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The History of Poker Games

The history of poker games before 1829 is rather vague, and has been put down to several different possible origins, none of which can be proven. It is similar to the ancient Middle Eastern game of as nas and could have arrived in New Orleans with Persian mariners. The name could have one of several origins, the more probable ones being the Irish Poca, the French Poque (itself from the German pochen) meaning to bluff, both popular games in the 17th and 18th Centuries. The English game of brag could also have had some bearing on poker games and their origins. Of all of the different variations known today, one rule remains the same in all, only five cards may be played – the remainder must be discarded.

One thing is certain, the game was played in New Orleans in 1829 with a deck of twenty cards and four players who each bet on the value of cards they held. By the mid 1830s the deck had been increased to a full 52 card deck in order to accommodate more people at a game. Poker games were spread into the rest of the United States by the Mississippi riverboats, where there was always a gambling room, and from the Mississippi to the West with the gold rush and the land rush of 1889. Poker games have increased in popularity over the years, and today there are literally thousands of people playing at any one time both live in casinos and on the Internet.

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