Poker - Card Game History

It has been said that the origin of poker came from "As Nas", which was a Persian card game played in the 16th Century. As Nas was played with 25 cards with 5 different suits and held many characteristics quite similar to what we know today as 5 Card Stud. Some think that poker originated in China - around 900 A.D. Regardless of its origin and who exactly would get credit for it, poker is an evolution of various gambling games dated back to the beginning of time.

Although the origins of poker may have stemmed from Persia and Europe, the development of poker really advanced in the United States. As early as the 1800's, poker or ‘Poque' (as it was Called) made its debut in New Orleans which evolved as America's first gambling city as the betting sport was avidly pursued by plantation owners, farmers, and riverboat men. ‘Poque' was very similar to draw poker of today. Poker playing spread rapidly throughout other towns in the Western Frontier before the American Civil War. The rapid spread was mainly due to the increasing popularity of all forms of gambling.

Around 1822, the first American gambling casino was opened in New Orleans. John Davis opened this casino. The twenty-four hour a day club provided liquor, gourmet foods, Faro tables, poker tables, and an assortment of other games were made available. Painted ladies were always close by. Several imitators followed suit, making gambling dens a primary attraction for New Orleans. This created a new profession - The Card Sharper.

The waterfront became known as "the swamp." This was an area that even the police dare not tread. If a gambler was lucky enough to win, he stood an even better chance of being robbed as thieves loitered in the streets preying on people exiting the gambling dens.

Gambling was outlawed in the greater Louisiana territory around 1911. However, New Orleans continued to prosper despite the law. Though the law was passed for the entire Louisiana Purchase, there was no enforcement of this law and casinos and gambling still spread. Commerce started to develop on the waterways and gambling began its travel up the Ohio and Mississippi Rivers. It took off westward via covered wagons and later it travelled via the railways. In 1834, Jonathan H. Greer referred to the amusement as the ‘cheating game'. This was stated in the first written reference in the United States.

Outside of New Orleans, some of the first gambling dens were started on river towns that were popular to both professional gamblers and travellers. Many ‘sharpers' preyed on these travellers who filled their pockets with their life savings. Many dishonest gamblers ran con artist businesses and confidence games, taking advantage of several pioneers. George Devol (a riverboat gambler), was so proud of his ability to slip a stacked deck into a game that he once used four of them in one poker hand and dealt out four aces to each of his four opponents.

Professional gamblers were largely responsible for the poker boom. They considered themselves as entrepreneurs and took advantage of America's growing obsession with gambling. The general public viewed them disdainfully as persons contributing nothing to society. However, they held a very high opinion of themselves. The public's view of them was often warranted as many professional gamblers cheated to win. By the 1830's, citizens had begun to blame professional gamblers for just about every crime in the area and thus gambling itself was attacked.

Today, poker is played throughout the world in many forms. People are playing poker at home, on handheld games, in land casinos, online, even as passengers during long distance travels. Poker has indeed become a major part of today's online gambling!

Playing Poker

How many forms of poker are there? There are quite a few different variations of the game. Texas Hold ‘Em, Paigow Poker, 5 Card Stud, 7 Card Stud, etc. To begin playing any form of poker, you should at least be familiar with some of the more common lingo. Here are a few of the more common terms that might come in handy as you learn how to play.

Ante: A small contribution from each player to get the pot going
All-In: Wagering all your available chips
Blind: A required bet made before any cards are dealt
Bluff: Betting like you have a good hand even if you don't
Buy-In: Minimum amount to enter the game
Check: Waiving the right to initiate betting without waiving the right to act on an initiated bet
Chips: Markers used by players to indicate bet amounts
Dead Man's Hand: Two pair - Aces and Eights
Draw: Player's opportunity to replace a like amount of cards
Flop: The first 3 community cards dealt up
Full House: Any pair and a three of a kind (trip)
Flush: All matching suits
Freeroll: A chance to win without risk or investment
Fold: Throw in your cards and relinquish an interest in the pot
Hand: Your cards
Muck: The pile of discards face down in the center of the table by the dealer
Pair: Any two of a kind
Quads: Four of a kind
River: The final dealt card
Straight: A consecutive hand - unmatched suit
Straight Flush: Consecutive hand - matched suit
Royal Flush: Ten thru Ace consecutive matching suit
Tell: A clue or hint that a player gives indicating their next action
Tilt: Wild or reckless play(er)
Trips: Three of a kind
Turn(card): The 4th card dealt

Most forms of poker are played using a single deck of playing cards, chips (for betting), and straight faces for bluffing. The main object of the game is to make the best hand/highest hand with the cards dealt to you or using community cards in conjunction with the cards that are dealt to you. The lowest to highest hand that you can get is a pair (Jacks or Better normally), 2-pair, 3 of a kind, straight, flush, full house, 4 of a kind, straight flush, and a royal flush.

The Man from Natchez

What's poker history without a little story about the Man from Natchez?

There once was a man from Natchez that yearned to play in a high stakes poker game. On a Mississippi steamboat one night in 1832, he got his chance. Little did he know that he would be playing against 3 professionals who had the game rigged to take every last dollar he had. The professional's plan worked and they emptied his pockets.

Distraught from his losses, the man from Natchez thought of attempting suicide by throwing himself overboard. A nearby observer prevented his attempt and led the man back to his cabin. The observer then went back to watch the 3 professionals in action and caught a glimpse of one of them cheating. He wrestled the cheat to the floor and pulled a knife on him. ‘Show your hand!' the observer yelled. ‘If you've got more than 5 cards, I'm going to kill you!' As the observer twisted the cheat's wrist, 6 cards fell to the table. After seizing the $70,000 pot, the observer returned $50,000 to the man from Natchez and kept $20,000 for himself as fee for his trouble.

The cheat cried out "Who the hell are you?" The observer replied, "James Bowie."

Aces and Eights - Dead Man's Hand

Where did the saying "Aces and Eights - the Dead Man's Hand" come from? Aces and Eights literally was a dead man's hand! On August 2, 1876, while amidst a game of poker, James Butler "Wild Bill" Hickok was shot and killed. The assassin, Jack Mc Call claims to have avenged a brother's death by killing "Wild Bill." Mc Call stood less than 3 feet behind "Wild Bill" and fired one shot through the back of his head. "Wild Bill" was holding a pair of Aces and Eights. Since then, that hand has been referred to as "The dead man's hand."

Poker Machine Games

Poker Machines began their evolution after the invention and success of Slot Machines. Being a combination of both slot machines and the poker card game, poker machines were sure to be just as popular and successful. This didn't happen overnight, of course. Poker consoles used the same formats as a slot machine, but implemented playing cards as the reel symbols. To win, the result of the spun reels would need to display a winning poker hand. Mechanical Poker machines popularity waned with the advancement to the electronic age. By the mid 1970's, several electronics companies were producing their versions of a Poker Machine in hopes to release the best in the market. The most successful during the electronic Poker era was the Dale Electronics Poker-Matic.

Video Poker became the next step in the evolution of Poker Machines. The enhancements of video provided much more to the gaming experience for the player. Video Poker brings the fast paced excitement of slot machines enhancing your poker experience. Multi-hand video poker is a fast growing favorite to video poker players both at land casinos and online casinos. Can you imagine playing up to 100 hands of video poker at one time and being dealt a natural Royal Flush? That would be the ultimate hand!

Online Poker

Online Poker is the most recent hot game! Players from all over the globe flock to their computers to get in on the action. With several Online Casinos also providing Online Poker rooms, you're bound to make one your favorite.

Several Online Poker Rooms are offering Freeroll Tournaments where a novice can play or even learn to play in hopes to win cash prizes and ‘bragging rights.' These forms of tournament play are not only for the novice player. If you are an account holder with an Online Poker room, don't forget to watch your email announcements for tournaments suited to your level of play!

As with the online casinos, each software group has their form of online poker. The various platforms offer a variety of poker games, poker progressives, and even Live Online Poker! Movie stars in this day and age are also playing online. You never know who you'll run into!

With online poker, you can play in your nightclothes. Play in the privacy of your own home and in whatever garb you so desire! You don't even need to put on too much of a poker face!


The story of WSOP dates back to the summer of 1949 when Benny Binion was approached by Nicholas "Nick the Greek" Dandolos with a request to challenge the best of the best in a high-stakes poker marathon. Agreeing to the request, Binion agreed to set up this marathon match between the Legendary Johnny Moss and "Nick the Greek."

The two men played every form of poker imaginable during this 5-month marathon, only breaking for what sleep they could get. Eventually, the last hand was played and Johnny Moss was declared the winner of "the biggest game in town" and an estimated $2 Million! "Mr. Moss, I have to let you go." This phrase is now known as the famous last words of Dandolos as he lost his last pot and retired to bed.

Binion noticed that during the course of this marathon, the crowds of onlookers gathered each day to witness this awe-inspiring event. The attention drawn was comparable to that of a major sporting even between two of the best teams. In 1970, Binion decided to debut the "World Series Of Poker" - this was to be the best of the best. The best players were gathered from all parts of the country vying for the title. Decided by popular vote, Johnny Moss emerged the victor earning the title of "World Champion." In 1971, the player who had all the chips would be declared the champion - this again was Johnny Moss. In 1972, Thomas "Amarillo Slim" Preston won the title and went on to the talk-show circuit, which gained an even wider audience for the WSOP.

Binion participated in the Oral History Project at the University of Nevada-Reno. He discussed the growth of participation with his interviewer Mary Ellen Glass. Since the onset, the players had almost doubled. Binion passed away on Christmas Day in 1989. He never saw how much more growth there was in player count or prize money. By 2002, the participant count was over 7500 players and the prize money exceeded a staggering $19 Million. Benny Binion left a legacy in the poker community known as WSOP - World Series of Poker.

The Four Queens

Rumor had it that The Four Queens Hotel and Casino in Las Vegas, Nevada was won playing a poker game in which the winning hand was Four Queens. Well, that sounds pretty awesome, doesn't it? Can you imagine winning a REAL Casino from playing a game of poker? Well, we'd all like to think that it was possible, but the truth is that the original owner named the casino after his daughters - The Four Queens.

Jackpot Joker Poker

Check out Gone Gambling's own unique poker game. The game is Jackpot Joker Poker! With all the innovative ideas that Sheriff John thinks of, now that poker has come to town, I'll bet my six-shooter that it's here to stay!

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