History of Poker: 6 Interesting Facts

Poker is a hugely popular game in the modern age, finding favor with millions of players around the world at land-based casinos and online gambling sites alike. It is also an activity with a lot of history behind it, so if you are interested in learning more about the background of poker, let’s go through some tantalizing facts to paint a bigger picture for you.

Historians can’t agree on where poker originated

Ask most people, and they’ll tell you that poker is a card game with its roots in the USA. However, various experts have argued that this is not it’s true home, with various accounts claiming it is based on a French game known as poque, or a Persian game called As-Nas.

Whatever the case, one certainty is that the format of card game which we now call poker did indeed coalesce in America during the 19th century. So if you understand the basic rules of poker, you are probably playing in a way set down around 200 years ago in and around the Southern States.

20 card decks were once the standard

Modern poker may be played with a deck of 52 cards, but during the formative years this number was much lower, at just 20.

This is partly because poker used to be predominantly played by just two people at a time, and so there was less need for a larger deck. Such a practice was adopted from English card games like brag, and also hints at another potential underlying influence of poker.

The more players you have, the more cards you need, and it did not take long for a 52 card deck to become the norm, with the popularity of poker from the mid-1800s onwards necessitating this increase.

We nearly had another suit in a poker deck

We are all familiar with the Clubs, Hearts, Diamonds and Spades of a typical deck of cards, but in the 1930s there was a movement to introduce a fifth suit alongside these, with the symbol of an eagle being the proposed inclusion.

Although this never came to pass, it is interesting to imagine how different the game of poker would be now if even more card combinations were possible.

Televised poker began in the 1970s

Today we are used to seeing poker on our TV screens, as well as streamed online via services like Twitch. This is a tradition which dates back to 1973, when the World Series of Poker was first shown on CBS.

Indeed many argue that the popularity of poker as we know it was only achievable thanks to the exposure it gained from the tournaments being televised. Prior to this point it was far more of a niche pastime, but once it began to gain traction on TV, more people flocked to play it.

Online poker perpetuated the game’s growth

It wasn’t just television that aided poker to reach the dizzying heights of popularity it enjoys right now, as of course the internet enabled even more people to participate in it without needing to visit a bricks and mortar casino.

The first online poker services emerged in the late 1990s, and by the early 2000s it was an entire industry in its own right, generating vast sums.

The main problem at this point was the lack of regulation and legalization in many regions of the globe. While some countries, such as the UK, embraced legal online gambling in all its forms, including poker, others were slower to catch up.

In the US, only a few states offer legal online poker, and you have to be physically within the borders of these states to play legitimately, for example.

Poker is arguably one of the few skill-based forms of gambling

Whether you play the slots or try your hand on the roulette table, you are essentially relying on nothing but blind luck to help you win, because you ultimately have no control over the outcome of a given spin of the reels or the trajectory of the ball.

However, poker is very different, since it relies on strategy, skill and an ability to read other players in order to make informed decisions about whether to keep playing a hand, fold, raise or go all-in.

This is why it is also a type of gambling which allows for professional players to exist. This is the ultimate proof of the role that skill plays, because if luck was the only component, then the top players would not be able to consistently triumph over less capable opponents, or walk away with millions in the process.

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