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Gambling – Poker

Card Games are the most popular sport in the gambling world from Sydney to Seattle. Djibouti to Dublin, from Rome to Rio. Every country has it’s own card game. A deck of cards is probably the most common “sports good” in the entire world. The most common of these card games can be broadly divided into 3 categories. Pinochle family of card games, which includes games like Skat (German origin), Bezique (France) and Pinochle. Another category is the Rummy family of games. Games like Gin, Canasta (Uruguay) and Rummy. The last category is the Gambling family of which are games like Blackjack, Baccarat and Poker.

Origin of Card Games

Although it is widely believed that the playing cards originated in China, circa 969 AD, it is highly unlikely. Taking a look at the present dominoes, which are their modern day deck, it is difficult to imagine a derivation since the dominoes are nothing like what we have today. Another claim for the origin could probably be the Egyptians. Fragments of what could be playing cards were found near Mameluks and were dated to around 1400. The deck consisted of 52 cards with suits of polo-sticks, coins, cups and swords. They also have the same royalty hierarchy that the present day cards have. It has been proposed that these cards originated from the Indian game of Ganjifa.
The first known mention of cards in Europe occurred in 1371 in Spain. The game mentioned was the present day naipes, the spelling (in the Catalan document) being naip. From then onwards card games featured prominently in city law books, with statutes for and against gambling were repeatedly passed in Italy, France and Germany. They also went through various design changes of their suits like traditional Swiss (Shields, Flowers, Bells, and Acorns) and German (Hearts, Leaves, Bells, Acorns) suits and finally settling with France’s national suits of the Diamonds, Hearts, Spades and Clubs. The earliest known usage of Tarot’s was in 1750 in Bologna, where normal playing cards were use for fortune telling. Cartomancy, or fortune telling with cards, became famous only in the 1760’s with the development of solitaire. The cards came to the American mainland along with the British and it was in 1857 that American Euchre players introduced the concept of Joker.

Origin of Poker Card Games

Although it is widely believed that Poker originated from the Chinese game, which was played with dominoes, there are few that believe that Poker originated from the Persian game as nas. This game required 25 cards with 5 suits. The English game primero (primera for the Spanish) is widely regarded as an ancestor of the modern day Poker. Its valued hands were (descending)
Chorus: Four of a kind (e.g., four sixes)
Fluxus: Four cards of the same suit, equivalent to a poker flush (e.g., 2, 4, A, and 6 of hearts)
Supremus: Ace, 6, and 7 of the same suit (e.g., A, 6, 7 of spaces, 3 of diamonds).
Primero: One card of each suit (e.g., 3 of hearts, 5 of diamonds, K of spades, 7 of clubs)
Numerus: Two or three cards of the same suit. This is by far the most common hand (e.g., Q, 4, 6 of clubs, and 4 of spaces).

Another theory points to the French game poque. The French who came to New Orleans in 1840 played this game, which involved betting and bluffing. From New Orleans the game traveled, via the riverboats of the Mississippi and the Ohio to the rest of America. The Poker game spread via wagon and train to the Wild West, which embraced the betting game and gave it the glamour that it has today. Although gambling was outlawed in Nevada in 1910, it was established that draw poker, being based wholly on skill, could not be prevented by the antigambling laws. Thus games based on draw poker came into prominence. It was in 1931 that the state of Nevada legalized casino gambling.

Poker Rules and Poker Hands

The objective of the Poker game is to arrange the cards into sets (commonly called “hands”).
Primarily being a betting game, Poker game begins with each player having a minimum amount of money. At the beginning of each hand the players bets a small amount of money, known as the “ante”(some variants of poker use alternatives to antes called blind bets). The total money bet by the players is called the pot. The player with the best hand usually takes this pot.
Whenever a bet is made, other players must match this bet or bet more just to stay in the game. Thus they can either raise the pot or fold out if they do not think they can take the pot.

Poker and its many Variants:

Most variants of Poker came into prominence in the mid-1900’s. The standard order of Poker applies to most of the games. But to specify a poker game, one has to know the value of the Poker hands used, number of rounds of betting, the game play between these rounds and the basic betting structure. Some of them are listed below.

Draw Poker

Draw poker is generally regarded as the standard poker form. It is usually played by three to seven players. The game begins with each player receiving a set number of cards. He later has the opportunity to replace some or all of them. At the start of play, each player is dealt five cards; all face down, one at a time. The remaining deck is placed aside. Players can now take a look at their cards but must take care so as not to conceal them to anyone else. The first betting round occurs at this point, starting with the player to the dealer's left. Players are given to drop out of the game here. If more than one player remains after this round, the "draw" phase begins. Each player specifies how many of his cards he wishes to replace, and discards that many from his hand. The remaining deck (deck stub) is taken and after a “burnt” card is dealt, each player is dealt the exact number of cards he discarded. It is important that each player discards the cards before he replaces them. After this draw phase, another round of betting occurs. This goes on until one player remains in the end.
A common rule in many games is that a player cannot replace more than three cards. This rule is only needed for low-limit social games where many players will stay for the draw, and will help avoid depletion of the deck stub. In more serious games such as those played in casinos it is unnecessary and generally not used. A rule commonly used in many casinos is that a player is not allowed to draw five consecutive cards (after discarding all his original cards). He is only given four of them after which the other players are given their draws. Only then can he take his last card.
Another common house rule is that the bottom card of the deck is never given as a replacement, to avoid the possibility of someone who might have seen it during the deal using that information. If the deck stub is depleted during the draw before all players have received their replacements, the last players can receive cards chosen randomly from among those discarded by previous players.
Some games of Poker also contain a wild card. This implies that a wild card can be used to represent any card in the deck. Most times there is a lower limit to the ante and upper limit to the pot, this implies that each bet has to be atleast equal to the lower limit and the total pot cannot exceed the upper limit.

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