The Comprehensive History of Poker

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Poker is currently played worldwide in many different forms, from casino tables through to online games. It is one of the most popular gambling games and has been enjoyed by billions of people for roughly two centuries. Today over 20% of the American population play poker live or online.

The Origins

The first game of poker was played in the US, with each player receiving five cards from a pack of twenty. However, the origins of this game is still disputed. Originally the game was thought to originate from the Persian game of As-Nas. However, in the 1990s this theory was disputed by gaming historians with evidence being shown for the origins being traced back to a French game called poque.

Today debates over the origin of poker is largely glazed over, with a common school of thought believing that the game has been influenced numerous times over the years. The basics of the game can be attributed to all card play principles with the gambling aspect only coming into effect in the mid-18th Century. By 1800 it had spread throughout Mississippi and was played with 52 cards in a variety of ways.

Gambling spread throughout Mississippi on riverboats, where gambling was a popular pastime. Soon poker became a large part of the frontier culture in America.

The Name

The name ‘poker’ is said to have originated from the Irish Poca (Pocket) or the French poque, descending from the German pochen (‘to brag as a bluff’). However, it is not indisputably clear whether the origins of the game itself can be found in these games.

The Developments

Poker became a highly popular game in the 1970s, with the world series of poker beginning that year. That same year, ‘how to’ books started to be published on strategies around winning this new game.

In 1980 the game was considered a common part of American culture, appearing in Star Trek: The Next Generation.

It also grew in popularity worldwide, with vendors such as Paddy Power establishing themselves in the late 1980s throughout Ireland and the UK. By 1998, Planet Poker dealt the first real money online poker game and in 1999 Late Night Poker debuted on British television.

At the beginning of the 2000s, the game grew enormously in popularity due to the introduction of online poker and hole-card camera’s. These two things meant that not only could viewers now watch the game but they could gain an insight into the inner working of the game. Moreover, those viewers who were watching the game could play it for themselves from their own home.

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