"The origins of Poker are widely disputed, but the most likely case is that what we now know as poker was derived from various different parts, of various different games. It is commonly thought that poker was invented by the Chinese around 900 AD, as a variant of Chinese dominoes.
Another theory is that poker has its roots in the Persian game "as nas". This used a deck of 25 cards with 5 suits, and involved 5 players. A further theory points to the French game "Poque". This seems more likely as the originator of poker, as the French arrived in New Orleans in the USA at about 1480, and "Poque" is a card game involving bluffing and betting, very much like Poker today. Yet another theory relates to the German game "Pochspiel", in this there is an element of bluffing, and when players passed they would tap the table, very much like a check in poker today.
Their are yet more explanations for the word poker, and that is that it came from a version of an underworld slang word, "poke," a term used by pickpockets. Cardsharps who used the 20-card cheating game to relieve a sucker from his poke may have used that word among themselves, adding an r to make it "poker." The thought was that if the sharps used the word "poker" in front of their victims, those wise to the underworld slang would not recognise the change.
There is also the theory that the term used by magicians "hocus-pocus", became "Poke" which then became Poker. The next step was a 32 card deck, and then finally a 52 card deck, which is obviously what we are familiar with today.
The history of cards dates from ancient times. The direct origin of the playing cards is not fully known, but the transformation from a 78 card deck to a 52 card deck occurred in the Middle Ages. 52 cards correspond to the quantity of the weeks in the year, 4 suits represent 4 seasons. Each season consists of 13 weeks; therefore, each suit consists of 13 cards. It is known that each suit includes pips from 1 to 10 and pictures: jack, queen, king. If we change those picture cards to figures 11, 12, 13 and sum all pips up, we will get 91 pips, each season consists of 91 days. Thus, the sum of all pips from 4 suits forms 364, which is the number of days, except one day, in a year.
You can learn more information on cards and card names used in poker
Card playing spread over the world, arriving in Italy and Spain from Egypt via trade routes by the late 14th century. Many early decks had just 20 cards. The Tarot deck was created based on existing playing card decks, adding 22 trumps to a regular deck. The suits of the Tarot are the same that early Italian and Spanish decks used: Swords, Batons/Clubs, Cups, and Coins. These were called Latin suits. Early English decks were Latin-suited, but they gradually adopted the familiar Spades, Clubs, Hearts, and Diamonds, suits that France began using on their cards about 1480 and we use today.
The history of poker in the USA is a lot more well known . Poker travelled from New Orleans by steamboat up the Mississippi and Ohio rivers. The game then spread via wagon and train. Modifications such as stud poker, the draw, and the straight became popular, during the Civil War. European influence of poker ended when the joker was introduced as a wild card in 1875.
By the 1830s, a 52-card deck we know today was in general use, and poker rules were slowly becoming standardized as rule books were written. The Old West took to the game quickly. It became the saloon favourite, as sharp players discovered how quickly wealth could be won from it. The personalities of Western legends, guns, saloons and poker all seemed to go together.
The game of poker was ideal for the wild west a player had to keep his wits about him and exploit opportunity as it arrived. The game, just like the wild west, was not for anyone without confidence. And it also had to survive its clashes with the law.
Nevada made it an offence to run a betting game in 1910. The Attorney General of California declared that draw poker was based upon skill and therefore the anti-gambling laws could not stop it. But stud poker, he said, was based on mere chance. Therefore it was illegal. Naturally draw poker games flourished, and more emerged. In 1931, Nevada reversed itself and became the only place in the U.S. to legalize casino gambling, until 1978, when Atlantic City joined in.
And so to the present day, poker is carefully regulated by gambling laws, and saloons have given way to casinos and card rooms, but poker is played more than any other card game in the world. It has grown into a sporting event, with competitions and tournaments all around the world. Tournaments take place almost every week of the year somewhere in the world. Also online poker has introduced a whole new audience to the thrill of betting and bluffing.
A lot has been written about poker and why it captures so many peoples imagination, the fact that it deals with peoples emotions at the very basic level most have something to do with it, as the game is so closely tied to the personality of each individual player. Poker is played in more variations than probably any other game. Its phrases are part of our common speech. We even named a facial expression after it. Today poker is bigger than it has ever been and with the advent of online poker it promises to still grow phenomenally, who knows what the future will bring to add to the history of the great game that is POKER !! "