The History of Poker

On September 11, 2017 by Muelo

Perhaps the most widely recognised card game across the globe, poker has evolved over the years from a simple game with friends to a world-renowned sport. But with a game so richly steeped in history, what are the roots of the popular card game and how did it become the game we know today?

It’s thought that the first game of poker was played way back in the early 1800s, after it originated from competitions known as ‘Lying Games’ where participants would bluff about how good their hand was in order to win over their opponents. However, the name poker wasn’t put in print until 1850, when Henry George Bohn mentioned draw poker in his book the New Handbook of Games. While the first books exclusively about poker weren’t released until 1875, after which the game would become more well known.

After this, different types of poker emerged, with lowball and split-pot poker being introduced in the early 1900s and the popular community card poker, where cards are dealt upwards, was first played slightly later in 1925.

Of course, poker only really began to be the famous when the big tournaments, such as World Series of Poker (WSOP), were introduced. The first WSOP event took place in 1970 in Las Vegas, but it was far from the big televised events that we know today. In fact, at the time of the first WSOP, which was won by Johnny Moss, Las Vegas only had around 50 poker tables and a pitiful 30 players competed. Yet it was these types of tournaments that inspired casinos in Las Vegas to make poker one of their key games and punters became more and more into the game, leading to people playing poker at home with friends too.

The real turning point of poker, though, was through the introduction of poker to television, which allowed people who had never played or seen the game, a glamourized and exciting view of poker. From the early 2000s, tournaments like WSOP, which were now incredibly popular, were now filmed and televised using clever camera techniques that even gave the perspective of the players. Not only were these tournaments exciting to watch to see professional players win big money and see how they tackled bluffing etc., but it also inspired casual poker players into the dream of becoming a professional themselves.

This dream was furthered with the prospect of online poker, now not only could anyone play poker easily but they could also do it from the comfort of their own home. Online poker started to become popular in the early 2000s, and even made the leap to mobile gaming in 2006. These days, with the advancements in technology, mobile apps allow amateur poker players to play the game at any time and from any place, opening the game to a whole new generation of poker players.

Now, with the introduction of technology like VR, it will be interesting to see how realistic online poker play becomes, and where this will take the game in the near future.

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