History of Poker Tournaments

How poker tournaments have developed to its present day form


Poker has seen a considerable period of popularity since the beginning of the nineteenth century. It has endured approximately over two hundred years, but can still be considered as a newer game compared to some of the other card games. However poker has seen much more popularity than most of the other card games, be it newer or older than poker.


The various versions of this game are an integral part of almost every casino around the world. There are heaps of online casinos as well that feature this game for the players. Let us look at the history of this game over these two hundred years and find out how poker tournaments have developed to its present day form to see such popularity.


The Beginning


Poker can be traced back to the accounts of ‘Dragoon Campaigns in the Rocky Mountains’ that was written in 1836 by John Hildreth. Even though John refers that the soldiers were seen to play this game in one of the barracks at that time, according to him it had already gained much popularity by then. However some of the other parts of United States didn’t even know about this game back then.


That was the first time the game was referred to by any journal in the history of poker. But it can be estimated that the game had already gained enough acclamation, making experts believe that this game came into existence sometime around 1800. Poker has been referred to in several other journals like ‘Exposure of the Arts and Miseries of Gambling’ by Jonathan Green (1843).


The Gradual Development Seen


With time the game saw many changes and new rules. While poker started as a twenty card game with four players initially, after around 1830s the game was changed to be a fifty two card game. The primary reason behind such a shift was to enable more players to join the game. Today the game played is based on this fifty two card game, which was seen to be adopted by most players since 1830s in preference to the twenty card game.


By 1875, the game had seen the use of the draws, the studs, the jackpots, and even the whiskey poker. All these features have been mentioned in the journal named ‘The American Hoyle’ in the year 1875. Slowly and gradually, the winning hands were improvised. The twenty card game was still in play, and involved the cards of 10-J-Q-K-A to be dealt among the players. While the winning hands were restricted to the 4 of a kind, the fulls, the triplet, 2 pairs, and the pairs, originally there were even fewer options for the winning hands. These were four As or 4 Ks and an A.


More Changes


With more time, the game saw the introduction of flush by mid-1864. However, many poker experts didn’t support the changes which resulted in the newer version not being able to reach each and every player. Just like the game evolving from a mere twenty card game to the present day versions, the players saw a huge refined crowd with time as well.


Whereas initially poker consisted of just any sort of players interested to play, time made the more sophisticated crowd look for better options for their gaming venues. Tournaments started to being arranged and the late fifties saw only specific crowds of players allowed to participate for such tournaments. The ‘Gambling Fraternity Convention’ came into existence and further helped with the refinement and the recognition the game achieved.


The popularity seen by the game resulted in a lot of developments. Books and journals were written on the game as to how to learn playing poker and what were the essential strategies that could help you with a poker tournament. Books like ‘Super System’ by Doyle Brunson and ‘The Theory of Poker’ by David Sklansky changed the whole scenario by popularizing the game to the next level.




With the twenty first century seeing several films on the poker tournaments, and the internet coming into play, poker tournaments has seen the popularity like never before. Today there is a huge variety of the game and hundreds of tournaments being arranged and played each day all around the world. From the simple twenty card game, poker has come a long long way to what it is today and what it has in store for its patrons.

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