The History of Poker
The origins of Poker seem lost in the mysteries of time and the confuse the issue there doesn't seem to be an early ancestor of the game to draw a date from. The conclusion to this can only be that Poker is a very old game indeed.
One of the earliest references to the game comes from J H Green who referred to the "cheating game" in 1834 being played on the Mississippi riverboats of the time. Poker seemed to be a more legitimate game than the Three Card Monte played at the time, and attracted quite a following. People came back time and time again to basically lose their money on what they believed to be a fair game.
Where the name Poker came from is as much as mystery as the game itself. Some historians claim it comes from poque - an old French game, others claim Germany's pochspiel, and yet other believe it is derived from the Hindu pukka. Yet another theory comes from the old pickpocket slang 'poke' , meaning cash or valuables. The suggestion that the magical term 'hocus-pocus' has some relevance has also been raised, but ultimately no-one knows and can only make assumptions.
In the UK, when most people think of poker they conjure up an image of hard, East end villains playing in backroom venues, with the 'law' one step behind... and while the game certainly has a reputation, and some origins, as a 'man's game' in the underworld, it is played legitimately in every casino across the land.
Indeed, poker is more popular than any other card game. It has grown into a 'sporting' event, with competitions and tournaments all around the world - most notably The World Series of Poker and the UK's own Late Night Poker. Poker tournaments take place almost every week of the year somewhere in the world.