Catching Up With The Agen Cahayapoker

Catching Up With The Agen Cahayapoker

 

A peek into the past, today, of Poker, found in the Philippines. The Agen Cahayapoker can be found on page 206 of the book A History of Poker in the Philippines. It is a treatise on the origin of poker in the Philippines. There are sixteen chapters to the volume.

Among the contributors to the volume are Jack Tee, Barr Magampis, Albert Mercado, Sol Erickson, Dan Enriquez, Alberto Bancos, Bert Gomez, Joan Malom, John Cudelo, and Edgardo Valenzuela. This volume is written in the direct and simple style of the author, Agen Cahayapoker. A quick glimpse of his book reveals that it is not merely a collection of facts, but a discussion of the evolution of the game from its origins to the present time.

The earliest Philippine records of poker can be traced back to the post-conquest period. But when this came about, they are still not known to historians. Poker came to be known as checus, or gamuyen in Tagalog. They are from the fact that the people in the post-conquest period were mostly fishermen and farmers.

The popularity of poker did not come out of nowhere. It has roots in the kind of gambling that was practiced during the Philippines’ colonial era. The fishing village system allowed people to share in a common interest which led to gambling and other activities that helped strengthen their community ties.

The typical gambler would buy peso coins and toss them to determine who was to win the gamble. Those who were skilled with dice could use them to try and win a bet.

But the gambling was only for those who were good at betting. In terms of a win, the skill of the gambler was more important than the luck of the players. And so, with the rise of gambling in the post-conquest period, gambling and poker began to be recognized as two different things.

Poker in its early stages would have been more prevalent in the northern parts of the Philippines. It spread from there to the southern part of the country because there was an abundance of salt licks to be found in the southern region. Because of the lack of gambling and the need for salt, fishing communities needed something else to do, something that would provide entertainment for the people. And then poker came into play.

Poker also thrived in these farming communities because the people needed something that provided entertainment. They could join in on the game by making bets for things like who would have the best catch. These games were common in the early years of poker, but gambling did not become popular until after the Spanish entered the Philippines.