PokerPoker is gaining in popularity every year, and the past few years have been unprecedented in terms of the attention poker has been gaining.  Poker tournaments are a huge draw, both live and on television, and the most successful poker players are treated like sports heroes.

Poker is the most popular form of the class of card games known as vying games.  What makes poker a vying game is that the players make their bets based on a partially, or even completely, concealed set of cards.  This means that strategy is essential to success, as is the proverbial “poker face.”

It is believed that poker began as a card gave played with a deck of only 20 cards.  That game, described in 1829 by the English actor Joseph Crowell, consisted of four players betting on whose hand was most valuable. 

This type of poker is believed to have originated in New Orleans, but from there it quickly spread to the rest of the country, driven partly by the many riverboats that roamed the Mississippi, bringing poker from New Orleans to the communities and cities downstream.  Betting has always been a big part of the poker experience, from these early riverboat days to the multimillion dollar tournaments seen today in Las Vegas and elsewhere.

As the game of poker gained popularity, the original 20 card deck was soon replaced by the standard English deck consisting of 52 cards.  Many additions to the rules of the game were made as it increased in popularity.  For instance, during the Civil War years the tradition of players being permitted to discard cards and get replacements was introduced into the rules.

Other enhancements, such as the introduction of the wild card followed.  The wild card was first introduced around 1875, followed by the introduction of split-pot poker in 1900 and the spread of community poker games in the 1920s. 

The game of poker continues to evolve today, with the advent of video poker, online poker tournaments and of course those big money tournaments held around the country.  Whether it is played just for fun or for big money, poker continues to be a favorite pastime among gamblers and card game lovers alike.