Video Poker History


The origin of the video poker is closely tied to the history of the slot machine because video poker machines are essentially slot machines which use cards instead of symbols. Since both video poker and video slot machines are essentially computer games (a computer chip combined with a television monitor - and no physical reels), the growth of both machines is also correlated with the growth of the personal computer, which also began in the 1970's. The original video poker machines were very primitive compared to today's machines - just like TVs from the 1970's were primitive compared to todays.

In 1970, Dale Electronics introduced the first video poker machine, known as "Poker-Matic". A few years later, the first video slot machine (the first to use a television screen) was introduced in 1975 in Las Vegas by Walt Fraley and the Fortune Coin Company. But neither machine gained much popularity.

Si Redd

After being a successful distributor of arcade games and Wurlitzer jukeboxes, Si Redd was hired by Bally Manufacturing in 1967 and arrived in Reno to distribute slot machines for the company, who was the dominant slot-machine company at the time. Redd set up an affiliate company, Bally Distribution, to service the casino market and kept 70 percent of the stock for himself. He was so successful that he soon became known as "The Slot Machine King."

In the mid-1970's, Redd became inspired by the new Pong video game and worked with a Bally engineer to develop video keno, blackjack, and poker games. He then pitched the executives at Bally on the idea of Video Poker. But Bally was not interested in the game because the company did not want to enter a new, untested market - especially when it was concentrating on the lucrative and already-proven market for slot machines.

Redd then sold his distribution company to Bally Manufacturing, but structured the deal so that $1.5 million would be subtracted from the purchase price so he could retain the rights to the several games, including video poker. Redd then founded a new company named A-1 Supply to sell the new games.

The new video poker machines weren't too popular at first because players didn't trust the electronic machines because they couldn't see any physical reels spinning. The new machines only received a lukewarm acceptance by the casinos. However, popularity exploded after the game was converted to a draw poker machine.

Redd's company flourished, and in 1979 he changed the name of the company to Sircoma (an abbreviation for SI Redds COin MAchines) and changed the name again in 1980 to the now-famous "International Game Technology". A year later, IGT went public on NASDAQ in October 1981.

The Growth Years

In the 1980's there was a boom in the use of Video Poker machines for a few different reasons. First, video poker offered casino players a game which required a very small investment. They could play only one coin if they wanted. Second, video poker machines were not limited to casinos. They could be placed in airports, bars, and other local stores. But one of the biggest reasons for the popularity of video poker was that the devices were much less intimidating than playing table games.

Video Poker Today

The Draw Poker machine was largely responsible for the growth of the modern era of video poker machines. Along with slot machines, video poker changed the face of casino floors forever as casinos now allocate much more space to non-table games. Video poker game is particularly popular with Las Vegas locals, who play the game in local casinos that tend to offer video poker machines with better odds.

The internet became a natural extension for video poker and, naturally, online video poker has become very popular over the last 10 years.


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Video Poker History

HPG ADMIN on March 1, 2013