Poker: Its humble origins

Most games that have found a permanent place in the grand society of game players evolved over a period of time rather then being invented from scratch. Poker is one of these type of games, and its ancestry can be can be traced back at least five hundred years.

One of the ancestors of poker was a German game called Poch or Pochspiel. The game is played with a standard pack of cards, but with six cards removed from each suit (generally the cards two to six are removed).

The playing table has places for nine pools that are ranked from ten to ace, along with an pools called The Marriage, which is a king and queen combination, and The Sequence, which is 7,8 and 9, The Pochen, and The Centre.

At the start of the game every player plays nine chips, placing one into every pool. All the cards are dealt apart from the last one which is dealt face up. The suit of this card is important, and anyone who holds a ten to an ace of this suit or holds the combination or marriage sequences wins the pots from the relevant pools. The betting begins after this round had been played, and this is where the game begins to look more like the poker we know today.

The only hands that count are four of a kind, three of a kind and pairs, with the suit of the card that was originally turned up being the highest ranking suit. Betting continues until everyone remaining œin has staked the same amount of money, or everyone bar the winner has folded. When this situation has been received there is the showdown. The winner receives his stake from each player remaining and wins the pot from the Pochen pool.

The game continues to determine who wins the centre pot. The winner of the Pochen pot starts by placing any card from his hand face up on the table. If any player has the next highest card then he places this face up on top of the last card. This continues until nobody can go any more, and the last player to place a card claims the centre.

Although unlike poker in many ways, it is clear that Pochspiel is an ancestor of the modern game.