December 21, 2010
Draw Poker: Chapter 1. Introduction
No game at cards has ever attained such a wide-spread popularity as Draw Poker. Not only is it played throughout America, the land of its inception and perfection, but it has crossed the high seas, capturing every steamship in its triumphal voyage, and has laid siege to all the civilized nations of Europe with such success that its suppression has become a serious factor in the political economy of one of the greatest powers of the Old World. Nor does this seductive game stop with Europe and the Caucasian races. Far-away India and flowery China know it and love it, and I have heard that swarthy Egyptians study its combinations on the historic banks of the Nile and in the shadows of the Pyramids. Whenever cards are played Draw Poker will find its way and will ultimately overcome all other games of mingled chance and skill.
Nor is the love that it engenders confined to any social class or classes. Rich and poor, high and low, good and bad, male and female yield to the fascinations of Poker. Among its votaries are to be found statesmen, priests, financiers, litteratuers, artists, tradesmen and artisans. The greatest minds of the country have turned to it for recreation, and the meanest have debased it for gain. No game at cards has ever been so abused or degraded, and yet its popularity is unimpaired. In looking at the history of this game one is tempted to paraphrase a familiar proverb, and exclaim: Poker is mighty and must prevail!
This vast popularity alone should gain respect for Poker as a pastime. But when one comes to thoroughly understand the game, respect gives place to admiration, and admiration of love. This influence is wholly natural, and becomes palpable when we analyze Draw Poker. In the first place, there is no other game at cards that affords such numerous and varied combinations. It is an eternal round of surprise or disappointment. In the second place, no other game affords the player such option. There is the option of fixing the stake or naming the amount of the "ante", there is the option of "going in", there is the option of playing before the "draw", there is the option of "discarding" and "drawing" and there is the final options of playing after the "draw". In the third place, no game whatever, whether played at cards or otherwise affords such a clear and comprehensive study of human nature. Draw Poker is insatiable in its exposure of human weaknesses. It tears the mask of bravery from the face of the coward; it exposes the hypocrite; it strips meanness of pretended generosity; and it continually unearths unsuspected vices or develops astonishing virtues. The scientific poker player studies his adversaries as thoroughly as he does his cards, and attaches more importance to the peculiarities of their play than to the hands he holds himself.
In Draw Poker has no other recommendation than its ruthless exposition of human foibles, it would merit respect and perpetuity.
John W Keller 1889