Poker is thought to be an ancient game and their is no clear consensus on it's actual origins and it appears to be a derivative of many games sharing the same elements as poker. However there are several possible origins to the game of poker and the name poker:
One of the earliest written references to poker was made by Jonathan Green in 1834 about a card game being played on Missisipi riverboats he called "the cheating game". Finding no reference to it in the Hoyles of the day he called it poker. 2 - 4 people could play with a deck of 20 cards using only the aces, kings, queens, jacks and tens. Some also believe poker originated from the card game brag played around 1825 in the south west of the United States.
There are historical refernces to a French game by the name of Poque and also to a German game called pochspiel. Some feel that it came from a version of an underworld term, "poke," a term used by pickpockets. Cardsharps who used the 20-card cheating game to relieve a sucker from his poke might have used that word among themselves, adding an "r" to make it "poker." It appears that if the cardsharps used the word "poker" in front of their victims, those unwise to the underworld slang would not be aware of the change. Poker may have also originated in China around 900 AD or in 12th or 13th century Egypt.
There are those who also believe that poker probably came from "hocus-pocus", a term widely used by magicians. The game of Poker later evolved to include 32 cards, and eventually the modern day deck of 52 cards, not counting the two Jokers.
The history of poker within the Unitesd States is a little clearer. Travelling by riverboat from New Orleans up the Missisipi and Ohio rivers, poker is soon spread by wagontrain and rail through the country in the 1800's.
Whatever the actual origins of the name or the game of poker, it is now the most popular card game in the world garnering television coverage and an enthusiastic following worldwide. Today considered more of a sporting event, the pinnacle of poker achievement is the World Series of Poker (WSOP).
The World Poker Tour series on the Travel Channel has captured a huge audience with an elaborate on the road tour featuring some world famous poker venues and great stagesets and unique camera action allowing the viewer to see the players cards.