From Persia through Medieval Europe to the USA
Poker is currently the most popular card game all over the world; still, its roots are not exactly clear. Historian’s disputes concerning Poker origins are still ongoing. Some of them claim that Poker’s foundations can be found in Persian game called “As-nas”. Others believe that a birthplace of Poker is the Middle Ages and find its roots in German Medieval game called “Pochspiel” and in other games of Medieval Europe, as French „Poque”. „Poque” name seems to be the closest to Poker, and as the history shows, it is a quite right track; especially, if you consider the origins of Poker in the USA. Frenchmen could bring Poque game to the United States, and it evolved into Poker there.
Poker appeared in the USA in the 19th century – a card game engaging Mississippi steamship travellers with the centre of New Orleans; that was exactly a settlement of French people, was described. In 1803 New Orleans was purchased by the USA. The historical records showed that people used 20-card deck from 10 to ace back then. Each player got five cards; therefore, the game was for 2 to 4 players. The similar games could be popular among the legendary cowboys – everybody played the games similar to today’s five-card draw poker. About 1830 a 52-card deck was adopted to the game. This was designed to accommodate more players. What is more, new hand distributions were systematically added – a flush was then introduced to already existing pair, two pair, three of a kind, and full house. The real development of poker game was brought about by the Civil War. Thanks to the soldiers playing poker in their free time, the game became more widespread. After the war, when the soldiers returned to their states, the game experienced changes and innovations. Poker was played mainly by men and rarely by influential women. During the war, a straight was introduced to the game.
Types of the game
Five card draw poker experienced rapid changes caused by different variations. Today it is no longer the most popular type of poker. Already in the second half of the 19th century, the draw poker met its serious competitor, that is a stud type (with different numbers of cards, the most popular 5 and 7). This caused a division of poker modification into two types: stud and draw. In a stud poker, players receive one or two face-down cards, and other cards appeared on the table face-up (it is 5 or 7, depending on the variant). There is no drawing. Draw was gradually supplanted by stud and it was the most popular until World War II. At the turn of the century, another innovation was introduced to the some variants of poker; namely, division of the pot; the so-called high/low. However, the turn of the 19th and the 20th centuries brought about something more; that is, Texas Hold’em, currently the most popular variant of this prestigious game.
Legend has it that about 1900, in Robstown in Texas, the first game of Texas Holdem took place. The innovation of this type of the game is the system of community cards. Initially, this game modification was not popular anywhere but in the mentioned place. Stud or draw variant was then mostly played and the situation did not change until the beginning of the 70s of the 20th century. Together with the development of casinos and gained popularity of Texas Hold’em World Series of Poker was organized. The first tournament of WSOP series took place in Las Vegas, and the winner was Johnny Moss. There were only seven players. Together with the growing interest in this tournament, the number of participants increased. In the beginning of the 80s, World Series of Poker tournament was first broadcast on television making Texas Holdem and the best players more and more popular. This made Hold’em practically sports variant of poker. The popularity of this tournament has been growing year after year. The tournament created stars of the contemporary poker as Doyle Brunson, or Phil Helmuth, who has triumphed in the tournament as much as 11 times.
Poker without leaving your house
Undoubtedly, the most popular variant of poker in the world is Texas Hold’em. This is currently available not only for Las Vegas dwellers. Thanks to the Internet, everybody has got a possibility of sitting at the poker table together with players from all over the world. The Internet caused mass popularization of poker – especially Texas Hold’em, but also other types as Omaha, stud, or draw. Hundreds of poker rooms offer thousands of poker tables at which most poker games of the world are played. The virtual tables are meeting places for millions of players from all over the world everyday – poker mania is reaching more and more countries surprisingly fast.
World Series of Poker Tournament is still organized. The number of last year’s participants was 6865 and a young German – Pius Heinz – won. The popularity of poker has been growing, television broadcast different tournaments, and; thanks to the Internet, Poker has become available to everybody. It seems that the model of poker is not going to change in the near future. The game’s rules are simple enough for everybody; still, in order to win one must devote a lot of time to improving a style of playing, and this cannot stop practically until the end of poker career. As living legend of American poker; Doyle Brunson, says „we are not getting older to play poker, but we get older when we stop playing”.