The origins of poker remain in the murky annals of history. It is likely that we will never know who invented poker or if poker was invented by many people in stages. There is some evidence that the Chinese,about 1000 years ago, had cards but their decks didn’t have 52 cards and the games they played did not resemble modern card games. Fast forward to Allslots which features many forms of poker including over 40 variations of video poker and many types of casino poker.
A Swiss monk named John Rheinfelden recorded card games with 52-card decks in the 14th century. He seems to have acted as a reporter rather than as a player. It could be that card playing was considered the Devil’s game.
Indians and British Play Cards
There are so many games played with 52 card decks that it’s daunting to lift from the haze the exact moment poker as we know it emerged. We know that card games were played in India and that their most popular card games involved betting rounds. This game was called Teen Patti.
We also find that the British had a game called Brag in which you were expected to brag about the value of your hand. This likely was the actual beginning of bluffing in card games. Keep in mind that bluffing developed only in poker; we never hear about bluffing in blackjack or war! Given the political connection between Britain and India, it is not surprising that card games similar to modern day poker saw their first developments in those two societies.
No Suits? No Royals?
However, both Brag and Teen Patti had two major differences from modern poker and cards in general. The concepts of suits and Royal cards had not yet been developed when Brag and Teen Patti were already established games.
So, it was the French in the latter part of the 15th century who established suits and Royal cards. If you look closely at the Royal cards in any modern deck, you might see that King, Queen, and Jack do bear interesting resemblances to French stereotypical royal family members.
Fingerprints Found of Many Inventors
We can pretty fairly say that no one person invented our beloved poker. Surely no single person invented all the variations of poker. In fact, many home-brewed poker variations get played in one locale and are subsequently forgotten to history.
Bluffing became the dominant element in poker as recently as the early 19th century. Poker was then called The Lying Game. A man named Joseph Crowell wrote about it in 1829. Then, the steamboat and burgeoning affluence in North America led to the development of riverboat gambling. The apocryphal riverboat gambler, hundreds if not thousands of gamblers, likely invented many poker variations and established many of the rules we now associate with poker.
“Pokering” a Pot
There are three viable explanations for the word “poker”. In Old German there was a card game called poche. The French had a card game called poque. These were probably the same or almost the same given the similarity of their names, separated primarily by the different accents. The best explanation to my mind is the Old English slang term for thief: poke. Poker and most other card games were havens for cheats and other nasty creatures.
So, no the answer to who invented poker is shared by the Chinese, Indians, British, French, and possibly others and Allsots casino players reap the benefits.