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The History Of Poker

Poker has always been seen as a cool and exciting game to play, with tournaments and tables played amongst friends, and enemies for fun and both small and high stakes. There has been a massive explosion of enthusiasm for poker across the world in recent years, and with the online element bursting onto the scene the rise of the most popular card game seems hard to see slowing. Poker has many forms such as Tournament favourite Texas Holdem to the original Stud formats.All games are played by millions of people across the globe in card rooms, casinos and now at home or on the move with the aid of a computer. The fact is you can now play poker virtually anywhere against people from the other side of the world.

But where on earth did Poker originate? Do we know who invented the game? Or why it was christened with the name Poker? The infuriating yet simple answer is no! Finding an agreed upon theory has proved a stumbling block for historians and poker players alike. But that has not stopped speculation and discussion on the subject.

Let us firstly address the question of where Poker originated. There is not one universally accepted theory on the true birth of Poker, but the most commonly believed is that it was derived from the Persian game of As Nas. Never heard of it? Well As Nas was played using 25 cards including 5 different suits. The basis for it being the foundation of Poker is that hand rankings were used much as we know it today, such as 3 of a kind. If As Nas was the catalyst to poker then it is feasible that when Europeans began playing they developed it into the game we know today. It is a possibility that when the game came across it was referred to as pochen or pocke.

This theory is closely linked to the suggestion that poker was spawned from card games of the 18th Century such as the German game of Pochen (to knock), also known in French as Pocke. So twice we have heard Pochen referred to, which does suggest that this may well have been how it was known many years ago.

Poker Roots

There are some, however, who propose the roots of poker lie far deeper in history with a case that it was in fact played in a cognitive form in China as long ago as 900AD. Despite the fact that it is unknown if cards were around at this time, they did have Dominos. The intriguing story is that the Chinese Emperor Mutsung played domino cards against his wife, which was allegedly an early form of poker. If this is accurate, lets hope that bluffing was not an integral part of the game as it may have caused a few marital disagreements! - In summary, could poker have been invented by Persians and named by Europeans? Did it originated in Germany, or perhaps the Chinese came up with the foundations of the game.

The name of poker is just as contentious as the origin of the game. There a numerous theories spinning around, some feasible, some a little far fetched!! One fascinating theory is that the word derived from an underworld term used by pickpockets to poke. The r was allegedly added due to victims getting wise and suspecting foul play. So crooks to signal that they had scoped an intended victim to steal their poke or wager during an ongoing card game could have used it.

Another intriguing piece of speculation is that the word originates from the expression hocus-pocus which is commonly used by magicians (when their not using abracadabra!), and trying to hit that much needed river card is hard enough so a bit of magic certainly can come in handy!

Poker Beginnings

The first known written reference to poker was made by Jonathan H Green in 1834 within his work called An Exposure of Arts & Miseries of Gambling. He was a gambler who spoke of rules referring to what he called the cheating game which was then being played upon Mississippi riverboats. He began a career as a professional card player and became aware of the game of poque. The game Green described was played with 20 cards using 10, J, Q, K and As. Each player was dealt 5 cards with limited the number of players to a maximum of 4. This was deemed as a more legitimate game than the previously played game of 3-Card Monte and as a result poker became immensely popular.

History Of Poker The frequent play on Riverboats of Mississippi seems to have played a fundamental factor in building the language of Poker. Speculation is that the River card, as we know it was named after these very rivers. The reference came about because cheats would deal the last card of the community set that advanced their hand. Thus increasing the chance of winning. If they were unfortunate enough to be caught they were duly thrown in the river as a punishment. Hence, the last card was named the River card.

Undoubtedly the most popular card game in the world, what does the future hold for Poker? Poker is increasingly morphing into a sport, with the creation of tournaments worldwide and a World Championship where players fight for the prestigious prize of being considered the best player in the world. The lifestyle of the Top Pros is enviable indeed, with schedules much akin to top Sporting stars, and with millions of pounds up for grabs at many large tournaments such as Ladbrokes Poker Million, some professional poker players are achieving earnings more than famous sports people that may well surprise you.


Technological advances have revolutionized the viewing of poker with it now winning huge Television audiences. The introduction of a new under the table camera gives the spectator a unique opportunity to view the hole cards of each player. This opens a window into the minds of the players as the hole cards represent the tools used for betting and bluffing, and for the spectator to see them dealt creates huge excitement when stakes are high.

Poker has also enjoyed its time on the big screen, with many a scene being included within slick and stylish movies. Films incorporating Poker scenes include Oceans 11(1960 & 2001), The Cincinnati Kid (1965), Rounders (1998), all featuring Hollywoods finest names. These films showed the competitive edge poker has and helped publicise the game and authenticate it as the most highly thought of and glamorous card game. With no signs that Poker growth seems to be stopping. The future of Poker looks as good as ever - Happy days!

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