The History of Video Poker.

Video poker, now one of the most popular forms of gambling in the USA, may be a new craze of the late twentieth and early twenty-first centuries, but it has its origins deep in gambling history, going back some two hundred years.

It is based on the traditional card game of poker, which over time has been adapted to the technologies of each era to capture the fascination of successive generations of new gamblers.

Poker itself is known to have been played in America since at least the early 1880s, with the first use of the name Poker being accredited to Jonathan Green in 1834.

The earliest predecessors of today's video poker games were the coin-operated poker card machines which were introduced in the late nineteenth century. These were first manufactured by Sittman and Pitt of Brooklyn, and were soon be found in cigar and liquor stores across the nation, especially in the gamblers paradise of late nineteenth century California.

With these earliest of these machines, players had to insert a coin and pull the machine's handle to spin the five drums of cards, to try for a winning poker combination such as a Royal Flush, Straight Flush or pair of Kings.

Pay-outs were in drinks or cigars, but the odds of winning were reduced by the deliberate omission from the ‘deck' of the Jack of Hearts and the Ten of Spades, to boost the manufacturer's profits and the store or saloon owner's commission.

A simpler version, with just three drums and twenty symbols, was Charles August Fey's Liberty Bell machine, first made in 1898.

A significant development in these early poker machines came in 1901 with the ‘draw' feature, designed by Charles Fey. Whereas players had previously relied purely on luck to bring them that longed for-win, the new machines introduced an element of skill.

When all the drums stopped turning, the player could make a limited number of adjustments by holding certain drums stable and making a second pull to turn the remaining drums.

The popularity of poker card machines gradually declined during the early and mid-twentieth centuries, except for occasional resurgences of interest.

It was the rapid and major technological advances of the late twentieth century that led to the development of video poker as we now know it, an exciting and innovative new form of the traditional card game, which has swept the country and the world as people play in casinos, bars and even on-line in their own homes.

Despite its new face, video poker retains the main characteristics of the classic Poker card game. The main difference is that it is played against a machine rather than other players.

Like his card playing counterpart, however, the video poker gambler still places a bet, is dealt a hand of cards and relies on both luck and skill to gain a winning combination.

In both Poker and Video Poker, winning hands can be very well-rewarded by substantial payouts. Similarly, unlucky players of both games will go home broke.