The origins of Texas Hold’Em are often debated, with multiple stories and legends around its creation. What is clear is that the game was developed in Texas in the early 1900s. Let’s look at some of the people credited with inventing Texas Hold’Em poker.
Robstown, Texas – The Birthplace of Texas Hold’Em
Many poker historians trace Texas Hold ’em back to Robstown, Texas, in the early 1900s. The small town near Corpus Christi was home to a group of card-playing businessmen, dealers, and ranchers who are thought to have created a basic version of the game we know today.
Local lore says a man named “Corky” McCorquodale introduced Texas Hold’Em to Robstown. He likely created the game’s now-standard 52-card deck structure and betting mechanics. From here, Texas Hold’Em started to spread across the Lone Star State.
Doyle “Texas Dolly” Brunson
While the foundations of Texas Hold’Em took hold in Robstown, poker champion Doyle Brunson is often credited with popularizing the game. That’s why he earned the nickname “Texas Dolly.”
In the 1950s and 60s, Brunson traveled around Texas playing poker in illegal games. According to Brunson, he first discovered Texas Hold’Em being played in 1959 in a backroom game in Robstown. After seeing the game, Brunson realized its potential and began spreading it across Texas.
Brunson has said he “decided then and there” to make Texas Hold’Em his game. His books helped teach the rules and strategy, while his poker success showed how lucrative the game could be. He cemented his legacy by winning back-to-back Main Events at the World Series of Poker in 1976 and 1977.
Crandell Addington – Bringing Hold’Em to Vegas
Other sources point to Crandell Addington as the key figure who introduced Texas Hold’Em to Las Vegas and beyond. Addington was a successful businessman and prolific poker player from San Antonio.
In 1965, the gaming industry was rapidly expanding in Las Vegas. The Golden Nugget Casino organized a poker tournament to drive traffic, and Addington was invited. He suggested they adopt Texas Hold’Em rules rather than 5-card draw.
While other pros like Brunson and fellow Texan Amarillo Slim were initially reluctant, Addington convinced them. The public tournament introduced Texas Hold’Em to crowds beyond Texas for the first time. It was a hit, proving it could engage audiences, and the rest was history.
Spreading Texas Hold’Em to the Masses
In the following decades, Texas Hold’Em continued to gain popularity across the United States and worldwide. Key events and figures that fueled the growth:
1970 WSOP Debut: Texas Hold’Em was first featured at the inaugural World Series of Poker in 1970, granting it legitimacy on the biggest poker stage.
Movie Appearances: Memorable Hold’Em hands in films like Rounders and Casino Royale captivated mainstream audiences.
Chris Moneymaker’s 2003 WSOP Win: When amateur Moneymaker won poker’s world championship, interest in Hold’Em skyrocketed.
Online Poker: The internet made Hold’Em accessible 24/7, letting people play from home.
Televised Tournaments: Starting in the 2000s, events like the WSOP aired live on ESPN, taking the game into living rooms.
The Evolution of a Classic Game
Texas Hold’Em has evolved through the decades while maintaining its essence. Strategies have been refined and new variations have emerged, but the core game remains unchanged from the days of Texas road gamblers.
The basic rules have stayed intact – two hole cards, five community cards, and four betting rounds. This struck the ideal balance of luck, skill, and psychology that has made Hold’Em timeless.
That perfect formula is why Texas Hold’Em beat out older poker variants across the 20th century to become poker’s most popular game. It has truly earned its title as “the Cadillac of poker.”
The Legacy Lives On
More than a century since its creation, the legend of Texas Hold’Em continues today. The game still draws huge crowds to Las Vegas every summer for the World Series of Poker. Top players compete for fame and millions in prizes.
On any given night, Hold’Em games run in casinos across the world. Home games keep the spirit of Robstown alive, as friends gather over chips, cards, and drinks. Major tournaments air on TV, while millions play Hold’Em online.
The true origins may never be known, but Texas Hold’Em has undoubtedly taken on a life of its own. Whoever invented this great game probably had no idea what they were starting. But the Lone Star State ensured that Texas Hold’Em would become forever ingrained in poker lore.