The world’s favorite card game, Poker, has been around for a long time. There has been plenty of debate as to how exactly it started and who invented the game, but it exists today, in a number of forms, and is played the world over in casinos and online. However, if you play the game today – either in a casino or online – then the chances are that you’ll be playing the Texas Hold ‘Em version.
The World Series of Poker has certainly helped with the increasing popularity of this variation, but you might be interested to know a few of the others and how they work. Let’s also have a look at some of the possible origins of the game.
Origins of Poker
One of the best-known beliefs is that Poker originated from the sixteenth-century Persian card game called As Nas and that it was taught to French settlers in New Orleans by Persian sailors. Similar to the modern five-card stud with 25 cards and five different suits.
However, more recently it is thought that a French game called poque which is similar to Poker might be where the game was derived from – but there are also games called primero (sometimes known as the mother of poker), brelan, and the English game brag which all use similar bluffing techniques.
The latest view is that none of these older games are direct descendants because all of them are made up of the same general card game principles. The fact that none of them had betting as part of their make-up suggests that poker did, in fact, develop much later in the US in the early eighteenth century – and probably along the Mississippi River. Whatever, the truth is, it is true that by 1830 the game was being played in New Orleans and then on the Mississippi River boats where gambling was endemic.
Development of Poker
After the game had spread West during the gold rush, the game began to use the full 52 card deck (instead of the 20 cards used in Mississippi). The flush was introduced, followed by the draw. During the American Civil War (1861-1865) there were more developments – stud poker, the straight and, later on, the wild card, lowball and split-pot poker. The community card games appeared around 1925.
It’s this final development that spawned what has become the most popular variant, Texas Hold ‘Em. Originating in Robstown, Texas, sometime in the early twentieth century, this version has been described as the ‘thinking man’s game’ on account that it gives the player the opportunity to play strategically.
Variations of the game
Texas Hold ‘Em – Players are dealt two ‘hole cards‘, and after they have placed their initial bets, another three community cards are revealed in the middle – this is called ‘the flop’. The players then bet again after the fourth community card is laid – ‘the turn’. One more community card – ‘the river’ – is laid and they bet once more. The players then have to make their best hand with any combination of their two hole cards and the five community cards. This version of the game is the hardest to master. As with all forms of poker, Texas Hold ‘Em has evolved and can be played online as well as traditional casinos, although it is worthwhile thoroughly learning the complex nature of this game before going in at the deep end.
Omaha – this is a variation of the Texas Hold ‘Em game. In this instance, each player is dealt four hole cards, and the five community cards revealed immediately. There are similarly four rounds of betting, and the players have to make their best hand from two of the hole cards and three of the community cards.
Seven Card Stud – in 7-Card, each player is dealt seven cards, four down and three up and players have to make their best 5-card hand.
Five Card Draw – here, each player is dealt five cards and on the initial go around, they can trade in up to three of them.
Poker in the 21st Century
In the early days, the game was littered with cheats and outlaws, and its reputation wasn’t a healthy one. Now, the top players are celebrities in their own right, and the game is now regarded as a sport. The advent of the internet has also meant that dealers, who were known to manipulate the decks, are now driven by sophisticated computer software programs to connect players from all corners of the earth.
Although you can still attend a casino to play poker, many millions of more people now play the game online. In both instances, players play tournaments rather than cash games; in tournaments, the number of chips won does not designate how much money has been won but simply the players finishing position in the game. The tournament is played in stages (or rounds) until there is one remaining player who has all the chips.
There can be huge amounts of money to be won, and World Series Poker is now deemed to be the 9th richest event in the world.
Online tournaments have increased hugely over the past few years simply because players can play from their own home and they don’t have to face their opposition across the table. However, this doesn’t make the game any easier, but it does make it more accessible. Online tournaments work in a similar way to the televised casino versions like the World Series Poker, but they can take more players and can offer Sit and Go tournaments. In these instances, players simply request to play, and when there are enough players, the game starts.
The game of poker has grown massively on and offline over the past decades and is hugely competitive. The ease with which online players can access ways to improve has meant that standards have risen and winning isn’t getting any easier. But, as the number of players has risen, so have the pots.