Maria Peralta Lampropulos was born in Buenos Aires, Argentina, in 1875. She received her B.A. from the Polytechnic of Buenos Aires and her M.A. from the University of Buenos Aires.
The Birth of Poker. In 1889, Maria Lampropulos was employed as a secretary to a gambling housekeeper who took her into her confidence about her job and activities as a poker player. This was during the pre-World War I years and she saw a lot of gamblers and one day she saw some people playing poker, namely Helena Hundal, who became a poker enthusiast.
Playing Poker at the Hotels. Soon after, Maria Lampropulos decided to try her hand at poker and began playing in saloons, where she also met some other poker players. Among these were the Hundals, a married couple. Maria Lampropulos and the Hundals started to play a card game called ‘a playa’ which was a poker game where three people faced each other and the person holding the highest hand was declared the winner.
Poker Games. Through this poker game, Maria Lampropulos also met Ernest Hemingway, who became a poker enthusiast and told her about his favorite casino game, poker. Soon after, Hemingway introduced her to the game and they played it in their hotel rooms.
Playing Poker at Hemingway’s Home. In 1915, Hemingway brought her to his home in Paris, where he lived with his friend Mario Blasco. Here, Maria Lampropulos played poker in front of Hemingway’s close friends who included Luis Marquez, Josephine Bell, Adelina Patti, and Emilio Aguilar, who was an Argentine writer.
When Maria Lampropulos went to Paris, she stayed in the apartment of Mario Blasco, where she met Salvador Dali, whom she married. Hemingway was the reason why she wrote her famous story “Il brango” in his memory. The end of the story is written in the form of a letter from Dali to her in the year 1933.
Hemingway’s Memory Fragmented. On her trip back to Buenos Aires, Maria Lampropulos found out that Hemingway had been ill for the last three years and she had no memory of what had happened in Paris. She therefore asked the chauffeur to take her back to her hotel so that she could spend time with her husband, who was still grieving over the death of Hemingway.
Playing Poker at the Hotel Cafe in Mexico City. After three years of grief, Maria Lampropulos wrote Hemingway, but he could not remember the names of her husband and their friends. She instead, wrote about a poker game she had played in Paris.
Hemingway’s Memory Fragmented. In October 1938, after Maria Lampropulos had regained her memory, she decided to write about the poker game that she had played in Paris, which she had experienced while sitting next to Hemingway on his porch in New York City.
Later, when the poker game actually took place, Hemingway remembered the name of Maria Lampropulos. He immediately recognized her as his cousin and he invited her to spend the following night in his hotel room. Maria Lampropulos and Hemingway made love in that hotel room and Hemingway confessed to her that the night had changed his life.
Poker as an Italian Street Names. In 1941, when Italy became the battleground between Italy and the Nazis, a group of American soldiers stayed in Italy during World War II and played poker in the casinos. They came up with the idea of calling the game after the famous poker players in Paris.
Poker Matches to Fame. In 1946, the games were published as a book by Milan, which became a huge best seller. It became popular in Italy, Germany, the U.S., France, and England.