The game of poker can be dated back to French settlers in New Orleans at the start of the 19th century but to get a true picture of the game’s history we need to go all the way back to 9th century China. This is the first recorded mention of playing cards and subsequently card games. By the 11th century playing cards where spread all over Asia and then they later moved into Egypt and Europe.
Having faces of famous characters on the cards were common throughout this period. The concept of using suits was also something that came from China, many cards had 4 suits which represented magnitudes of a currency. The modern set of 52 cards comes from the French design using four suits with reversible face cards.
Skipping forward to the 19th century and we can start to see the first signs of the game of modern poker coming together in and around New Orleans. The game was derived from combinations of the English game Brag and the German game Pochen (which means “to bluff”). Poker was started by French colonial settlers in New Orleans, who brought their own game, called Poque with them when they settled. Poque was a game that was based on the previously mentioned German game of Pochen. The English word of poker was coined and given to this new game. The game gained fame and quickly spread through Louisiana and up the Mississippi to the rest of the country.
In the mid 19th century the game of stud poker was widespread throughout North America. By this stage, every town in the west will have had a saloon with a poker table in it for the locals to play on. By 1875 many poker variations such as stud and draw appeared in The American Hoyle, which was a gentlemans hand book of games.
Since then poker gained a lot more widespread fame as tournament poker became popular in casinos around the time that the world series of poker started in 1970, this was also the start to the fame of the now massively popular variation of Texas Holdem poker. By 1980 it was an extremely widely known game, even appearing in many famous television shows at the time, such as star trek.
The game has come a long way since the begins in the early 19th century in the deep south and now only continues to grow. The largest spike in the growth of poker started at the beginning of the 21st century after live tournaments where televised and online poker introduced the game to the masses.