A Short History of Poker

The history of Poker is believed to have progressed over more than ten centuries from numerous games, all encompassing the simple rules of ranked card or domino combinations and the use of ‘bluffing’ to deceive opponents.

One widespread belief is that a game parallel to poker was first conceived by the Chinese shortly before 969 A.D, when The Emperor Mu-tsung is described to have played “domino cards” with his wife.

There are those who also believe that “poke” most likely came from “hocus-pocus”, a term commonly used by magicians. The game of Poker later changed to include 32 cards, and finally the modern day deck of 52, not counting the two Jokers.


Egyptians in the 12th & 13th centuries are understood to have used a form of playing cards, and in 16th century Persia “Ganjifa” or “Treasure Cards” were used for a selection of betting games. A Ganjifa deck contained of 96 elaborate cards, usually made of paper thin slices of ivory or precious wood.

A French game called “Poque” and a German game called “Pochen” became very common in the 17 & 18th centuries, both evolved from the 16th century Spanish game called “Primero” which involved three cards being dealt to each player. Bluffing, or betting high stakes whilst holding poor cards to mislead challengers, was an essential part of the game. Primero goes back to 1526 and is often mentioned to as “poker’s mother” as it is the first verified form of a game directly related to modern day poker.

In 1834, Jonathan H. Green made one of the first written mentions to poker when in his writings he references rules to the “cheating game,” being played on Mississippi riverboats. The Cheating Game” rapidly started to oust the popular card game of the time known as 3-card monte. Gamers welcomed the new game as it was seen as a more stimulating and ‘honest’ gamble than the infamously rigged 3-card game.

Throughout the Wild West era of United States, a bar with a Poker table could be found in almost every settlement from coast to coast. It was tremendously popular during the Civil War when the combatants of both armies played.

Nowadays, Poker is prudently controlled by gambling laws, and saloons have given way to casinos and card rooms, nevertheless Poker is the most popular card game the world. It has evolved into a sporting event, with contests and competitions all over the world. Tournaments take place almost every week of the year somewhere in the world.


If you compare the awards of major sporting events around the world, you will find that the financial reward of any given event in Poker would stack up. Poker nowadays is one of the swiftest growing, but hardly acknowledged sporting events. The height of the poker world, the world serious of poker, entices players from all over the world every year to contest for currency and titles as the world’s top Poker players.

Poker will always be around and will continue to develop and flourish like so many other past times. There will always be a game to play, money to be won, and crowns to be worn.