The Big, the Bad & The Notorious: Famous Poker Games

The Big, the Bad & The Notorious: Famous Poker Games

by Alex J. Coyne © 2017

Some poker games are historical, or just so good (or bad) that they go down in the history books. Alex has found us some of the most famous, most notable and most notorious card games in history.

Before you dig in, we thought we’d share a link to an excellent site, Online Casino Bluebook, that offers reviews of casinos online.  Just in case the article inspires you to start playing online.

The First ‘52-carder’

Now, some sources give his name as Johannes von Rheinfelden, John of Basel and Johannes de Friburgo, but they all agree on this: This monk from Basel, Switzerland wrote down the first description we have of a game being played with 52 cards in 1377. Was it poker? We aren’t entirely sure: But it’s still one hell of a story considering this: The same year,  another monk who was not as much of a card playing fan issued a warning stating “the game of cards has come to us this year”, and gambling with cards were banned immediately. Gee, thanks.

Wild Bill’s Last Hand

James Butler Hickok, better known as Wild West sharpshooter “Wild Bill”, was born back in 1837 in Illinois. In addition to serving as sheriff of Hays City, his first gunfight (in 1861) is legendary and resulted in him taking down the notorious McCanles gang. His life (and infamous death) have inspired countless pulp fiction Westerns and Hollywood flicks, including Young Bill Hickok (1940), Wild Bill Hickok Rides (1942), I Killed Wild Bill Hickok (1956) and Wild Bill (1995).

A notable poker player in his retirement, he sat down to play a poker game at one of his regular gambling spots – the Nuttal & Mann’s Saloon – on the 2nd of August 1876. Unfortunately, someone named Jack McCall crept up on him (and, we’re guessing, the player opposite Wild Bill had no intention of telling him this) and shot him right in the back of the head.

Oh, yeah, and have you heard of The Dead Man’s Hand? – it’s black aces and eights: the hand he was reported to have been holding when he was shot. Spooky!

The World’s Largest Online Poker Tournament

There are several Guinness World Records involving poker, like the longest poker playing marathon by one person (115 hours), the largest strip poker tournament (196 participants), the youngest World Series of Poker winner (21 years, 357 days) and the most poker chips balanced on one finger (84), but here’s another one: The official largest online poker tournament in the world took place thanks to PokerStars in October 2015 – with a (literal) record-breaking 253, 692 participants!

The winner (going by the screen name ‘DaDumon’) took home $10, 000.

The First Online Poker Game Ever (for Cash)

Speaking of online poker, have you ever wondered when the first online poker game ever took place? Planet Poker was started in 1998, and the first online game played for cash took place on the 1st of January: A game of $3-$6 Texas Hold ‘Em. It celebrated both the launch of the company and a venture into previously uncharted waters. (Shortly after, in 1999, Paradise Poker became the second company to take this leap.)

Planet Poker offered their last game of poker on the 26th of January 2017, though the site is still online and filled with poker tips.

Want more notable poker games? Read an excerpt of The Moneymaker Effect: The Inside Story of the Tournament That Forever Changed Poker on , or check out Warren G. Harding – one of the lesser-known US presidents who loved poker so much that he once bet (priceless!) china from the White House in a game.