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Video Poker History

The History of Video Poker

Video poker is one of the most popular games in both land-based and online casinos. The history of video poker demonstrates how, through the use of modern computer technology, two great gambling games — poker and slot machines — could be adapted and combined into an exciting new casino game.

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Forerunners of the Video Poker Machine

In 1891, in Brooklyn, New York, the Sittman and Pitt company invented an early poker machine. The Sittman and Pitt machine contained five drums, each of which held ten different playing cards. A player would insert a nickel into a slot and pull a lever, and the drums would spin around. When the spinning stopped, the drums would reveal the cards that made up the player's poker hand. The machines were usually found in bars, and the prizes for winning poker hands were usually in the form of drinks or cigars and the like.

These early poker machines held only fifty cards. Typically, the ten of spades and the jack of hearts were left out of the deck. The result was that the odds of getting a royal flush were cut in half, since a royal flush was possible only in two of the four suits.

Charles Fey Added the "Draw" to the Draw Poker Machine

Charles Fey, widely known as the Father of the Slot Machine, made several improvements to the poker machine. In 1898, he created the Card Bell, a poker machine that could automatically pay out cash prizes to the winners — up to twenty coins for a royal flush. An original Card Bell machine is still on display at the Liberty Belle Saloon and Restaurant in Reno, Nevada.

In 1901, Fey created a new poker machine called Skill Draw that had a "Hold" feature. A player would first spin all five drums of the Skill Draw machine and observe the results. He could then try to improve his poker hand by "holding" one or more of the drums and re-spinning the remaining drums. In effect, Fey invented a 5-Card Draw Poker machine. This improvement introduced elements of poker strategy and skill into what had theretofore been a game of blind luck. The Hold feature is, of course, an important element in online video poker machines today.

Dale Electronics Creates the Video Poker Machine

In 1970, Dale Electronics introduced the first true electronic video poker machine. Known as Poker-Matic, the video poker machine was featured in practically all the casinos in Las Vegas.

Then in 1979, the company known as SIRCOMA (now known as IGT) introduced a new video poker machine called Draw Poker. With Hold and Draw capabilities, Draw Poker became far more popular than Poker-Matic. It can be said that the Draw Poker machine truly ushered in the modern era of video poker history.

Microgaming Takes Video Poker Online

In the 1990s, Microgaming developed the first online video poker machines. People soon realized that there were many advantages to playing video poker online. They could play video poker at whatever hours they chose, in the comfort and privacy of their own homes. The online video poker casinos offered a greater variety of video poker games than did the conventional casinos. It is much easier to move from one video poker machine to another when playing video poker online. And all the Microgaming online casinos could be linked to create progressive video poker games offering jackpots of many thousands of dollars.

All in all, the development of online video poker proved to be a tremendous advancement in video poker history. And, undoubtedly, there are more advances yet to come, as the history of video poker continues to unfold.

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