Wide view of Venice: Piazza San Marco - Riva degli Schiavoni


The forefather of Poker

"I never prospered
since I forswore myself at primero.
Well, if my wind were but long enough to say my prayers, I would repent."

Falstaff: “The Merry Wives of Windsor”
by William Shakespeare

Primiera is a card game that was played in Italy since the late XV century, being considered the precursor of Poker.

It was sometimes played with a 52 cards deck (Rome), but more frequently with a 40 cards deck, being called the Primiera Cardanica and using the typical cards set from Bologna, that is still used nowadys.

Very similar to the modern Poker, it was played with 4 cards for each player, with 3 card renewals, and betting at each renewal. Players could stay and see the bet, or raise it, or abandon the game.

Even the possibility of bluffing was allowed, and who has the highest card combination - among the ones that went along with the betting - is the winner.

The origin of the game may be Italian or Spanish, that is not defined, but got rapidly diffused all around Europe at the time.

Card values

Each card has a specific value, suits are not important, nor define any difference.
The sequence: highest card value is for the 7 (value = 21), followed by the 6 (18) - Ace (16) - 5(15) - 4 (14) - 3(13) - 2(12) - Figures (10 each).

Card combinations

CHORUS: 4 cards of the same value (7,7,7,7 ... 6,6,6,6 etc)
FLUXUS (Flush): 4 cards of the same suit
SUPREMUS (or Fifty-Five): 7-6-Ace of same suit
PRIMIERA: one card of each suit
NUMBERS (Point): 2-3 cards of the same suit

Cards from Urbino, Central Italy
Cards from Urbino, Central Italy
Deck was composed of 40 cards, and
what we see here as a Horse later became a Dame (17th century)
suits that are still in use nowadays 
for all the 40 card deck's games in Italy
These are the suits that are still in use nowadays
for all the 40 card deck's games in Italy.
This kind of cards possibly originated in Bologna or Napoli,
in the XV century.

Copyright by Roberto Delpiano 1997-2022 - visit my website www.delpiano.com