In 1901, Charles Fey added a Draw feature to his very popular Slot machine. This allowed some of the drums to be held when taking a second spin. This feature greatly increased the popularity of the Slot machines and turned them more into a skill-based gambling machine, and this development set the stage for the future history of video poker.
These early gambling machines had five drums or reels which were spun around when the player inserted a coin and pulled the handle. After the drums had come to a stop, the player could choose which ones he wanted to hold and which he wanted to spin again. It was this feature that that introduced a strategy element into what had been a purely luck-based slot machine game and allowed the player feel that he was in control.
At this stage of video poker history, the drums displayed only 50 cards: the Ten of Spades and the Jack of Hearts were left out. This reduced the odds of winning, unknown to most of the players who assumed that they were playing with a full deck. Despite this, these machines were extremely popular and it was these early machines that led to the invention of the modern-day Video Poker machines as we know them.
In the early 1900's these basic versions of the Video Poker machines with the Draw feature became very popular. Charles Fey was not the sole manufacturer anymore. The best machines were manufactured by the Sittman and Pitt company of Brooklyn, New York, and became so popular that demand was greater than supply and there was a backlog of orders. These machines could be seen in practically every liquor store and cigarette shop around the United States. Poker had already become the card game of the people and the introduction of the Draw feature to slot machines provided yet another avenue for the eager card player to play his game. Since gambling was not yet legalized all over the United States and the rest of the world, these poker machines could only offer prizes like cigars, drinks, or packs of gum. It is fortunate that video poker history has progressed to the point that real money prizes can now be won.
In 1975, the Fortune Bell Company introduced the first electronic Bell Slot machines. This was a combination of a television-like monitor together with a solid state processing unit. This machine was not too popular with the casino visitors and it was changed to a Draw Poker machine which was immediately accepted and became very popular. It enabled the player see his cards displayed on a screen and to use a console to fold, draw, raise, or call as he saw fit. The same rules of Poker that were used at regular casinos applied to the video poker machine.
The idea of this machine also took off like wildfire, and in 1979 a company by the name of Si Redd's Coin Machines introduced its version of the Draw Poker machine. The Company later became the International Game Technology Company which is still around today. The machines were constantly developed and updated as the technology advanced. Many players preferred to use the Video Poker machines which were not as intimidating as playing at a regular card table. Video Poker machines were not limited to casinos; they could be found in train stations, in airports and even in local cafes. In England, there was not a pub to be found that did not have a Video Poker machine. Games arcades developed and with them, special areas were cordoned off for Video Poker machines and other electronic gambling machines.
With the advent of the Internet in the 1990's, and with it the phenomenon of online casino gambling, came a most important milestone in the history of video poker: the arrival of online video poker games. Online video poker was played in much the same way as the original machines. A player had a very low minimum bet, and it was easy to transfer money to online casinos thanks to the advances in online banking and payment systems. The online video poker screen shows a hand of cards and the player is able to decide how he wants to continue his game. Video Poker is available at every online casino today and there are many different versions to be found. With the introduction of Microgaming technology, digital sounds and flash animation to our computer screens, the video poker game online is a pleasure to play and continues to improve. It has all the fun and excitement of the original machines, but you can play video poker online from the comfort of your own home.
The Video Poker machine, whether it is at a gas station or train station or on your home computer or mobile phone, is one of the most popular gambling machines there has ever been. From the small workshop where Charles Fey first invented the original slot machine to today's online video poker machines, video poker history has advanced, the industry has thrived, and both the players and the manufacturers have benefited.