The History of Poker: The Origins of the Card Game
Poker is a highly popular card game played by millions around the world. It’s a game of incomplete information, wherein players wager over the best hand, depending on the specific rules of the game being played. Many similar games have been played over the centuries, with the poker we know today slowly evolving over various iterations.
The history of poker dates back at least 1000 years across continents and cultures. Historians generally point to a domino-style card game which was played by a Chinese emperor back in the 10th century as the origin of the popular game. Although its origins are uncertain, it is generally accepted that this game was likely an early version of Mahjong, a game still popular in the East today. Ya-Pei is one of the oldest card games to resemble Mahjong, which dates back to the 10th century. Some say that the game was exclusively played by the Royal Court and that commoners were forbidden from playing, though it’s unclear whether that is actually true.
A more recent example early variations of poker comes from the Persian card game As Nas. From the 16th century, this game more closely resembles the poker we know today. As Nas was typically played with a 25-card pack bearing five suits, with each suit having four court cards and one ‘ace’ card. The cards featured a set of designs that will be familiar to poker players. The As (Ace), Shah (King), Bibi (Lady), Serbaz (Soldier), and Couli or Lakat (either a dancer or musician). Although these cards were eventually replaced by increasingly popular European versions, As Nas was commonly played throughout the Islamic world for centuries.
Poker’s closest European ancestor is Poque, a card game that became popular in 17th-century France, though its earliest mention can be traced back to the 15th century. Poque and Pochen (the German equivalent) are both derived from the Spanish game Primero, which featured bluffing and three cards dealt to each player. Poque was eventually brought across to North America by French colonists, where it spread to New Orleans and the surrounding areas. The game later evolved to include five cards for each player and a 52-card deck.
Today, poker is one of the most prevalent card games in the world. It’s played by millions in social and competitive settings for varying stakes. There are many variations of the game, with Texas Hold’em, Omaha, and Stud among the most popular. Although the basic cards and suits generally remain the same, the win conditions and rules vary. Online poker has become a massively popular form of the game as well, with sites like Platin live poker UK offering exciting variations of the game. Whether playing in-person or online, poker has come a long way and went through many iterations before settling to the common version we know now.
These are just the main examples of games that preceded poker. Card games and games of chance have been around for millennia, existing in many different forms across cultures and continents. Today, poker is more popular than ever, and it remains one of the most popular card games around the world.