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A Very Brief History of Poker

Author: Neha Agrawal

Today, poker is universally argued and in most cases regarded as the world’s most popular card game in existence today. But tracing the origins of poker can prove quite problematic. Today, we take a lot of common phrases from this card game. Phrases such as “having an ace up ones sleeve”, “up the ante”, “call someone’s bluff” all have their origins in poker; but what about the game’s origins itself?

The game of poker’s origin cannot be definitively traced. It may have originated from the French game of Poque, perhaps from the German Pochen, the English Brag, or possibly even older still; the Persian game of As Nas. Most gambling historians are inclined to believe it originated from the latter.

What is known is that by the mid nineteenth century, poker (as we now know it) was being played in the Mississippi River region. The game was likely five card stud, with a complete fifty two card deck, and the game is known to have been popular during the American Civil War. It is around about this time that five card draw is believed to have come into play; it is also thought that the flush ranking hand came into existence during this time. The game expanded with wild cards being introduced to form a poker variant towards the end of the century.

By the turn of the twentieth century, poker was rapidly picking up popularity. This remained the case as the decades rolled by, and the game was soon incorporated into casinos. The World Series of Poker began in 1970 as the first major worldwide poker tournament, and shortly after that poker strategy books began to appear to assist budding players following the game all over the world; written of course by the winners of the tournaments.

By 1998, the first true real money online poker games appeared in online casinos, beginning with Planet Poker. European interest in poker truly took off in the early twenty first century with the advent of online poker sites across the continent, and with the World Series of Poker being televised across the globe, other regions of the world became obsessed with the game too, primary the Texas Hold'em variant.

In this day and age, online poker has taken off to a whole new level. With some many players online it was inevitable that the market would grow, which is has with the advent of the latest turn in the evolution of the game; mobile poker. Mobile poker is rapidly gaining in popularity now too, and although the United States has suffered in recent years with online poker being deemed illegal; the overturning of the Justice Department’s stance on online gambling might very well mean that in the very near future, online poker could soon return to the United States where it belongs.