Meet the Ancestors


Before there was any game called Texas Hold ‘em or even poker for that matter, there was a time when the world was divided into boundaries of different cultures. Not surprisingly, every culture had a variation of the card game in its own accord.


Roughly around the year 1377 records the earliest appearance of the card game. This one was recorded by a Swiss Monk with the name John of Rheinfelden who wrote about the game as it was played. A card game played with a deck of 52 cards, whose cards ranged from numerals 1 to 10 in value; seemed to be the best evidence to document 1377 as the first year that a 52-deck card game was played. Even though there are enough evidence showing the Chinese playing card games in the 950s, they never involved a 52-card deck as today’s deck does. The game of the Chinese is more close to the game of dominoes than poker.


However this just a record of a 52-deck card game not of the poker, that we are so well versed today. As for the origin of modern poker, a detailed study had to be done into the multiple types of 52-deck card games that were played since 1377. These games mostly involved no betting or wagers and were only meant for recreation, emitting no resemblance to poker. Nevertheless, there are two games of different origins which not only involve betting but also use some phrases that is used in today’s poker.


Teen Patti- Yeah that’s right, India is also where it started. The game of Teen Patti involves a 52 card deck and has betting rounds like poker, similar hand ranking and also the poker phrases used.

Brag- An old English game called “Brag” very similar to Teen Patti but more related to today’s poker as the poker phrases like blind, flush, pot, etc originated from this game. As the name describes, the game involved lying or bluffing which is the fact that sets poker apart from the other card games. Betting rules and card ranking were also similar to modern poker, and they were dealt in 3 different variations of 3, 4 or 5 dealt to each player.


But let’s not forget that Brag or Poker couldn’t have been played without the four suits of Spades, Diamonds, Hearts and Clubs. Research here shows that these were invented by the French and later became standardized all over Europe by 1480 pertaining the 52-deck card game.


As for the game’s variation; poker’s variation called The Lying Game; as written and documented by Joseph Cowell in 1829. The game Brag is Poker’s ancestor by at least a gap of a few hundred years. The Europeans that first settled in america carried the game overseas and played it there, so much so that even the native Indians caught on to the game of Brag and similar gambling games. After which, 1850s saw the riverboat gamblers. These guys were a combination of players, cheats, gamblers and gunfighters. Somehow, these all seem connected, if you ask us. The riverboat gamblers took poker over the old west as well as on the boats. This also saw the early version of stud poker and 3 card Monte.

Irrespective of the game, the name seems to have originated from the french card name ‘Poque’ or it could be from ‘Poche’ the German expression for card game. Keeping in mind the number of cheats and slang word of stealing being ‘Poke’ also could have contributed to the name of “Poker”, considering how poker is also called the Lying game or the Cheating game.

All this said and done, it was the roaring 1920s that saw the discovery and evident play of the game we all love- Texas Hold’em Poker. Safely understanding that it originated from Texas, this game had it’s appeal from the new beginning players to the old veterans.Today, Hold’em poker has become the most popular and is the most widely accepted choice for World Tournaments and Tours.

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