Poker is a family of card games with many forms and variations. It is practiced as a multi-player game with a typically fifty-two cards and chips representing the amount wagered.
The sequences of play alternate distribution of cards and rounds. The goal is to win the chips of opponents by creating the best combination of five cards or making them to give up.
Poker is a gambling game, the game structure therefore imposes most of the time and, in all its variants, the player invests a starting amount (however small). The score of a player is shown by its financial gains. Mastering the game requires at least intuitive knowledge of hand distribution probability, probability and mechanisms of their improvements in the played variant, and above all, an excellent knowledge of the psychology of the game and of the opponents.
The common core of variants include the auction system in several steps, the principle of chopping the game if there is a tie in bets, types of hands and their hierarchy. The game variants differ in the cards dealing, organization of the rounds of betting, and the fact that some cards may be exposed or be common to all hands.
The popularity of poker (mainly the no-limit Texas hold’em) reached an unprecedented peak in the 2000s. This “poker boom” is attributed to several factors: the invention of online poker, the television broadcast tournaments (with miniature cameras revealing the cards), the presentation of the online poker sites in television commercials, and victory in 2003 of Chris Moneymaker at the World Series of Poker.
Not only the public can now follow the actions of the tournaments on television, turning this game in the sporting spectacle, but it can also be played directly from home. The spread of tournaments such as the World Series of Poker and the World Poker Tour created a strong following among television program providers by cable or satellite. Because of the hype, professional players have become celebrities, with many fans around the world participating in tournaments in the hope of being confronted with these celebrities.
According to a university study on online poker, the number of players playing for money (in cash games) in 2010 was estimated at 5,5 million, 1,3 million players (21%) from the USA, 450.000 from Germany, 350.000 in France. These players were outnumbered by those who do not bet real money (playmoney). Compared to the population, it is the countries of northern Europe that count the most players (gamblers), with 1.3% of the population in Denmark (followed by Iceland, Estonia, Netherlands, Norway , Finland). The majority of these players have between 18-35 (44% between 21-25 years). On average each player would lose $432 each year5. Globally, the most representative poker sites were, in 2010, PokerStars (40% market share) and ex-Full Tilt Poker (20%), and in 2011, from PokerStrategy information sites, 2 + 2 and PokerNews. According to some estimates, the online poker market in 2010 would have been $2.5 billion (650 million US players).