The current era of casino games is filled with impressive innovations, and you can know more about Rocketpot to see these recent upgrades. This should serve as a reminder that the history of casino games predates the advent of the internet. Before the advent of the Internet, many of these games took on entirely new forms.
This article will take you through history, back to the origins (similar to other famous sports gambling industry like horse racing or football sports betting) of the gentleman’s game, poker. You’ll learn when poker was invented and what it was before it became the game we all know today.
Where It All Started
The earliest instances of poker were surprisingly found in China and Persia. In China, the game was said to have been derived from mahjong, a popular Chinese game.
Poker’s inception predates the year 969 A.D. It is said that on New Year’s Eve, Emperor Mu-Tsung and his wife played a domino card game.
The Persians believe poker began as “As Nas,” a game developed in the 16th century. This game utilised 25 cards that were ranked and saw many rounds of betting. There was also the Persian game “Ganjifa,” which also used a variety of playing cards for betting games.
Apart from the Persians and the Chinese, there were other instances of poker appearing in the ancient world. The earliest instance of poker in history was in the 16th century, in the Spanish game “Primero.”
Primero is a game where three cards are dealt to each player, and betting high stakes is integral to winning. Bluffing while holding poor cards was also said to have defined the game.
In the 17th and 18th centuries, the German game “Pochen” and the French game “Poque” were also popular. These games were derived from Primero, and they also involved the use of cards, bluffs, and wagers. At the time, poque also became the national card game of France.
Where Poker Began
When the French colonials arrived in Canada, they brought Poque with them. This game gained popularity among the French-Canadian settlers who founded New Orleans. From there, it spread along the Mississippi River from the state of Louisiana as traders and merchants spread it during their travels.
In the early 1800s, Napoleon needed money for the wars that were occurring in Europe. This necessitated Thomas Jefferson to conduct the Louisiana Purchase, where he purchased the port of New Orleans in 1803. Since poque was already popular in New Orleans, this purchase accelerated its spread in American culture.
The game underwent a major transformation in 1834 when the deck size was increased from 20 cards to 52 cards. At this point, the modern poker game truly began to take shape. Jonathan H. Green also made reference to this when he wrote about the “cheating game” that was played on Mississippi boats.
From that moment on, poque slowly overtook the popular game of the time, 3-card monte. 3-card monte was believed to have been notoriously rigged, and poque was more honest in comparison. It was in Green’s book, “An Exposure of the Arts and Miseries of Gambling,” that he named this “cheating game,” poker.
The Wild West Saloons
During the 1870s and 1880s, a saloon with a poker table became customary in every town. Soldiers of the North and South also played poker in the frontier settlements of the Wild West during the civil war.
In 1871, the Queen oversaw the United States minister to Great Britain, explaining the game to members of her court. She demanded that he explain the game to her, and this brought about the introduction of the game to Europe. In 1875, the European influence on poker led to the introduction of the joker as a wild card.
When World War I began in 1914, the popularity of poker also spread among the American soldiers who played the game. Since then, many versions of poker have begun to pop up, such as 7 Card Stud, 5 Card Draw, and Texas Hold’em.
5 Card Draw was the first poker variant to emerge from obscurity, and this occurred during the American Civil War. At some point, Nevada made it a crime to play betting games, but the Attorney General of California spoke against it. He explained that draw poker was a game of skill, which made the anti-gambling law irrelevant.
7 Card Stud was the next to arise, and it was popular during World War II and in Las Vegas casinos. Texas Hold’em rose in the 1970s and achieved prominence when it was featured in the World Series of Poker.
The World Series of Poker
Although poker became a popular game in gambling houses, many people saw it as a lawless game. This was a result of the violence that the game brought when some people played it and lost. The fact that most criminals and hustlers of the Wild West loved the game didn’t help in its favour.
It was the World Series of Poker that changed how the public saw this game. Benny Binion owned the World Series of Poker, and its games were held in Binion’s Horseshoe Casino. This competition offered high stakes for winning every year, and John Moss was one of the popular champions.
When CBS first broadcast the tournament on television in 1973, it was met with widespread approval. As a result, poker in the United States was recognised as a legitimate sporting event.
From that moment on, each televised World Series of Poker made this game more popular among Americans. The amount of money up for grabs in this tournament grew steadily over time. In 1982, the first-place prize at the World Series of Poker was already worth $2 million.
The popularity of the competition led Harrah’s Entertainment to purchase it, leading to more exponential growth in the sport. When 2006 came around, 45 World Series of Poker tournaments had already been held, with $100 given away in prize money.
From its original home in ancient Persia and China, poker has made its way to Spain, France, America, and Great Britain. The original deck only contained 20 cards, but now a standard deck contains 52 cards. Although the game involved violence and was seen as a game for outlaws, the World Series of Poker changed that.