History of poker

The first seeds in Asia

Chinese Domino Money Cards

The Chinese game of domino cards is said to be the first seed of poker, and it was played by the Chinese over 1000 years ago. 12th century Egyptians also enjoyed playing games with cards, and 16th century Persians invented Ganjifa (Treasure Cards). Ganjifa decks were almost double the size of our poker decks today, with 96 decorated cards made of wood or ivory. The Persians also played As Nas which had decks of 25 cards, rounds of betting and hand rankings.

Europe names the game

Primero - The mother of poker

About at the same time, a Spanish/Italian game called Primero became popular. Primero involved three cards being dealt to each player, and bluffing whilst holding poor cards to deceive opponents, was an important part of the game. In the 17th and 18th century the most popular card game in Germany was a bluffing game called Pochen, and it later developed into a French version, called Poque. Both these card games sprang from Primero. That is why Primero is often referred to as the mother of modern poker.

Moving to the Wild West

Playing poker on the Mississippi riverboats

The French colonials brought their beloved Poque card game with them to Canada, and from the 18th century it soon became popular throughout the new world, eventually traveling from New Orleans, up the Mississippi river on the riverboats, and troughout the rest of the Wild West. Soldiers, cowboys and gentlemen of every stripe came to play this popular game. It became so popular across the Wild West that just about every town had saloons with poker tables.

 Born in Texas

Playing Texas Holdem in a saloon

Texas Holdem, the most popular version of poker today, was as it name implies first played in Texas. The game is said to be born in Robstown Texas in 1900. After the game gained popularity throughout Texas, it was taken to Las Vegas in 1967 by Texas natives. In 1971, the directors of the World Series of Poker decided to feature No Limit Texas Holdem as the Main Event tournament, and Texas Holdem has been played in the Main Event ever since.

The poker boom

Chris Moneymaker winning the WSOP 2003 Main Event

In the start of our current century the popularity of Texas Holdem rose to all new heights because of its exposure in literature, television and the internet. The movie Rounders (1998), televised poker series that revealed the hole cards to the viewers, online poker rooms, and last but not least, the Moneymaker effect. The 27-year old amateur Chris Moneymaker won a seat to the 2003 WSOP Main event from a $40 online satellite tournament. Moneymaker then went on to win the 2003 WSOP Main event, turning his $40 into $2.5 million and the title of World Champion.


From its birth till today, the game of poker has never looked back. Unlike other games that have faded into the annals of history, poker continues to gain popularity. Today Texas Holdem is the most frequently played and popular card game in the world, played online, in casinos and in homes all over the world.