Although it’s been called “America’s Game,” some historians believe Poker derives from the Persian game As Nas. There is no question that As Nas and an early form of Poker share many similarities, but experts state that this is merely because both games share a common ancestor, and not necessarily because one was derived from the other.
This common ancestor could be any of several “vying” games from Europe, but the French game Poque and a slightly older German game called Pochen appear to be most obvious candidates. In any case, the game came to U.S. shores through a French colony in Louisiana sometime in the early 1800s.
In the early to middle part of the 19th century, Poker players adopted the standard 52-card pack (early versions used a 20-card deck), added straights and flushes to the list of hand rankings, and incorporated the “draw” aspect of the game. The addition of the draw added significantly to the complexity, and therefore the appeal, of the game. The rest, as they say, is history!