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Old 06-20-2018, 03:21 PM   #1
Registered 2018
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History of Poker and Poker Players

What were the most important landmarks in the history of poker?

Who were the greatest poker players in history?

Who were the most successful poker players and how do you define success?

Who were the most influential teachers and writers?

Who were the most important promoters of the game?


According to the History Channel website:

"The game we know as poker is believed to have ancient roots that go back nearly 1,000 years, crossing several continents and cultures. Some historians say poker’s origins can be traced to a domino-card game played by a 10th-century Chinese emperor; others claim it is a descendant of the Persian card game “As Nas,” which dates back to the 16th century. Poker’s closest European predecessor was Poque, which caught on in France in the 17th century. Poque and its German equivalent, pochen, were both based on the 16th-century Spanish game primero, which featured three cards dealt to each player and bluffing (or betting high on poor cards) as a key part of the game. French colonists brought Poque to their settlements in North America, including New Orleans and the surrounding area, which became part of the United States thanks to the Louisiana Purchase of 1803. English-speaking settlers in the region Anglicized Poque to poker and adopted features of the modern game, including five cards for each player and (by 1834) a 52-card deck.

From there, poker spread up the Mississippi River and throughout the country, thanks in part to its popularity among crews of riverboats transporting goods via that great waterway. Soldiers in both the North and South played poker during the Civil War, and it became a staple of Wild West saloons in frontier settlements in the 1870s and 1880s. In 1871 the game was introduced to Europe after Queen Victoria heard the U.S. minister to Great Britain explaining the game to members of her court and asked him for the rules. More general acceptance of poker in Europe occurred several decades later, largely thanks to the influence of American soldiers during World War I. Over time, different games have dominated among poker players, including five-card draw, seven-card stud and—most recently—Texas Hold’em, which began its rise to dominance in the 1970s when it became the featured game in the World Series of Poker, the game’s leading annual competition."
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Old 06-21-2018, 10:37 PM   #2
Mason Malmuth
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Re: History of Poker and Poker Players

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Originally Posted by Registered 2018 View Post
What were the most important landmarks in the history of poker?

Who were the greatest poker players in history?

Who were the most successful poker players and how do you define success?

Who were the most influential teachers and writers?

Who were the most important promoters of the game?


According to the History Channel website:

"The game we know as poker is believed to have ancient roots that go back nearly 1,000 years, crossing several continents and cultures. Some historians say poker’s origins can be traced to a domino-card game played by a 10th-century Chinese emperor; others claim it is a descendant of the Persian card game “As Nas,” which dates back to the 16th century. Poker’s closest European predecessor was Poque, which caught on in France in the 17th century. Poque and its German equivalent, pochen, were both based on the 16th-century Spanish game primero, which featured three cards dealt to each player and bluffing (or betting high on poor cards) as a key part of the game. French colonists brought Poque to their settlements in North America, including New Orleans and the surrounding area, which became part of the United States thanks to the Louisiana Purchase of 1803. English-speaking settlers in the region Anglicized Poque to poker and adopted features of the modern game, including five cards for each player and (by 1834) a 52-card deck.

From there, poker spread up the Mississippi River and throughout the country, thanks in part to its popularity among crews of riverboats transporting goods via that great waterway. Soldiers in both the North and South played poker during the Civil War, and it became a staple of Wild West saloons in frontier settlements in the 1870s and 1880s. In 1871 the game was introduced to Europe after Queen Victoria heard the U.S. minister to Great Britain explaining the game to members of her court and asked him for the rules. More general acceptance of poker in Europe occurred several decades later, largely thanks to the influence of American soldiers during World War I. Over time, different games have dominated among poker players, including five-card draw, seven-card stud and—most recently—Texas Hold’em, which began its rise to dominance in the 1970s when it became the featured game in the World Series of Poker, the game’s leading annual competition."
Hi Registered 2018:

Here's an article I wrote a number of years ago that fits in with your questions:

The Most Important Hand Ever Played
by Mason Malmuth

One of the more common themes you will find in some of today’s poker literature are articles that describe poker hands. Sometimes these are instructive in nature, and sometimes they are just describing a dramatic situation, especially an important hand played late in a tournament where much money was at stake.

In fact, a few of these articles have been written by me, and I enjoy reading many of them. They are informative, in many instances illustrate the dramatics and complexities of poker, and help to explain why this wonderful game keeps all of us occupied to some degree.

But it turns out that among all the poker hands ever played and written about, there is one particular hand whose importance is probably far more significant than all other poker hands ever played put together. Now that’s a mouthful, and the real shame is that most of you who will read this essay don’t know anything about it. Of course, that will soon be corrected.

First some background. The year was 1864 and the United States Civil War was nearing its climax. Even though the North was winning, it was not winning by enough to assure that the war would end with a favorable conclusion for the Union side. The Confederate Army led by Robert E. Lee in Northern Virginia had frustrated all Northern attempts to capture the city of Richmond, and the price the North would have to pay for total victory seemed to great for many people. This meant that there was a good chance that Lincoln would not be reelected, and that his opponent, General George B. McClellan would be the new president in 1865. There was also much speculation that McClellan would end the killing and split the United States into two countries.

However, the war in the West had gone much better for the North. The Confederacy had been split in two with the capture of Vicksburg, and they had a large army in Northern Georgia that was headed towards Atlanta. But there were still problems. The Confederate Army of The Tennessee was in its way.

This army also had a new commander, General Joseph E. Johnston, an extraordinary defensive tactician. Johnston understood that as long as his army survived, the Southern nation would survive, and didn’t want to fight unless he had a clear advantage. Thus a war of maneuver began where the two armies “danced” their way towards the city of Atlanta.

In addition, Johnston knew what might happen in the election of 1864. If he could hold out against Sherman, and not allow him that ultimate victory the North so badly needed, then Lincoln might be defeated at the polls. This was literally the best chance the South had.

Unfortunately for Johnston, Jefferson Davis, the Confederate President, did not see things quite the same way. Davis wanted the invader brought to battle and defeated. So at the outskirts of Atlanta, Johnston was relieved of his command and was replaced by the aggressive and courageous fighter General John B. Hood

Now some of you might be wondering what all this has to do with a poker hand. Well, a curious event now occurred. One of Sherman’s subordinates, whose name I have never seen in my reading, related a story to his commander about Hood playing in a poker game many years before the Civil War began. Apparently, Hood had bet $2,500, a very large sum in those days, with “nary a pair” in his hand. Sherman immediately understood what this meant. Instead of being against a defensive tactician who was forcing him to fight a war of maneuver, the Union Army should brace itself for an attack. Sherman correctly assumed that someone’s aggressive tendencies were as likely to show up at the poker table as they were on the battlefield. He now knew that he was against a fighter, not a tactician.

In fact, if his army was still on maneuver and was hit directly in the “side,” the Confederates could punch a hole in his lines, separate his forces, and perhaps even defeat the whole Union cause. The dance was now over, and big betting would begin.

As suspected, the attack soon came, and after several vicious battles, including the Battle of Atlanta, Sherman — who had correctly predicted his opponent’s intention all because of a poker game held many years before — finally achieved the decisive victory that the North and President Lincoln so badly needed.

So how important was this poker hand. Well, if it hadn’t been played, there might not have been a United States as we know it, and all of world history might have been different. So don’t let anyone ever tell you that poker isn’t important, or that they just played a hand of a lifetime. I don’t care what they might claim, the results can’t compare to that hand played perhaps over 150 years ago.

Finally, a few of things that we don’t know:

1. We don’t know what form of poker Hood was playing. My guess would be some form of no-limit draw poker, but that doesn’t have to be the case.

2. We don’t know if Hood was caught bluffing or showed the hand after raking in a big pot.

3. We don’t know if this was a well thought out play on Hood’s part or whether he was just steaming.

4. We have no idea as to how good a poker player Hood might have been. But I do suspect that Sherman would have been very good if he ever sat at the poker table.
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Old 06-21-2018, 11:59 PM   #3
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Re: History of Poker and Poker Players

Officers of the 114th Pennsylvania Infantry playing cards, August 1864
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Old 08-20-2018, 02:55 PM   #4
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Re: History of Poker and Poker Players

Well, I'm rather surprised that this most interesting of topics seems to have come to a dead halt. But I must admit that I myself just stumbled on it today.
As far is who were the most important promoters of the game, my choice would have to be first and foremost Benny Binion.

Most important teachers/ authors, of course, David Sklansky and the man Mason. And by the way, when are these guys going to be considered for the hall of fame? If not, that institution will lose all credibility for me.

Small admission, I actually love Mike Carl too, and, I'm not crazy about Mason's politics but we're all Americans dog darn it.
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Old 04-05-2019, 12:30 PM   #5
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Re: History of Poker and Poker Players

It struck me watching the WSOP main event this year when the announcers kept saying "this will go down in the history of poker," that there is no comprehensive history of poker (in book form, anyway). If you limited the book to 400-500 pages, would Joe Cada make it in? Probably not.
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Old 04-25-2019, 12:07 PM   #6
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Re: History of Poker and Poker Players

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Originally Posted by Registered 2018 View Post
What were the most important landmarks in the history of poker?

Who were the greatest poker players in history?

Who were the most successful poker players and how do you define success?

Who were the most influential teachers and writers?

Who were the most important promoters of the game?
Did you put together some answers for these questions?

I’ll gladly pay you Tuesday for some hamburgers today!
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