You are here

Poker History

The History of Poker

When one studies the history of gambling, it is always amazing to note how far back gambling goes and for how many centuries people have been willing and eager to risk a sum of money in order to win a larger one. Poker history, too, is long and involved and goes back many years.

Online Poker>Download Poker

The Ancient Roots of Poker

Games like Keno and Sic Bo have their roots firmly in ancient China and, surprisingly, so does the game of poker. It is believed that poker has evolved over the course of a thousand years, at least, starting with games that used the same basic principle of card ranking. Since its birth, poker has reproduced, changed forms, and has spread across the planet like a mega-plague. It has been called the most popular card game in the world and deservingly so.

A popular belief is that poker got its start in China around 900 A.D. Even though cards, as we know them, had not emerged yet, the Chinese had dominoes, which are believed to be the first form of gambling and the predecessor to the modern deck of cards. It is said that Emperor Mu Tsung introduced the game of "domino cards" to his wife in 969 A.D, more than 1,000 years ago.

Egypt is also cited as a possible source of poker. Remnants of what is believed to be playing cards were found and dated back as far as the 12th or 13th century. India is also mentioned as the country of origin and some historians say that modern-day card games, including poker, are derived from an ancient Indian game called Ganjifa, which in turn may have led to a Persian game called "As Nas." The game of As Nas dates back to the 17th century and resembles poker in more ways than any of the games previously mentioned.

Europeans also played what is thought to be an early version of poker. A German game named “Pochen” – from a word meaning “to knock” in German and “to brag” in Dutch – and a French game named “Poque” became very popular in the 17th and 18th centuries, and it is believed that they were both developed from an earlier Spanish game called “Primero,” which involved three cards being dealt to each player. Bluffing was an important part of that game, tying it securely to poker. Primero dates back to 1526 and is often referred to as “poker's mother” as it is the first confirmed game directly related to today's poker.

Poker Comes to America

French colonials imported the game to the New World when they arrived in Canada. Poque was the national card game of France at the time and from the beginning of the 18th century, when a group of French-Canadian settlers founded New Orleans, it spread from Louisiana up the Mississippi River and from there throughout the whole country. In 1834, a gambler by the name of Jonathan H. Green referred to poque as “the cheating game” that was widely played on riverboats of that era. At the time, 3-card Monte was the most popular gambling game, but the game Green called “the cheating game” was ironically considered more honest and more of a challenge and it surpassed any existing game in popularity. Green himself is credited with Americanizing the name of the game and christening it as Poker.

In the 1800s no saloon could be found without a poker table. During the Gold Rush, Poker was considered a fundamental part of the frontier culture. The American Civil War and the decades that followed brought many innovations to the game. The United States officially claimed the game as its own in 1875 when it introduced the joker as a wild card and the game of poker has never been the same since.

Twentieth-Century Poker Innovations

The second half of the twentieth century saw many exciting developments in poker history. Tournament poker play became trendy in the 1970's after the first World Series of Poker. The "hole-card camera" made poker a fashionable spectator sport for television. The Internet gave a boom to the popularity of poker, enabling more people to play at online casinos and participate in online satellite qualifier games.

Poker is arguably the most malleable card game in history and variations (and variations of variations) abound. For a long time — almost 100 years — 5-card draw was the most popular poker game. Seven-card stud poker took the baton from its 5-card brother and ran with it for about 40 years in the mid-20th century. In the 1970s, when it was featured in the World Series of Poker, the poker variant of Texas Hold 'Em took over as the most popular form of poker and it has never looked back — it is still the reigning King of Poker. It is undoubtedly the most frequently played poker game in the world.

Many common, contemporary, English expressions are derived from Poker jargon. "Pass the Buck" refers to the marker which designates the dealer in the game. "Ace in the Hole" refers to the concealed cards in a stud game. "Wild Card" is used to describe an unknown element in a situation.

Online Poker is Born

The next stage in poker history came in the 1990s with the of the Internet and the birth of the online poker casino. Now you can play poker online any time you're in the mood for a good game; you don't have to travel to a casino and you don't have to rustle up some friends to play with you. A top online poker site such as Wild Jack Casino offers a wide variety of online poker games, including 3-Card Poker, Bonus Pai Gow Poker, Poker Pursuit, and Texas Hold Em Poker, as well as a couple of big-money progressive jackpot poker games such as Poker Ride and Progressive Cyberstud Poker. The wide variety of available online poker games — far greater that what is available in any brick-and-mortar casino — is one of the main advantages of playing poker online.

Online poker has truly revolutionized poker history. It has brought the game of poker into everyone's home, with no need to travel to the game, and it provides so many different poker variations that, with just the click of a mouse, you can easily find the best poker game for you.

Download our new Viper software for free

Jackpots Total