Poker is a collective group of gambling card games which has a diverse and complex family tree. Its roots can be traced back to China, where playing cards were invented in the early 12th century. Colourful illustrations were added to the cards by royal families in India, and the ornate Asian decks soon reached Europe via the merchants of Venice and Crusaders returning from the Middle East.
The Italians deserve credit for developing the modern 52-card “Latin” deck with its four suits—Spades, Hearts, Diamonds and Clubs. Much later, following the French Revolution, Parisians would finalize the ranking of the “court cards,” with the Ace outranking the royals—King, Queen and Jack.
Such Renaissance games as Basset and Brelan from Italy and Pochen from Germany are considered to be antecedents to Poker. They led to variations called Glic and Piquet in France. In turn, the English came up with Primero, Bragg, Lanterloo, Gleek and Ombre.
These distant cousins of Poker featured “action rounds” of betting, which became extremely popular for socializing as well as gambling in the 17th century.