Video Poker History
By: J Finney
The video poker machine is one of the most popular gambling machines in existence today. Part poker, and part video game, it’s the perfect combination to make it a modern day gambling sensation. Although today’s video poker machines are the epitome of our current high tech in gambling, they have existed in simpler form for about two hundred years.
Video poker is of course based on the card game of poker. The video poker machine of today is the result of the game of poker being manifested into different types of games at varying levels of technology through the generations. The game of poker has been played in America since the early 1880s, with the game being referred to as ‘Poker’ in 1834 by a man name Jonathan Green.
The earliest recorded ancestors of the video poker machine were coin operated machines which used poker cards. These machines came into the scene in the late 1800s, and were manufactured by a company by the name of Sittman and Pitt of Brooklyn. The poker card machines were placed in liquor stores and cigar shops, and shortly worked their way across the U.S.
These machines worked by the player putting a coin into the poker machine and pulling a handle, which spun five drums that held the poker cards. The player would wait for it to stop, while hoping for a winning hand. A winning hand was paid out in cigars or drinks. Sadly, and unbeknownst to the players, the Ten of Spades and the Jack of Hearts were left out of the deck to reduce the chances of winning.
In 1901, Charles Fey made the next big improvement to the poker machine by adding the first ‘draw’ feature to the already wildly popular machine. Fey’s addition to the poker machine allowed the player to actually use their poker skills in the game, as opposed to being left to the mercy of blind luck.
Charles Fey’s improvement allowed the player to hold certain drums still after the first spin, while pulling the handle to spin the remaining drums. This in effect was the first ‘hold’ and ‘draw’ combination.
Over the following years, people’s interest in poker card machines diminished, with only an occasional hiccup of interest every now and again. It wasn’t until the late 1970s that the poker machine was reborn into the video poker machine, thus rekindling the love of video poker.
The first of these machines appeared along side of the personal computer. It was this technology which made the video poker machine a reality. With its solid state circuitry, and its television like monitor, this clunky machine would give rise to the poker machines of today. These machines have made their homes in bars, casinos and even online.