Five Historical Facts about Poker

Historical Facts about Poker

The history surrounding the inception of some of the most popular card games in the world is rather interesting. Here are some fun historical facts about poker that may have escaped the attention of even the most avid fans of poker in India,


  • 1.A betting game funded the Great Wall of China

Everyone has heard of the Great Wall of China – the only monument that is visible from outer space. The Wall was built between 220-206 BC, roughly the same time when the game of Keno was invented. Legend has it that the game was used to raise funds to help build the Great Wall. Even though the initial construction of the Wall is thought to have begun many years before Cheung Leung’s rule, during the Qin Dynasty, it is evidently true that later dynasties, including the Han Dynasty, built renovated versions of the Great Wall of China, and Keno could very well have played a significant role in raising funds to build and renovate the wall.

  • 2.Origin of the River card

To those unfamiliar with the term, the river card is the fifth card which appears on the board in poker. But does anyone know where it got the name? The nickname originated from the time when poker was played on riverboats in the United States of America, where cheaters would conceal their cards up their sleeve in case they needed to switch a lousy fifth card. If one was discovered to be cheating in this manner, they’d be thrown out of the boat into the river – hence the name ‘river’ card.

  • 3.The King of England was bad at betting

Apart from being a notable British monarch, Henry VIII of England was a notorious gambler. It is known that he was quite fond of cards, dice and a version of the game backgammon called ‘tables’. The King took part in many such events but he was not really good. Over a period of two years, he is said to have lost £3,250 playing cards. But perhaps the most funny, or even outrageous, allegation is that King Henry VIII lost the Jesus bells of St. Paul’s church with the single throw of a dice. The person to come in possession of the holy bells, Sir Miles Partridge, could not be content with his new property as he was subsequently convicted of treason and hanged at Tower Hill (Not so lucky after all).

  • 4.The world’s first casino

The world’s first casino was officially built in 1639 in Venice, Italy. It was notable for summer activities, and would host all kinds of games. Interestingly enough, it still stands and is operational to this very day.

  • 5.Poker funded a presidency

Former United States President Richard Nixon is said to have funded his first congressional campaign with $6000 in poker winnings he had earned playing with his navy colleagues.