A Brief Glimpse into the History of Poker
Poker as we know it is understood to have its origins date back close to 1000 years and is believed to be
the result of different cultures. Some historians believe that these origins can be traced to a domino-card
game enjoyed by a Chinese emperor in the 10
th century. On the flip side, others believe that poker in its
present form is a derivative of “As Nas”, a Persian card game that has been in existence since the 16
century. When looking at poker from a Eurocentric lens, the game Poque becomes relevant. This game
gained credence in France in the 17
Poque along with its German counterpart, Pochen, were both derived from Primero, a Spanish game that
made use of three cards dealt to each player. Players bluffed and placed high bets on poor cards during
this game. French colonists are credited with bringing Poque to their settlements located in North
America. This meant that this game became popular in New Orleans and the area that surrounded it which
became part of the United States owing to the Louisiana Purchase of 1803. The game of Poque saw its
name get anglicized by English-speaking settlers belonging to the same region who called it Poker. They
adopted features that are used today including the five cards per player criterion. By 1832 they also
incorporated the use of the 52-card deck.
Following this, the game of poker spread along the Mississippi River and soon came to be popular across
the United States. This was owed in large part to the game being well received among riverboat crews
who helped transport goods via this waterway. The Civil War, in fact, saw soldiers from the North as well
as the South play poker which was particularly well received by Wild West saloons located in the frontier
settlements in the 1870s and 1880s.
By 1871, poker saw itself introduced to Europe following Queen Victoria hearing the American minister
to Great Britain explain the game to members of her court. The game gained greater acceptance in Europe
several decades later owing in large part to the influence American soldiers had during the First World
Over time, poker players have witnessed different variations of poker gain credence. These include
five-card draw, seven-card stud and Texas Hold’em which began to gain popularity in the 1970s when it
was featured under the World Series of Poker, the annual competition for the game.
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