Card games have been around for centuries. It is claimed that poker was invented by the Chinese wit there being records of the Chinese participating and playing card games as far back as 950. But even though it seems pretty clear that the Chinese were probably the first to have played card games, it wasn’t with a traditional 52-card deck.
The beginning of card games as they are played today with a deck of 52-cards had origins dating back to Switzerland in 1377. John of Rheinfelden, who was a Swiss Monk, recorded a card game that was played with a deck of 52 cards. The card values were numbered from 1 to 10.
With written records that established the very early historic existence of card games being played, the next obvious step is to establish the origins of modern poker that is played with a 52-card deck.
As far back as the late 1300s, the Mamelukes of Egypt had their own style of playing cards that had similarities to a modern deck of poker cards. A pack of Mameluke playing cards consisted of four “suits” of 13 cards each. The different suits were made up of coins, polo sticks, swords, and cups. However, even though different card games were played using a 52-card deck, none of them really resembled the game of poker much.
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Although the actual history of poker is not perfectly clear, it is widely recognized in many circles that the game’s origins go as far back as the 16th Century, with a Persian card game called As Nas, which is almost exactly the same as Poker. Although the Persian card game was akin to Poker there were some differences in how it was played. This game was played with 25 cards with 5 different “suits”.
In the 16th Century this As Nas game was further developed throughout Europe. In France, they developed Poque and there was a poker variant that was called Poch by the Germans. In Spain, they had a card game called Primero, which had three cards to a hand.
There are various theories as to the possible sources where the game of poker originated, but there is actually a lot of evidence to suggest that the game first came to America when the French settlers arrived in New Orleans in the 19th Century bringing with them the card game called Poque. This Poque game involved bluffing and betting using a deck of cards with the suits: spades, hearts, diamonds and clubs.
Over the next few decades, poker had spread around the country. At the time of the Civil War from 1861 to 1865 it was played with a deck of 52 cards, and it was around about this time that the poker hand rankings were adjusted to account for straight and flush hands.
In the early 1900s, a new style of poker with community cards was invented, which was played alongside Draw and Stud poker games. This game was called “Wild Widow” and it best represents the game of poker as we know it today in that of “Texas Hold’em”. But at the time only one community card was used.
Poker has seen some drastic changes over the years. Up until the early 1970s it was for the most part a game that was played recreationally for entertainment purposes. But it quickly turned into a very strategic game, as more and more poker players realized there was a lot of money to make if you were a good and skillful player.
Many poker players began to view the game as a viable means to make a living. The likes of Doyle Brunson made millions from this great game and even created poker literature on the subject. His “Super System” book that was first published in 1978, is widely recognized as being the holy grail of poker books, as it was the first book to discuss the important mathematical and theoretical aspects of poker.
There has been many variations of poker invented throughout poker’s illustrious history. Poker games such as Draw Poker and Stud Poker were very popular. But later this was replaced by the cadillac of poker Texas Hold’em when the game came into existence in the 1970s. Texas Holdem is a variation of Seven-Card Stud, and the game was created to allow a maximum number of players to participate using a 52 card deck only.
Due to the introduction of online poker, which has become extremely popular in recent years, the game of poker continues to grow. Especially following the 2003 WSOP Main Event, when Chris Moneymaker won $2.5 million dollars after qualifying through a $40 satellite tournament on PokerStars.