How Did Poker Develop from Five Card Draw to Video Poker?

How Poker Has Evolved from Draw Poker to Video Poker

When we look at the history of poker that led by way of standard five card draw to the invention of video poker which is a major game here at Jackpot Capital Casino, we first have to define poker.  This may seem obvious but it really isn’t.

The Essence of Poker is Uncertainty

Poker is called one of many “vying games”. That means that at some stage of the game, before the winner is determined, there is give and take among or between contestants.  In poker, this is called betting!  Well, we knew that, didn’t we?

But in other areas of life there is also a kind of “vying”.  For example, in business, there are competitors.  Each is “vying” for a good spot in the marketplace of the goods or services they are selling.

The same is true in military affairs where the “betting” is called strategy and tactics.  That’s because in a real military confrontation neither side has a perfect 100% accurate picture of what the other side has!  That’s about right as far as poker is concerned.

In Poker the Most Important Information is Hidden

Poker is a game with hidden information.  There are many games with no hidden information or very little.  In chess or checkers, all of the pieces are in full view.  So there is no actual vying but there is a significant unknown which is one’s opponent’s skill in the present situation.

In chess tournaments, players know an opponent’s playing history so many players plan on using a particular line of attack or defense based on the opponent’s past history.  What is not known is whether that player has studied a line in which he or she was weak in the previous year!

So, we define poker as game with hidden information in which players vie or bet for superiority in the hand.  The business concept of selling is applicable here as well since in poker “selling” is called “bluffing”!

What is the Primary Difference between Video Poker and Standard Five Card Draw Poker?

The big difference is that there is no betting once the cards have been dealt and there are no opponents vying for supremacy in the hand.  In video poker, players play against the pay table.

When Was Poker Invented?

We cannot exactly date the “invention” of poker since the game truly evolved out of other games.  We do know that men who worked on Mississippi River boats brought the game to North America in the early years of the 19th century.

We remember our grade school history pretty well so we know that President Thomas Jefferson bought the Louisiana Territory from the French in the first decade of the 19th century.  The territory was much larger than the present day state of Louisiana.  In fact, the Louisiana Territory stretched northward all the way to Iowa and what is today southern Minnesota.

We can look at a map and see many French names for towns, rivers, lakes, and so on!  This means that the men who brought poker to North America probably spoke French as their primary language.  This indicates that the progenitor of poker was a French card game!

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What Was the Card Game these Riverboat Workers Played?

Historians think that they played a game with 20 cards —ace to ten descending.  A Royal Flush was not the highest hand at that time.  Four aces or four kings with an ace kicker was!

There were no flushes or straights in this early form of poker!  Thus, a full house was the only hand that used all five cards dealt and was called a “full”.

This game was known by several different but related names such as 20 deck poker, 20 deck poke, bluff, and poker.  It appeared in the first Hoyle’s Rules of Games in 1845.  The flush was now a hand that a player could claim while the straight had not yet become a winnable hand.

When Did People Start Playing with 52 Card Decks?

No one knows for sure but records and memoirs from the early 19th century indicate that 20 card poker and 52 card poker were being played at the same time; neither had overtaken the other in popularity.

We know from memoirs and other historical writings that 20 card poker and 52 card poker were both played until about 1845 when the larger deck pretty much took over.

How Did Poker Spread?

We know that poker was played by French riverboat workers early on in the 19th century but it wasn’t universally a European game.  In fact, when it made its way back to England in about 1875, it was considered a peculiarly American game!

Draw Poker is the Progenitor of All Other Poker Variations

Given the wide range of poker variations and the popularity of games where some of the cards are visible, we can say with some certainty that draw poker was the granddaddy of all other poker variations!

Poker is an Easy Game to Change

Anyone who has played poker with friends on a weekend night knows that there are many variations of poker.  Stud poker was called cowboy poker because it was developed by cowboys in the west which in the 1840’s were Illinois, Indiana and areas contiguous to these states!

It seems that draw poker may have been too boring for many players or perhaps the utter uncertainty of what an opponent might have drove some players away and gave impetus to the impulse to make changes where some cards were visible.

As any Texas Hold’em player can attest, even with five cards visible and only two cards hidden Hold’em is a very hard game to master!

Video Poker is Based on Five Card Draw Poker

Video poker has the unique element that there are no opponents!  Instead, players play against the pay table.  Therefore, it is not necessary for some cards to be visible while others are hidden.

The dealer doesn’t make any decisions in video poker.  In fact, the dealer is just a computer rendering of someone dealing cards!

Strategy in Video Poker

Strategy in this great poker variation can be quite complex.  The key to understanding video poker strategy is that gamers should always bet the maximum number of coins to qualify for the extra payout if they get a Royal Flush.   There are also many situations where a player will give up a winning pair to go for a higher paying hand.

There are many variations of video poker and the return to player rate is about 99.5%!  Thus video poker is a great game to play in short, relaxing sessions at relatively low cost and very good chances to finish a session in the black!


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