss was sometimes called the “Grand Old Man” of Poker because of his longevity and his superior poker play. He was inducted into the Poker Hall of fame in 1979 and since his death in 1997, the starting hand Ace-Ten also became known as “Johnny Moss” in his honor.
Poker as a Respectable Profession
Doyle Brunson was the first person to note that Poker could actually be a profession. Brunson grew up in a small town and tried to work as a salesman until he realized that he could make more in one pot than he could in a week of selling office supplies.
During the 1950’s, Brunson perfected his play by playing poker alone. He would deal one hand and then try to imagine what other players would then do. He became a very aggressive poker player and most of his success lay in the knowledge of poker players’ psychology.
Brunson was also first to note that small pairs are actually valuable in no-limit poker and that inexperienced players would generally not bet if they did not have a great starting hand. Brunson’s knowledge and skill led him to first place at the World Series of Poker in 1976 and 1977 and since then, the starting hand 10 – 2 is now known as “Doyle Brunson” in his honor.
These men, with their flair for life and passion for poker, helped to create the game that we know today. Before the World Series, before the Poker Hall of Fame, before Online Poker, there were just hard men, a pack of cards, in a dusty saloon – playing for their pride and sometimes their lives.