The actual origins of poker are somewhat shrouded in mystery. Many different games from a variety of countries have often been cited as the forerunners of poker. Some of these include Ganjifa and As Nas from Persia, a French game called Poque, a German variation named Pochen, and the Spanish Primero.
The actual origins of poker are somewhat shrouded in mystery. Many different games from a variety of countries have often been cited as the forerunners of poker. Some of these include Ganjifa and As Nas from Persia, a French game called Poque, a German variation named Pochen, and the Spanish Primero. Primero, which was developed in the 16th century, is often called “poker’s mother”, as it is probably the first game that seems intimately related to modern poker.
The French brought Poque with them to the New World, and when they settled in New Orleans, the game spread up the Mississippi River and to other areas of the fledgling country. By the 1830s, poker was being played on riverboats on the Mississippi River, and during the expansion of the United States from coast-to-coast, just about every new town had a poker game going in the local saloon. In the earlier days, poker was played with either a 20 card deck or the now-standard 52 cards.
As the game developed, many of the hand and game types that we see today began to come into existence. The concept of the “flush” (five cards of the same suit) took hold somewhere around the 1830s. Allowing players to trade in some of their cards for new ones (the “draw”) was added before 1850. The “straight” (five cards of consecutive ranks) and the basics of stud poker showed up during the American Civil War in the early 1860s. Wild cards began to appear in the 1870s, the turn of the century saw lowball games and split-pot games, and the community card games such as Texas Hold’em began to show up in the 1920s.
Much of the development of modern poker after the Wild West days of the 19th century can be traced to the Texas Road Gamblers of the 1960s. Such legendary players as Doyle Brunson, Sailor Roberts, Amarillo Slim Preston, TJ Cloutier, and Crandall Addington came up out of games in the towns and cities of Texas, honing their games in conditions not unlike the old days, only with bigger weapons and cars instead of horses to get them from town to town.
The first big leap in poker popularity took place with the advent of the World Series of Poker in Las Vegas in 1970. This brought awareness to the public of the idea of tournament poker as an alternative to cash gameplay, and also began to introduce the world to some of the best poker players in the world, including the first world champion, Johnny Moss. Soon after this, the first great strategy book on poker, Brunson’s Super System, was released, which remains one of the cornerstones of poker literature to this day. Before this book was published, players had no written reference to help them learn the game, but could only be schooled through trial and error. Over the years, a number of seminal books, including David Sklansky’s The Theory of Poker and Dan Harrington’s No-Limit Hold’em tournament and cash game volumes, have opened up many of the mysteries of poker to the average player, greatly adding to the game’s availability.
Since the 1970s, poker has enjoyed an explosion of popularity unlike any time in its history. This has been largely due to two factors, the appearance of the Internet, and the television innovation of the “hole-card camera”, a device that enabled viewers to see the hidden cards of poker players, thereby turning poker into a spectator sport. The presence of the Internet, and the development of online poker sites such as Slot online Indonesia, meant that players would no longer have to travel to reach gambling destinations such as casinos or organize a group of friends to come and play a home game, but could sit around the house, fire up their computers, and play against people from all over the world. In addition, the speed of the game (due to automatic dealing and pot distribution), and the ability of players to participate in more than one table at a time, created a completely different learning curve for new players figuring out how to play the game for profit. Multi-tabling players could see as many cards in a year as some of the old-time poker legends had seen in a lifetime, and some of the best of them began to make their marks in live tournament play as well.
The development of the hole-card camera directly led to the biggest jump in popularity in poker history to date, the so-called “Moneymaker boom”, which took place when a completely unknown player, Chris Moneymaker, won the 2003 World Series of Poker Main Event. This was shown in great detail on ESPN, and suddenly, tens of millions of new poker players were created with dreams of duplicating Moneymaker’s feat. Without the hole-card camera, the game would not have appeared interesting enough on television even to be aired, and so the importance of this innovation cannot be over-estimated.
Since 2003, many new poker rooms in casinos all over the world have opened up. The tournament circuit has exploded. Hundreds of thousands of players can be found on the various Internet poker sites at all hours of the day and night, 365 days a year. While there has been a slight contraction of participation in some of the biggest events, due to the passage of the UIGEA (Unlawful Internet Gambling Enforcement Act) in the United States in 2006, players have continued to find a way to play the game that they love. At this point in time, poker continues to ride a wave of popularity unprecedented in its history. It will be fascinating to see where the game is able to go in the years to come.