A History of Legal Poker in America

You love your poker game, but what do you know of the game's history in the US? Poker's story, from its checkered past to its bright future, makes for an interesting read. It's also one which will mean a lot to players concerned with how legal poker is in the US today. Read on through our history guide and you'll discover:

  • How poker began
  • The evolution of poker
  • Other variations of poker
  • How legal poker has exploded online
  • What poker’s Black Friday was
  • What happened after Black Friday
  • The future for online legal poker

The beginnings of poker

There are contrasting theories when it comes to the origins of poker, as we know it today. Some suggest it has links to a Persian game called ‘as nas’; others a French card game called ‘brelan’. What is indisputable is the betting-based game as you play it was born in the mid-to-late 1700s in America, specifically in the Mississippi area.

Poker’s evolution to the game we know today

Early forms of poker were often played with less than a full deck of cards. With the spread of gambling, and Mississippi riverboats taking the game of poker to a wider audience, poker eventually landed on the 52-card version we know today. Elements such as the flush, draw and straight were added to the game during its 1800s evolution.

Common variations of poker that are played today

Draw poker, specifically five-card draw, is one of the most popular poker games played in the modern game. Seven-card stud and five-card stud are also popular, as are the Texas Hold’em and Omaha Hold'em variations on the game. Other variations include lowball poker, H.O.R.S.E and high-low split.

The impact of legal poker’s online boom

It’s impossible to over-sell the impact of legal online poker on the game’s global popularity. By making poker available online, the game was able to spread to areas it had never before touched. Suddenly it was possible to play virtual hands from anywhere in the world and put yourself in a virtual casino from the comfort of your own house.

Poker’s Black Friday rocks the online gambling world

What people often refer to as poker’s ‘Black Friday’ happened in 2011, when the American Federal government brought an indictment against the three dominant online poker providers in the USA, charging them with offences in violation of the Unlawful Internet Gambling Act of 2006.

Life after Black Friday for online legal poker in America

The Federal government has now invited all 50 states to propose bills legalizing online poker, and thus far three have gone ahead and passed them – Delaware, New Jersey and Nevada. More are expected to follow, and there is a general sense that the Federal government is now leaving the issue to be dealt with on a state-by-state basis.

Playing legal poker in America today

There are already licensed legal poker providers in the three aforementioned states. We expect more to be added as other states pass bills to legalize online gambling. It’s also worth noting that we can find no record of US residents being charged of prosecuted for playing online poker for real money. We’d always advise you consult with qualified legal experts of course.

The future of legal online poker

We’d have to say it’s never been brighter. New sites are popping up all the time and the popularity of poker is at an all-time high in 2015. Making poker legal online should help police the internet and provide players with the best experience possible.