Meaning of poker

Want to know the meaning of poker? Well that sounds very philosophical altogether, but what we’re going to do is drill down on the meaning of the word poker.

We’re going to try to discover a little more about it. By looking into the origins of words, you can find out so much about the culture and spread of ideas. We think that’s fascinating.

So combining that with the meaning of poker, is kind of our dream article. If you want to know more, you’ve come to the right poker blog.

The meaning of poker: A look behind the language

Books about sports

People were playing poker on riverboats in the Mississippi as early as the 1820s. Using a 20-card deck, this four-handed game quickly caught on. Although it didn’t spring out of nowhere on the river.

Although its exact origins are disputed, we can all agree that they’re interesting. German, French and English games are all said to have some sort of influence into the origin of the word, and indeed game, of poker.

The French game people refer to in relation to poker’s ancestry is poque. It sounds similar. But that’s kind of where the similarities end.

The game is pretty similar to the old English game of brag. But that doesn’t sound a lot like poker, does it? So even though it’s roots probably do lie there, we need to look elsewhere for the origins of the name.

Experts best guess is that the name “poker” actually came from a German card game called Pochspiel. During Pochspiel, players knock on the table to indicate a bluff. The German term for this part of the game is “pochen”. And, as poker is so associated with bluffing, it’s theorized that the meaning of poker as a word comes from that act in a more ancient German card game.

One of the best known terms, used in so many poker movies, poker books and poker podcasts, is “poker face”. Interestingly, that only took a couple of decades to enter the lexicon. The first recorded written reference to poker face is from the 1875 book Round Games at Cards.

Want to look at more history articles?

We’ve written a tonne of history articles over the years, covering poker, sports and casino. If you liked this little nugget of wisdom, we think you’ll really like these ones too:

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