Poker is believed to have been introduced to the Philippines during World War I by American soldiers who brought in the Bicycle brand playing cards. All playing cards in the country in the 1950s were imported and many were sold behind the counter or secretly sold by Maranao sidewalk vendors.
For many many years people have been playing a local version of the game of Poker with the use of 52 cards where 13 cards are distributed all face down to four players one at a time.
It is known in the Visayas and Mindanao as piat-piat or pusoy in Luzon. Most, however, call it Chinese Poker. The pot usually runs up to hundreds if not thousands of pesos, particularly those games participated by weekend professional gamblers, including government officials.
This game became so popular that those that could not afford cards themselves created their own deck of cards with some cardboard and pens so that they could play this ever growing popular card game.
Chinese Poker is played just like the 5-card stud poker with a twist. The last five cards should be arranged that it would be the best. The second group of five cards should be better than and that of the third group–the three cards.
For example, if the last three cards form a trio, the middle group should form a straight but not two pairs since the trio is higher.
The Chinese term for this is totyu or inverted or disarranged. With this you become outright the loser for the round.
The 13 cards grouped in 5-5-3 should then be arranged that the last five would be the best, the middle group better and the three cards as good or whatever.
With the popularity of Chinese Poker or Pusoy Filipinos easily found favor with the new game on the block and play the now popular Texas Hold ‘Em High Poker, which is played in casinos in Paranaque, Pasig City in clubhouses; Manila, Tagaytay and other cities in the country legally.
Entry fees are reasonably low at PhP1,000 or so but with the total tournament top prizes of PhP1 million or $20,000, many join the regular tournament sponsored by a club formed by a journalist.
Others are now into the bandwagon sponsoring Texas Hold ‘Em High tournaments with the same format of putting in $200 as entry fee for the elimination round. If you want to immediately join the championship game you have to buy in with P20,000 or $2,000.
Since Texas Hold ‘Em is simple many have been playing the game even clandestinely.
With the Filipinos’ propensity to gamble putting casinos in the country with Poker as the main attraction could be a profitable business. The government casino operator is eyeing an Entertainment City in the heart of Metro Manila– at the reclaimed land near the popular SM Mall of Asia, one of the biggest malls in Southeast Asia.