J Schindler Poker



With a hand like J-8s Schindler could also justifiably raise pre-flop but opts for the limp to play a couple of streets of poker. Vogelsang has a weak hand and is out of position. Even heads-up, T-7 doesn’t look too promising. But then the German flops top pair, which is pretty much the best that could happen to him. 'Schindler clearly didn't write a lot of the list,' Dr Ernst Asmus, a Schindler expert at the German Historical Museum in Berlin, told the Guardian. But he was 'personally responsible for the fact there was a list' insisted Thomas Keneally, the Australian author whose 1982 novel Schindler's Ark inspired the film. In orthodox Poker these are, from highest to lowest: straight flush (five cards in suit and sequence, Ace high or low, as AKQJ10 or 5432A) four of a kind, fours (four cards of the same rank and one idler, as K-K-K-K-x) full house (three of one rank and two of another, as Q-Q-Q-4-4) flush (five cards in suit but not in sequence, as J-9-8-7-3).

  1. J Schindler Poker Game
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Total life earnings: $25,269,982. Latest cash: $21,483 on 06-Sep-2020. Click here to see the details of Jake Schindler's 179 cashes. Greenwood has his own blog and writes movie reviews. (It’s refreshing to know that these high rollers also have lives and passions outside of the poker room.) J.C. Tran; Total Winnings: $12,962,466. Justin Cuong Van “J.C.” Tran is a Vietnamese-American poker shark based in Sacramento, California.

Do want to know what megabucks these top poker pros are winning?

I’ll let you into their grand victories, outrageous cash-ins and some interesting bits of their lives.

The money is crazy!

Let’s start off from the 50th going up.

  1. Sorel Mizzi

Total Winnings: $11,846,61

Sorel Mizzi is a Canadian professional poker player who’s played under the aliases “Imper1um” and “Zangbezan24” in online poker.

He’s made it to the WSOP final table three times and EPT final table four times.

His biggest one-time payout win was worth $2 million when he finished 3rd at the 2013 GuangDong Ltd Asia Millions NLH Main Event.

Trivia:

Mizzi topped the FTOPS XX leaderboard in 2011.

His online tournament earnings have reached $3.6 million as of January 2015 – and that’s just online.

  1. Anthony Gregg

Total Winnings: $11,899,778

This American high stakes poker pro is famous for his 2013 WSOP victory, which earned him $4.8 million and his first and only bracelet to date.

Gregg also has one WPT title and has made a record of three appearances at the PCA final table.

Trivia:

As a kid, Gregg played Magic: The Gathering.

Poker

The Hendon Mob ranks him 1st on Maryland, USA All-Time Money List.

  1. Carlos Mortensen

Total Winnings: $11,929,969

Carlos Mortensen is the only South American winner of the WSOP Main Event. He is an Ecuadorian poker master of Danish descent.

He has won two WSOP bracelets and is a three-time WPT champion.

Trivia:

Mortensen moved from Spain to the US to pursue poker.

He is known for his nickname “El Matador” and he sure can stack chips in an interesting way!

  1. Joe Hachem

Total Winnings: $12,067,804

The years 2005 and 2006 were extremely generous to Lebanese Australian poker champ Joe Hachem.

In 2005, Hachem became the first Australian to win the WSOP Main Event which awarded him $7.5 million – the biggest tournament prize at that time.

The following year, he won his first WPT title, adding another $2.2 million to his poker winnings.

Trivia:

Hachem worked as a chiropractor for 13 years.

He has four kids and they also play poker. He believes poker teaches them discipline and the ability to handle adversity.

Matt Damon is a fan of Hachem and has played poker with him.

  1. Jamie Gold

Total Winnings: $12,574,596

Gold gets a crock of gold!

This American poker player was the luckiest in the 2006 WSOP NLH championship, topping the event and winning the fourth largest single payout in poker tournament history worth $12 million.

Trivia:

Gold is also a television producer and a talent agent.

He is the production president for Buzznation.

He was criticized for auctioning off his WSOP gold bracelet for $65k.

  1. Elton Tsang

Total Winnings:$12,606,785

Though their names closely rhyme, He is NOT the Chinese counterpart of that British musician, I swear! Elton Tsang is successful in a totally different field.

This Chinese Canadian is both a poker player and an entrepreneur.

He defeated 25 other players and bagged a whopping $12.1 million – the third largest single payout in poker history – at the NLH Big One for One 2016 Monte-Carlo One Drop Extravaganza.

Trivia:

Chang currently resides in Hong Kong and has investments in IT, travel agencies, and internet firms.

He was the 2010 Asian Poker King Tournament champion.

  1. Joseph Cheong

Total Winnings: $12,628,658

Sanghyon “Joseph” Cheong is an American professional poker player.

He was born in South Korea and he and his family moved to the US when he was six.

His biggest win was a life-changing $4.1 million at the 2010 WSOP Main Event where he finished 3rd.

Trivia:

Cheong has a Bachelor of Science in Psychology and a Joint BA degree (Math/Economics)

He started his poker career by playing online, like many others. He goes under the alias “sublime.”

  1. Ryan Riess

Total Winnings:$12,631,411

“I just think I’m the best player in the world!” Riess boldly exclaims in his post-victory interview with ESPN.

This 28-year old American professional poker pro is best known for his sweet victory on the 2013 WSOP Main Event collecting the $8.3 million grand prize.

Trivia:

Riess has a Hospitality Business degree.

He is also known as “Riess the Beast.”

  1. Scotty Nguyen

J Schindler Poker

Total Winnings: $12,676,300

Five-time WSOP bracelet winner Thuận B. “Scotty” Nguyễn has seen highs and lows throughout the course of his poker career.

He’s also known as the “Prince of Poker.”

This Vietnamese-American poker master is a resident of Las Vegas and is the first and only player to win both the WSOP Main Event and $50,000 Players’ Championship to date.

Trivia:

His most famous quote was telling opponent McBride on the final hand, “You call, it’s gonna be all over baby!” McBride called and Nguyen won the title in 1998. (He likes using the word “baby.”)

He has a 2012 e-book entitled “That’s Poker Baby! Volume 1.” (There he goes with that “baby” again!)

  1. Samuel Greenwood

Total Winnings: $12,852,011

“I play poker, write about movies and root for sports teams that lose,” says the astute poker player’s Twitter profile.

The 2015 WSOP NLH Canadian champ is considered one of the most outspoken poker pros in the community as of late. His tweets are quite direct and interesting.

Trivia:

Greenwood has his own blog and writes movie reviews. (It’s refreshing to know that these high rollers also have lives and passions outside of the poker room.)

  1. J.C. Tran

Total Winnings: $12,962,466

Justin Cuong Van “J.C.” Tran is a Vietnamese-American poker shark based in Sacramento, California.

He is a two-time WSOP bracelet winner and also a WCOOP Main Event champion.

His biggest cash winning was at the 2013 WSOP Main Event where he finished fifth with $2.1 million.

Trivia:

Tran was born to Vietnamese parents in Vietnam and is the youngest of eight children.

He was the WPT fifth season POY.

  1. Mike McDonald

Total Winnings: $13,265,948

Mike McDonald is a Canadian poker player who is the youngest to ever win an EPT event.

He won over $1.3 million on that main event in 2008 when he was only 18.

He is also the youngest person to win an event on the EPL.

Trivia:

McDonald ranked 5th on the GPI in April 2014.

  1. Bertrand Grospellier

Total Winnings: $13,294,936

Popularly known as “ElkY” in the online gaming world, this French poker player seems to stop at nothing.

Grospellier has topped all three prestigious tournaments in poker – the WSOP, EPT, and WPT – giving him the Triple Crown.

Trivia:

This guy was born to set records!

Before making a career in poker, Grospellier was one of the top Starcraft players in the world.

He set the Guinness World Record for most Single Table Sit & Go’s in an hour (62).

He was also the first to reach “Supernova Elite” on Pokerstars.

  1. Joseph Cada

Total Winnings: $13,542,975

World Champion Joseph “Joe/The Kid” Cada is an American professional poker player from Michigan.

He is best known for becoming the youngest winner of the WSOP Main Event back in 2009. He was only 21 when he seized the $8.5 million prize.

Trivia:

On Sundays, Cada would host friends to play poker online at his house.

While Cada plays poker, his mother is a blackjack card dealer at the MotorCity Casino.

  1. Ole Schemion

Total Winnings: $14,500,545

This German professional poker player plays mainly in Europe.

His successes include topping the GPI with 4083.21 points in January 2015.

He was also the highest ranked player in open events for 2013 and 2014.

Trivia:

Scheimon currently resides in Vienna, Austria.

He’s had some enormous feats on online MTTs under the alias “wizowizo” as well.

  1. Byron Kaverman

Total Winnings:$14,756,025

Adding into the large pool of top professional American poker pros is Kaverman.

Hailing from Ohio, this 2015 WSOP NLH Six Max champ wears his poker face well.

Occasionally with earphones on, he looks very chill at the tables.

Trivia:

Kaverman has held the record for cashing in the most WPTs in one season – 7 times.

He finished 2015 as the GPI POY, ranking first in the leaderboard, eight weeks in a row.

  1. Dominik Nitsche

Total Winnings: $15,181,016

Now residing in Scotland, this German poker pro has finished on top of 4,620 players in 2012, earning him his first WSOP bracelet.

In the same year, he won a WPT title in South Africa.

Trivia:

His aliases are “Bounatirou” in PokerStars and “JustLuck1337” in Full Tilt.

  1. Joseph McKeehen

Total Winnings: $15,468,203

Joseph “Joe” McKeehen is a professional poker player from Pennsylvania.

He won the WSOP Main Event in 2015 worth $7.6 million.

He has won two bracelets to date. Not an easy feat.

Trivia:

McKeehan has a degree in math.

He’s been heavily criticized for his seemingly inept social skills when he joined Chip Leader Coaching. A lot of poker enthusiasts took it to Twitter to voice their displeasure. (This tells me there’s more to poker than just being good at the game.)

  1. Adrian Mateos

Total Winnings: $15,618,039

This 24-year old Spanish poker star has proven himself early, being the youngest player to have won three WSOP bracelets when he was only 22.

He currently holds 4th rank on Card Player’s POY.

Trivia:

Mateos first took interest in poker when he was around 16, watching it on TV.

Three years later, he was the 2013 WSOP Europe champion at 19 years old. (That went rather fast!)

  1. Igor Kurganov

Total Winnings:$15,654,105

“Poker is the ultimate riddle,” says Russian Team PokerStars pro, Igor Kurganov, being a confessed lover of math, puzzles and strategy games.

Though the poker enthusiast has already won a WSOP bracelet and earned himself a fortune winning poker tournaments, he sure isn’t stopping anytime soon.

Trivia:

Kurganov and British poker player, Liv Boeree have been dating since 2014.

They co-founded “Raising for Effective Giving,” an altruistic organization.

  1. Nick Petrangelo

Total Winnings: $15,901,277

Nicholas “Nick” Petrangelo is an elite American poker player and a two-time WSOP bracelet winner.

Card Player ranks him 11th in the 2018 POY.

He plays on PokerStars under the alias “caecilius.”

Trivia:

Petrangelo graduated with a degree in Economics and Finance from Skidmore College in New York.

He used to play hockey and golf but had to stop after several concussions.

This is what we call a blessing in disguise because after the injuries, he dedicated his time to online poker.

  1. Rainer Kempe

Total Winnings: $16,531,812

Ranier Kempe is a German Super High Roller Bowl Champion who bagged $5 million in the 2016 NLH Seven Max, beating poker pro, Fedor Holz.

Trivia:

Kempe started playing poker while he was attending college in Potsdam.

It didn’t occur to him that he would be playing and winning millions later.

He recalls being happy winning five or ten euros back then.

  1. Michael Mizrachi

Total Winnings: $16,768,439

Michael David Mizrachi, AKA “The Grinder,” is an American professional poker player who’s got two WPT titles and conquered the WSOP four times.

In January 2013, Mizrachi signed on with Lock Poker.

Trivia:

Mizrachi wanted to become a doctor but dropped out of college to pursue his poker career.

He has a twin brother (Eric) who also plays poker.

He’s fluent in Hebrew.

  1. Martin Jacobson

Total Winnings:$16,823,830

When you think Swedish, you automatically think massage right? I do. Well, now you don’t because this guy from Stockholm has once again placed Sweden in the map for poker – after Blom, Bjorin, and Ylitalo.

After winning his bracelet at the NLH 2014 WSOP and a substantial $10 million, he was named Player of the Year by the Swedish publication Poker.se.

Trivia:

Jacobson currently resides in London.

He joined 888poker as brand ambassador in December 2017.

He’s a member of “Raising for Effective Giving.”

  1. Cary Katz

Total Winnings: $17,200,824

Talk about hooking up business and pleasure together. This 48-year old American businessman is also a semi-professional poker player.

This busy bee founded the College Loan Corporation, which was the seventh biggest student loan company in the US.

In 2015 he also founded Poker Central. When he’s not at the poker table, he’s either busy with his tasks as president of the St. Gabriel Catholic School or as chairman of Stop Child Predators.

Trivia:

Katz learned poker from his grandmother.

He started playing live tournaments in 2004.

He sued his own company for $20 million.

  1. Tom Marchese

Total Winnings: $17,297,276

Thomas “Tom” Marchese AKA “kingsofcards” is an American poker master.

He won the Card Player POY back in 2010, made 11 final tables and won the NAPT event in the same year.

He has no WSOP bracelets so far, but his live tournament winnings exceed $15.7 million. No reason to complain.

Trivia:

He’s one of the two contributors to “The No-Limit Holdem Workbook: Exploiting Regulars” book.

  1. Jonathan Duhamel

Total Winnings:$17,961,623

Jonathan Duhamel is a poker professional from Quebec.

He’s won a total of three WSOP bracelets in his career. He’s best known for making a killing in the 2010 41st Annual World Series of Poker Main Event, winning a staggering $8.9 million.

Trivia:

Duhamel is the first Canadian poker player to win the Main Event bracelet.

Duhamel was a victim of burglary. In 2011 two men broke into his house, beat and tied him up, and stole his WSOP bracelet and other valuables.

He’s into ice-hockey, soccer, baseball and other sports as well.

  1. Stephen Chidwick

Total Winnings:$18,031,254

Stephen James Chidwick is a 29-year old British poker pro who’s famous for his outstanding performance on poker tournaments.

He’s topped the GPI for many consecutive weeks since April 2018 and is currently doing well at second place.

Trivia:

Chidwick was born in a town called Deal in the county of Kent, having a population of only over 30,000 according to a 2011 census.

He‘s very competitive and he intentionally chased after topping the GPI.

  1. Mikita Badziakouski

Total Winnings: $18,551,891

Don’t be deceived by his youthful face. And surely his game will be as difficult to read as his name.

This young player from Belarus has just won back-to-back Triton Poker Main Event titles in May and August of this year amounting to over $7.8 million.

That’s not counting the two other seven-figure winnings of the same year.

Trivia:

Badziakouski ranks 11th on the current GPI ranking.

He plays poker online under the aliases “fish2013” in PokerStars and “HelicopterBen82” in Full Tilt Poker.

  1. Christoph Vogelsang

Total Winnings: $18,623,085

Most conservative people consider being a gambler and being a Christian quite a contradiction. Apparently, this high roller from Germany doesn’t have a problem with being both.

Vogelsang hit jackpot worth $6 million last year at the $300k NLH Super High Roller Bowl, and two more seven-figure winnings this year.

Trivia:

Vogelsang currently lives in London.

He was “Tight-Man1” on Full Tilt Poker.

If you see someone sporting either a scarf, glasses, a sweater – or all three together in a high stakes game, that’s probably him, or Mikita Badziakouski.

  1. Jason Mercier

Total Winnings: $18,726,054

Winning a total of five WSOP bracelets and an EPT title, this professional poker player from Florida was named the Bluff Magazine Player of the Year for 2009 and WSOP Player of the Year in 2016.

He has also ranked number one in the world by the GPI and ESPN.

Trivia:

In January 2018, Mercier wrote a blog saying goodbye to PokerStars Pro to focus on his role of becoming a full-time father and husband.

He holds the record for being number 1 for the most number of weeks (84) on the GPI.

  1. Isaac Haxton

Total Winnings: $19,317,335

Isaac Haxton ranks number 15 on this year’s Card Player POY.

Haxton is noted for his victories in high-roller poker tournaments and high-stakes online cash games.

Trivia:

Haxton’s father wrote a book featuring his life entitled “Fading Hearts on the River: My Son’s Life in Poker.”

This genius played chess at the early age of 4 and Magic: The Gathering when he was only 10.

  1. Sam Trickett

Total Winnings: $20,816,481

Winning second place is not so bad, if that meant $10 million, right?

Trickett is an English professional poker player, known for finishing second to Antonio Esfandiari at the 2012 NLH Big One for One Drop event.

Trivia:

Trickett was a professional football player before he went into poker. In 2005 he had a knee injury that ended his football career.

Trickett currently resides in the countryside in East Retford, Nottinghamshire, England.

  1. Brian Rast

Total Winnings: $21,039,969

Do you know how it feels to win a payout of $7.5 million after playing a game that you love? Brian Rast does.

In addition, this Las Vegas resident has four WSOP bracelets.

Trivia:

Rast met his wife, Juliana whilst on a trip to Brazil. He learned Portuguese, tried to get her a US visa multiple times, and flew to Brazil numerous times to keep the relationship until they were finally married. (Talk about determination!)

In 2011, Brian missed the WSOP Main Event – where he won two of his WSOP bracelets – in order to accompany Juliana to her fiance visa interview. (Talk about true love!) Of course, she got the visa this time.

  1. Jake Schindler

Total Winnings: $21,483,910

With a grand total of 8,089 POY points, Card Player 2018 Player of the Year goes to – Jake Schindler!

Known for his bold bluffs, this 29-year old American high roller has earned $3.6 million in last year’s $300k buy-in NLH Super High Roller Bowl, placing 2nd.

Trivia:

Schindler ranks 16th on the All-Time Money List as of September 2018.

His PokerStars screen name was “CaLLitARUSH.”

  1. Jason Koon

Total Winnings: $22,070,927

Apart from ranking 5th on 2018 Card Player’s POY, Koon is famous for his feats in live and online poker tournaments.

This American professional poker player started playing poker in 2006 during his college years under the alias “JAKoon1985” and “NovaSky.”

Trivia:

Koon loves going to the gym and fishing.

He has a Masters in Business Administration and Finance.

  1. Phil Hellmuth

Total Winnings: $22,145,540

He’s not nicknamed “The Poker Brat” for nothing. This guy’s known for his hot temper at the games and even walking out of sets!

But it’s probably doing him well if not annoying his competitors because this guy’s won the most number of WSOP bracelets to date.

A total of 15 – yes 15 WSOP freaking bracelets!

Trivia:

He once walked off the set of Poker After Dark on NBC.

He had growing-up issues with school and friends.

  1. Scott Seiver

Total Winnings: $23,492,690

“Anyone who says, ‘bracelets don’t matter’ is lying.” I think Seiver knows what he’s talking about.

He got his first WSOP bracelet in 2008, and the next one 10 years later.

Seiver hit number 1 on the GPI Ranking in May 2015 and he’s had some insane wins on the felt three years in a row since 2013.

J Schindler Poker Game

His biggest victory was worth $5.1 million.

Trivia:

Sevier’s screen names are “gunning4you and “mastrblastr.”

His favorite online poker site is PokerStars.

He was born in Ohio, moved to New York, and now living in Las Vegas.

  1. John Juanda

Total Winnings: $23,613,065

Johnson “John” Juanda is an Indonesian-born American poker pro who now resides in California.

He’s made his mark in the poker industry garnering a total of five WSOP bracelets.

He’s gotta have some serious skills to be Card Player Magazine’s tournament Player of the Year for two consecutive years (2001 and 2002).

His biggest win so far was at last year’s HKD 1 million NLH 2017 Triton Super High Roller Series – bagging $2.9 million.

Trivia:

Before becoming a star in poker, Juanda was a track star at school.

He used to sell Bibles and religion is one of his interests.

  1. Steve O’Dwyer

Total Winnings: $23,823,300

When we hear Las Vegas, we think gambling and casinos. But not everyone there loves to gamble, of course.

Yet some do and become masters of it. Just like poker pro, O’Dwyer who’s collected huge bucks in his career.

Last month, he’s just turned a $70k buy-in into a hefty $760k win.

Trivia:

That fateful Black Friday greatly affected O’Dwyer that he had to sleep on Scott Seiver’s floor and borrow money for food in the 2011 WSOP.

He was into broadcasting before poker changed his life.

  1. David Peters

Total Winnings: $24,700,867

Hailing from Ohio, Peters is ranked 6th POY this year.

His largest cash to date is $2.3 million in the 2016 WPT National – Philippines $200k buy-in event, on which he was runner-up.

He’s made final tables in the WSOP, EPT, and WPT and got one bracelet in the 2016 WSOP $1,500 NLH.

Trivia:

His nickname is “silent assassin” in the major poker tournament circuit.

Peters dropped out of school to focus on online poker tournaments.

  1. Bryn Kenney

Total Winnings: $25,725,046

This swag poker pro from Long Beach is oozing with confidence and is one of the most accomplished in the world of poker today.

Kenney was ranked 4th on the GPI as of May 2017.

He got his first WSOP bracelet in 2014 and he travels all over the world to play high stakes in many different tournaments and events.

Trivia:

He’s a big fan of Japan and has once shown up in a kimono during a $300k Super High Roller Bowl.

His attire turned a lot of heads and became a hot issue.

He’s the face of GGPoker, an online poker room on one of the largest online poker networks in Asia.

  1. Dan Smith

Total Winnings: $25,906,008

This American high roller though called by many names – King Dan, Truck Dan, Cowboy Dan – is the same guy who’s won over $10 million in live poker tournaments.

No WSOP bracelets so far, but he’s doing pretty well for himself without it.

Trivia:

Smith‘s got a big heart raising $1.7 million for various charity donations in 2016.

  1. Phil Ivey

Total Winnings: $25,924,184

Guess who’s got 10 WSOP bracelets and one WPT title? This guy!

Phillip Dennis “Phil” Ivey Jr., is an American poker ninja who’s appeared at nine World Poker Tour final tables.

He was elected to the prestigious Poker Hall of Fame in 2017.

Trivia:

He was introduced to poker by his grandfather.

He’s also called the “Tiger Woods of Poker.”

  1. Antonio Esfandiari

Total Winnings: $27,166,934

Antonio “The Magician” Esfandiari is of Iranian descent. He and his family moved to California when he was nine.

This poker pro won the largest single payout in tournament poker history, topping the 2012 WSOP worth over $18 million!

Trivia:

He was born as Amir Esfandiary. He changed his name to a more “mystical” Antonio for his dream to become a magician – which he did before poker.

He is the author of “The Magician’s Secrets for Winning Tournaments” on Insta Poker, a strategy game about poker.

  1. Daniel Colman

Total Winnings: $28,743,713

Colman totally swept the board winning more than $15 million dollars at the 2014 WSOP $1 Million NLH Big One for One drop event – his largest winnings so far.

This young American poker pro beat Daniel Negreanu and earned his first WSOP bracelet.

Trivia:

Colman doesn’t like giving interviews and getting his photos taken, so back off paparazzi.

He was the first player to win $1 million in hyper-turbo tournaments, doing it in less than a year.

  1. Fedor Holz

Total Winnings: $32,987,103

He’s young and bold focusing only on high roller tournaments.

This 25-year old German pro was ranked “Best Online MTT Player” by Pocketfives two years in a row.

His recent winnings were $6 million last July, placing 2nd on a $1 Million NLH Big One for One drop event.

Trivia:

Holz is the CEO of a mindset coaching application, Primed Mind.

He currently resides in Vienna, Austria.

  1. Erik Seidel

Total Winnings: $34,635,757

This 58-year old American professional poker player has eight WSOP bracelets and a WPT title to his name.

Seidel was runner-up to Johnny Chan in the World Series of Poker main event in 1988.

This final hand was featured in the 1998 film Rounders. If you haven’t seen the movie yet, what are you waiting for?

Trivia:

Before poker, he was a Pro backgammon player and a trader on the American stock exchange stock market.

J Schindler Poker Games

He’s the only WSOP player to earn titles in three consecutive years.

  1. Daniel Negreanu

Total Winnings: $38,661,710

AKA “Kid Poker,” Negreanu is a Canadian native who acquired his US citizenship in 2016.

Negreanu holds 38 career titles to date and is known to be one of the most vocal poker personalities.

Trivia:

J Schindler Poker Club

Negreanu was 23 when he won his first WSOP bracelet.

He is known as one of the friendliest players in poker.

He turned vegan in 2006.

  1. Justin Bonomo

Total Winnings: $43,106,927

Topping the list is Los Angeles resident, Justin Bonomo AKA “ZeeJusin” online.

With a whopping $43.1 million in total winnings, Bonomo’s raked in more than most people could in a lifetime.

He’s also ranked 3rd in 2018 Card Player POY, just inches behind Jake Schindler and Stephen Chidwick.

Trivia:

At 19, Bonomo became the youngest player to be featured on TV at a final table in 2005, landing fourth place on EPT’s first year in France.

Bonomo sold his MMORPG character for $500 for his first online poker deposit.

A lot of the masters of the game swear that poker is not just a game of luck, but it mainly involves skill.

Maybe you wouldn’t ever make it to the Top 50 (or maybe you would), but if poker is what they say it is – a game of skill – surely it can be learned and the skill can be honed.

These poker pros didn’t play for money in the beginning.

It’s the pleasure of the game that made them play, and it’s the constant playing that developed their skill and made them big winners.

This page was contributed by David Parlett, games inventor, consultant and historian and author of many card game books including the Oxford History of Card Games.
Copyright © David Parlett, John McLeod, 2005. All rights reserved.

Introduction

Poker is a five-card vying game played with standard playing-cards.

A vying game is one where, instead of playing their cards out, the players bet as to who holds the best card combination by progressively raising the stakes until either -

  • there is a showdown, when the best hand wins all the stakes (‘the pot’), or
  • all but one player have given up betting and dropped out of play, when the last person to raise wins the pot without a showdown.

It is therefore possible for the pot to be won by a hand that is not in fact the best, everyone else having been bluffed out of play. One of Poker's earliest names was, in fact, ‘Bluff’. Bluffing is as essential to vying as finessing is to trick-play.

A five-card vying game is one where, no matter how many cards may be dealt to each player, the only valid combinations are those of five cards. In orthodox Poker these are, from highest to lowest:

  • straight flush (five cards in suit and sequence, Ace high or low, as AKQJ10 or 5432A)
  • four of a kind, fours (four cards of the same rank and one idler, as K-K-K-K-x)
  • full house (three of one rank and two of another, as Q-Q-Q-4-4)
  • flush (five cards in suit but not in sequence, as J-9-8-7-3)
  • straight (five cards in sequence but not in suit, as 10-9-8-7-6)
  • three of a kind, threes, triplet, trips (three of the same rank plus two of two different ranks, as 7-7-7-x-y)
  • two pair (as Q-Q-9-9-x)
  • one pair (as 3-3-x-y-z)
  • high card (no combination: as between two such hands the one with the highest card wins)

(The highest possible straight flush, consisting of A-K-Q-J-10 of a suit and known as a royal flush, is sometimes added to the list in order to bring the number of combinations up to the more desirable ten, but of course it is not different in kind from a straight flush. Other five-card combinations, known as freak hands, are recognized in unorthodox Poker variants.)

Any vying game based on these five-card hands is a form of Poker, and any game lacking either or both of them is not, even if it contains Poker as part of its title. For example, so-called Whisk(e)y Poker and Chinese Poker are gambling games played with Poker combinations, but both lack the element of vying, the former being a commerce game and the latter a partition game. Other games or game components are sometimes drafted into the form of Poker known as Dealer’s Choice, but this does not make them forms or Poker. On the other hand, it does not prevent Dealer’s Choice from being classed as a form of Poker so long as it also includes genuine Poker components.

Poker is of French-American origin and is the national vying game of the United States, though it has come to have a world-wide following in many different forms. Other vying games include Brag (British, a three-card game), Primiera (Italian, a four-card game), and Mus (Spanish, also with four-card hands).

Birth and growth

J schindler poker club

The birth of Poker has been convincingly dated to the first or second decade of the 19th century. It appeared in former French territory centred on New Orleans which was ceded to the infant United States by the Louisiana Purchase of 1803. Its cradle was the gambling saloon in general and, in particular, those famous or notorious floating saloons, the Mississippi steamers, which began to ply their trade from about 1811.

The earliest contemporary reference to Poker occurs in J. Hildreth’s Dragoon Campaigns to the Rocky Mountains, published in 1836; but two slightly later publications independently show it to have been well in use by 1829. Both are found in the published reminiscences of two unconnected witnesses: Jonathan H. Green, in Exposure of the Arts and Miseries of Gambling (1843), and Joe Cowell, an English comedian, in Thirty Years Passed Among the Players in England and America (1844).

Green and Cowell describe the earliest known form of Poker, played with a 20-card pack (A-K-Q-J-10) evenly dealt amongst four players. There is no draw, and bets are made on a narrow range of combinations: one pair, two pair, triplets, ‘full’ - so called because it is the only combination in which all five cards are active - and four of a kind. Unlike classic Poker, in which the top hand (royal flush) can be tied in another suit, the original top hand consisting of four Aces, or four Kings and an Ace, was absolutely unbeatable.

Twenty-card Poker is well attested. In 1847 Jonathan Green mentions a game of 20-card Poker played on a Mississippi steamboat bound for New Orleans in February 1833, and in The Reformed Gambler (1858), a new edition of his earlier book, another session played at a Louisville house in 1834. A vivid account of a Poker game played on a Mississippi river boat in 1835 appears in Sol Smith’s Theatrical Management in the West and South for Thirty Years (New York, 1868), with an anecdote hinging on the two players’ switching from ‘low’ cards to ‘large cards’, i.e. Tens and over.

This provides evidence that the 20-card game was being challenged by the 52-card game in the mid-1830s. The gradual adoption of a 52-card pack was made partly to accommodate more players, perhaps partly to give more scope to the recently introduced flush (the straight was as yet unknown), but chiefly to ensure there were enough cards for the draw - another relative novelty, and one that was to turn Poker from a gamble to a game of skill. These novelties were regular features of Poker’s English relative Brag as played in its early 19th-century American form. (Brag is no longer played in America, and modern British Brag differs substantially from 19th century American Brag.)

It was in this form, but as yet without the draw, that Poker first reached the pages of American ‘Hoyles’. The earliest mention occurs in the 1845 edition of Hoyle’s Games by Henry F. Anners, who refers to Poker or Bluff, 20-deck Poker, and 20-deck Poke. In a Boston Hoyle of 1857 Thomas Frere describes ‘The Game of 'Bluff', or 'Poker'’, with a reference to the 20-card game so brief as to suggest it was becoming obsolete. Dowling, however, points out that it was apparently still played as late as 1857 in New York, for 'In that year the author of a guidebook to the metropolis issued a warning against playing 20-card poker, which was described as one of the most dangerous pitfalls to be found in the city'.

Between about 1830 and 1845 Poker was increasingly played with all 52 cards, enabling more than four to participate and giving rise to the flush as an additional combination. The end of this phase saw the introduction of the draw, already familiar from contemporary Brag. This increased the excitement of the game by adding a second betting interval and enabling poor hands to be significantly improved, especially the worthless but potentially promising fourflush. The first printed mention of Draw Poker occurs in the 1850 American edition of Bohn’s New Handbook of Games, p.384.

The introduction of Poker into English society is often credited, if only on his own claim, to General Schenck, the American ambassador to Britain. Blackridge quotes a letter from Schenck to General Young of Cincinnati describing a weekend retreat to the Somerset country home of a certain ‘Lady W.’ in the summer of 1872, when he was prevailed upon by the other guests to teach them this peculiarly American game. As part of the exercise he drew up a written guide for them. Some of his pupils subsequently had these rules printed in booklet form, much to Schenck’s surprise when he received a copy upon his return home. Schenck notwithstanding, a probable earlier reference to the game in England dates from 1855 when George Eliot is reported (in her second husband’s 1885 biography) as writing ‘One night we attempted 'Brag' or 'Pocher'’[sic].

J Schindler Poker Player

Coming of age

From the middle of the 19th century Poker experienced rapid changes and innovations as it became more widespread through the upheavals of the Civil War. Stud, or ‘stud-horse’ Poker, a cowboy invention said to have been introduced around Ohio, Indiana, and Illinois, first appears in The American Hoyle of 1864. More contentious was the introduction of Jack Pots, which originally meant that you were not allowed to open unless you held a pair of Jacks or better, and were obliged to open if you did, though the second half of this rule was subsequently abandoned. (At a table of five, at least one player will normally be dealt Jacks or better.) This device was intended to impose discipline on the game by driving out wild players who would bet on anything, while encouraging cautious players who did have something not to be frightened out of the pot by openers who didn’t. Blackridge opposed Jack Pots, pithily declaring it ‘equivalent to a lottery except that all players must buy tickets’. He added that the rule reportedly originated at Toledo and was common in the west, rarer in the east, and absent form the more conservative south. In 1897 Foster complained that ‘The jack-pot, with its accompanying small-limit game, has completely killed bluffing - that pride and joy of the old-timer...’ Nevertheless, he adds, self-contradictorily, ‘The two great steps in the history and progress of Poker have undoubtedly been the introduction of the draw to improve the hand, and the invention of the jack-pot as a cure for cautiousness... It has come to stay.’

Draw, Stud, and Jack Pots, all appear in the 1875 edition of The American Hoyle, together with Whiskey Poker, a form of Commerce based on Poker combinations, and Mistigris, which was Poker with a 53rd card ‘wild’, namely ‘the blank card accompanying every pack’. (This borrowed from a variety of Bouillotte in which the Jack of clubs appears under that name as a wild card.) By this time, too, the full range of Poker combinations was widely recognized, though not universally so. The 1875 edition notes that four of a kind is the best hand ‘when straights are not played’, and repeats it as late as the 1887 edition.

It is curious how unstraightforward was the introduction of the straight. The 1864 edition gives the hands as: one pair, two pairs, straight sequence or rotation, triplets, flush, full house, fours. It adds ‘When a straight and a flush come together in one hand, it outranks a full’ - not fours, be it noted, in defiance of the mathematics, and probably for the following reason. Without straights and straight flushes, the highest possible hand is four Aces (or four Kings and an Ace kicker), which is not just unbeatable but cannot even be tied. Traditionalists clinging to the unbeatable four Aces of Old Poker were opposed by innovationists, who found the game more interesting with straights. In this light, the acceptance of straights ranked in the wrong order may be seen as a temporary compromise. As late as 1892, John Keller defended his view that the straight ‘should be allowed. My authority for this is the best usage of today, and my justification is the undeniable merit of the straight as a Poker hand.’ He clinches this with the moral argument that has prevailed ever since - namely, that it is unethical and ungentlemanly to bet on such a sure thing as four Aces. If the best hand is a royal flush, there is always the outside chance that it may be tied. However minute that measure of doubt, it has to be morally superior to betting on a certainty.

Under the aegis of the United States Printing Company and, subsequently, the New York Sun, a great deal of research was conducted into the origins and varieties of Poker with a view to drawing up a set of definitive rules, which first appeared in 1904. In 1905 R F Foster published his book Practical Poker, summarizing the fruits of all this research plus additional material gleaned from the Frederick Jessel collection of card-game literature housed in the Bodleian Library, Oxford. Amongst other things, it would appear from this that Dealer’s Choice began attaining popularity about 1900, according to Dowling. Subsequent developments can be traced through successive editions of Hoyles published by the United States Playing Card Company.

Following Draw and Stud, a third major structural division of the Poker game, represented today by Texas Hold ’em, is that of varieties involving one or more communal cards. The earliest of these appears in the 1926 edition under the name Spit in the Ocean. Here only four cards each are dealt, but the turn-up and the three other cards of the same rank are all wild. Deuces wild first appears in the 1919 edition.

High-Low Poker, in which the pot is divided equally between the highest and the lowest hands, is attested as early as 1903 (according to Morehead and Mott-Smith). It first appears in the 1926 edition and achieved its greatest popularity during the ‘thirties and ‘forties, subsequently giving rise to Lowball, in which only the lowest hand wins.

The rise of modern tournament play dates from the World Series of Poker started in 1970.

Ultimate origins

So many ridiculous assertions are made about the antiquity of Poker that it is necessary to point out that, by definition, Poker cannot be older than playing-cards themselves, which are only first positively attested in 13th century China, though some arguable evidence exists for their invention a few centuries earlier. Playing-cards first reached Europe in about 1360, not directly from China, but from the Islamic Mamluk Empire of Egypt through the trading port of Venice. Mamluk cards themselves also do not derive directly from Chinese cards but bear obscure relationships to the geographically intervening cards of India and (even more obscurely) Persia (Iran). Surviving specimens of Mamluk cards come from an original 52-card pack consisting of four suits (swords, polo sticks, goblets, coins) of 13 ranks each (numerals one to ten, junior viceroy, senior viceroy, and king). The only known Chinese card games of that period were of the trick-taking variety; and, while we have no contemporary account of games played with the Mamluk pack, it too was clearly designed for trick-taking.

Fourteenth century Europe saw an explosion in the variety of designs, suit-systems and structures of playing-cards, culminating before 1500 in the establishment of the principal European suit systems (Italian, Spanish, Swiss, German, French) and a correspondingly wide variety of accompanying games. A major European contribution to the realm of card play was the concept of a trump suit, first embodied in the Italian invention of tarot cards (at first called triumphi or triumph cards) in the 1420s, though also prefigured in the German game of Karnöffel. Also developed during the same period were a number of gambling games based on acquiring or betting on card combinations such as flushes (Flusso, Flüsslen, etc), sequences (Quentzlen, etc), matches (pairs, triplets, quartets), and numeration (as in Thirty-One, the ancestor of Twenty-One and perhaps Cribbage). Melding and numerical games were probably derived from, or modelled on, dice games of the period, though we lack sufficient information to be able to reconstruct the actual forms of dice play.

It is hard to imagine a process of Poker-style vying operating in dice games of the time, as vying originally depended entirely on being able to hide the identity of the cards you hold or draw by exposing only their plain sides to the other players, whereas the outcome of dice throws is necessarily open and visible to all. (As Cardano famously noted in 1564, ‘There is a difference form play with dice, because the latter is open, whereas play with cards takes place from ambush, because they are concealed.’) Nevertheless, whether originating in Europe or imported from elsewhere, there can be no doubt that vying card games were in use by 1500. This should not be taken to imply Poker-style vying, however, which may be a very late development. The earliest style of vying may more closely have resembled that traditionally followed in the English game of Brag.

It is possible that vying developed in trick-taking games as an extension of the process of ‘doubling’ now seen in modern Backgammon. In ancient card games such as Put and Truc, two players each received three cards and played them to tricks, but either player at any point could offer to double the stakes before playing a card. The other could then either accept the double and play on, or decline it and concede defeat for the existing (undoubled) amount.

A problem endemic in card-game history is that contemporary descriptions of vying are never unambiguous, partly because they find it easier to give an example of a round of vying without detailing the principles on which it is based, thus giving rise to irresolvable ambiguities, and partly because it never occurred to them that there could be more than one possible way of doing it. Two fundamentally different types of vying may be categorized as the Equalization method (Poker style) and the Matching method (English Brag style).

Equalization method. A player wishing to stay in the pot must increase his stake by the amount necessary to match the total so far staked by the last raiser, and may also raise it further. If unwilling to do either, he must fold. In the following example, column 3 shows the total staked so far by each player, and column 4 the total in the pot.

A 111
B1 to stay, raise 123
C2 to stay25
D2 to stay, raise 138
A2 to stay310
B2 to stay, raise 1412
Cfold(2)12
D1 to stay413
A1 to stay, raise 1515
Bfold(4)15
D1 to stay516

A and D have now equalized, thus calling for a showdown. Whichever of them wins it gains a pot of 16 less his total stake of 5, making 11 profit.

Matching method. In this case a player wishing to stay in the pot must match the stake just made by the preceding active player, instead of merely making up the difference between his total stake and that of the last raiser. As before, he may then also raise it further, or, if unwilling to do either, must fold.

A 111
B1 to stay, raise 123
C2 to stay25
D2 to stay, raise 138
A3 to stay411
B3 to stay, raise 1615
Cfold(2)15
D4 to stay719
A4 to stay, raise 1924
Bfold(6)24
D5 to stay1229

In this case the winner gains a pot of 29 less the amount of his own stake, which in A’s case is 29 - 9 = 20 and in D’s is 29 - 12 = 17.

Further variations may be encountered, especially in Brag. For example, under what might be called a 'flat rate' system, each in turn must either add a fixed, invariable unit to his stake or else fold, and play continues until only two remain in the pot, when one of them can call by betting double. American Brag, as played according to an 1830 American Hoyle, used the equalization method, but an edition of 1868 points out that the game is played in various ways and describes a different vying procedure. In this, a player who brags when holding a pair (but not otherwise) may demand a private showdown with the next active player in rotation. They then examine each other's hands without showing them to the others, and the lower of the two must be folded. Play continues until only two remain and one of them either folds or 'calls for a sight [showdown]' upon equalizing. This procedure has the peculiar consequence that you can be forced into a showdown without having had a chance toraise. In Bouillotte there are circumstances in which equalizing does not necessarily force a showdown but entitles the next active player in rotation to instigate another round of raising. It is also possible for a player who cannot meet the last raise to call a sight for the amount he has left and stay in the pot (without further betting) until a showdown, when, of course, he cannot win more than the amount he has staked even if he proves to have the best hand.

Relatives and ancestors

Articles on Poker history mention a wide variety of earlier vying games, not all of them entirely relevant. For the sake of clarity, they may be grouped according to the number of cards dealt and listed as follows.

Three-card games include Belle, Flux & Trente-un (French, 17th - 18th centuries, known as Dreisatz in Germany), Post & Pair (English and American, 17th - 18th centuries) and its derivative Brag (18th century to present), Brelan (French, 17th - 18th centuries) and its derivative Bouillotte (late 18th - 19th centuries, French and American). Of these, Bouillotte and Brag are most relevant to the genesis of Poker.

Four-card games include Primiera (Italian, 16th century - present) and its English equivalent Primero (16th - 17th centuries), Gilet (under various spellings, French, 16th - 18th centuries), Mus (Spanish, specifically Basque, current, of unknown age), Ambigu (French, 18th century). None of these have much bearing, if any, on Poker.

Five-card games include the German Pochen or Pochspiel, which may be equated with a 15th-century game recorded as Bocken, and was played in France first under the name Glic and subsequently as Poque. Of all early European gambling games this one is most obviously germane to the genesis of Poker to the extent of having ultimately furnished its name. Pochen is a verb meaning to primarily to hit, strike, or knock on the table, and secondarily ‘(I) play’ or ‘bet’ or ‘raise’. Thus Pochspiel is the game (Spiel) of poching, i.e. knocking or betting. In its earliest form it appears as boeckels, bocken, bogel, bockspiel and suchlike.

Pochen has a long history in the German repertoire and is not entirely extinct today. It requires a staking board of special design and consists of three phases: payment for being dealt the best card, vying as to who holds the best combination, and playing cards out as in a ‘stops’ game such as Newmarket or Michigan. A similar tripartite structure applied also to Belle, Flux & Trente-un, in whose second part the players vied as to who held the best flush, and to Post & Pair, in whose second part they vied as to who held the best pair or three of a kind. An early form of Brag was also played as a three-stake game, and a similar pattern underlies Mus - where, however, the first part has been split into two, thus turning it into a four-part game.

We may surmise that dedicated gamblers found the central section of these games - the vying - more interesting than either the first, where a stake was won for being dealt the best upcard (‘belle’), or the third, where it was won for drawing cards totalling nearest to 31 (or, in some games, for playing a variety of Stops). If so, Brelan may be characterized as an extract of B-F-&-31, Brag as an extract of Post & Pair, and Poker as an extract of Poque.

Given that Poker originated in culturally French territory, its likeliest immediate ancestor is Poque, the French version of Pochen. Poque first appears under this name in the late 16th century, but was previously played in France under the name Glic. It remained current until well into the 19th century, undergoing a brief mid-century revival under the spelling ‘Bog’. The French equivalent of ‘Ich poche eins’ is ‘Je poque d’un jeton’ (‘I bet one unit’), and poque itself denotes one of the six staking containers. The final ‘e’ is briefly pronounced as a neutral vowel, which may explain why non-Francophone Americans perceived and perpetuated the word as ‘poker’ rather than ‘poke’. Louis Coffin writes 'The French name was poque, pronounced poke, and Southerners corrupted the pronunciation to two syllable to pokuh or Poker'. This sounds more plausible than a fancied derivation from ‘poke’ as related to ‘pocket’.

Poque, however, was a tripartite game played by up to six players with a 32-card pack, whereas the earliest form of Poker was a one-part game played with a 20-card pack equally divided among four. If Poker was based primarily on Poque, we must assume that it developed naturally within a community that was already acquainted with a 20-card vying game and decided to use the same stripped pack for a new version of Poque based only on the vying section. A possible candidate for this influence could be its contemporary and equally French game of Bouillotte, itself played by four with a 20-card pack, albeit with only three cards dealt to each and the top card of stock turned up to enable four of a kind. This, however, would have left a five-card vying game in which the only effective combinations were four or three of a kind. To account for the introduction of one and two pairs and the full house we must either assume that they were obvious additions that may already have been drafted into Poque itself, or else look for another game from which they could have been borrowed. Which brings us to ...

The problem of As-nas

Contentious calls have been made on the possible contribution to Poker of a Persian five-card vying game called As-nas through the medium of ‘Persian sailors, or Frenchmen who had been in the French service in Persia’ - whatever that may mean. The problem with this theory is that it is based on no more than a strong resemblance and suffers from a total lack of contemporary evidence, since the earliest descriptions of As-nas do not occur until the 1890s. The first, very brief, is by ‘Aquarius’ in 1890; the second occurs in Stewart Culin’s 1895 catalogue for an exhibition of ‘games and implements for divination’ under the short title Chess and Playing Cards. Culin, in connection with several incomplete sets of Persian playing cards generally referred to as ganjifeh, consulted a certain General A. Houtum Schindler of Tehran and received a reply describing As-nas in terms remarkably similar to that of Poker.

The following table shows how the earliest form of Poker compares with Schindler’s game and the two most relevant contemporaneous French vying games:

BouillottePoqueAs-nasPoker I BragPoker II
players4 (3, 5, 6)4 (3, 5, 6)443-63-6
cards20 (28)32 (36)20205252
deal355535
turn-upyesyesnononono
drawnononoyesyesyes
handsfours
-
-
threes
-
point
fours
-
-
threes
-
pair
fours
full
-
threes
2 pair
pair
fours
full
-
threes
2 pair
pair
-
-
-
threes
-
pair
fours
full
flush
threes
2 pair
pair

The resemblance between As-nas and 20-card Poker is very close (though Schindler does not mention four of a kind - probably by oversight. Original descriptions of 20-card Poker unfortunately do not specify how combinations rank). Schindler’s description also leaves open the possibility that raising could continue after equalization: it all depends on the precise meaning of ‘when the stakes of all players are equal and no one raises any more’. (Does ‘and’ specify a second requirement for a showdown, or does it merely amplify the first?)

The question naturally arises as to which way round any borrowing may have taken place. Favouring the priority of As-nas is the fact that As-nas cards, a subset of the Persian ganjifeh pack, are attested as early as 1800 in Persia, though without any account of the game played with them. Against it are -

  • the absence of any description of the game earlier than 1890;
  • the fact that As is not a Persian word and obviously derives from the French for Ace; and (hence)
  • the probability that As-nas derives from a European vying game rather than the other way around.

The role of Brag

Research by Jeffrey Burton has thrown new light on the significance of Brag to the development of Poker. Brag is the English national vying game and remains popular in Britain today, though it has undergone considerable evolutionary development in the past 100 years and is restricted to a social stratum having no significant overlap with that of Poker. First described by Lucas in 1721, Brag is basically from the central section of the tripartite game of Post and Pair, or Belle Flux et Trente-un. For much of the 18th century it was popular with the same sort of society that played Whist, especially with its distaff side, which accounts for the fact that Hoyle himself went so far as to write a Treatise on it published in 1751. Brag - which means ‘vie’ or ‘bluff’ according to context - is a three-card vying game. The version described by Lucas, which has formed the basis of most printed descriptions until the last quarter of the 20th century, is actually of a three-stake model, but it had shed its two outer portions by the time of Hoyle’s effusion. The latter describes a game played by five with a short pack of 22 cards, or by six with one of 26, four of which - the black Jacks and the red Nines - were known as ‘braggers’ and could represent anything, including themselves. The first round of betting was followed by a ‘draw’ to give each player a chance to improve a pair to a pair-royal or a lone card to a pair or pair-royal by discarding and ‘taking in’ fresh replacements from stock. However, given that the peculiar length of pack, leaving only seven or eight cards to draw from (implying a maximum of one each), is unique to this notoriously unreliable and muddled source, we may assume that Brag was mostly played with all 52 cards, and that Hoyle’s reflected some local or temporary aberration.

Burton surmises that Brag reached America in the late colonial period at the hands of English emigrants, British colonial officials, and perhaps Americans returning from transatlantic visits. At first played mainly in the plantation colonies of the South - Virginia, Maryland, the Carolinas - by about 1800 it had caught on in New England, as well as in the southern states of the young republic. Its first description, in The New Pocket Hoyle (Philadelphia, 1805), continued to be faithfully reproduced in a succession of American Hoyles for much of the 19th century, though the game itself was well on the way out by 1850, having been replaced by - or, rather, merged into - the form of Poker to which it contributed the draw. Until that time, however, as Burton says, a multitude of contemporary memorabilia testifies that the rules and procedures were more or less the same in the California goldfields at the end of the 1840s as they had been in the gaming salons of Mobile or New Orleans in the 1820s and in the taverns of Washington or New York twenty years before that.

Brag, he continues, 'disappeared during a period of no more than five or six years between, roughly, 1848 and 1853. What had happened is that the ‘taking in’ or draw feature of Brag was merged into the new game of full-deck Poker. The five-card Poker hand yielded a far greater range of distinctive combinations than the Brag hand, in which the pair-royal (three of a kind) and pair were still the only ones recognized by American players. Hence, when the draw was transplanted from Brag to Poker, the three-card game lost its following in next to no time. The result of the amalgamation could have been called Five-card Brag; instead, it became known as Draw Poker.'

Conclusion

Nobody ever knows how a classic card game really originates because at the time it does so its originators do not know that it is going to become a classic and so keep no record. In any case the process of origination rarely takes place at a single table but mostly among a group of players within a given locality, so gaming ideas and variations pass around without anyone being sure who thought of them first. By the time a game description appears in a book it has by definition settled down into some sort of fixity, and may be more than a generation old - especially in the case of games played by a community that circulates its cultural artefacts orally rather than in writing. The following summary of the genesis of Poker is therefore no more than a surmise, albeit at least consistent with the evidence outlined above.

Original Poker, a game in which four players received five cards each from a 20-card pack and vied as to who held the best hand, evidently originated in the New Orleans some time between 1810 and 1825. Its gaming milieu was that of French-speaking maritime gambling saloons, especially those of the Mississippi steamers. Its name suggests that its first players felt they were continuing the tradition of playing a game called Poque in which one said Je poque to open the betting. At this time and place, and before it underwent development, Poque probably denoted a five-card vying game consisting of the central section of a formerly tripartite game of the same name. Its ultimate ancestor must have been the substantially similar German game of Poch (Pochen, Pochspiel), which can be traced back to the 15th century.

Poque itself was played with 32 or 36 cards by up to six players. Its transition to one played with 20 cards by four players may have been influenced by the known contemporary French vying game of Bouillotte, or by the speculated Persian game of As-nas, or both. As-nas would be an ideal candidate were it not for the fact that there is no evidence for any knowledge of it at that time or place.

In the 1830s, having spread northwards along the Mississippi and westwards with the expanding frontier, Poker had adopted its anglicized name and become increasingly played with 52 cards to accommodate a greater number of players, thus also giving rise to the flush as an additionally recognized combination. Under the influence of Brag, its three-card British equivalent, it adopted the draw. This led to its further and more rapid expansion of popularity, as Poker-players preferred the additional round of betting after the possibility of improving a promising hand, while Brag-players preferred the wider range of combinations offered by a five-card hand. Draw Poker, first recorded about 1850, marks the coming of age of what Allen Dowling rightly calls ‘The great American pastime’ - a game which, as Burton observes, could equally well have been dubbed ‘five-card Brag’.