History of Poker
Unfortunately there is not a lot of clear information on the beginnings of poker. Some believe that game is derived from an old French game called “Poque”; others believe the game has its roots in “Pochspiel” a German card game. While others still, believe that the game rose from an ancient Persian game called “As-Nas”.
Although the origins of poker may be obscured, the history of poker is quite clear. In 1834 the first published reference to poker was made. This publication made a reference to “the cheater Riverboat game”. From its earliest beginnings to modern day, poker has under gone continual evolution. The game referenced in 1834 was played with 20 cards and 4 players; today it has evolved to using 52 cards and upwards of 10 players. During this continual evolution one thing has remained consistent throughout the history of poker; it has remained a game of vying, or betting on which player has the best hand.
With the introduction of a 52 card deck and the turmoil of the American Civil War in the mid 1800’s, the history of poker splits in to many different branches. There now was two main styles of poker being played, Stud and Draw. Variants of these styles flourished during this time, and new hands were added to the game of poker like the Flush and the Straight.
By the turn of the century with the help of Hoyles, the rules of poker for the most part had been standardized. Along with the standardization of the rules of poker, a third style of poker (Community Card) appeared along side Draw and Stud in the game called “Wild Widow”. The community or communal card style of poker is best represented today by the incredibly popular “Texas Hold’em”.
Throughout the 20th century the history of poker continues to have interesting entries added to it. Early in the 1900’s poker’s image becomes more suspect, as it and other forms of gambling were adopted by organized crime and other elements for criminal purposes. Despite its questionable heritage and upbringing, poker’s image has been cleaned up, and has become the beloved game of casinos, card houses, and weekly poker nights.
Chapters continue to be written to the history of poker today. Poker is the fastest growing card game, with possibly the largest number of variants of any card game. The popularity of poker continues to grow with the advent of online poker, weekly celebrity poker matches, and world poker tour/championship games on television.
What future chapters will be written to the history of poker? Only time will tell.