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7 Awesome Poker Related Facts and Stories

We know sometimes you need a break and some easy reads to wander your mind from daily routines. Exactly for this reason we’ve gathered a few interesting poker related stories and decided to share it with you.

The Cards

There have been many different size decks used to play throughout history, but the one that stuck is a deck consisting of 52 cards. 

There’s a number of theories to explain it and the most common is that the number of cards represents weeks in a year. Suits – 4 seasons. If you summed up all the symbols of a deck, you’d get 365 – the number of days we have in a year.

Is that a coincidence? We don’t know. It is generally considered an urban myth, because there is no historical evidence to back this up, but the numbers add up nicely, don’t they? 

The deck, as we know it today, was dominated by the French influence and they were the ones who made the cards look really close to how they look today.

Also, an interesting fact is that around the 1500’s The French manufacturers were the ones who started giving court cards names inspired by epics, literature pieces and the Bible. Because of this, the most commonly accepted names for the kings are: (♠) King David, (♣) Alexander the Great, (♥) Charlemagne and (♦) Julius Caesar.

Characters most often ascribed to the Queen: (♠) Greek goddess Pallas Athena, (♥) Judith, (♦) Jacob’s wife Rachel and (♣) Argine.

The Knaves (meaning a dishonest or unscrupulous man) or Jacs as we now call them, were commonly referred to as: (♥) La Hire, (♠) Charlemagne’s knight Ogier, (♦) Hector the hero of Troy, (♣) King Arthur’s knight Lancelot.

A♠

Did you ever notice that A♠ is very often marked, signed or has other intricate ornaments on it? Actually, the English are to thank for it.

In 1828 it was decided that A♠ had to be printed with specific information on it as a means to avoid tax evasion. The card was usually marked with the manufacturer’s name and the duty paid. That’s how ornament on A♠ came to be.

Later on, the requirement was cancelled, however the marking remained as a part of tradition. 

​By the way, At the time court cards still looked somewhat like this: 

A bit later, in 1860 double-ended court cards became common. Someone finally realised that the card like in the above picture would tell your opponent you had a court card, when you flipped it to not hold it upside down. 

The longest poker game?

We’ve found multiple sources claiming that the longest poker game happened in 1881, in a brothel named the Bird Cage Theatre in Tombstone, Arizona. The game ran for 8 years, 5 months and 3 days.

We must admit, it’s a really long time for a poker game. Supposedly the high stakes poker was held in the basement of this brothel and ran continuously 24/7. 

But there is one more story that we came across. This is the Dunglen hotel in Thurmond:

Unfortunately it burned to the ground on July 22nd, 1930 and now only stories of its wild existence are left. 

According to a legend the Dunglen once hosted the longest poker game in history, lasting for 14 years. We also found an excerpt from the book called ‘Historic Inns of Southern West Virginia’ By Ed Robinson with the following information: 

Also, while researching Dunglen hotel facts, we came across people claiming that you can hear orchestra playing where the hotel stood. Never visited the place – can’t argue.

Time for some more recent poker facts. 

The biggest win

Meet Antonio Esfandiari. He was Amir until he changed his name to suit his magicians career better. While he was performing magic, he was invited to a game of Texas Hold’em and got hooked, obviously.

This led him to the WSOP Event 55 in 2012, where Esfandiari won $18,346,673. That is the biggest official win of a poker tournament ever. Did he use magic to win? Probably, but who can prove?  

Here’s him, hugging his millions right after he won it in 2012.

The largest tournament in the world

The largest online poker tournament ever featured 253,692 players. The event lasted from 5th to 6th of October, 2015. In the end, after 470 hands, an Austrian man nicknamed DaDumon won his well earned prize – 10,000 US Dollars.

Just to put the number in perspective: if the participants decided to flock into one crowd – they would fill 3 biggest stadiums in the world and there still would be people queuing outside, waiting to come in. 

Artificial intelligence against human poker players

In 2015 a computer called Claudico played against 4 professional poker players. Claudico, which means ‘I limp’ in Latin and refers to limping in poker, was no ordinary machine.

It was programmed to learn Texas Hold’em on the go by itself, and to adapt the best strategies to win. It was a tough task and actually required a supercomputer with 16 terabytes of RAM to complete.

On April 24th, Claudico ‘sat at the tables’ with the four top poker players at the time: Dong Kim, Jason Les, Bjorn Li, and Doug Polk. It was actually a series of heads-up matches. Points were calculated using chips. Long story short, on May 8th humans won the match by 732,713 chips. 

Yes, humans beat the AI. 

At least until Libratus came to the picture in 2017. This AI computer was Claudico’s improved successor and won against the human team with $1,766,250 advantage.  

There’s more stories where computer beats the human player in Poker, but let’s leave it for another post.

The last and random bonus fact that we found interesting

The name yakuza (Japanese mafia) originates from the traditional Japanese card game where the worst possible hand that can be drawn is 8-9-3 (pronounced ya-ku-sa in Japanese). Bam.

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