English actor Joseph Crowell reported that the game was played in New Orleans in 1829, with a deck of 20 cards and four players betting on which player’s hand was the most valuable. From there the game spread to the rest of the country by Mississippi riverboats, on which gambling was a common pastime. As it made its way north along the Mississippi River and to the West during the gold rush, it become a part of the frontier pioneer culture. Soon after this spread, the full 52-card English deck was used and the flush was introduced. The draw was added prior to 1850 (when it was first mentioned in print in a handbook of games). During the American Civil War, many additions were made including the straight.

For more than a century, poker was thought of as cowboys, dark rooms and shady deals. Then all of a sudden it changed…