Imagine calling a bet to Richard Nixon!

Mar 11, 2003 4:15 AM

Poker is a fun game, so naturally there would be associated with it plenty of fun facts. Here are a few, courtesy of the World Poker Tour.

A national sport? 40 to 50 million Americans regularly play poker. That’s more than one in five.

Origin of poker? The term may come from the German verb pochen, meaning to brag or bluff, and there is an older, German card game similar to poker in that it involved bluffing, called pochspiel. Another version traces the word to the French poque, also said to have been a card game resembling poker. The earlier version of the game in English was called brag.

President Richard Nixon won $6,000 during his first two months in the U.S. Navy in World War II, playing poker. His winnings were used to fund his first (and successful) campaign for congress.

Each year more than 70 million decks of cards are sold in the U.S.

When Columbus landed on U.S. shores in 1492, his men plucked wide leaves from trees, marked them with images, and played cards.

Pass the what? In card games, sometimes a marker or buck is placed in front of the person who is to deal the next game. Every time the deal passes, players must also "pass the buck" (which explains why the expression "pass the antelope" never really caught on).

John Montague, Earl of Sandwich, was a man of doubtful integrity and a compulsive gambler who lived in the 1700s. He was so reluctant to leave a card game even for a meal that he had a servant bring him a piece of meat between two slices of bread so he could eat with one hand and play cards with the other. The new invention was simply dubbed, a sandwich.

A gambling pal of actor Samuel Foote once complained that he’d been thrown out of a second-floor window for cheating in a high-stakes game of poker. When he asked for Foote’s advice, the response was, "Well, don’t play so high"

Groucho Marx got his name because he carried his poker money in a "grouch bag".