There are a lot of theories revolving around the history and the origin of Poker, but one thing on which every historian agree is that the Poker is the amalgamation of many different games played around many different regions.
The once-humble game of poker has roots that may extend over 1,100 years and evolved to not only become one of the most revered physical card games in the world, but one that has moved online to become both a form of entertainment and even a profession for tens of thousands of global players.
The geographic background of poker is incredibly diverse
China and dominoes
One theory is that the raw form of poker originated from China around 900 AD, played as an alternate of Chinese dominoes; The Emperor Mutsung played the domino cards with his wife on the New Year’s Eve. Egyptians have also be known to use a form of playing cards in 12th and 13th century.
Persia and poker-like betting games
Another theory suggests that the modern poker has its roots in a Persia. In the 16th century, the Persians used “Ganjifa” or “Treasure Cards” for many betting games.
A ganjifa deck has 96 cards, which were very elaborate and made from paper thin slices of ivory or precious wood. It was considered to the game of elite society. The Persians also played a game called “as nas”, which involved 25 cards with 5 suits and 5 players.
Western Europe gives poker its name
A French game named “poque” and a German game named “pochen” were very popular in 17th and 18th century; both were developed form of the 16th-century Spanish game called “primero”. Both the games involved cards, bluffing and high stakes while holding bad cards to fool the opponents. Primero dates back to 1526 and is often referred to as the Poker’s Mother.
The first 52 card decks
The first evidence of a 52 card deck emerged in 1377 and the account was given by John from Rheinfelden, since then a number of card games had been seen which bore little or no resemblance to modern-day poker.
England and India with Teen Patti and Brag
The first one was “teen Patti” which was played in India. It consisted of betting rounds and a 52 card deck; the hand rankings and the phrases are very similar to the poker.
The second game from which the poker might be originated is an old English game which goes by the name of “Brag”. It has many similarities with Teen Patti and is believed that the phrases which we use today like blind, flush, pot etc. originated from Brag.
Brag had proper betting rules and hand rankings; it was played in three versions by dealing either 3, 4 or 5 cards to each player. The most important thing to consider is that Brag involved bluffing, which is the most important differentiating factor of the poker from other card games.
How poker evolved into the familiar game of today
There are different school of thoughts regarding the passage of the poker into the modern world. Many believe that the poker came to New Orleans by the French who first introduce it in Canada when they landed there. It was the national card game of the French at that time.
Some people believe that it is the English who brought the game to America with Brag, but the deck of the cards used lacked the four suits of Spades, Hearts, Diamonds, and Clubs.
After extensive study, researchers revealed that decks of cards with the four suits were invented and then standardized throughout Europe by 1480.
19th century mentions of modern poker
The Lying Game
The earliest records of modern poker emerged in 1829 in the diaries of Joseph Crowell and it was called The Lying Game back then.
According to the historical documents the English brought the decks of cards and the lying game with them when they first settled in the America. The game was so intriguing and addictive that even Native American started playing the card games. Can you imagine the tilt-induced disagreements those groups might have had?
Riverboat gamblers of the 1850’s
Some of the earliest pioneers of poker as we know it were the southern riverboat gamblers in 1850’s America. They were a bunch of card sharp gamblers and were skilled gunslingers and cheats. Of course, you had to have sharp shooting skills if you wanted to survive while cheating at cards.
From then on various forms of poker flourished throughout the Old West and on the riverboats including 3 card Monte and the raw form of stud poker.
The popularity of poker as an icon in America took off in the 20th century
Since its invention, poker has been played throughout the world in one form or the other. The popularity has grown by leaps and bounds and it has won its place as the national card game of the United States of America.
Texas Hold’em poker has been named as the “Cadillac of poker” and it rose to popularity when it was featured as the title game in the World Series of poker in 1970.
Today, Texas Hold’em is the most frequently played card game in the world.