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Why we play poker

Arjun📁articles🕔19.February 2018
Why we play poker

Although the trueorigins of pokerare somewhat murky, it is generally accepted to have been developed sometime during the early 19th century. Not many games can claim to have survived two centuries, let alone flourished; but with millions of people playing it every single day in living rooms, in casinos, on online portals and on trains, poker has inarguably beaten the odds.

Why, though? What is that fundamental hook that makes poker still so enticing all these years down the line? To help throw some light on this question, let’s take a closer look at all the essential components that make up a game of poker.

The calculation

To those of an analytical persuasion, that moment when you look at your cards and try to figure out what to do ispoker. Calculating the optimal move is rarely easy in a good game and, when you throw in the added uncertainty of going up against other people, it’s an agonizing decision every time. Figuring out how to play the odds and maximize your chances isn’t easy; then again, if it was, everybody would be doing it.

The risk

However, sometimes you just have to go with your gut and take a chance. Although this is completely at odds with the above point, the fact remains that poker is not a game for machines. The chaos and unpredictability of playing poker against other people is whatmakesthe game – that human element is what encourages you to try your luck, to roll the dice, and to keep coming back.

The thrill

Whether you’re a more calculating player or you tend towards the intuitive style of play, there’s a thrill to playing poker that you can’t find anywhere else. You’ll feel it in the buzz that goes around the table with every flip of a card, or in the electricity that accompanies a surprise raising of the stakes. Whether events turn out exactly as you planned or you’re left scrambling to try to retrievesomethingfrom the ashes of a promising situation, you certainly won’t be bored either way.

The money

HL Hunt famously said that money was “just a way of keeping score”. Whether you agree or disagree with that sentiment, the fact remains that poker is such a popular game primarilybecauseof the money involved. Have you ever tried playing a game of poker without money? It’s…less than engaging, to put it mildly. If you take away the money, you’re eliminating both the stakes and the consequences – no agony in defeat, sure, but equally no triumph or exhilaration in victory. When you get right down to it, that raw emotion is as much a part of the game as the cards are.

The fun

It’s easy enough to sit and speculate about all the varying reasons why poker remains so popular today, but ultimately all of them pale in the face of a single undeniable truth – poker’s just fun to play. It might seem overly simplistic, but look at it this way – if poker hadn’t had that essential quality in the first place, it wouldn’t have survived long enough for people to start thinking aboutwhythey liked it so much. If it wasn’t fun, we wouldn’t be here trying to quantify its appeal two hundred years later.

There you have it – these are just a few of the potential reasons why poker might be considered a timeless classic. Which of these reasons apply to you? Alternatively, if you think we missed any, tell us what they are!

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