Poker is one of the most popular card games of all time and is experiencing massive revival today thanks to TV exposure. Decades ago, poker was solely played by men, nowadays, men and women alike are hooked into the game. New poker variations that sprung in the last few years have made the game enchanting to the new generation.
It is hard to trace the roots of poker, no direct ancestor game has been found. Some say elements from other games where borrowed by this game. Others say poker has a similarity to the game of As-nas by the Persians. The idea of having five cards in a hand was taken from As-nas. The using of a 32 piquet pack and cutting to the left are signs of French antecedents in the game.
The draw feature is taken from another card game called Ambigu still of French origin. The concepts of blind, straddles and raises were in the game Bouillote. The English game brag was also implicated: bluffing and use of wild cards.
It was Jonathan Green who made the first reference of the game in print. But years before English actor Joseph Crowell maintained that the game was played in New Orleans.
This article of Green entitled An Exposure of the Arts and Miseries of Gambling published in 1834 mentioned the rules of what was then a cheating game played among Mississippi boatmen. Green related that the game was played utilizing 20 cards made up of aces, kings, queens, jacks and tens. The game could be played with two to four players with each player dealt five cards.
The Mississippi river boatmen got the original inspiration for the game from sailors in New Orleans who were into the old Persian game. As-nas has the basic structure of twenty cards and dealt five cards to players. Pairs and such combinations and bluffing were important factor in getting the pot.
The name poker was said to have been derived from the an 18th century French game Poque. Another would say it was taken from the German game Pochspiel because of the bluffing. In pochspiel the players would indicated a pass or open by rapping the table and saying 'Ich poche'. And because poche could mean pocket in French, poker was also traced to have been from the Hindu pukka.
To have linked it to the French game a writer once surmised that it was from the pickpocket's slang of wallet, poke. Does it mean playing it is something that makes you broke?