The origins of gambling's greatest card game remains unknown. There are as many theories and schools of thought as there are variations of poker itself - here is 32Red Poker's brief overview.
The German "Pochspiel", Indian "Ganjifa", Persian "As Nas", English "Bragg" and French "Poque" are all sighted by different theories as the origin of the modern game. Most poker historians do agree however that over a thousand years ago the seeds of the game immerged in China with a game based on "domino cards". Indeed, there are historical records of the Chinese Emperor Mu-Tsung playing domino cards with his wife on New Years Eve 969 A.D.
From 1000 A.D onwards, the trail becomes unclear. Historians believe that during the Middle Ages the game migrated from the Far East to the West via the Empire of Mameluke, who ruled the Middle East. The trail again becomes cold until around the 1600's when the early French settlers of New Orleans brought the bluffing and betting of Poque to the shores of America. It is here, in New Orleans, that Persian sailors taught the French the game of As Nas which used decks of 25 cards comprising 5 suits.
Most likely, these two games meshed together to make the 20 card "cheaters game" which spread up the Missisippi and the rivers of Ohio on the steam boats, up east via the railroads and west by the trade wagons. As time went buy the game changed from 20 cards to 32 and at some point between 1834 and 1837 American card players adopted the "French Pack" of 52 cards as standard.
Poker and its variations spread like wildfire throughout the US and became a cultural icon of the "Wild West" where every saloon worth its saw dust would have a card table. Likewise, the American Civil War saw a virtual explosion in the nation's interest in poker with tens of thousands of soldiers hauled up playing cards in their barracks. At this time the game evolved with the introduction of stud poker, the draw and the straight. By the late 1900's poker was America's most popular card game and by the early 20th century, draw poker had risen to prominence as the nations favourite. By now, what we recognise as the poker hands were established and central to the game.
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Despite its existence throughout 400 years of American history, poker remained illegal and did not become a part of mainstream society until the legendary Benny Binion created the inaugural World Series of Poker, won by Johnny Moss in 1970. The World Series of Poker has evolved to become the world's premier poker tournament, televised around the globe and was instrumental in turning poker into the celebrity, main stream, prize money driven phenomenon we see today. Some of the modern day poker terminology used at the 32Red Poker Tables - and around the world - can be viewed in this section.