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From the book, “Sucker’s Progress”, Poker came to America by way of New Orleans’ French community.  The game was first played with a deck of just twenty cards, five cards to each player and no straights or flushes.

Poker was simply the ancient Persian game of As Nas, also called Dsands, with many features of the game coming from other games.  Features like:

- Ante

- The Draw

- Raise before the Draw

- The Freeze-out

- Table Stakes

- Bluffing

- Straights & Flushes

- Wild Cards

- The use of a Joker,  originally called Mistigris

French and Italian versions of the game were played with three cards being dealt to each player from a deck of 32 cards.  Sometimes a fourth card was exposed and shared by all players, hence the game of Spit-in-the-Ocean.

The French word Poque (pronounced Poke) was eventually Americanized into Poker, or at least that is what some believe.  Poque was first described in a 1718 edition of “Acad’emie Universelle des jeux”, one of the earliest known works on card games. The earliest settles of Lousiana were familiar with Poque since a majority of them were the scum of the Paris underworld.

The Persian version, As Nas, is believed to have been brought to New Orleans about the time of the American occupation and As Nas adopted the French version of the game over time.

The Americanization of Poque to Poker was likely completed by 1825.  Diligent research on the subject has failed to turn up any printed reference to the games prior to 1836. Jonathan Green in his, “Expose’ of Gambling” published in 1843 mentions Poker as having been a popular game on the Mississippi River for many years.

In “The American Hoyle”, c1885 the following versions of Poker were described: Draw Poker, Jack Pots, Mistigus, Straight Poker, Stud Poker and Whiskey.

In conclusion, a number of theories exist as to Pokers earliest beginnings with no definitive answer, at least not yet.

This story has appeared in many publications over the years, such as, “Sucker’s Progress”, by Herbert Asbury and “Gamblers of the Old West”, by Time-Life Books.

This version of the story comes from Time-Life Books and goes like this, a pair of Seattle cardsharps were in a five-man game with the intent of skinning two of the three other men.  The fifth man was a friend of sorts and they did not have their eyes set on him, plus he was unaware of the sharps intent.

At some point in the game one of the sharps rings in a cold deck, that is an identical deck of cards that have been pre-arranged so that the two victims get great starting hands but one of the sharps gets the winning hand.  The fifth man wasn’t even given a pair so he was sure to drop and get out of the way.

Well, much to the sharps surprise, the fifth man not only stayed in the hand he began raising. The sharps dare not tip him off that the fix was in so they let him play along.

When all was said and done the pot had $3,600.00 ( around $79,000.00 in today’s money) in it and when the hands were shown the fifth man won the entire pot.  What happened was, the sharp stacking the deck failed to pay attention to the suits and dealt the fifth man a four card straight.  He drew one card which filled his straight flush and the rest is history.