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History of Poker

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History of Poker

While no one knows exactly how the game of poker was invented, the general consensus is that the present game derived from the elements of many different games, including the Chinese game of “Dominos”, and the Persian game of “As Nas”.  Chinese “Dominos” was the first recorded game to use numbered cards.  “As Nans” was played with a special deck with suits. 

In the 17th century, the French and the Germans introduced a card game that is close to the way poker is played today.  In France, the game was called “Poque” and in Germany it was called “Pochen.”  Meanwhile, the Spanish claim their game “Primero” was being played as early as 1526. “Primero” has been called “poker’s mother.” In all these games, players were dealt cards and had to play them regardless of what they were dealt.  If they had weak cards they were forced to bluff, hoping nobody would catch them. They used a deck of 20 cards and the familiar suits hearts, diamonds, clubs and spades.

The French brought the game to New Orleans in the 1800s.  In 1834, Jonathan H. Green wrote the first guide to poker. Green talked about what he called the "cheating game," which was, at this time, being played on Mississippi riverboats. As his was the first written reference to the game, he took the opportunity to officially name the game “Poker”.

At this time, game was played with 20 cards consisting of aces, kings, queens, jacks and tens.  Limited to between two and four players, each was dealt five cards.  Cardsharps used the game as a constant opportunity to cheat suckers out of their money.  In fact, a possible origin for the word “Poker” might have been the pickpocket’s term “Poke” which was slang for money.  A pickpocket would be heard to say: “I relieved him of his poke”.

The game of Poker later evolved to include 32 cards, and finally the modern day deck of 52, not counting the two Jokers.

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