Early poker history is rather unclear, but there are a few different theories about the origin of poker. Some say that it is a decedent of the Persian game of As Nas, some say that it originates from a French card game called Poque, and some say it’s neither. The thing is that non of these ancestors of poker share all its features, so there is also a theory that poker is basically a combination of many earlier games.
Now, if that is true, then poker history and poker as we know it today(almost) was born on the river banks of Mississippi. It was first played in river boat card rooms in early 19th century, but it wasn’t yet the game we know and love today… it still had some evolving to do…
The game first played in river boat card rooms of Mississippi had all the characteristics of the game of poker we play today, but it was still played a little differently. For one it was played with a deck of 20 cards and it was a version of what we now know under the name 5 card draw(at first without the draw).
Later on the game developed into a 32 card deck game and a little later into a game played with what is today a standard 52 card deck. The next game to appear after the older more crude version of 5 card draw, was stud in the late-mid 19th century. After that the game enjoyed a few changes with introductions of special rules that made one game into many. Finally the most popular variation today came to be in early 20th century, obviously I’m talking about texas hold’em(but a bit different back then).
Early modern history
Later in the 20th century poker continued to gain in popularity. Part of its success is owed to popularization of tournament play that also resulted in the first World Series of Poker(WSOP). It was said to have been inspired by a marathon 5 month poker match between Johny Moss and Nick »the Greek Dandolos(who supposedly lost 2 million dollars to Johny in that time). This is actually a pretty legendary event in the poker history.
Soon first strategy books began appearing, first being Doyle Brunsons Super System and later on a book that set the theory behind poker that we know today, David Sklanskys Theory of Poker.
At the end of the 20th century online poker was introduced and changed the poker world for ever…
With the introduction of online poker more and more people ware playing, and poker kept gaining in popularity. What happened next was probably inevitable. In 2003 poker was already a popular well spread game, but then something happened… an online qualifier to the WSOP named Chris Moneymaker(who was a total amateur, an average Joe if you will) won the title of the world champion and the first place prize of 2.5 million dollars! Poker history was made.
That event sparked the so called poker BOOM. After that everybody started playing (wanting to be the next Moneymaker) and the new online generation of poker players was born and ready to dominate the poker world in the coming years… and here we are today, with poker more popular than ever, events bigger than ever and the theory and strategy behind the game more developed than ever.
Who knows, but if you want to try to be a part of it, start playing and maybe you’ll be the next poker superstar.