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The Historical Roots of Poker in America

The historical roots of poker in America: exploring the origins of America's favorite card game

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On many occasions when a game is created, its creators may not think their work could go down in history as a classic; thus they never document the game's early days. Regardless, game ideas and variations circulate without anyone knowing who created them because their inception occurs not at a single table but among an ensemble of players from a given location. This is particularly true for games played in communities where cultural artifacts are passed through oral tradition rather than in writing. The same goes for poker.

Poker, a card game where initially four people face off to see who has the most significant hand using a standard deck of twenty cards, was said to have originated in New Orleans through French immigrants around 1810. By the 1830s, this card game had expanded north down the banks of the Mississippi and beyond the West before establishing firm roots in the US.

Poker went on to take on its current anglicized name (poker) and was played with a pack of 52 cards to accommodate more players. Today, the many variants of the game are played in several countries globally, including America. Interested players can check out the best online poker sites in the US, ranked by Top10PokerSites, to play the game for real money. Let's get into the origins of America's favorite card game!

Origins of Poker

Poker, and its underlying standards, have been around for over a thousand years. This legendary group of card games took elements such as ranking of hands and bluffing from other games. No one knows for sure where this card game was first played. Instead of emerging from a single game, it was impacted by various games.

Ancient Poker

It is widely believed that the Chinese Emperor Mu-Tsung played a game using 'domino cards', similar to contemporary poker before 969 AD. In the centuries following the reign of the Emperor, card playing became widespread in Egypt in the 12th and 13th centuries. Some historians trace its ancestry back to the Chinese game of Mahjong, which dates back to the 10th century.

The Persian classic As-Nas was the most renowned of the ancient card games and is sometimes considered poker's direct progenitor. As-Nas likely originated sometime in the 1600s. The pastime included 25 cards, with a hierarchy of winning hands and betting rounds.

European Poker

Primero, a Spanish card game, is credited with introducing the essential element of bluffing to the German and French variations, 'Pochen' and 'Poque', respectively. Primero was also performed with slight regional variants in Spain, Italy, and France. In 1525, the first variation of Primero was released in Spain.

In Italy, card players often referred to the classic three-card game as Primera. A standard Italian card deck had 40 cards. Pochen, a game of bluff, was mastered in Germany. In such a game, bluffing was the name of the game, and deception was condoned. The French settlers in Acadia brought 'Poque' with them to Canada, and eventually, it made its way to the Mississippi before it became anglicized and permeated America.

American Origins

Poker is said to have originated in the United States in the early nineteenth century as a modified version of the French parlor game Poque. It was introduced to New Orleans by French sailors and business people. Keep reading to see how this played out.

American Poker

Before Louisiana was an official state of the United States of America, it was a distinct area where the card game was played in saloons. In the mid-1800s, the number of cards in a standard deck doubled from 20 to 52. Poker eventually spawned offshoots like stud poker.

During the 1849 California gold rush, this game of five cards gained widespread popularity. A later expansion increased the card count from five to seven. The development of Texas Hold 'em in the middle of the twentieth century marked the next stage in the evolution of stud poker.

During the Civil War, the Union and the Confederate armies passed the time by playing the card game. Those soldiers who returned home after the war brought the game with them. Poker penetrated the densely populated regions of the Midwest and Northeast in the United States.

Texas Hold 'em

Texas Hold 'em, which first gained popularity in the 1970s when it was included at the World Series of Poker, the most prestigious yearly casino tournament in the US, has lately become the most popular variant of poker. Its precursors are the seven-card stud and the five-card draw. Texas Hold 'em is a modification of the standard poker seven-card stud and five-card draw.

The game first appeared in Nevada thanks to Felton McCorquodale, and from there, it made its way to the casinos of Las Vegas. Benny and Jack Binion, who advocated for Texas Hold 'em to be a significant factor in determining the greatest players, were instrumental in bringing it to the World Series of Poker in 1971. Texas Hold 'em maintained its prominence, becoming a standard at poker tournaments.

Final Thoughts

Technological advancement in the late 20th century is mainly responsible for poker's meteoric rise to prominence worldwide. Technology eliminated the need for avid players to go to physical structures to engage in poker.

The World Series of Poker estimates that approximately 60 million individuals in the United States play it online. Because of its rich history, poker is now a favorite pastime for people worldwide, virtually and in real life. Despite its initial popularity in the United States and especially in Las Vegas, people from across the globe play this casino game due to its worldwide impact.

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