The Origins of Poker in America


There are numerous variations; the necessary equipment to play is simple, and lucky winners may even earn a buck or two. Poker is believed to have developed from a 16th century Persian card game known as As Nas. This game was played using 25 cards of 5 different suits and was similar to modern 5 card stud. When Europeans began to play the game they called it poque or pochen.

The Origins of Today’s Game

While the origins may lie in Persia and Europe, poker – the game of today, truly developed in the United States. Poker was played throughout New Orleans in the 1800s and spread rapidly across the Western frontier. The West was full of speculators and travelers. Gambling was a popular pastime enjoyed by both groups.

Professional gambling and poker playing became an occupation as well as a game and was very popular on riverboats. In the beginning, Poker played with only one round of betting, five cards dealt face down and with no draw. Professional gamblers eventually modified these rules to make the game more profitable. The draw was added and wild cards and bluffing became common practice after 1850.

Decks and Hands

Countless variations of poker games have developed since then but most rules remain the same for each variation. Poker is played with a deck consisting of 52 cards divided into 4 suits: Spades, Hearts, Diamonds and Clubs, all of equal value. Each suit includes: Ace, King, Queen, Jack, Ten, Nine, Eight, Seven, Six, Five, Four, Three and the lowest-Deuce.

A poker hand usually consists of 5 playing cards unless otherwise specified in the rules of the game and fall into one of several categories. A Straight Flush is 5 cards of the same suit in numerical order. A Royal Flush is a Straight Flush with Ace, King, Queen, Jack and 10. Four-of a kind is four cards of the same face value. If players have the same four-of-a-kind, the highest 5th card wins. A full house equals three-of-a-kind and a pair. A Flush is comprised of 5 cards of the same suit. The flush with the higher top card takes priority. A Straight is 5 cards in numerical sequence. In three-of-a-kind, the higher set wins. Two pair is 2 sets of like cards such as 2 Aces and 2 nines. One pair is a set of 2 like cards. If a hand does not fit any other category than high card wins.