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The Development of Poker in the United States
Poker is a group of card games that share traits such as betting rules, hand ranking, and the possibility of a person winning the pot by bluffing their way to victory. This family of games has been around since the seventeen hundreds. What makes poker unique from other, older card games that might have similar traits to this game is its betting system. It is said that poker found its beginnings in the United States, along the Mississippi River area. By the year eighteen hundred, it had spread throughout the entire region, and already had a fair number of variants that involve a 52 card deck, or a 20 card deck.
Two of the earliest groups of 52 card poker games to develop are straight poker, and stud poker. Straight poker is when each player is dealt a complete hand. In a single round of straight, all of the players bet and are given the option of raising and re-raising their bets. This particular group of poker variants is recognized as the oldest one. The second oldest family of poker games is called stud. In stud poker, cards are dealt out in combinations of face-up and face-down groups, and after each deal, there is a round of betting.
These poker variants can also be played with twenty cards. Usually, twenty card poker is played when there are only two players. In fact, it is an English practice to use fewer cards in a deck if there are fewer players. In 1829, Joseph Crowell, a British actor, said that poker was being played in New Orleans, with four players and using a deck of twenty cards. The development of the game of poker is often considered to run parallel with the development of the commercial gambling industry. Most poker games and other kinds of gambling games were played on Mississippi river boats, where people would often gamble to pass the time in transit. During the gold rush, poker and other forms of gambling became a large part of American pioneers' way of life. It was during this time that saloons -which were integral to the development of the modern-day American casino- saw a boom in business.
The game of poker spread throughout the American Western frontier, and north along the Mississippi river. With its spread, the 52 card English deck of cards came into use, and the flush hand -a hand that contains five cards of the same suit, but not necessarily in rank sequence- was introduced. It was also during this time that draw poker developed. Draw is another family of poker variants, where players are allowed to change or develop the hand that they have been dealt by getting rid of cards that they no longer want, and drawing new ones.