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Video Poker is simply a combination of two popular forms of gambling: the slot machine with the poker game. Winning a game of Video Poker involves a combination of player skill with genuine luck, making it a favorite with players. The game of poker is thought to have originated back in 1830, where it is recorded as having been played by French immigrants living in New Orleans. Video Poker uses a version of the game called five-card draw poker. Meanwhile, the coin-operated card machine (known affectionately as a ‘slot’) was originally invented in the late 19th century, with poker machines appearing in San Francisco in 1890. These machines were very basic by today’s standards, using real cards rather than symbols.
The machines declined in popularity throughout the first half of the 20th century. Economic difficulties combined with the limited technology of the machines themselves meant that people just weren’t interested in playing anymore. A very primitive electronic poker machine was released in 1964 but achieved only moderate success.
It wasn’t until the mid-1970s that the Video Poker machine as we know it today became available. Advances in technology meant that a central processing unit (CPU) could be installed inside the machines to give them a ‘brain’, whilst a monitor transmitted the action to the player.
Meanwhile, casino operators searched for new high-profit games, and the combination of a slot machine with the more traditional game of five-card draw poker proved to be a winning combination of the old and new. The first Video Poker machine was built in 1976 by Bally Manufacturing. It was black and white only, but a color version followed just eight months later, released by the Fortune Coin Company. Over the next few years, computer chips became cheaper to mass produce, and more casinos introduced Video Poker machines as they became more financially viable. A version called Draw Poker was released in 1979 by a company now called IGT, and it achieved unheralded success.
Video Poker really took off in the early 1980s where it became popular in casinos across Las Vegas. Players found themselves far less intimidated by a machine than they were when sitting down at a table in front of others. The popularity of the game has steadily increased during the last quarter-century and it can now be found in the majority of casinos around the world, as well as in bars and on the Internet.