As it is with most popular card games, the origins of Poker and the history of 7 Card Stud Poker are shrouded in mystery. No one is entirely sure how or where the game began. Further, when considering the history of 7 Card Stud Poker, you should first know how Poker is thought to have come about.
There are many theories about the history of Poker and the history of 7 Card Stud Poker. The most commonly held belief is the name Poker came from the French card game Poque (from the German word pochen, which means to knock). However, the game itself more closely resembles a Persian game called Nas, which was played with a five-suit deck. Likely the game of Poker as we know it resulted from some combination of Poque and as Nas. The concept of bluffing in Poker came from still another source: the English game brag (first spelled Bragg), which is very similar to Poker but played using only three cards.
The first recorded instance of Poker in the United States was an 1829 game in New Orleans, played with a 20-card deck consisting of all cards with values of 10 and higher (four tens, four jacks, four queens, four kings and four aces). The game was not named, but the object was to bet on whose five-card hand contained the highest cards. This game soon spread to Mississippi riverboats, where con artists used a 52-card variant to bilk unwary travelers and claim their pokes, or gambling money stashes. Author Jonathan H. Green described this cheating card game in one of his books, and some give Green credit for coining the final term of Poker.
Stud Poker emerged during the American Civil War. Some attribute the invention of stud, or stud-horse as it was sometimes called, to cowboys around Ohio, Indiana and Illinois. 5 Card Stud was the first version played, appearing in The American Hoyle as an official Poker variant in 1864. Still, draw Poker was the favored variation until someone–no one is certain exactly whom–introduced 7 Card Stud in the early 20th century. The game remained the most popular form of professional and casino Poker until the 1980s, when a slight twist on 7 Card Stud called Texas Hold Em overtook the traditional version to become the favorite among gamblers and casual players alike.
The majority of Poker tournaments are based on core games of 7 Card Stud or variations of it. Binions Casino, the founder of the largest professional Poker tournament in existence–the World Series of Poker–began a Poker Hall of Fame to commemorate the greatest Poker players in history. Among them are Wild Bill Hicock, who was shot and killed during a Poker game holding a two-pair hand of aces over eights (which is still known as a dead mans hand among gamblers); and Red Hodges, considered the greatest 7 Card Stud Poker player to have ever lived. 7 Card Stud is still an immensely popular game in Vegas, home games and Internet casinos.