Poker is certainly the most popular card game in the world with millions of players playing the game online or in live settings. It has become a lucrative industry with over $1 billion generated in revenue every year. It is hard to believe that poker’s success has only been apparent over the last twenty years. The internet made it into the global game it is today, while it was a niche pastime in the pre-online era. Many players could detail the recent history of the game and how it evolved online, but few may be aware of its origins in the past. There is some speculation that it could have begun in the 16th century as a game called As-Nas.
Also Read: Best 5 Things About Playing Poker
The Persian Impact:
There is a lot of speculation to suggest that a 16th century Persian card game had a huge effect on the development of what came to be known as poker today. As-Nas was a Persian card game dating back to the 16th Century, making it one of the earliest games of playing cards known to man. According to 19th Century scholar in Persian culture, Albert Houtum-Schindler, the game of As-Nas was played exactly like poker in that players have to stake on their cards and try to win the pot. However, the main difference was that the game didn’t feature flush or straight and was limited to four players.
The hands in As-Nas from best to worst were:
- full house
- two pairs
- one pair
The USA Impact:
In Spite of speculations about the exact origins of poker, we can easily agree to the fact that over the last few centuries, the USA had the biggest impact on how the game has evolved over the years.
The game, which shares the most common elements with today’s poker, spread across the United States’ Mississippi River region throughout the late 18th and early 19th Centuries.
During this period, poker was actually played in many different forms. Sometimes players used the whole 52-card deck when there were multiple players.
When there were just two people playing, they used only 20 cards. In addition to this, players usually didn’t stick to one variation for too long. Poker developed during the early 1800s as the commercial gambling scene in the USA was beginning to grow. The game spread around and reached more people because it was commonly played on Mississippi riverboats. This in turn helped the spread towards the northern regions of the land as well. At this point, the 52-card format became the most popular and the flush and straight were introduced in the game. Throughout the 19th century, the general rules were established and helped give the game its identity, which was standardized regardless of the variant of poker being played. In 1925, community poker games like Texas Hold’em came about using the same principles.
The Internet Boom:
Until the internet boom in the early 2000’s, the USA pretty much owned the game. But when poker went online, it became available to a whole new audience! Indeed, some operators have realized that a good way to break into countries where fewer people play poker is to help them realize the game’s rich history. The fact that poker could have originated in a number of different countries means that a wide demographic of players feel an affinity towards it. There is no definite answer when it comes to the origins of poker. This is mostly down to the fact that card games have been played in cultures all over the world throughout the history of poker, and a lot of them share similar aspects.
There is no doubt that As-Nas does appear to be an early form of poker. However, it can’t be confirmed whether those who played the game on the Mississippi riverboats that transformed into the poker of today knew anything about the 16th-century Persian offering. Indeed, the early poker players could have simply come up with the idea on their own. In that case, it could just simply be a coincidence that As-Nas is so similar. For all we know and care about is that we love the game of poker and it truly is the greatest card game ever made!