Today poker is one of the most popular games in the world. Between televised poker, online poker and home games, it seems like poker is everywhere. Poker has been around all our lives, but some people may be curious as to how it all got started.
Origins of Poker
Most historians agree that the game that we now know of as poker is an evolution of an earlier game. What is in dispute is exactly which game that was. An early candidate is the game As Nas, which originated in Persia. As Nas’ different colors and use of court cards are similar to poker’s use of suits and ranks. The first card game known to have bluffing as a key element was a game called Pochspiel. A French derivative of this game, Poque, meaning to bluff, is arguably the best candidate to be poker’s primary ancestor. French settlers brought the game to the southern United States, where poker emerged, and it is easy to see Southern Americans interpreting the French accented “Poque” as “Poker.”
The Genesis of Modern Poker
The earliest mention of poker games that is similar to the way it is played today comes in the earliest 19th century, with players enjoying a 20 card game where each player had five cards, so the entire deck was used. The game became popular on Mississippi riverboats and progressed to the Northern United States through the Mississippi River and the West through the gold rush.
The Evolution of Modern Poker
Over the course of the 19th century, the full 52 card poker deck developed, as well as variations to create more challenge and excitement in the game. Poker truly took hold when the five card draw game developed, where people could replace some of the cards in their hand, and an extra betting round was added. Stud games, with more betting rounds and exposed cards, soon followed.
Modern Poker Today
In the 20th century, hold’em games joined the pantheon of poker variants, and in the late 20th century, online poker tournaments become extremely popular as well. Today, the advent of televised poker and online poker has made the game hugely popular, and poker continues to garner new fans all the time.