Early Days and a Murky Past
There were two different games believed to be the ancestors of the game of poker, both featuring many of the aspects we are familiar with in the modern version of the game. One of them was the Persian game As-Nas, which was created around the 17th century, was played with a set deck of 25 cards featuring five suits, containing four numerical cards and one court card. The other game was the French game of poque, which you can tell has some connection with poker thanks to the name. Poque was a regional game, but its name was taken from the Irish Poca, which meant pocket and the German poche which mean to bluff. However, there is another theory that connects poker to the Renaissance game of primero and the French game called brelan as both games contain a form of bluffing.
Modern Rejection Past Theories
Today researchers have done even deeper explorations into the history of poker, formulating new origins for the game. They have rejected the idea that gameplay is the best line of inquiry when sorting out the history of poker, which was the method used to link AS-NAS and Poque to the game. Instead, they have looked at poker’s unique features; features they assert don’t appear in any older games. The theory is that poker is a much more modern game, established in the 18th century in the US along the Mississippi River to be exact. This area was a notorious and, celebrated haven for gamblers, so the assumptions made by holders of this theory are not without merit. This dense grouping of gamblers was the start of the widespread variations of poker. Also, this was the beginning of the use of straight and stud poker. Historians have also traced the 20 card deck to this time and region, giving more credence to the European influence on reducing the number of cards was common and linked to the number of players.
With the increased popularity of the gambling and poker particular, New Orleans created a booming commercial gambling industry, something that has become emblematic of life on the Mississippi, where massive resort like gambling boats ruled the river. In the year 1829 the 20 card variation was exceedingly popular, and it led to the development of a massive gambling culture in the country, with superstar gamblers making obscene amounts of money and making the riverboats on the Mississippi even more attractive to ambitious folks. That popularity led to the exporting of the game of poker to other parts of America especially when it came to the people who got rich off the gold rush and took their winnings and the game out west mingling it with the pioneer spirit.
The proliferation of poker was instrumental in the perfection of the 52-card English deck that we know today, along with the draw feature being added to the game in the year of 1850. The American Civil War brought in things like stud poker and the straight. Features like the wild card, lowball, split-pot poker and community card poker being added between 1875 and 1925.