Poker shaped American markets
Poker is an American game (invented on the frontier in the early 1800s) with American sensibilities (the decidedly anti-monarchical bent that ranks the ace above the king). But what made it truly special was its use of chips—a novel idea at the time. These markers freely flowed between individuals, creating upstart economies complete with risk, debt, and credit, all in a time and place where actual currency was sparse and stagnant.
It makes sense, Brown asserts, that the first futures markets sprouted up in poker-crazy parts of the country, some two decades after the game first became popular. “Futures exchanges are populated by tough, brawling innovators who often make fortunes or lose fortunes,” Brown tells the class. Poker games are named after places that were populated by these types of people—Texas, Omaha, Chicago, etc. That’s why, he argues, “there is no poker game named after any place except places where, if you lose all your money in a game … you float down to New Orleans.”