March 14, 2023

History Of Poker: Where Did Poker Come From

Kwabena Ofori
Written byKwabena OforiWriter

Poker is one of the most popular card games, if not the most popular card game, in the entire world. Even if you have not played a gambling game in your life, you have probably watched a game of poker in an action movie, or maybe you heard the term in conversations with your friends or family. 

History Of Poker: Where Did Poker Come From

Millions of people have played poker several times in their lifetime, and many are regular poker players. Also, many people play this game with their family members after getting together, because poker doesn't necessarily have to involve any betting. 

Not only that, but people also play poker at a professional level. Competitive poker players compete with each other in large-scale poker tournaments with massive prize pools.

Since poker is such a popular game, it begs the question, where did poker come from? Poker has a rich history that dates back several thousand years. If you are interested in the history and evolution of poker, you are in the right place. We will be taking a look at precisely that in great detail.


One can trace the history of poker back to 13th-century China. However, the game played at that time was very different from the poker we know today, which is why there is a ton of debate about the actual origins of poker. Things get even more complicated as we dive into other games that people consider the ancestor of poker. 

Here are all the different games considered to be the origin of poker. We will briefly explain how people played them, leaving the final decision about what game should be deemed the actual birth of poker up to you.  

Domino Card and Leaf Game in 13th-Century China

Many historians consider the origin of poker to lie in 13th-Century China. At that time, the "Domino Cards" game or the "Leag Game" was quite popular. This game involved tiles with different combinations of dots, similar to the Domino tiles you might be familiar with today. 

Similar to modern-day poker, players had to form winning hands combining several of these tiles to win a game of Domino Cards or Leaf Game. However, that's all that is similar to poker. As you might already know, poker does not involve tiles with dots on them. Instead, you use a deck of cards to play a game of poker.

Primo in 15th-Century Italy

Next, we have Primero. Primero was a game people played in Italy back in the 15th century. Instead of tiles with dots on them like in the game in early 13th-century China, Primero involved a deck of tarot cards, with each hand consisting of three cards.

Like many other gambling games we know today, Primero also involved bluffing. People also used to place bets on games of Primero. However, the rules of Primero were much different than poker, and as we have already explained, the cards used for the game were also completely different from the ones we use in poker.

As-Nas in 16th-Century Persia

As-Nas was a 16th-century game played in Persia. As-Nas included a deck of 25 cards with five suits. Players were required to create the best hand using a combination of five cards to win a game of As-Nas.

As you can see, this game has a lot more resemblance to poker compared to the other two games mentioned above. A lot more people consider As-Nas to be the ancestor of poker. 

However, just like Primero, the rules were very different from modern-day poker. Not only that, but As-Nas cards did not include the elements of hole cards and community cards, which are some of the main components that make up modern poker.

Poque in 18th Century France

Finally, we have Poque, a game from 18th-century France considered the direct ancestor of poker as we know it today. According to the rules of Poque, it was played with a standard deck of playing cards and included elements that we see in modern-day poker, like bluffing or betting. All of those similarities make Poque one of the most reliable candidates for being the main ancestor of poker.

Including all that, Poque was the game played in 18th-century New Orleans, where modern poker originated and started to spread to other parts of America. You might have also noticed that the name "Poque" has a lot of resemblance to the word "poker." All-in-all, we can safely conclude that the origins of poker lie in 18th Century France.

How Poker Shaped into the Game as We Know it Today

Poker is one of the most popular gambling games out there. However, as we have already mentioned, the game was not like the one we know today. Instead, the game slowly evolved into modern poker. Here are the main steps in the evolution cycle of poker.

Poker Landing in the United States For the First Time

As we have mentioned, the 18th-century game, Poque, is considered to be the direct ancestor of poker. The game was played in France at that time and landed in the United States for the first time with French settlers coming to New Orleans, Louisiana. That, too, happened in the 18th century. 

However, there are no accurate accounts of this happening, but it is widely accepted as the most likely explanation since Poque was first popularized in New Orleans. The game quickly became popular amongst the locals. At that time, Poque was mostly played in saloons and riverboats.

The Appearance of the Term “Poker”

The earliest known reference to the "term" poker is in a book called "An Exposure of the Arts and Miseries of Gambling" from 1829. Jonathan H. Green wrote that book, where he mentioned a game called "poker" that involved a 20-card deck, bluffing, and gambling. He also called it "the cheating game" and explained that people played it on the Mississippi riverboats. 

20th Century Poker & its Evolution Into Modern Poker

After the term "poker" got coined for the first time, it kept evolving. Being the addictive game that it was, poker kept on getting popular in the United States. During the 1800s, new variations started popping up. Some of the most popular of those variations include Draw Poker and Stud Poker. 

Draw Poker was born during the Civil War. Players are required to improve their hands and create the best hand to win a game of Draw Poker. They can improve their hands by discarding cards and replacing them with new ones. 

While Draw Poker originated in the early 19th century, it was much later in that century when Stud Poker was developed. According to the rules of Stud Poker, players receive a combination of face-up and face-down cards. In a game of Stud Poker, the betting rounds were interspersed with the dealing of cards.

Fast forward to the early 20th century, we see the birth of Texas Hold'em. Since it is arguably the most popular version of poker played today, it is also the version that probably introduced you to poker. However, the version you see in most movies is most likely no-limit hold'em.

Online Poker

As we move on to today, the late 20th century, we see the rise of online poker. If you have recently played a game of online poker, it was probably in an online casino developed later than 2010. However, online poker started to gain popularity way back in the early 2000s. 

As the internet started becoming more and more accessible, it became easier for players to play online poker from anywhere in the world. It led to a significant boost in its popularity. Given how convenient online poker is, many people have rapidly started to shift to online poker, even gamblers who have been playing regular poker for several years. 

With the impressive popularity of online poker, many online casinos have been popping up that provide a platform for players where they can play online poker. However, that creates another problem, which is scams. If you want to stay safe from scams at online casinos, you can check out OnlineCasinoRank, where we have developed reviews of some of the top online casinos.


In conclusion, the history of poker, while a fascinating journey, is a bit blurry, especially if you consider the precise origins of the game. Since no one thought poker would become such a big thing, no one felt the need to record its history for a long time, which is why we are not completely sure about its origins.

Regardless of whether it originated from 13th-century China, 15th-century Italy, 16th-century Persia, or 18th-century France, it is widely accepted that it first came to the United States in New Orleans. After that, it started gaining popularity at an exceptional pace and became the fun and exciting game we know today.

About the author
Kwabena Ofori
Kwabena Ofori

Kwabena is a dynamic digital aficionado, adept at fine-tuning and localizing online casino guides tailored for Ghana's vibrant gaming community. With a perfect blend of cultural understanding and tech-savviness, he is reshaping how Ghanaians navigate the online casino landscape.

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