Poker is one of the most popular card games in the world, it is therefore surprising that compared to most other card games it has a relatively short history. The game started out as a game of pure luck but has since changed into a game that requires a great deal of skill. All of this happened in a matter of a few decades.
The game of poker appears to have got its start in the early part of the nineteenth century in New Orleans. The game itself is of course based on older card games that were imported from Europe but it was the game played in New Orleans that we would recognize as being the start of modern poker.
The first games of poker were played with a twenty card deck, tens through aces, and where largely a game of chance. There was no draw in the early games so there was little skill involved. In fact the early games could only be played with four players. This way the full deck would be dealt and whoever had the best hand would win.
Things really started to change for the game of poker in about the 1830’s when the fifty two card deck as introduced. This not only allowed more players to play it also meant that there were cards available for a draw. This is when poker as we would know it today started to appear. The draw introduced bluffing and changed poker from being a game of chance to one that required skill.
The early versions of poker were all draw poker however during the Civil War many other variants were introduced. This was mainly to keep the game interesting. Some of the variations where also introduced in the hopes of adding some discipline to the game. In the early days the game was almost entirely about bluffing and players would often bet even when they had nothing and force the players who actually had good hands out. Rules where therefore introduced that it was hoped would stop this and reduce the influence of bluffing on the game.
At this point poker largely remained unchanged until the early part of the twentieth century when hold’em poker was introduced. This was introduced in large part because it sped up the game which was ideal for casinos; it also allowed more people to play. Given how popular hold’em is today most people would be surprised to learn that for much of its history it was not particularly popular. It has only been the rise of tournament play and games being played on television that has made hold’em the most popular version of poker. One of the great benefits of hold’em is that it is so easy to learn that it has really helped to spread the popularity of the game.