The origin of poker

by GameNet

Card playing in itself seems to have originated in the Far East, migrating via the Middle East to Europe. The earliest recorded occurrences of card playing are from tenth-century China. Their "cards" would have more closely resembled paper, another Chinese invention, and the games were likely derived from Chinese dominoes. There is a surviving record of the Emperor Mu-tsung playing "domino cards" with his wife in 969 AD. This is one widely held theory of the origin of poker.

The other popular theory is that poker originated from the Persian game of "As Nas". This is a 5-player game, using a deck of 25 cards with 5 suits. It is remarkably similar in concept to poker: two cards are dealt, followed by a round of betting; then two more cards and another round of betting; then a final card, a final round of betting, and the highest ranked card wins.

A third theory is that poker developed out of the Indian card game of Ganjifa.

The Mameluke Empire was purportedly responsible for introducing card playing to Europe in the Middle Ages. Its realm stretched across the Middle East, including Egypt, where remnants of cards have been discovered, ostensibly dating back to the 12th or 13th century.

The earliest reliable records of card playing in Europe can be traced back to the mid-14th century. The notion of royalty and card ranking was adopted by the first European card makers, who were Italian and Spanish. The 52-card pack emerged from Rouen in France in the 16th century. It became known as the "French pack", and spread to England and America.


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