History Of Poker

Poker History

What is the history of Poker? What are its origins? Where did Poker come from? Who invented it? Here is the history of Poker.

Key Facts and Timeline

  • Poker is believed to have been started by a Chinese emperor in the 10th century with the development of the game called Mahjong.
  • Persians eventually developed their own game called As Nas in the 16th century, and the Spanish called their game primero.
  • Primero is believed to have a direct influence on the French and German games of poque and pochen.
  • Eventually, poque made its way to the United States because of the Louisiana Purchase and was spread by merchants along the Mississippi River.
  • Poker was deemed a lawless sport by the public and was not really an established sport until the World Series of Poker began holding competitions in 1970. From there, popularity skyrocketed and eventually with the emergence of technology in the 2000s, people could play poker online.
  • Texas holdem is the most popular variation of poker
  • Modern poker is played with a 52 deck card
  • The cards are separated by suits and rankings of numbers and face cards (King, Queen, Jack, Ace)
  • You have to be 21 years old to play poker in most states


Historians have different facts about where poker actually originated, some say that the 10th century Chinese game of Mahjong was the earliest ancestor of poker. A lot of evidence also points towards the Persian game of As Nas which was developed in the 16th century. Eventually, the game of primero was developed in Spain. This had major influences on the French game of poque, and the German game of pochen.

In 1803, Thomas Jefferson purchased the port of New Orleans and other land from France because Napoleon needed money for the wars that were occuring in Europe. This would be called the Louisiana Purchase and is the reason why poker began to spread in American culture. In 1834, the deck was changed from 20 cards to 52 and from that moment on poker was revolutionized.


At first poker was seen as a lawless game because of the violence it brought. The gambling often attracted criminals and hustlers of the wild west. Gambling was already very controversial in the United States, but not until the World Series of Poker was established in 1970. It was originally owned by Benny Binion and competitions were held in the Binion’s Horseshoe Casino. They held yearly high stakes competitions and one of the first champions was Johnny Moss. In 1973, three years after its founding, the World Series of Poker was televised for the first time on CBS. This officially marked poker as an established sport.


No one really knows who invented modern poker, but it is known amongst historians that it was developed in New Orleans in the 1800s. The new 52 card game was spread all through the United States as traders and merchants were traveling along the Mississippi River and played it in other towns. Also, poker was played by both rebel and union forces during their downtime in the Civil War.

Different variations of the game such as stud poker. This was a five card game that was very popular during the gold rush in 1849, and it eventually turned into a seven card game. Eventually, Texas holdem, the most popular form of poker, would be introduced and this allowed up to 10 people to play. 


Poker became popular around the time that the World Series of Poker was founded. After the World Series was televised for the first time in 1973, it quickly began to rise in popularity throughout the United States. Larger prize money also came with the rise in popularity. In 1982, all events awarded $2.6 million to the first place winners.

The sport also grew exponentially when the company was bought by Harrah’s Entertainment in 2004, and by 2006, there were 45 tournaments and $100 million in prize money was won.

Although poker is extremely popular in the United States, particularly Las Vegas, it has had a global impact, so people from all over the world participate in the sport. Here are some of the most popular countries that participate in poker.

  • United States
  • Canada
  • Brazil
  • Czech Republic
  • Mexico
  • Holland
  • Aruba
  • Australia
  • Uruguay
  • Morocco
  • France
  • Spain