Poker Through the Ages: From 13th Century Cards to Free Online Poker Games
Revered by millions, reviled by some – gambling always has some kind of fascination, and that goes for poker and other card games. The Chinese were the first to start using cards, in the 13th century. Before that, the Egyptians had the “treasure game” (ganjifa) – which they played with ivory tokens, and was the first such pastime to include gambling. And, in Persia, there was as-nas, played with 25 cards and including both gambling and a fixed hierarchy of combinations.
Poker really began to take off in Europe as the 17th century ticked over into the 18th. The Germans had pochen, and the French played poque – either of which could have given the English language the word poker, and both of which had their origins in the Spanish game primero.
As with so many cultural phenomena, it was the arrival of Poker in the United States which marked the start of its true global popularity. The game arrived in New Orleans, Louisiana, with the French – and quickly spread along the Mississippi River and across the continent. By the time of the Gold Rush it was being played by prospectors in the west; maybe it’s not difficult to imagine the stakes and risks involved in such games, played against a landscape potentially heaving with wealth beyond riches.