The History of Video Poker
In the mid 1970's the idea of a personal computer was just coming to reality. As is often the case, the gambling industry would embrace this new technology to make a whole new range of ways for players to gamble. Interestingly enough in the earliest days of video poker the game almost never made it off the ground.
Si Redd who was working for Bally as a distributor and was influential in many of the slot machine innovations pitched a new invention to the Bally executives in Chicago - Video Poker. The new electronic version of draw poker was deemed to be unfavorable by the Bally executives who decided they did not want to branch out from slots to a whole new untested game with players.
Luckily for gamblers worldwide, Si Redd convinced Bally to let him take the patent on video poker, probably one of the biggest mistakes Bally Gaming ever made. Within months Si had made a deal with the Fortune Coin Company from Reno to form a new company known as Sircoma (An acronym for Si Redds Coin Machines).
Sircoma went on to mass produce the new video poker machines that he held the patent for. While the initial uptake was slow by 1981 the new game was the most popular new addition to casinos.
The earliest game was known as Draw Poker and featured a lowest possible hand of two pairs. Changing this to a pair of jacks or better further increased the popularity as more hands were winners. The original machines were very primitive by today's standards - the screen was much like the TV's of the era.
Just a year later and Si Redd took the Sircoma company public with a name change that is instantly recognizable to casinos players - International Game Technology (IGT). The invention of video poker actually changed the face of casino floors forever as only a few years later the first video slot machines were introduced on the back of the video poker machine success.
Today there are hundreds of different video poker variations with thousands of different pay tables. New and exciting versions are still being released such as Spin Poker which is a cross between a slot machines and a video poker machine and Multi-Strike poker where you have multiple hands that feature higher and higher pays as you move up the hand ladder.
Interestingly enough even after a quarter of a century the early version of Jacks or Better is still one of the most popular and frequently found game variations on casino floors. While we cannot predict what future twists the game manufacturers will come up with we can be sure that classic video poker will be popular for many years to come.
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