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Poker History

Poker History

Poker is one of the most popular card game there is, it is a game which unify various kinds of people from all over the world, and it became an official sport, broadcasted to millions homes around the world. Today there are only few people who have not heard of poker but there are few who know where poker did really come from, and a dominate theory of where poker originated from does not exist, but all agree that today's poker evolved from different card games, which in all of them there is a strict hierarchy of hands and "bluffing" is a suitable skill, which one must posses in order to deceive one's opponents and win.

A common belief states that the Chinese Emperor, Mu-Tsung, invented a game similar to poker in 970 A.D, which is reported to have been played with "domino cards". Another theory speaks of a game played by the Egyptians in the 12th and 13th century, similar to poker in the hand ranking, unfortunately little evidence of this game had survived to tell historians the complete story. In the 16th century a game called "Treasure Cards" or "Ganjifa" was played in Persia, which is also believed to be one of poker's ancestors, a more similar Persian version is "As Nas", a game which was played with 25 cards and used hand ranking and betting rounds.

"Primero" is a Spanish game evolved in the 16th Century, it is considered to be the "father" of today's poker and a relative of "Primo Visto", another card game. Both games were mentioned in the book written by John Taylor – "Taylor's Motto" from 1621. Primero was played with three cards and rounds of betting were taking place, an integral part of the game was to bluff opponents by showing poor cards. Evidence of this game had been found both in Italy and Spain, and while Primero dates back to 1526, evidence of Primo Visto appeared only half a century later, thus pointing the possibility that this two games were actually the same game.

The game Primero became loved both in Germany and France in the 17th and 18th Centuries. French colonialists exported the game to the New World under the name "Poque" ("Pochen" in German). Poque was the national game of France in the middle of the 18th Century, and it was French settlers that settled in New Orleans were responsible for the first access of this game in North America. From New Orleans the game traveled up the Mississippi River and before the end of the 18th Century the game took all over the State of Louisiana.

Jonathan H. Green mentioned the "Cheating Game" in 1834 and it is the first mentioning of poker in literature. The game was played on Mississippi river boats, and it took the place of the three-card game which was acceptable in Europe at that time, which was thought to be a "rigged" game. Green's book was "An Exposure of the Arts and Miseries of Gambling", the first formal book about poker to exist, in it was a complete review of the rules of the "Cheating Game".

Sooner after 1875 the game spread like fire in fallow land. During the period of the Wild West there wasn't a saloon or a bar without tables of poker. Poker spread all over the US decade after decade, and by the mid of the 20th Century is became an official sport, recognized by all.

Written by Christopher Barrett, Guest Editor at the 8th of December '05

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