There is much debate about the history of poker. The French called it "poque", and it is believed that emigres brought the game to New Orleans in the 1800s. In fact, the Big Easy was the home of the first casino, where the increasingly popular "poker" was a prominent game.
The history of poker is complex, but the first mention of poker was made by Jonathan H. Green in An Exposure of the Arts and Miseries of Gambling in 1834. The game has roots in Egypt in the 12th century as the game of "Ganjifa" and in China in the 9th century. When the French brought the game to New Orleans, it became immensely popular along the Mississippi River and was called "the cheating game".
Other names given to the game were "Omaha", "Stud", and the most popular form of the game, "Texas Hold 'em Poker." Thanks to the World Series of Poker, a televised tournament with an audience of thousands, the game became a permanent fixture in the gambling community.
The very first poker game was held in the early 19th century. The game quickly grew in popularity and was soon played in saloons across the southwest. You can actually see the history of poker in films and television shows. Remember western films with grizzled cowpokes hunched over their cards, picking fights with men hiding aces up their sleeves? That was poker.
It was a very big game to the people of small outpost towns of Albuquerque, Santa Fe, Denver; all around the southwest the game was played enthusiastically. Sometimes playing resulted in fights as players who meddled with the rules were sometimes beaten in a bar brawl inside the saloon.
In the 1920s the United States government actually tried to ban the game, making playing a game of cards illegal. In the 1970s the first World Series of Poker was held in Binnion's Horseshoe Casino in Las Vegas. The rest, as they say, is history.
Now we move to poker hand nicknames, of which there are many; we will name only a few. The best hands in the game vary from game to game. When playing "Texas Holdem" Look for a Tetris or Jackson Five. Not your style? Check out an Anna Kournikova; the hand that, like the tennis star, looks good, but rarely wins. Or the Monica Lewinsky, the hand that ate the king.
Playing "Omaha" poker? Noah's Ark is a great hand that wins most games. The Rabbit, Beatles Reunion, and Four Pips are all "made hands". Ah, so many hands to play! When invented in the 9th Century, the original players presumably had no idea that one of the most original poker hand nicknames would contain the words "Six Tits"; but what did they know?
For that matter, what did any of the game's originators know about how popular the game would become? As poker took America by storm, it soon became clear the only thing the game would do is grow and take on innumerous forms. The real question is, what will poker evolve into next; and what unique hands will be born with it?