Sep 28, 2013

What's in a Name, Poker

The card game “Poker” first was called such around the early 19th century. There are two leading theories where the name originated that more or less coalesce into one likely origin. The first theory is that it came from the name of a French card game that resembled Poker called “Poque”. There was also a German card game that is similar to Poker called “Pochspiel”, which got its name from the German word “pochen” (also where the French “Poque” got its name). “Pochen” at the time meant “to brag or bluff”.

Most Poker historians tend to lean towards the French “Poque” origin, in terms of where the game acquired its name, because Poker seems to have first popped up and spread from New Orleans in the very early 19th century. The French game of Poque was commonly played here.

The term Jackpot originally popped up around the 1870s referencing “Jacks or Better” Poker. This is much like traditional five card draw, except in this case, if a player does not have a pair of “jacks or better” in the first round of betting, he has to pass. This does not mean he has to be holding a pair of jacks, queens, or the like. It just means that he has to be holding cards that will beat a pair of tens. Once the first person who has that has placed a bet in the opening betting round, the rest of the participants are free to bet as they will, regardless of the cards they hold. The “pot” in this game can sometimes grow particularly large as potentially multiple antes are required before betting can start. Ante comes from the Latin “ante”, meaning “before”, which came from the Proto-Indo-European “*anti”, meaning “facing opposite, before, or in front of”. I bet you did not know all that.