It was bound to happen, the marriage between the game of five card draw poker and technology, the creation of the phenomenon known as video poker. Late last century, in the 1970s, the popular game of poker and the allure of the slot machine merged to form the wildly popular game of video poker. In fact, early slot machines dating back to the end of the 19 th century used cards rather than symbols, so the amazing fact is that a proper marriage didn't occur sooner.
The Early Days of Video Poker
It all began during the first oil crisis, fueled by the oil embargo and the Las Vegas casino mavens' desire to stoke the dying embers. Video poker proved the perfect prescription, as hoards of gamblers flocked to the casinos to join in the newest rage, and Las Vegas began its revitalization. The familiar look of the machine probably contributed to its popularity. Players could learn as they played by consulting the payout table, and machines prompted you by alerting you to winning hands. Everyone with a history of go fish or gin rummy was flocking to the video poker machines. But could the trend last?
Combining the skill required for poker with the ease of using a slot machine, while lacking the pressure of multiple opponents and the pressure to act quickly, gamblers began an enduring love affair with video poker. Gamblers love any game that introduces some control into the luck equation, and video poker fits the bill on several levels:
- Video poker rewards the accomplished player, and mastering video poker falls far short of learning rocket science.
- The variations are almost endless.
Video poker introduced transparency into gambling. It's simple to determine the odds of any video poker machine, based on the payout of two hands: the full house and the flush. They might as well advertise the odds on any given machine. The looseness or tightness of a machine is posted in the payout table for all to see. Contrast that with the slot machines. The player only knows the overall payout, not any given machine's payout.
Could it Possibly Get Any Better?
One of the unintended consequences of the Texas Holdem craze is that everyone wants to get into the poker action any way they can, and this has only increased the video poker mania. Not everyone is cut out of for the intensity of table poker. Thanks to cable TV, every breathing, warm body has access to the latest poker craze to sweep the world?
Tournaments are televised day and night, and the action is addictive. Everyone wants a piece of the action, and this has had an effect on video poker.
Since the Texas Holdem craze has proved more than just a passing fancy, slot machines in the casinos are being replaced with video poker machines. Newer machines include Bonus Poker, Double Bonus Poker, Joker's Wild, Deuces Wild, and Poker Frenzy. In addition, machines that allow players to play up to 100 hands simultaneously are emerging.