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History of Video Poker

Nowadays, video poker is played on an electronic device, which could lead us to think that its history is very recent. However, it dates back to a much more distant past. Video poker is a complex mixture of slot machines and traditional poker. Its birth presupposes the preexistence of both of these games. One-armed bandits using poker hands can be found as early as the late 19th century. In this article, we will tell you the story of how video poker came about.

Ancestors of Video Poker

As its name suggests, video poker uses some elements borrowed from the famous card-game that is poker. The latter has been played since the early 1880s in the United States. In the last decade of the 19th century appears a one-armed bandit which uses poker hands. Obviously, it is not yet based on any computerised, electronic or video elements. It is invented by Sittman and Pitt in Brooklyn, NYC. As far as its functioning goes, it resembles classic slot machines. You need to pull a lever to activate reels which give you a random poker hand. This machine has so many different possible combinations that it cannot give out money to its users. If you want to collect your gain, you need to ask the owner of the establishment, generally a bar, for it. In 1901, the inventor of the first ever mechanical slot machine, Charles Fey, develops upgrades, such as the hold and draw options, for this already very popular device. From then on, sheer luck is not enough: in order to win, strategy also comes into play.

The First Video Poker Machines

These ancestors are extremely similar to contemporary video poker machines although they are still not electronic devices. You have to wait until the seventies and the surge in computers and computer science to see the first avatars of this casino game. The appearance of these technologies and the lowering of the cost of the machines have allowed the leaders of the industry to convert classic casino games into electronic game machines, technically and economically viable. At the time, solid states appear: computers constituted of a single bloc, formed by a core and a screen, which propose digital adaptations of casino classics like roulette, horse-racing and all. The first real video poker machines are born at that time. They are created by the Fortune Coin Company. These games are still very basic but the Poker-Matic and the Dale Electronic's, for example, know a great success. Little by little, the game complexity increases. Two innovations are responsible for this evolution. The first one is the appearance of the video card in the late 70s. The second is the distribution of a revolutionary machine. in 1979, SIRCOMA, the predecessor of International Game Technology (IGT), releases a machine with draw, called Draw Poker, which know an immediate success.

The Rise of Video Poker

In the 80s, video poker slowly becomes increasingly popular, especially in the casinos in Las Vegas. Winnings increase and machines evolve. New technologies allow a constant perfection of them. A lot of variations are born, such as, among others, the Jacks or better, the Tens or better, the Deuce Wild, the All-American, the Joker poker or the Double joker poker. On top of that, some machines also propose progressive jackpots. These jackpots increase with every bet. They can reach tantalising amounts, such as a million dollar or even more. The first player who gets a royal flush gets the progressive jackpot, which then falls down to a lower level only to rise again with players' bets. In the 90s, the success of video poker is such that it becomes truly a great classic in casinos.

Online Video Poker

In the mid-90s, gambling websites flourish. Video poker is one of the first games they propose. It does adapt very well as an online game as even in a brick-and-mortar casino it also uses a screen. It is nowadays one of the most popular games on the web. Variations are numerous: you only have to take your pick.