Poker? I Hardly Know Her.
The game Americans know and love as Poker has a rich and storied history that has seen the game across multiple continents and make periodic appearances amongst
a variety of cultures.
The game is said to be nearly 1,000 years old but not all agree on the origin of Poker. There are historians that trace the game's roots back to a game played
with both dominoes and cards by a 10th-century Chinese Emperor. There are others that claim the game of poker is a descendant a card game once popular in 16th
century Persia then known as “As Nas.”
Perhaps the closest European ancestor to the game of Poker was a 17th-century game made popular in France called Poque'. Poque', which was referred to as pochen in Germany, was a derivative of the 16th-century Spanish game called Primero. Primero was a card game in which each player was dealt three cards from the deck and bluffing was an integral part of the game.
Poque' found its way to North America when French settlers traveled to the New World. Most of these settlements were located in New Orleans and surrounding areas. These areas became part of the United States in 1803 with the agreement between France and America that would be known as The Louisiana Purchase. It was English speaking settlers in the Louisiana area that gave the game the present day name of Poker. It was also at this time that modern game play was adopted, including the dealing of five cards to every player and the standardization of the 52-card deck.
The game of poker began to spread via the Mississippi River and onto other parts of the nation. This was made possible because of Poker's popularity with crew members of the riverboats transporting goods along the river-way.
Soldiers on both sides of the fight enjoyed the game of Poker during the Civil War. Poker would also become a mainstay in the salons that operated in the frontier settlements of the Old West.
The game was to find a new audience in 1871 when Queen Victoria reintroduced Poker to Europe. Victoria was present while the U.S. Minister to Great Britain was explaining the nuances of poker play to members of her court. She became interested while listening and asked the Minister to explain the rules again for herself. Poker's penetration in Europe was increased by large numbers during World War I by way the American soldiers stationed on the continent.
Over the years different variations of Poker have appeared and taken the lead in popularity of among players. Five-card Draw and Seven-card Stud are two mainstays of the collection of games that fall under the Poker umbrella. More recently Texas Hold ‘Em has perhaps become the most popular poker game in America. The began to gain traction with poker playing Americans in the 1970's and became so popular that it became the featured game at the World Series of Poker, an annual event that attracts professional poker players as well as spectators from around the globe.