Poker History Snippets


Poker does have a meandering history when you look into it. Some say it was based on the French game Poque, but poque was actually based on an earlier German game! However, the game finally took it’s roots and came into its own in the early 19th century in the French populated town of New Orleans in the United States. The game has always been in discussion and has witnessed some interesting developments in its 200-year-old history. Here are a few that defined poker for what it is today.

The story of the game

  • It was initially played with a deck of 20 cards only (10-J-Q-K-A).
  • It started off as 4 handed play.
  • Over the years, the 52-card English deck was adopted allowing for more players and hand possibilities.
  • In 1937, a fifth suit was added to the deck, but quickly made its way out as players where not going to buy a new deck of cards.
  • It is said that the suits were once representative of French social class status; Spades represented the ruling class or royalty, Hearts represented the Church or clergy, Diamonds represented the merchant class. And Clubs represented the lower class or peasants.

The story of the people

With the popularity of the game growing, so were the faces that graced the felts. The early heroes of the American West included the likes of Wyatt Earp, Doc Holliday and Calamity Jane.

Wild Bill Hickok, another regular famously shot dead during a game holding two pair 8-8-A-A (all black) and the event led to one of poker’s etymology, the “dead man’s hand.”

Former American President Richard Nixon was an avid poker player.

It also attracted many entertainment notables from musicians to athletes to famous actors.

The story of success

  • The World Series of Poker debuted in 1970 at Binion’s Horseshoe Casino.
  • Jack Binion invited the top seven players to participate in a series of high stake games and presented a field of “Amarillo Slim” Preston, Doyle Brunson, Sailor Roberts, Johnny Moss, Puggy Pearson, Carl Cannon and Crandell Addington.
  • After several days of playing Johnny Moss was voted as the winner.
  • The first World Series of Poker Main Event to be televised was in 1973 and featured a field of 13 players and a $130,000 prize.

The story of new age poker (the moneymaker effect)

  • Chris Moneymaker managed to outduel a field of 838 professional and amateur players to win a prize of $2.5 million in the 2003 WSOP Main Event.
  • What made Chris so different? He was working as an accountant when he won a seat in an online tournament for the Main Event of the 2003 World Series of Poker.
  • Moneymaker is his actual surname for all those wondering! His ancestors made silver and gold coins and chose the name “Moneymaker” as a modification of their German last name: “Nurmacher.”
  • Moneymaker shaped a new generation of poker players who preferred the ease and convenience of playing online poker and the rest as they say is history!