Poker History


The poker history is a debatable matter. One of the earliest known card games that incorporated betting and hand rankings was a German game called Pochspiel in the 15th century. On the other hand, poker rules are similar to As Nas played in Persia. There was also a game called Poque played in France.

The name of poker probably comes from the Irish Poca (pocket) or the French Poque that originated from the German Pochen ("to brag as a bluff"). Poker is commonly regarded as sharing origins with the Renaissance game of Primero and the French Brelan. The English game Brag (or Bragg) came from Brelan and involved bluffing. It is possible that all the above earlier card games influenced the development of poker in the form we play nowadays.

A modern school of poker thought rejects all these ancestries. They say poker is trivial and could have been derived from any game or made up on general cardplay principles. According to this school, poker originated at the beginning of the 18th century in the Mississippi River region. It was played in a number of variants, with 52 cards, including both straight poker and stud. There was also a 20 card poker for two players.


Joseph Crowell (English actor) reported that poker was played in New Orleans in 1829, with 20 cards and four players. Poker spread to the rest of the United States by Mississippi riverboats, on which gambling was a common entertainment. Soon later, the full 52 card deck was used and the flush was introduced.

Prior to 1850, the draw poker was added. Many other poker variants, including 5 card stud and straight poker, were added during the American Civil War. Wild card appeared around 1875, lowball and split pot poker around 1900, and community card variants around 1925.

The poker jargon has become an important part of American and English culture. Such phrases as ace in the hole, ace up one's sleeve, beats me, blue chip, call one's bluff, cash in, high roller, pass the buck, poker face, stack up, up the ante, when the chips are down, wild card, or hijack are used in everyday conversation, even by people that have never played poker.

Starting in 1970, major developments made poker far more popular than it was previously:

 Casino poker tournaments became popular after the World Series of Poker began in 1970. Early WSOP’s champions include Doyle Brunson, Johnny Moss, Amarillo Slim, Bobby Baldwin, and Puggy Pearson.
 The first serious poker strategy books appeared in 1970s, including famous Super/System by Doyle Brunson, Caro's Book of Poker Tells by Mike Caro, and The Theory of Poker by David Sklansky.
 In 1987, community card poker variants were introduced in California, the home of the world’s largest casinos. These variants appeared to be far more exciting to players than draw poker that was played there earlier.
 In 1999, “Late Night Poker” show debuted on television in Great Britain, for the first time introducing poker to many Europeans.

New millennium

The popularity of poker experienced an unprecedented boom at the beginning of the 21st century, largely due to the introduction of online poker and hole-card camera on television, which turned the game into a spectacular sport. Audience could now follow the drama of poker and broadcasts of tournaments such as the World Series of Poker and the World Poker Tour attracted many new viewers for cable and satellite TV distributors. Thanks to the increasing TV coverage of poker events, poker professionals became celebrities, with fans all over the world entering into expensive tournaments just to have a chance to play with them.

Since 2003, major poker tournament player fields have experienced a dramatic growth, partly due to the growing popularity of online satellite qualifiers with low entry fees. The 2003 and 2004 WSOP champions, Chris Moneymaker and Greg Raymer, respectively, qualified to the main event through one of those satellites.

In 2006, the Unlawful Internet Gambling Enforcement Act was introduced in America and the participation in live tournaments as well as live and online cash games initially slowed. However, the number of poker players is still growing and much more popular today than they were before 2003.

More articles on general poker:

 Quick start
 Poker bankroll management
 Poker position
 Poker playing styles
 Poker software
 Optimal poker session length
 Poker glossary
 Poker tips

Go back to the Online Poker Strategy.