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Ancestors to the card game poker include the ancient Persian (Iranian) game known as As Nas, the French game Poque, the Italian game Primiera, and the English game Brag. In the 1820s in New Orleans, Louisiana, sailors invented a game similar to poker in which a player bets that the value of his or her hand is higher than the value of the hands held by other players. The first poker games used three cards per person from a deck of thirty-two cards. Valuable combinations included pairs and three of a kind. Later, players used a deck of fifty-two cards, dealt each player five cards, and drew more cards from the deck. Stud poker, in which each player is dealt a first card face down and the next four cards face up, was not invented until about 1864. As poker was played, more changes gradually came about. They included the addition of the straight—a hand of five cards in sequence but not in the same suit (heart, club, spade, diamond)—and the flush—a hand of five cards in sequence all in the same suit. Poker has been called the "national card game" of the United States, but it is also popular in many other countries.

Further Information: Frey, Richard L. According to Hoyle. New York: Fawcett, 1970; Parlett, David. The Oxford History of Board Games. New York: Oxford University Press, 1999.

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