Poker - History

There are many variations on where exactly Poker started. With so many varying stories, there seems to be no clear or direct early ancestor of the game. Most likely, Poker evolved to its present day form from elements of many different games. Many think that because of its basic principal, it has been around a very long time. In 1834, Jonathan H. Green makes one of the earliest written references to Poker. In his writing, Green mentions rules to what he called the 'cheating game', which was then being played on Mississippi riverboats. He soon realized that his was the first such reference to the game, and since it was not referred to in the current American Hoyle, he decided to name the game Poker.

The game he explained was played with 20 cards, using only the aces, kings, queens, jacks and tens. 2 to 4 people could play, and each was dealt 5 cards. By the time Green wrote about it, poker had become the number one cheating game on the Mississippi boats, surpassing the ever popular game of 3-Card Monte. Most of the people that enjoyed playing 3-Card Monte thought the 20-card Poker seemed to be a more legitimate game, and they played it more and more.

The origin of the word Poker is also a topic of conflict. Most dictionaries and game historians say that it comes from an 18th century French game, Poque. However, there are other references to Pochspiel, which is a German game. In Pochspiel, there is an element of bluffing, where players would indicate whether they wanted to pass or open by knocking on the table and saying, 'Ich Poche!' Some say it may even have derived come the Hindu word, pukka.

Another though is that the term 'poke' probably came from 'hocus-pocus', a phrase widely used by magicians. The game of Poker later evolved to include 32 cards, and eventually the modern day deck of 52 cards.

The game of Poker has changed throughout the years. It has literally gone from a backroom game to the present day casinos around the world. The history of Poker is synonymous with famous places and famous people. For example, 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.

Presently, Poker is a carefully regulated game governed by many laws, and saloons have given way to casinos and card rooms, but Poker is played more than any other card game in the world. It has grown into a sporting event, with competitions and tournaments all around the world. Tournaments take place almost every week of the year somewhere in the world. Today, Poker is thriving and it will continue to thrive. There will always be a game to play and money to be won.

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