Poker is a family of card games that share betting rules and usually (but not always) hand rankings. Poker games differ in how the cards are dealt, how hands may be formed, whether the high or low hand wins the pot in a showdown (in some games, the pot is split between the high and low hands), limits on bet sizes, and how many rounds of betting are allowed.
Inmost modern poker games, the first round of betting begins with some form of forced bet by one of the players. In standard poker, each player is betting that the hand he has will be the highest ranked. The action then proceeds clockwise around the table and each player in turn must either match the maximum previous bet or fold, losing the amount bet so far and all further interest in the hand. Aplayer who matches a bet may also "raise", or increase the bet. The betting round ends when all players have either matched the last bet or have folded. If all but one player fold on any round, then the remaining player collects the pot and may choose to show or conceal their hand. If more than one player remains in contention after the final betting round, then the hands are revealed and theplayer with the winning hand takes the pot. With the exception of initial forced bets, money is only placed into the pot voluntarily by a player who, at least in theory, rationally believes the bet has positive expected value. Thus, while the outcome of any particular hand significantly involves chance, the long-run expectations of the players are determined by their actions chosen based onprobability, psychology and game theory.
Poker has gained in popularity since the beginning of the 20th Century, and has gone from being primarily a recreational activity confined to small groups of mostly male enthusiasts, to a widely popular spectator activity with international audiences and multi-million dollar tournament prizes, with women being a constantly growing part of that audience.
The history of poker is the subject of some debate. One of the earliest known games to incorporate betting, hand rankings, and bluffing was the 15th century German game Pochspiel. Poker closely resembles the Persian game of Âs Nas, though there is no specific description of Nas prior to 1890.
In the 1937 edition of Foster's Complete Hoyle, R. F. Foster wrote: "the game of poker, as firstplayed in the United States, five cards to each player from a twenty-card pack, is undoubtedly the Persian game of as nas." By the 1990s some gaming historians including David Parlett started to challenge the notion that poker is a direct derivative of As Nas.
There is evidence that a game called poque, a French game similar to poker, was played around the region where poker is said to haveoriginated. The name of the game likely descended from the Irish Poca (Pron. Pokah) ('Pocket') or even the French poque, which descended from the German pochen ('to brag as a bluff' lit. 'to knock'). Yet it is not clear whether the origins of poker itself lie with the games bearing those names. It is commonly regarded as sharing ancestry with the Renaissance game of primero and the French brelan. TheEnglish game brag (earlier bragg) clearly descended from brelan and incorporated bluffing (though the concept was known in other games by that time). It is quite possible that all of these earlier games influenced the development of poker as it exists now.
A modern school of thought rejects these ancestries, as they focus on the card play in poker, which is trivial and could have been derived fromany number of games or made up on general cardplay principles.
The unique features of poker have to do with the betting, and do not appear in any known older game; In this view poker originated much later, in the early or mid-18th century, and spread throughout the Mississippi River region by 1800. It was played in a variety of forms, with 52 cards, and included both straight poker and stud....