The History of Poker – A Brief Overview

Like many modern card games, poker has its roots in several games from history. It would be quite inappropriate to say this game was created in a particular country, but rather it is a mixture of inspiration that came from a number of different games. The history of poker is both rich and exciting, what we will do in this article is take a look back through history to the origins of poker and also return to the history of modern poker.

The Birth of Poker

It becomes obvious when you are interested in the history of poker is that its origins lie in several card games that were played across most of Europe. This game would more likely be of European origin than American as some like to think. If we look at historical documents and literature, we know that in Germany during the 15th century, people got excited by a game they called ‘Pochen’, a term similar to the name of the game we use today. In addition to the name, it was also how you played this game and the strategies that were employed were also very similar to poker.

Then in the 16th century, you had a game by the name of ‘Premium’. This card game involved building hands composed of 4 cards, utilizing bluffing as a means of legitimate in-game tactics and using bets to drive up a pot. These features can still all be found in poker today. It quickly became immensely popular in Europe. Other games like ‘Ambiguous’ and ‘Hot Water Bottle’ inspired modern poker, especially with the introduction of a hierarchy in terms of card combinations and the arrival of forced bets at the beginning of each round of play. Then at end of the 19th century the game arrives at an almost final version and acquires new card combination possibilities such as flush and royal flush, plus the use of a 52 card deck.

The Evolution of Poker

It was during the 19th century in the United States that the game was imported by European immigrants during the great Atlantic crossings. This is when poker began its greatest steps in evolution. Banned in some cities of the United States, poker was played aboard ships. Sometimes steamers on the rivers of the U.S had real casinos onboard that hosted poker games. This is during the period in American history known as the ‘Gold Rush’, the era of cowboys and saloon bars. Poker itself becomes a symbol of that era. During this period the game becomes more structured and different variants are created, especially by soldiers during the American Civil War. The game will return later in its newer forms to Europe in the early 20th century, and spread across the majority of European countries with great success.

Poker Today

Poker in the 20th century was played everywhere. Introduced in land based casinos, it quickly becomes a game which carries with it a sense of real celebrity, bringing the world around the table to watch. But it's really in the 21st century that this game became a runaway hit. Poker began to ride the big wave known as the Internet and adapted itself to the desires of players. There was a massive emergence of sites offering online poker to people from all over the world.

Poker became and still is even today an interesting marketing tool: the TV channels were quick to make shows where you could watch live tournaments played out in their entirety. Detailed game strategies began to be revealed and internet websites dedicated to poker strategy began seeing the light of day. As a direct result of this, the more exceptional poker players became well known, eventually becoming modern day icons and celebrities. We also saw the a huge rise in world-class and officially ranked tournaments, like the World Series of Poker (WSOP) and the European Poker Tour (EPT). Poker circuits were born, where a lot of huge poker personalities play on a regular basis all over the world.

Although poker is an old game, over 500 years old in fact, it is the massive media coverage during the 2000’s that helped make it a real star.