As the most popular and most played card game in the U.S. and all throughout the world, Poker has evolved from a backroom game to a sporting event with its pros enjoying the same celebrity status as that of world-renowned athletes. There are, however, some interesting facts about Poker that you should know.
Poker belongs to a class of card games known as vying games. Vying games involve betting on the quality of the card combinations in one’s hand rather than actually playing the cards out. Winning is achieved with a great deal of bluffing.
The origin of Poker is obscure. Some believe Poker is the by-product of a combination of different card games: As Nas (Persia), Ganjifa (India), Poque (France), and Pochen (Germany) with its name derived from the latter two games. It is believed to share its ancestry with the Spanish game Primero and the French brelan, from which directly descended the English game bragg which utilizes bluffing as a means to winning.
In the U.S., the first documented game of Poker was played in New Orleans in 1829. The game was spread to other parts of the country in 1834 by Mississippi river boats on which gambling was a favorite pastime. These events were described in detail by author Jonathan H. Greene in his book, An Exposure of the Arts and Miseries of Gambling.
Elements of the Poker were added as the game evolved. As chronicled by Greene, Poker during the early 1800s was played using 20 cards made up of only aces, kings, queens, jacks, and tens by four persons each holding five cards. No draws were done and bets were made on the following combinations: one pair, two pairs, triplets, full (using all 5 cards), and four-of-a-kind.
As the game spread, variations developed. Soon the entire 52-card deck was used and Flush (five cards in same suit but not in sequence) was added as a betting combination along with straight (five cards in sequence but not of the same suit).
Today, several variations of Poker have evolved including the 5-Card Draw, the 7-Card Stud, and the Texas Holdem. The valid betting combinations, from lowest to highest, are now: high card, one pair, two pairs, triplet, straight, flush, full house, four-of-a-kind, and straight flush.
Poker’s popularity has influenced American culture and language. So many common words and expressions in the English language have been derived from Poker. Some of these expressions like ace up one’s sleeve, ace in the pocket, blue chip, call a bluff, cash in, poker face, upping the ante, when the chips are down, and many others are commonly used today even by people who have never played Poker.
The grand Poker tournaments held in various casinos, the rise of online Poker sites, and the publication of serious Poker strategy books point to this game’s great popularity today truly a great leap from the time writer Green described it as the game of cheaters.