History of Poker


The well-loved game of poker has a rich but questionable history.  Some historians argue that poker was actually a derivative of the game Poque.  Poque is a French card game that was further derived from the German “pochen”.  Despite the similarities in the game names, there is a huge dispute as to whether or not poker really is an offshoot of such games.  Why?  Well, because the game of poker holds a lot of similarities with other games that it may be a by-product of.  For example, the game of Poker is amazingly similar to “Nas”, a game of Persian origins.  What’s more, the game of poker is strikingly similar to “primero” as well as the game “brelan.”  Primero was a game that was played during the Renaissance: a card game that consisted of the use of 52 cards with the 8, 9, and 10 cards removed from the deck.  All other cards in the game of Primero retained their numerical value, and many of the plays were similar to the modern day game of poker.  Meanwhile, the game of “brelan” is French and the game’s name literally translates to “three of a kind.”  As a final point, it is quite possible that poker is a game that is a descendant of all the above mentioned games: a descendant that evolved into the modern day understanding of poker.


To further add to the confusion pertaining to poker’s origins, some historians, and history buffs will argue that poker is actually a game that is named after the Hindu “pukka” and there is evidence that the game was played in India.  Meanwhile, there exists the school of thought that the game of poker has roots in the English game called “Bragg”; but one must consider that bragg is not nearly as old as some of the other games previously mentioned.  Consequently, Bragg may have some role in the evolution of poker, but it may not necessarily be the sole cause for the game’s existence.


Poker was recognized in the states as early as the late 1820’s, but the variant of the games was a bit different from the game as it is played today.  Joseph Crowell noted the game in the year 1829 as it was being played in the area of New Orleans: the game used a total of 20 cards, instead of the 52 card deck used in contemporary card gaming.  In fact, the history of the game poker reveals the evolution of the deck used for the game; at first the game was played with 20 cards, then the game was played with a 32 card deck, and finally, it was played with the 52 card deck still in use today. It is further surmised by various historians that the game of poker spread easily throughout Mississippi.  In fact, a written account of the game appears in the work of Jonathan H. Green, a game he referred to as “the cheating game” that had becoming an incredibly popular Mississippi pastime.  Moreover, as America grew, the game of poker followed the American pioneers westward.  Finally, it seems as American evolved so did the game, poker became immensely popular and there was the sudden emergence of new spins on the game.


It was in the late 1830s that poker incorporated the use of straights and flushes; the early 1850s when wild cards were first introduced as part of the game; the early 1860s when poker began to have a number of different variants, like Draw and Stud; the early 1870s when an official rule book was established; and 1880 when the game of Texas Hold’em first appeared on the scene.  By the late 1890s, magazines were established that were dedicated to the game.



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