Poker History

The Origins of Poker

There are many different theories as to where and when Poker originated. One theory is that Poker started sometime in 900 AD in China, but there were no cards back in Ancient China. It is written in 969 AD that Emperor Mu Tsung introduced "Domino Cards" to his wife, but this theory is not water tight as there is no proof..

Egyptian explorers however have found fragments of cards dating back to the 12th and 13 centuries. The exact nature of the original Egyptian game has not been revealed, the fragments can be linked to cards that were used for the eastern derivation "Ganjifa" (Treasure Cards) in the early 16th century.

The Ganjifa card deck has 96 elaborately painted cards, and it is thought that this game may have helped inspire the Persian game of "As Nas" a five player, 25 card game from the 17th century. Nas is one of the earlier games that most resembles the playing style of poker of today.

As the game has evolved, it spread into Eastern Europe where many of games consisted of 20 cards only. It was the "Tarot" with the suited minor Arcana cards that inspired the now popular 52 card deck. Spain and Italy were the first to be inspired to play using a variation of the Tarot deck, which is much like the playing cards used today which include 4 unique "suits" Swords, Batons, Cups and Coins.

As card playing spread throughout Europe, other countries started using a different style of "suits", Switzerland used a combination of Shields, Flowers, bells and Acorns, While Germany was using Hearts and leaves and adopting the Bells and Acorns from the Swiss.

It wasn't until the 15th century, when the French were playing a game called "Poque" a card game that included a strategy the allowed bluffing and betting. Poque was the first game that used a deck of cards more like the one we use today, with Hearts, Diamonds, Spades and Clubs.

During the 15th century, Poque was the card game of choice in France, one of the most avid card playing countries during the time period.

The French are credited with inspiring the Colonial New World to the game. When the French arrived in Canada in the 17th century, they brought their loved game of "Poque" with them. But its popularity really began to spread in the 18th century when a group of French Canadian settlers traveled to the New Word and Settled in what is now New Orleans.

It is unknown however when exactly the cheating game "Poque" became known as poker rather than a variation of Poque. However Poker has never lost its popularity and players can now find literally hundreds of variations, both online and at your local casino or poker room.


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