Poker History

Contemporary poker games have their origins in games combining skill and luck that were played in Asia hundreds of years ago. It is believed that the emperors of China once enjoyed a poker like game that closely resembled modern three card casino poker, using dominoes instead of playing cards.

Over centuries the principle of using ranked hands to establish winners in card games slowly evolved, leading to the development of the first prototypical poker games in the 1600s. The first game to closely resemble modern poker was the Spanish card game Primero.

Primero was a three card game that required participants to bet on their hands, and gave players the opportunity to bluff and force victory through aggressive betting – much like modern tournament poker. Showdowns were decided by hand strength, with hand rankings closely resembling those used in poker today.

By the 1700s the principles of Primero had been adopted by other countries where they had evolved into the true predecessors of modern poker. In France this game was known as Poque, while in Germany similar rules and principles were put to play in the game Pochen.

The age of exploration saw sailors transport these popular card games across the Atlantic, where they took root in the French colonies before slowly migrating down the East Coast towards Louisiana and Texas. By 1834 the first reference to poker by this name had been made for the first time in poker history in Jonathan H. Green’s ‘An Exposure of the Arts and Miseries of Gambling’.

During the American Civil war poker evolved into the five card stud format that dominated the game for almost a century. This format gave rise to the rules and principles governing Video Poker, with some versions allowing players to discard and draw cards to build stronger hands.

The last century witnessed a constant evolution of poker with seven card stud poker reigning supreme for the first half of the 20th century, before being outstripped in the popularity stakes by community tournament poker games such as Texas hold ‘em and Omaha poker.

However, it is video poker that embraces the original principles found throughout poker history. With its simple five-card draw format, video poker preserves the original version of this game, ensuring that this classic poker format will be enjoyed for centuries to come.