Video Poker History
The first mass-produced video poker machines were introduced to casinos at around the same time that the first personal computers were manufactured, in the mid 1970s.
However, while most think of video poker history as beginning somewhere in the 1970s, the predecessors of today’s modern video poker machines actually date all the way back to the late 1800s. At that time, the Sittman and Pitt of Brooklyn company developed a poker card machine, which became popular in cigar and liquor stores in the United States. The machine took a coin and the player pulled to spin five drums holding poker cards. Often, a winning hand was paid in cigars or alcohol.
In 1901, Charles Fey added a “draw” element to the poker machine. The new machine enabled a player to hold certain drums after the first spin and to pull a handle to spin the remaining drums. Fey’s contribution to video poker history was enormous in that he introduced the element of skill that distinguishes video poker from playing slot machines.
Video Poker History from the 1970s on
From the early 1900s on, the popularity of poker machines gradually waned. Then, as the development of computer technology gained momentum in the 1970s, the potential for mass-producing computerised video poker machines (and for casinos to generate substantial revenues from these machines) began to be realized.
In 1979, SIRCOMA (Si Redd’s Coin Machines) manufactured the first modern video poker machines based on draw poker – the basis for almost all video poker variations played today. In the early game, the lowest paying hand was any two pairs. Just a year later, SIRCOMA went public and took on the name of the now world-famous International Game Technology (IGT) company.
As it has become cheaper to manufacture video poker machines, which combine a monitor with a solid state central processing unit (CPU), their popularity has continued to grow. Recent video poker history has also seen the introduction of large numbers of variations to the basic game, with players able to choose from several types of video poker on a single casino game floor.
Many casino visitors have developed a preference for video poker, which allows for more skill than playing slot machines but is less intimidating than playing table poker. Currently, video poker is featured in large numbers of casinos around the world. It’s particularly popular off the Las Vegas Strip, where some local casinos offer machines with higher than normal payoff schedules or machines that accept lower denomination coins than the usual 25 cents.