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The Origins of Poker
There is some debate over how far back poker can be traced. Those who associate the game of poker with the concept of bluffing, say the game can be traced as far back as the tenth century. In 969AD, the Emperor of China was said to play a dominoes type game with his wife. In the 12th and 13th centuries, the Egyptians are said to have played gambling games that used some types of cards. In the 15th century, a game known as Pochspiel was played in Germany and this game combined betting, bluffing and hand rankings. Other games that seem to resemble the game we know as poker include the Persian game of Ganjifa played in the 16th century, the Persian game of As Nas played from the 1890s onward and the English game of Brag that was derived from the French game of Brelan.
Those who believe that the game is associated more with playing cards than with the concept of bluffing trace the game as far back as records of the first playing cards exist. Some sort of playing cards were used in Egypt in the 12th and 13th centuries, but 13th century China is the first time they can be positively attested to.
The nickname “poker’s mother” has been given to the game Primero. This game was played in Spainin the 16th century and involved playing cards, betting and bluffing. The game was developed into Poque in France and Pochen in Germany and these were popular during the 17th and 18th centuries.
The Spread of Poker
The French brought the game of Poque toCanadafrom where it spread toNew Orleansand then down toLouisianaandMississippi. Poker was first referred to by Jonathan H. Green as “the cheating game” in his book, “An Exposure of the Arts and Miseries of Gambling” which he wrote in 1834. Poker was a favorite game among soldiers during the Civil War and could be found in almost every saloon in the Wild West. The game developed and new variations were created with the concept of the flush and the draw being introduced. In 1970, the first World Series of Poker was held and poker tournaments became a reality.
The first online poker room, known as Planet Poker, was launched in 1998, but the online poker industry only really exploded in 2004 when online poker tournaments and the popularity of online poker skyrocketed. The turning point for online poker really came when Chris Moneymaker won the WSOP Main Event in 2003 after qualifying through an online satellite tournament. Since that time, online poker has continued to grown in popularity, with many variations of the game becoming available.