The Game of Draw Poker – A Brief History

In many ways, the game epitomizes the raw bone tenacity of the American spirit that drove the western movement from the Mississippi River in the 1800’s. Life on the frontier was harsh, hazardous and full of risks – the pioneers were literally gambling on their lives each day. To both survive in the untamed west and to win at draw poker a man had to be skillful at what he did and count on lady luck to smile on him. He had to closely watch his adversaries and at times bluff his way out of a situation. The results of his actions could prove very profitable or he could lose it all, sometimes even his life. Draw poker then was a natural choice for the men of the American west who were used to risking it all.

The game was the result of an evolutionary process that started when poker was first took shape in America early in the nineteenth-century. Just when and where it was first played is subject to a continuing debate among historians, as is the game’s origins. Several postulations attribute the game’s lineage to a French game called “poque” or possibly to a German game known as “pochspiel.” British historians state that the game was a direct descendent of the English card game of “brag.” Still other researchers claim that poker evolved from a sixteen-century Persian card game called “as nas” that was played with a twenty-five-card deck containing five suites and has rules similar to five-card stud poker. Since exact documentation of poker’s early history is impossible to determine its inception will probably remain a mystery.

Poker is thought to have started in America sometime in the early 1800’s, possibly in saloons of New Orleans. From there it spread up the Mississippi and Ohio rivers by way of the commercial steam boat traffic. Then as the wagon trains and railroads pushed the frontier west, poker continued to gain popularity with the early adventurers. An English actor, Joseph Crowell, recorded seeing poker being played on the riverboats in his diary of 1829 and later in his 1844 book, Thirty Years Passed Among the Players in England and America. A reformed gambler by the name of Jonathan H. Green wrote about early poker in his book, Exposure of the Arts and Miseries of Gambling that was published in 1843. Both men described an early version of poker that was played with a twenty-card deck (A-K-Q-J-10). Each of four players was dealt five cards and bets were placed on these five original cards without discards or draws. When the betting was over the owner of the best hand won the pot – in the order of one pair, two pair, triplets, full house (one pair and a triple), and four of a kind. Due to the limits of a twenty-card deck there was only a single round of betting before the winning hand was declared and this made bluffing a much more difficult maneuver.

As the game evolved it moved to a thirty-two card deck and then eventually to the standard “French deck” of fifty-two cards. Sometime in the mid-1830’s straights and flushes were introduced as winning hands. A few years later draw poker was born and started making the rounds of gambling halls in the west. The first mention of draw poker appeared in the American edition of Bohn’s New Handbook of Games in 1850. In that same year, wild cards were introduced to poker play.

With these enhancements draw poker and another version called stud poker became the card games of choice among the soldiers on both sides of the Civil War. Originally called, “stud horse” poker, the game was played around the campfires between battles and was a close rival to draw poker in popularity. Both versions are conducive to bluffing but in stud poker, you are not allowed to draw or discard cards. Rather, some of the cards are dealt face down and some face up to the player so that everyone at the table knows a few of the cards being held by each player. Betting occurs after each new face up card is dealt and after the last face down card is dealt. The first mention of stud poker appeared in the American Hoyle of 1864.

In draw poker all the cards are dealt face down to the players and after all of the cards have been dealt there is a round of betting. Then players may discard any number of cards and receive the same amount of cards from the dealer. When all the players have completed their hands there is another round of betting before the winner is declared. Later, in 1870, jackpot poker was introduced in an attempt to prevent players with poor hands from being drawn into a pot that was impossible to win. In this version, players were required to have jacks or better to open betting. If a player did not possess the minimum to play, they were required to fold and lose their ante.

The first recorded set of rules for playing draw poker came about when Robert C. Scheneck, a United States ambassador to Great Britain, introduced the game to the members of Queen Victoria’s court at a party in 1872. Fascinated with the new game the royalty asked Scheneck to jot down the rules of the game so they could play the game after he returned to America. He obliged and his handwritten rules of play were then printed by the queen’s staff for future parties. Later, without his permission or that of the queen’s court, his set of rules were published as a small booklet and sold to the masses. Entitled, A Flowery Path to Wealth: The Game of Draw Poker as Taught to the English Aristocracy, the pamphlet was a major hit with the British people who quite often referred to the game as “Scheneck’s poker”. Scheneck, who had served as general under President Lincoln, was embarrassed by the public release of his rules that he had been assured would be used privately by queen’s court.

John W. Keller, an American, included Scheneck’s rules for draw poker in his own book, The Game of Draw Poker, published in 1887. In addition, he used a portion of a letter written by Scheneck to a political friend, Thomas L. Young; to describe how the ambassador had unwittingly became party to the publication of the first set of rules for the game.

Keller’s book provided a more detailed account of the rules and variations to the game as well as a section on progressive poker, which he described as being “The latest development of draw poker… and doubtless owes its origin to the popularity of progressive euchre.” Contrary to Keller’s comments, progressive poker never caught the attention of American gamblers and its play quickly faded from the gaming scene.

Throughout the book, Keller refers to a noted mathematician, “Dr. Pole” who provided the probability and odds for draw poker hands. At the end of the book, he summarizes Pole’s calculations in a series of probability tables, which have stood the test of time. According to Dr. Poe’s figures, there is an astounding 2,598,960 possible hands in draw poker.

Since Keller’s book was published in 1887, there have been a large number of books printed on the subject of draw poker but few have been as clear and concise on the rules and the strategy of the game. His sage advice to “Study your adversaries carefully; watch the game closely; be patient in adversity and calm in prosperity,” seems right in keeping with the old gambler’s adage of knowing “when to hold ’em and when to fold ’em.”

Poker Timeline:

1839 – English comedic actor Joseph Crowell wrote about a poker game being played on the steamboat Helen M,Gregor, bound for New Orleans. He described a game called poker being played by four players using 20 cards (A, K,Q, J, 10) with a single round of betting – highest hand won. In his book, Thirty Years Passed Among the Players in England and America (1844), Crowell said that the game had been invented by the American politician, Henry Clay. The game was based on the British game, brag.

1834 – Jonathan H. Green, a professional gambler turned reformer, wrote about the “cheating game” called poker being played on the Mississippi riverboats in his book entitled, Exposure of the Arts and Miseries of Gambling.

1836 – J. Hildreth wrote about poker in his book, Dragoon Campaigns of the Rocky Mountains.

1837 – Poker used a 52-card deck. Straights and flushes were added.

1845 – Poker was first mentioned in an American edition of Hoyle’s Games. (The gold standard for the rules of card games) by Henry F. Anners.

1850 – First mention of draw poker in the American edition of Bohn’s New Handbook of Games.

1850 – Wild cards introduced to poker.

1861- 1866 – During the Civil War, soldiers and others made stud and draw poker the most popular form of the game.

1864 – First mention of stud or “stud-horse” poker in the American Hoyle of 1864.

1872 – Robert C. Scheneck, U.S. minister to Great Britain, introduced the game of draw poker to the members of the court of Queen Victoria at a royal party. He was asked to write down the rules of the game and eventually this was turned into a small booklet. The booklet was published without his permission and called, A Flowery Path to Wealth: The Game of Draw poker as Taught to the English Aristocracy. Scheneck had been an army general under President Lincoln.

1870 – Jackpot poker (jacks or better to open) introduced to prevent players with a poor hand from being drawn into an impossible to win pot.

1875 – The joker (a European invention) was introduced to the game as a wild card.

Mini-Baccarat – The Unsung Hero of Casino Gambling

The European version of Baccarat has been around 150 years give or take. It’s distant cousin, Chemin De Fer, played under an entirely different set of rules is far older and was a game favored by Europe’s royalty and wealthy industrialists. This is most likely where it got the mystique of elegance as an exclusively “high roller’s” game.

In the mid 1950’s Tommy Renzoni ran the Baccarat game at the Capri Hotel & Casino in Havana, Cuba. It was said he discovered that particular variation of the game being played in Argentina at the time.

In those days the mob ran the casinos in Havana and it was a popular resort for the very wealthy and Hollywood’s elite. In 1959 when Castro overthrew the Batista regime, he promptly closed the casino doors and the mob was forced out of Cuba. They had a sweet deal for a while but all good things must end.

The timing was perfect though, because Tommy Renzoni was brought in for the opening of the Sands Hotel & Casino in Las Vegas to run their Baccarat game. So it was Renzoni, through a stroke of fortune, who introduced the American version of Baccarat to Vegas that is played today.

The American version of the game is as simple as they come. You choose to wager on either the “bank” hand or the “player” hand. Pretty much a coin toss. The only other choice would be to bet on a tie hand appearing (a bet no sane person would make although I see it done all the time). It’s an even money bet on either side with the exception of a small commission charged on winning bank hands.

The reason for this is that the rules of the game favor the bank hand winning slightly more often than the player hand. Without the 5% commission the outcome would be tilted toward the bank side.

The object of the game is to get closest to a 9 total. All tens and face cards have a zero value, therefore a 5 and a queen would be a total of 5. There is no need to even know the rules governing the drawing of cards because they are completely automatic and procedures are directed by the dealers and pit bosses.

Compared to craps, blackjack, roulette or even poker, there are no complicated decisions to make. Decide on the amount of your wager and which side to bet on. Nothing could be simpler.

It is the aura that surrounds the game which tends to make it seem off limits to most casino goers. It’s been portrayed through stories of high rollers and in James Bond (007) movies over the years as the hero playing against the evil villain. Keep in mind, all the players are betting against the casino, not against each other. Although the roped off table areas and high stakes table limits can be somewhat intimidating.

Enter Mini-Baccarat. The casinos, always on the look out to make a buck, devised the mini-baccarat table as a way to make it more accessible to the average casino patron. It seemed to work although it still hasn’t garnered the wide spread acceptance of the more well known table games.

Betting Systems

In reality, mini-baccarat is ideally suited for most playing and betting systems that do well in an even-money, win/lose environment. Because there can be only one of two outcomes, betting systems that depend on a parlay (doubling up) of wagers tend to do well.

It is common to see runs of 2, 3, 4 & 5 on either bank or player hands. I was playing the Tropicana one night and witnessed an incredible run of 22 consecutive “bank” hands. Luckily, having the sense and instinct to jump on a winning streak after the fourth bank win, I was able to capture 18 straight wins. Needless to say, it was a very good night. That’s an extraordinary run but the game does lend itself well to streaks on both sides.

If you toss a coin you have a 1 to 1 chance of correctly calling the outcome. If a player were to parlay their first win (playing for 2 consecutive wins), they have a 1 in 3 chance of winning that wager. If successful, the player would receive a 3 to 1 payoff. $10 parlayed on two wins would become $40. The odds on calling two consecutive outcomes correctly is 3 to 1.

Playing for three consecutive wins would reduce the player’s winning wagers but the payoff would jump to 7 to 1. A $10 wager would return $80.

Another sound betting system calls for a gradual increase of winning bets. This effectively takes advantage of any extended run of wins that will undoubtedly occur and protect the player’s capital if the outcome is “choppy.”

This type of betting sequence would look like this:

10, 15, 20, 25, 30, 40, 50

No wager after the second one in the series would produce a loss for the player.

Following the 1st bet the player is risking $5 and betting $15;

After winning the third bet the player is up $20 betting 25;

On the fourth, the player is up $40 wagering $30;

On the fifth, the player is ahead $65 betting $40;

A series of 7 wins would return $150 and still have a $50 wager as the next bet. All with a starting wager of $10. Following any loss the player reverts back to the starting $10 bet.

With this method the player is increasing their bets with winnings while maintaining a low minimum bet during losing hands. This is the type of smart money management used by professional gamblers that takes full advantage of winning cycles while protecting their bankroll when losing. It insures that their winning bets will be substantially greater than their losing ones.

Although the hands are dealt at a rapid pace, I consider mini-baccarat to be an excellent game, especially for the beginner. It allows them to acclimate to the game and concentrate on their playing strategy and wagers without feeling intimidated by the big money action in the regular Baccarat pit.

If you’ve read any of the stuff I’ve written you know I’m a big fan of Baccarat. As for mini-baccarat, it’s the same game, same low house percentage, low minimums and gives the player a very good chance at some big wins. It might even pay for your next trip the casino.

Best of luck,

Ray W.

The VLT – It May Look Like a Slot, But It’s Not

So what’s the difference between a traditional class III slot machine, video poker machine and a class II Video Lottery Terminal? Read on:

Traditional Class III Slot Machines

All outcomes on these gambling games are controlled by a small computer chip called a random number generator (RNG) inside each machine. This device allows the unit to continuously roam through random number combinations at the rate of thousands per second. These combinations are mapped to a specific outcome. It will not stop to select a display until the spin button is pressed or the handle is pulled. Each spin is independent of the next one. They have no effect on one another.

The RNG is installed at the factory to the payback specifications requested by the casino. A chip in each individual machine allows for jurisdictions to order different payback percentages in the same family of machines. (The payback percentage is the total amount of money returned to players over time.) They usually vary between 85% and 98%. Penny machines usually return the lower % amounts while the dollar and up machines return the highest. Contrary to what most players think, a casino CANNOT alter the payback percentages on a machine. This can only be done by factory personnel.

Class II Video Lottery Terminals

Have you ever thought about scratching off about 600 instant lottery tickets in about an hour? Play a VLT at one of the New York State racetracks and you’ll be doing just that. In contrast to the aforementioned, a VLT plays a virtual lottery game that is linked to a central computer operated by the NYS Lottery in Schenectady, NY. They determine the outcome of each wager using an RNG, but with a pre-determined number of winners. The VLT operators can program the number of payouts in advance. Once you start play, the machine receives a virtual scratch off ticket.When the video reels stop spinning he results will be consistent with whatever is on the ticket. The payback percentages are controlled by the scratch off games. In NY the law requires a minimum 92% return.

Other VLT games that operate in Native American jurisdictions are virtual bingo games that are linked together, forcing players to compete against each other for the prize payout(s).

Video Poker VLT’s

There’s a big difference between the class III and class II games when it comes to video poker. A traditional class III machine deals 5 cards from a virtual 52 card deck. After you discard, your final hand is determined randomly from the remaining 47 cards. Your knowledge and skill are a big factor when trying to win.

In a class II VLT, your final hand will be whatever the virtual scratch off ticket dictates. Even if you make a mistake and discard winning cards, a virtual “genie” will appear on your screen and change your hand to the pre-determined winning result. No skill is needed to win. It’s not a 52 card deck. It’s nothing more than a slot machine.

I’m not trying to discourage anyone from playing VLT’s. You can win as well as lose. A 92% payback is a 92% payback. Whatever games you decide to play, you’ll always need a visit from Lady Luck!

Gods of Gambling

People like to gamble, they place bets to have fun or to earn extra cash. When they feel lucky or when someone is watching over them, they simply want to take a chance, to prove that fortune smiles on them, and betting / gambling is no exception.

Praying to God for a team to win a specific game in order for you to win a bet is more or less selfish when there are still so many bad things in the world. But what about those ancient gods of the past, people believed in them and prayed to them for fortune. The different mythologies of the world reveal powerful deities that rule over the world of gambling. Here are some of the gods that can influence the outcome of a football match in our favor:

Hermes is the Greek god of gambling, profit, hazard, and gaming. Hermes was the winged messenger of the gods. He was the god of flocks, road, trading, commerce, thieves. He is also known as Mercury in Roman Mythology. His father is Zeus, the ruler of the Greek gods.

Thoth is the Egyptian god of gambling. He had the same attributes like the Greek god, Hermes. He is the creator of magic, the inventor of writing, the messenger of the gods and the divine record-keeper and mediator. According to myth, he earned 5 extra days by gambling with the moon (then known as Iabet) in a game of dice to help the sky goddess Nut to have her children.

Macuilxochitl, (five flowers, also called Xochipilli) is the Aztec god of gambling, music, dancing. He was the god of games, from board games (Patolli) to the Aztec version of football (Ullamaliztli). Generally represented as a god of fun and dancing, Xochipilli could also send venereal disease to anyone who violates abstentions by engaging in sexual intercourse.

Li-Nezha is the Chinese god of gambling. He is probably the only one of the Chinese Gods that can reveal the winning numbers in lottery. Li-Nezha is perhaps more well-known as Nataku or Nata from Japanese anime a half-mortal war god. In ancient times mortals worship him as a God of Lotteries and Gambling.

Lakshmi, is the Hindu goddess of wealth, prosperity and fortune. Lakshmi is the consort of the god Vishnu. Hindus believe that anybody who worships Lakshmi sincerely, and not in greed, will be blessed with fortune and success. After worshipping Lakshmi on Diwali, many Hindus gamble and spend profusely, believing that Lakshmi has bestowed good fortune upon them.

Nohoilpi – The gambling god of the Navajo. Also called “He Who Wins Men”. He is a renegade son of the sun god Tsohanoai. He came down to Earth and taught his gambling games to the various tribes but soon abused his power by overcoming them at all his games of chance and collecting his winnings by enslaving people to build a city to mark his glory. He was defeated at gambling by a Navajo man send by the other gods and was thrown into the sky.

Online Casinos – A Smarter Way to Make Huge Fortunes

Online casinos, also known as virtual casinos or internet casinos, are online versions of traditional (“brick and mortar”) casinos. Online casinos enable gamblers to play and wager on casino games through the Internet. Online casinos can be divided into three groups based on their interface:

Web-based casinos are websites where users may play casino games without downloading software to the local computer.Download-based casinos are the ones which require the download of the software client in order to play and wager on the casino games offered. Live casinos allow web players to interact with games played in a real world casino environment. Online players can see, hear, and interact with live dealers at tables in casino studios worldwide.

The games offered at online casinos include Baccart (online card game), Blackjack (also known as twenty-one or Pontoon), Craps (previously known as crabs is a casino dice game), Roulette (a casino and gambling game named after the French word meaning “small wheel”), slot machine or Poker machine or fruit machine (a certain type of casino game which has coin-operated machines with three or more reels, which spin when a lever on the side of the machine is pulled) and Video poker (a casino game based on five-card draw poker played on a computerized console which is a similar size to a slot machine).

Depositing cash in an online betting hall is easy. Many betting room brands accept money deposits using a charge card. You can make a deposit by electronic transfer. Check out paying money into gaming room user account with sending a personal check is also an option with most gaming halls. Several internet gambling hall brands accept Prepaid ATM, either for a payment or extraction method or both.

If the term seems appealing to those who wish to enter the tempting world of online gambling, but want to know what are the benefits under its hat, here is a list of possible benefits of online casinos over traditional ones.

You receive a complimentary wagering hall website program for your computer.

Most betting room website brands will allow you to gamble for enjoyment for however long you choose.

You do not have to tip anybody.

Most online gaming hall brands provide new as well as current participant complimentary money incentives.

You may play from your home or the office – providing you`re entitled to do so, naturally.

Online gambling room betting regulations are often more beneficial on the internet than in real gambling halls – chances on wagering hall website are simply more beatable on line than off line.

Online casino websites offer the users newcomer free cash casino incentives, comps point clubs, recurring monthly complimentary cash casino bonuses, voucher codes promoting special offers, top prize drawings etc.

So, now you don’t need to dream of Las Vegas to enjoy the thrill of playing at a casino. The enticing world of Online Casinos is at your fingertip. Just click your mouse and enter a casino enjoying the comforts of you home.