The history of poker largely depends on how strictly you define the game. Betting games using cards trace their history back to more than 1,000 years ago in China but the modern version of poker using a 52 card deck became popular in the US around 1850.
Poker quickly spread from New Orleans (likely brought their due to the French influence and evolving from the French card game “Pogue”) throughout the West, with the gold rush and towns suddenly flush with money the perfect recipe for the spread of poker.
While some rules changed -- flushes and straights were added to the hand rankings and a draw was introduced to make the game more complex -- the game remains largely the same today. Other American additions to the game including adding a wild card (around 1875), split-pot poker (around 1900), and community card poker games (around 1925) that form the basis of today’s most popular form of poker: Texas Hold’em.
The basic rules for Texas Hold’em are described below:
Standard pack of 52 cards
Deal and play are clockwise, the deal proceeds to the left after each hand.
Each player is dealt two cards face-down to begin, with a round of betting for players to decide whether to fold or continue with the hand.
After the first round of betting, three community cards are dealt face up in the middle of the table. These cards are shared by all players, who use them to make the best five card poker hand.
Players can use any combination of the two face-down cards they’re dealt along with the five eventual cards in the middle.
A round of betting follows after the three cards are dealt; a fourth card is dealt to the middle (followed by another round of betting) before a fifth and final community card is dealt face-up.
After one last round of betting all players still in the hand turn over their cards, with the best hand getting all of the chips that have been wagered.
A pre-determined ranking of hands determines who the winner is, with the order of hands based on the likelihood of them occurring.
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