"The origins of Poker
are widely disputed, but the most likely
case is that what we now know as poker was
derived from various different parts, of
various different games. It is commonly
thought that poker was invented by the Chinese
around 900 AD, as a variant of Chinese dominoes.
Another theory is that
poker has its roots in the Persian game
"as nas". This used a deck of 25 cards with
5 suits, and involved 5 players. A further
theory points to the French game "Poque".
This seems more likely as the originator
of poker, as the French arrived in New Orleans
in the USA at about 1480, and "Poque" is
a card game involving bluffing and betting,
very much like Poker today. Yet another
theory relates to the German game "Pochspiel",
in this there is an element of bluffing,
and when players passed they would tap the
table, very much like a check in poker today.
Their are yet more explanations
for the word poker, and that is that it
came from a version of an underworld slang
word, "poke," a term used by pickpockets.
Cardsharps who used the 20-card cheating
game to relieve a sucker from his poke may
have used that word among themselves, adding
an r to make it "poker." The thought was
that if the sharps used the word "poker"
in front of their victims, those wise to
the underworld slang would not recognise
There is also the theory
that the term used by magicians "hocus-pocus",
became "Poke" which then became Poker. The
next step was a 32 card deck, and then finally
a 52 card deck, which is obviously what
we are familiar with today.
The history of cards
dates from ancient times. The direct
origin of the playing cards is not fully
known, but the transformation from a 78
card deck to a 52 card deck occurred in
the Middle Ages. 52 cards correspond to
the quantity of the weeks in the year, 4
suits represent 4 seasons. Each season
consists of 13 weeks; therefore, each suit
consists of 13 cards. It is known that
each suit includes pips from 1 to 10 and
pictures: jack, queen, king. If we change
those picture cards to figures 11, 12, 13
and sum all pips up, we will get 91 pips,
each season consists of 91 days. Thus, the
sum of all pips from 4 suits forms 364,
which is the number of days, except one
day, in a year.
You can learn more information on cards
and card names used in poker here.
Card playing spread over
the world, arriving in Italy and Spain from
Egypt via trade routes by the late 14th
century. Many early decks had just 20 cards.
The Tarot deck was created based on existing
playing card decks, adding 22 trumps to
a regular deck. The suits of the Tarot are
the same that early Italian and Spanish
decks used: Swords, Batons/Clubs, Cups,
and Coins. These were called Latin suits.
Early English decks were Latin-suited, but
they gradually adopted the familiar Spades,
Clubs, Hearts, and Diamonds, suits that
France began using on their cards about
1480 and we use today.
The history of poker
in the USA is a lot more well known . Poker
travelled from New Orleans by steamboat
up the Mississippi and Ohio rivers. The
game then spread via wagon and train. Modifications
such as stud poker, the draw, and the straight
became popular, during the Civil War. European
influence of poker ended when the joker
was introduced as a wild card in 1875.
By the 1830s, a 52-card
deck we know today was in general use, and
poker rules were slowly becoming standardized
as rule books were written. The Old West
took to the game quickly. It became the
saloon favourite, as sharp players discovered
how quickly wealth could be won from it.
The personalities of Western legends, guns,
saloons and poker all seemed to go together.
The game of poker was
ideal for the wild west a player had to
keep his wits about him and exploit opportunity
as it arrived. The game, just like the wild
west, was not for anyone without confidence.
And it also had to survive its clashes with
Nevada made it an offence
to run a betting game in 1910. The Attorney
General of California declared that draw
poker was based upon skill and therefore
the anti-gambling laws could not stop it.
But stud poker, he said, was based on mere
chance. Therefore it was illegal. Naturally
draw poker games flourished, and more emerged.
In 1931, Nevada reversed itself and became
the only place in the U.S. to legalize casino
gambling, until 1978, when Atlantic City
And so to the present
day, poker is carefully regulated by gambling
laws, and saloons have given way to casinos
and card rooms, but poker is played more
than any other card game in the world. It
has grown into a sporting event, with competitions
and tournaments all around the world. Tournaments
take place almost every week of the year
somewhere in the world. Also online poker
has introduced a whole new audience to the
thrill of betting and bluffing.
A lot has been written
about poker and why it captures so many
peoples imagination, the fact that it deals
with peoples emotions at the very basic
level most have something to do with it,
as the game is so closely tied to the personality
of each individual player. Poker is played
in more variations than probably any other
game. Its phrases are part of our common
speech. We even named a facial expression
after it. Today poker is bigger than it
has ever been and with the advent of online
poker it promises to still grow phenomenally,
who knows what the future will bring to
add to the history of the great game that
is POKER !! "