Poker as a Vying Game
According to some poker authorities, poker is basically a five-card vying game using the standard deck of 52 playing cards.
Purists assert that any five-card vying game could be considered a type of poker, no matter what it is called. Conversely, any game that does not use vying or does not use the five-card system is not a type of poker even if its name includes the word and even if it uses poker hands in the game.
So what is a vying game as defined by authorities? They say that a vying game is one where cards are dealt and the players bet on who among them is holding the best hand, meaning the card combination of the highest value. The definitions of hands and their rankings are predetermined and universal in poker.
The vying game of England is called brag, while the vying game of Italy is called primiera and the vying game of Spain is called mus. They are often considered as predecessors of poker although there is still much debate on the matter. The definitive history of poker has not yet been determined.
Brag is very much older than the earliest form of poker. Best known is the three-card brag. The five-card brag is the vying game most similar to poker, though, except that its hands are defined differently. There are other types of brag, too, with the four-card brag closest to the three-card and five-card brag. Six-card, seven-card, nine-card and 13-card brag are also being played but use a totally different set of mechanisms.
Primiera is much older than poker, too, being popular in Italy and across Europe in the 1500s. It is a four-card vying game that also calls for a showdown. The combination sought is called the prime and consists of one card from each suit.
Mus, on the other hand, also involves betting on who holds the best hand but the players are comprised of two pairs. Each pair sits across from each other and the game is played in a counterclockwise direction. This vying game is usually not played with money bets.
In the United States, poker has developed various variants with three general classifications: draw poker, stud poker and community card poker. All three categories are comprised of vying games although there are some games under each group that use more than five cards. There could well be more arguments between purists and other authorities on whether these games are poker.
Whatever the debate may be, poker remains as a very popular pastime in both gambling and non-gambling niches.