Possibly the world’s most famous card game, Poker has a rich and entertaining history that spans more than 200 years. We’ve rounded up the most fascinating facts about this game, and you’ll find the interesting, the colourful and the downright crazy right here:
A New Orleans Native
Like jazz and cocktails, Poker got its start in the City of New Orleans. While no one knows exactly when the first hand of the game was played, historians are sure of the fact that Poker has its roots in the Louisiana territory. Poker dates back to the early 1800’s and it was originally called poque by the French speaking population of the region. When more English speakers arrived in Louisiana, the name Poker emerged, and it has been called this ever since.
20 Card Game
Although its name has stuck, the rules and game play of Poker have changed somewhat. Originally, the game was played with only 20 cards and four players. Players each received 5 cards and then had to bet on who had the best hand. In 1834 the first mention of a 52 card deck is made, so it's safe to assume that the game changed from 20 to 52 cards in just a few short years. Today, there are more than 40 different variants of the game, but they are all based on the original 1830’s rules.
Up to almost the end of the 1800’s Poker chips could be just about anything. Gold nuggets, gold dust, coins or anything of value was used and it was only when the need for a standardised unit became apparent that chips were introduced. Early Poker chips were made of bone or ivory or wood, and had symbols depicted on the to denote value. Problems arose however when these chips were copied by cheats, so the house had to keep a close eye on them. In the 1900’s commercial firms created ceramic chips that were hard to copy, and old Poker chips today are worth a fortune!
8 Year Game
Although it never actually been verified, rumour has it that the longest ever Poker game was played over 8 years, 5 months and 3 days at the Birdcage Theatre in Arizona. The game began in 1881 when the Bird Cage tournament required a buy-in of $1000 and ended nearly a decade later. An online casino New Zealand site may be able to rival that, if players were able to log in whenever they were free, make a move and then wait for the next hand, but fortunately,most games move a little faster!
Poker Goes on TV
Today, Poker tournaments are regularly televised, but in the 1970’s this wasn’t heard of, and not that many homes even had TV sets yet! CBS broke the mould by taping the World Series of Poker in 1973 straight from Las Vegas. Viewers were enthralled by the action and watched every game closely, as there was a prize pot of $130,000 – a fortune by those days’ standards.
A Global Game Online
Studies have show that in America alone, over 70 million people play live or online poker annually. This is more than 20% of the population, and its proof as to just how popular the game has become. By going online, Poker has attracted an even bigger audience, and Video Poker is also very popular, as it offers similar style game play but against a machine.