The History of Poker

Poker is a game that many of us enjoy playing, but how many of us know about its history? Poker has a fascinating origin story and we’re about to trace it right from the beginning all the way up until the moment we’re at now. Whether you consider yourself something of a poker professional, an enthusiastic amateur, or a very casual player, you’re bound to find the history of poker absolutely fascinating.

As Nas

We’re going to skip past who invented playing cards and head to the first mention of poker in a modern Western text. This was in 1837 by R. F Foster who claimed that poker as it was in the United States was definitely derived from the ancient Persian game of As Nas. Although claiming that it is the same might be a little unlikely, there’s good evidence to support Foster’s claims. As Nas was a game that dated back to the 17th century and required players to play with a deck of 25 cards, including some cards with figures on them. The gameplay works exactly the same as in poker, but runs aren’t part of the game at all. Instead players make sets or pairs, placing bets in the same style as poker along the way. The fact that the gameplay is so similar and that the game of As Nas is so ancient makes it highly likely that this game was where poker as we know it today originated.


Around the region where poker is said to have originated in its current form, a game was played that was called Poque. It was a French game, with a name that is thought to have derived from the French poche, meaning pocket. This might refer to the hole cards, which could just as easily be called pocket cards. Poque would be a natural forerunner to the game of poker both because of its rules and also because of its strikingly similar name. In which case, As Nas probably informed Poque and Poque probably informed Poker. It was just a little later, around 1820 to 1830 that the full French deck of cards began to be used to play poker, that’s the 52 card formation that we see today.


Around the time of the American Civil War, there were lots of different variations of poker that were appearing as the game grew in popularity. Stud poker, that is poker that is played with five cards became commonplace. So too did lowball poker and split pot poker, though not with quite such force as stud poker had. All of these variations led to a further increase in poker’s popularity so that by the turn of the 20th century it was a game that was enjoyed across a much wider area of the world.

Poker Tournaments

During the 1970s poker saw a boom, thanks largely to the first ever World Series of Poker that was held in 1970. Developments in the 1970s led to poker becoming far more popular than it was before. Modern tournament play became popular in American casinos  after the World Series of Poker began, in 1970. This spurred a whole slew of amateurs to take their poker game to the next level and enter into the tournament. Since this point, there’s been no looking back for the game.

Televised & Online Poker

Other than the World Series of Poker, there’s nothing that’s made such an impact to the scope of poker as the invention of showing poker tournaments on television and making it possible to play poker online. Nowadays poker is played widely online, with people being able to play with others from all over the world using an online casino. These casinos range hugely, from those that offer a live dealer experience, to those that offer a stripped back simple graphics option.

There are now online poker tournaments that anyone can play in, allowing players to connect with people from all over the world to share a common love of this historical game.