As a game, poker’s history is nothing short of transformative. The advent of online gaming has led to a mass of rapid evolutions to the game. For titles like Pokerist for instance, this evolution has resulted in Party modes, where players get to enjoy poker by unique rules. Yet, even before the introduction of modern technology, poker was in constant flux. If you’re hungry for more, we’ve outlined a brief history of the game throughout the ages.
900s - Chinese Dominoes
Given its enduring history, it’s difficult to pinpoint the exact moment of poker’s conception. What we know for sure is that poker has ancient roots that date almost 1,000 years, and span multiple continents and cultures. While it’s wildly debated amongst experts and enthusiasts, many theorise that poker’s creation can be traced as far back as the 900s, to a domino-like card game played by a 10th-century Chinese emperor. According to history, the game came to be one New Year’s Eve when Emperor Mu-Tsung and his wife celebrated with a game of chance that combined key aspects of mahjong and what we now know as poker.
1500 - As Nas
Some claim that poker is more heavily connected to a 16th-century Persian card game called As-Nas. As-Nas is played with a set of five subjects which are all face cards. Then, each of these cards is repeated either four or five times, for a total number of 20 or 25 cards. This means there are no pip cards or suits. However similar poker hands rankings such as three-of-a-kind were present. As-Nas was most likely taught to French settlers in New Orleans by Persian sailors.
1600s - Poque & Pochen
Another forerunner to poker is poque and pochen. Poque first came to light in France in the 17th-century but both it and pochen are derivatives of a 16th-century Spanish gambling game called primero. Primero involved three cards being dealt to each player. Similar to the modern interpretation of poker, it also had elements of bluffing and betting throughout. It’s also believed that poque was brought from France to North America by colonists in New Orleans and the nearby regions.
1800s - Five Card Stud
Since arriving in the western world, the name poque was anglicized to poker and more modern elements of the game were introduced. This included familiar aspects of poker such as five cards being dealt to each player and 52-card decks. What’s more, games that involved players drawing additional cards were growing in popularity. Pretty soon, the fan-favourite five-card stud became widespread across the states and a "straight” was added to the list of approved winning hands. Five card stud poker was the first game of its kind as, previously, in all other poker games a player’s cards were kept hidden from rivals. In stud poker, however, most of a player’s cards remain visible on the table except for a hole card which remains secret until the final showdown.
1900s - Texas Hold’em
By the 1900s, poker had made its way into mainstream culture and thus, its evolution is more easily tracked. Most modern poker enthusiasts would at least recognise the card games being played during this time to some degree. While poker and gambling continued to evolve and will continue to adapt to modern times, one of the more recent major changes to the game happens at the turn of the 20th century. One of the most notable changes during this era is the introduction of community card poker games like Texas Hold'em and Omaha Hold'em. Texas Holdem doesn’t come into existence until the 1920s and doesn’t gain popularity for some time. Although little is known about the invention of Texas hold 'em, the Texas Legislature officially recognizes Robstown, Texas, as the game's birthplace, dating it to the early 20th century.
1970s - Poker TV
By the 1970s poker had become what most know of it today but one big change was still yet to come - televised poker. In 1973 The World Series of Poker first graced our television screens. This evolution of the game brought poker even further into the cultural limelight, propelling its popularity yet again among the masses. During this era, people had already seen the glamour of poker on the silver screen. Still, this was the first time the public audience was able to witness real-life players winning stunning amounts of money playing poker.
1990s - Online Poker
The dawn of online poker playing opened up fans to a new world of opportunities. Online poker, as we know it is relatively young and still in a constant flux of change and evolution. Thanks to its links to technology, this variation of the game is probably the easiest to track. The first instance of legitimate online poker was on January 1st, 1998. There were numerous places to play poker online before these legitimate websites, but January 1 called in a new era for safe and legal play. These online poker sites allow players to play, win real money and cash out.
It’s reported that the first online hands of poker were $3/$6 Limit Hold 'em games.
2000s - Poker As We Know It
In the modern era, poker is more widespread, accessible and profitable than ever. It’s not difficult to find a range of Twitch streamers streaming their live poker matches, truly taking poker into contemporary times. The game itself has also taken on countless variations, each with its own set of special rules and protocols. What’s more, players can find an online poker game with a simple internet search or app download. Online poker sites or applications have a near-limitless capacity to host as many poker variations as they please. They can also, if they choose, create their own version of the game or special tournaments with their own unique rules. For players who love the game but dislike the gambling element, social casino sites, like Pokerist, have emerged. These sites give players all the thrill of the game with none of the risk.