Current name: Mississippi Stud
Previously known as: Stud Poker, Five-card stud.
First known reference: early 1820s.
Evolution: Commercial riverboats flooded the Mississippi waterways throughout the 19th century. The extensive routes brought lucrative cargo (think cotton, grain, pork), to the north and west. Of course businessmen, foreign explorers, and stowaways tagged along for the ride. The trips were tedious, slow and long. Mississippi Stud helped passengers fight their boredom.
It started with a 20-card deck, split between four players betting on who held the best combination (pairs, three or four of a kind). The game became a favourite of American civil war soldiers and standard in casinos the world over including right here in Ontario.  
Current name: Texas Hold ’em.
Previously known as: Just “Hold ’em” in Texas.
First known reference: Early 1900’s, in Robstown, Texas.
Evolution: Now the main event at the World Series of Poker and the World Poker Tournament, this most famous version of the game moved from Dallas, in 1925, to Las Vegas in 1967. Back then, only one casino offered the game and the second-rate location didn’t attract many high rollers. When, a few years later, a second casino invited professionals to play at the entrance of its prominent address, the payouts were impressive and popularity soared. The game made its way to Europe in the 1980s. James Bond famously beat Le Chiffre at No-limit Texas Hold ’Em played at the fictitious Casino Royale in Montenegro.
Current name: Blackjack
Previously known as: “21.”
First known reference: 1700’s France.
Evolution: French colonists brought it to North America. Circa WWI, Americans started offering a higher payout for the player who got an ace of spades or a black jack. From then on, the game became known as “Blackjack.”
Current name: Let It Ride
Also known as: “Let It Die” by dealers because of its slow, relaxed pace.
First known reference: Created in 1993 by Shuffle Master.
Evolution: The company Shuffle Master manufactures slot machines, table games and, importantly here, card shufflers. The company’s owner came up with the concept of mechanical shufflers when he read about casino losses from card counting at Blackjack tables. He designed a mechanical shuffler that used a fresh deck with every hand. It eliminated players’ opportunity to count. Great idea, bad timing.
When the machine was released in 1992, casinos had already conquered their card-counting problem by using multiple decks at Blackjack tables. How could the inventor create demand for his new product? Simple, he developed a single-deck game, Let It Ride. It is based on poker and played at Blackjack tables. Now played at casinos all over the world, including OLG Slots and Casinos—and automatic shufflers are always close by.
Of course, good game-lore isn’t necessary for a good time, but knowing the colourful back-story certainly adds some conversational pizzazz to a night of slots and table games.
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