October 31, 2008

Short History of Poker

Poker has become a world wide phenomenon over the recent years—everyone seems to play the game. Most people give internet poker all credit for the explosion in popularity, but we must not forget that Poker, in one form or another has been traced through over more than ten centuries back to around 900 A.D.

A game alike to poker was first invented by the Chinese sometime before 969 A.D, and Egyptians in the 12th & 13th centuries are known to have used a form of playing cards. In 16th century Persia "Ganjifa" or "Treasure Cards" were believed to have been used for a variety of betting games. A Ganjifa deck consisted of 96 elaborate cards, made of paper thin slices of ivory or precious wood. "As Nas" was played by The Persians which utilized 25 cards, rounds of betting and hierarchical hand rankings.

"Primero" dates back to 1526 and is often referred to as "poker's mother" as it is the first confirmed version of a game directly related to modern day poker. "Primero" was a 16th century Spanish game which involved three cards being dealt to each player. Bluffing, or betting high stakes whilst holding poor cards to deceive opponents, was an integral part of the game. In the 17th and 18th centuries a French game named "Poque" and a German game named "Pochen" became very popular, believed to have been developed from "Primero".

When French colonials arrived in Canada they imported the game to the new world. From the beginning of the 18th century "Poque" was the national card game of France and when a hardy group of French-Canadian settlers founded New Orleans, its popularity spread from the state of Louisiana throughout the whole country. One of the earliest references of poker was written in 1834 by Jonathan H. In his writing he mentions rules to the "cheating game."

During the Wild West period of United States history, a saloon with a poker table could be found in just about every town from coast to coast. It was extremely popular during the Civil War when the soldiers of both armies played. European influence of poker ended when the joker was introduced as a wild card in 1875.

In just over two centuries, poker has never looked back. Since its humble beginning on the banks of the Mississippi, the popularity of this widely played game has grown in leaps and bounds to evolve numerous variations and sub-variations.

There have been three games that have, in turn, dominated the modern poker scene:

• 5 Card Draw rose from relative obscurity during the American Civil War to the most popular game for almost a century.
• 7 Card Stud then took over the throne shortly before WWII and maintained its position for about 40 years with the help of the new and thriving Las Vegas casino industry.
• Texas Hold 'em, christened the "Cadillac of poker" rose to prominence in the 1970's when it was featured as the title game in the World Series of Poker. Today, Texas Hold 'em is indisputably the most frequently played and most popular poker game in the world.

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