The history of Chinese Poker (sometimes known as Russian Poker in the U.S.A.) is inextricably tied up with the history of poker itself. On New Year’s Eve, 969 AD, Emperor Mu-Tsung was reported to have played “domino cards” with his wife. This report has been traditionally seen as the earliest recorded incident of a poker type game being played.
Chinese Poker evolved from Pai Gow, which traces its origins from an ancient game played with dominoes, similar to the game that played by the Emperor and his wife all those centuries ago.
Pai Gow rode the wave of Chinese immigration to the U.S.A. in the 1800s and soon merged with poker. The incarnation of this union is the form of Pai Gow played in casinos all over North America. The modern form of Chinese Poker that is played in casinos and online was developed when 6 more cards were added.
Chinese Poker has a large following in Hong Kong and southeast Asia. It is called Pusoy in the Philippines and the Hawaiians call it Pepito. It has seen phenomenal growth in the West, with major casinos such as Holly Wood Park and The Bicycle Club picking the game up.
Chinese Poker gained true recognition when, in 1995, the World Series of Poker included it as one the events. John Tsagaris took home the bracelet and the $41,400 prize money.
Two events were run the next year, Jim Feldhouse and Gregory Grivas each won respective titles. But sadly, after 1996, Chinese Poker was dropped from the WSOP (along with a number of other poker variants).
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