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Poker History

There is much speculation on the history and origins of poker. Although historians cant trace poker to its exact and direct gaming ancestor they believe it is probably a combination of games brought together and merged during the continual immigration of the United States.

The first written reference to poker was in 1834 by a Jonathan H Green. He wrote about a game, referred to as a cheating game, that had become a frequent occurrence on Mississippi river boats eventually becoming more popular than Three Card Monte. He described the game as being played with twenty cards made up from tens, jacks, queens and aces. Between two to four players were dealt a total of five cards and money was bet.

As he annotated the rules and form of the game he realised he was the first to do so. Whereby he gave it the name poker. The reasons for choosing the name poker are unclear. The common understanding is that it derived from an 18th Century French game called poque through to more far fetched, but possible, rumours of links to the Hindu word pukka. A more likely idea however is a connection to a German game called pochspiel. In pochspiel bluffing is a huge part of the game where players would knock on the card table to indicate if they wished to pass or play. Yet the most intriguing thought on the matter is that the underworld of America at that time referred to pick pocketing a person as to poke. We can assume that the card sharks who used this cheating game as a tactic of relieving an individual of his money would slightly alter the term of poke to poker so as not to raise suspicion.

Eventually the game of poker evolved to a firstly a thirty two card deck and then to the contemporary form of fifty two cards to a deck excluding the two Jokers that we know today.

Poker has a rich past and has been played by colourful characters from saloons, back room games through to casinos and the online poker rooms of today becoming an everyday part of Americas identity and now the rest of worlds. Land based poker is now rigidly regulated by gambling laws moving the worlds favourite card game from dingy backrooms to the regal world of casinos like those seen in Las Vegas. With the emergence of online poker rooms a wider audience is being introduced to the fun poker has to offer as tables filled with millions play online twenty four hours a day, seven days a week. It has become so popular it has equalled other common sporting events by becoming a televised event such as The World Series of Poker.

I think the success of poker in both casinos and online poker rooms is that it fits perfectly with western capitalist ideals and the American Dream that you can only win in life by taking a gamble.


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