The poker game we play now is believed to have ancient roots that went back over 1,000 years, crossing several continents and cultures. Some researchers say poker’s origins can be traced to a domino-card game played in the 10th-century by Chinese emperors; others believes it is a descendant of the Persian card game “As Nas,” which dated back to the 16th century. Poker’s closest European predecessor was the game Poque, which was popular in France during the 17th century. Poque and its German equivalent, pochen, were both inspired by the 16th-century Spanish game primero. French colonists taught Poque to their settlements in North America, including New Orleans and the surrounding areas, which quickly became part of the United States thanks to the Louisiana Purchase of 1803. English-speaking settlers in the region Anglicized altered Poque to poker and adopted some features to build the modern game, including five cards for each player and (by 1834) made a total 52-card deck.

From there, poker caught on up the Mississippi River and throughout the nation, thanks in part to its popularity among crews of riverboats delivery goods via that great waterway. Soldiers in both the North and South played poker during the Civil War, and it became a trend of Wild West saloons in frontier settlements during the 70s and 80s. In 1871 the game was introduced to Europe after Queen Victoria listening the U.S. minister to Great Britain teaching the game to members of her court who asked him for the rules. More general acceptance of poker in Europe happened several decades later, largely thanks to the impacts of American soldiers during World War I. Over time, different form of games have dominated among poker players, including five-card draw, seven-card stud and the recent Texas Hold’em, which started its rise to dominance in the 70s when it became one of the featured games in the World Series of Poker, the game’s leading annual competition.