The Game of Draw Poker – A Brief History

In lots of ways, the game epitomizes the raw bone tenacity of the American spirit that drove the western movement from the Mississippi River in the 1800’s. Life on the frontier was harsh, hazardous and packed with risks – the pioneers were literally gambling on their lives each day. To both survive in the untamed west and to win at draw poker a person had to be skillful at what he did and rely on lady luck to smile on him. He’d to closely watch his adversaries and at times bluff his way out of a situation. The results of his actions could prove very profitable or he could lose it all, sometimes even his life. Draw poker then was a natural choice for the men of the American west have been used to risking it all.

The game was the result of an evolutionary process that started when poker was first took shape in America early in the nineteenth-century. register online poker Just when and where it was first played is at the mercy of an ongoing debate among historians, as could be the game’s origins. Several postulations attribute the game’s lineage to a French game called “poque” or even to a German game called “pochspiel.” British historians suggest that the game was an immediate descendent of the English card game of “brag.” Still other researchers declare that poker evolved from a sixteen-century Persian card game called “as nas” that was used a twenty-five-card deck containing five suites and has rules just like five-card stud poker. Since exact documentation of poker’s early history is impossible to ascertain its inception will likely remain a mystery.

Poker is thought to have started in America sometime in the first 1800’s, possibly in saloons of New Orleans. From there it spread up the Mississippi and Ohio rivers by way of the commercial steam boat traffic. Then because the wagon trains and railroads pushed the frontier west, poker continued to get popularity with the first adventurers. An English actor, Joseph Crowell, recorded seeing poker being played on the riverboats in his diary of 1829 and later in his 1844 book, Thirty Years Passed One of the Players in England and America.A reformed gambler by the name of Jonathan H. Green wrote about early poker in his book, Exposure of the Arts and Miseries of Gambling that was published in 1843. Both men described an earlier version of poker that was used a twenty-card deck (A-K-Q-J-10). All of four players was dealt five cards and bets were positioned on these five original cards without discards or draws. When the betting was over who owns the very best hand won the pot – in the order of 1 pair, two pair, triplets, full house (one pair and a triple), and four of a kind. Due to the limits of a twenty-card deck there was merely a single round of betting prior to the winning hand was declared and this made bluffing a much more difficult maneuver.

As the game evolved it moved to a thirty-two card deck and then eventually to the conventional “French deck” of fifty-two cards. Sometime in the mid-1830’s straights and flushes were introduced as winning hands. A couple of years later draw poker came to be and started making the rounds of gambling halls in the west. The first mention of draw poker appeared in the American edition of Bohn’s New Handbook of Games in 1850. Because same year, wild cards were introduced to poker play.

With these enhancements draw poker and another version called stud poker became the card games of preference among the soldiers on both parties of the Civil War. Originally called, “stud horse” poker, the game was played round the campfires between battles and was a close rival to draw poker in popularity. Both versions are conducive to bluffing however in stud poker, you are not allowed to draw or discard cards. Rather, a number of the cards are dealt face down and some face as much as the player to ensure that everyone at the table knows a few of the cards being held by each player. Betting occurs after every new face up card is dealt and after the last face down card is dealt. The first mention of stud poker appeared in the American Hoyle of 1864.

In draw poker all of the cards are dealt face right down to the players and after all the cards have been dealt there is a round of betting. Then players may discard numerous cards and receive the exact same quantity of cards from the dealer. When all of the players have completed their hands there is another round of betting prior to the winner is declared. Later, in 1870, jackpot poker was introduced in an endeavor to avoid players with poor hands from being drawn right into a pot that was impossible to win. In this version, players were required to have jacks or simpler to open betting. If a new player didn’t possess the minimum to play, these were needed to fold and lose their ante.

The first recorded group of rules for playing draw poker came about when Robert C. Scheneck, a United States ambassador to Great Britain, introduced the game to the members of Queen Victoria’s court at a celebration in 1872. Captivated by the new game the royalty asked Scheneck to write down the rules of the game so they might play the game after he returned to America. He obliged and his handwritten rules of play were then printed by the queen’s staff for future parties. Later, without his permission or that of the queen’s court, his group of rules were published as a tiny booklet and sold to the masses. Entitled, A Flowery Path to Wealth: The Game of Draw Poker as Taught to the English Aristocracy, the pamphlet was a significant hit with the British individuals who frequently known the game as “Scheneck’s poker “.Scheneck, who’d served as general under President Lincoln, was embarrassed by the general public release of his rules he have been assured will be used privately by queen’s court.

John W. Keller, an American, included Scheneck’s rules for draw poker in their own book, The Game of Draw Poker, published in 1887. Furthermore, he used a part of a letter compiled by Scheneck to a political friend, Thomas L. Young; to spell it out how the ambassador had unwittingly became party to the publication of the first group of rules for the game.

Keller’s book provided a more detailed account of the rules and variations to the game along with a section on progressive poker, which he described to be “The newest development of draw poker… and doubtless owes its origin to the popularity of progressive euchre.” Contrary to Keller’s comments, progressive poker never caught the interest of American gamblers and its play quickly faded from the gaming scene.

Through the book, Keller identifies a noted mathematician, “Dr. Pole” who provided the probability and odds for draw poker hands. At the end of the book, he summarizes Pole’s calculations in a series of probability tables, which may have stood the test of time. In accordance with Dr. Poe’s figures, there is an astounding 2,598,960 possible hands in draw poker.

Since Keller’s book was published in 1887, there have been a large amount of books printed about them of draw poker but few have been as clear and concise on the rules and the strategy of the game. His sage advice to “Study your adversaries carefully; watch the game closely; have patience in adversity and calm in prosperity,” seems right in keeping with the old gambler’s adage of knowing “when to keep’em and when to fold’em.”


Leave a Reply