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Poker History


The history of poker is a matter of much debate, with many commentators differing on the date of its birth. Indeed, many commentators argue that there is no definitive birth-date for Poker, it is most probable that poker in its present format, is a product of many different games evolving over many different time periods. The most commonly held view on the birth of poker is that over 1 thousand years ago, in the year 900 A.D. the origins of the game were laid in China, based on the fame of "domino cards". Historical records illustrate that, on New Years Eve, 969 A.D., the Chinese Emperor Mu-tsung played domino cards with his wife.

Fragments of cards have been tentatively dated to the 12th or 13th century in Egypt, leading many to believe that modern cards originated from the Indian card game of Ganjifa

Its close resemblance to the Persian game "as nas", which involved 5 players, 25 cards and 5 suits has led many to believe that its true origins lie there. It is thought that it may have been taught to French settlers in New Orleans by Persian sailors.

Others state that the game, most likely descended from the French game called "poque", a card game involving bluffing and betting.

This is generally accepted as being the first origins of a deck of cards consisting of hearts, spades, diamonds and clubs. Poque was a direct descendent from the German pochen ('to knock'). Jonathan H. Green's book An Exposure of the Arts and Miseries of Gambling (G. B. Zieber, Philadelphia, 1843) is among the earliest written references to Poker. Green describes rules to what he called the "cheating game", which was then being played on the Mississippi riverboats.

The cheating game - which could be played by between two to four people - was played with 20 cards, using only the aces, kings, jacks and tens.

The game of poker continued to change with time, increasing from 20 cards to 32. Between 1834 and 1837 American card players adopted the "French Pack" of 52 cards as standard and the flush was introduced. During the American Civil War many additions were made, including draw poker, stud poker (the five-card variant), and the straight .Further American developments followed, such as the wild card (around 1875), lowball and split-pot poker (around 1900), and community card poker games (around 1925).

By the late 1900's and early 20th Century poker was generally regarded as being among America's most popular card games.

The spread of the game of poker to other countries, particularly in Asia, is often attributed to the U.S. military.

Despite its existence throughout many centuries of American history poker was not made legal until the 1970's, coinciding with the commencement of the World Series of Poker (WSOP).

The 1970's give birth to the first serious strategy books on Poker, notably The Theory of Poker by David Sklansky, Super System by Doyle Brunson and The Book of Tells by Mike Caro. The broadcasting of poker games and tournaments on terrestrial and satellite TV, combined with the increased popularity of the WSOP and the development of the World Poker Tour and online gaming have all contributed to the ever increasing popularity of the game.

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