While playing your round of poker, you can consider yourself a part of a long history. Poker would not be the same and wouldn’t have been developed as it is today had it not been for the practice of betting everywhere. The urge to test our luck has always been part of us. Also, we have a great time doing it. Poker is action-packed and an exciting card game. The act of gambling gathers people for a time of fun and it has been a way of socializing for thousands of years. Let’s take a look at the beginnings of poker and how it progressed to being one of the most dominant forms of entertainment.
Let’s start this journey through history with facts about gambling in general before pinpointing when poker became a thing and how it grew. The earliest evidence dates back to Ancient China where they found slips used for the lottery. The Egyptian civilization was no stranger to gambling either. Dice were found in ancient tombs, so we can assume it was used for games and gambling.
As far as the Roman Empire is concerned, within the walls of Rome, gambling was strictly prohibited. Playing for money was out of the question, or else they had to pay huge fines. The idea was to play with chips. They couldn’t be fined because they didn’t play with real money and the habit of using chips is a rule even nowadays. The design and material of them are surely better but the basic idea is the same. Poker is played with a set of chips of various colors and they have no value outside of a casino. If you have chips with you, you can cash them but there are strict rules of identification before receiving the money.
When it comes to sets of cards, many appeared in 9th century China but do not look like today’s sets. The first card games that were mentioned in written documents date back to the 14th century in Italy and France. Baccarat or Baccara was a two-player card game that originated in these two countries and later on spread to other countries of the Old World.
Finally, the Modern Era sets the tone for the whole gambling experience. It is a time when this industry started blooming. Gambling went from an illegal act to a government-led business. This way it could be controlled and profited from. The early 19th century in the USA brought one of the most popular pastimes and our main topic – poker. Many books from the time mention this game. These books explain the rules of poker and what it meant to the people as a form of entertainment. The rules were different depending on the area. Firstly, a deck of 20 cards was used when the popularity of poker started spreading from the East coast. Later, a set of 52 cards was introduced followed by new rules.
The early 20th century was a rough time for gamblers across the USA because they wanted to treat it the same as alcohol. Fortunately, the prohibition of gambling didn’t last long. It became legal again in the 30s. After that, the popularity of poker went through the roof, especially in the 70s. The World Series Of Poker, a poker tournament in Nevada, first started in 1970 when a group of famous poker players gathered for a tournament. It continues to be one of the most visited events worldwide. It also inspired other tournaments all over the world as well as television debuts of poker games. In the late 20th century, with the introduction of the internet, people started playing poker from the comfort of their homes and made use of the bonuses and special offers online casinos provided. Also, players started attending live online poker tournaments which are popular to this day.
Lastly, poker inspired many gamblers to write books about this game and create a whole wave of avid poker players. Doyle Brunson, a retired player, wrote one of the most influential books for poker fans called “Super/System”. His advice on strategy is still largely implemented. Aside from books, poker has been a never-ending inspiration for the movie industry in the 21st century. In 1995, the impeccable Martin Scorsese portrayed poker scenes in a casino hotel in Las Vegas with famous actors such as Robert De Niro and Joe Pesci. A newer cinematic piece is Molly’s Game giving an insight into underground poker games in Los Angeles.