Video Poker History

Video Poker is initially based on both the game of poker and on slot machines. There has not yet been a documented history of poker.

Even today there is still no real agreement as to whether or not the name is derived from the French ‘poque,’ or possibly from the German ‘Pochspiel’. Some even believe that its source is in the Hindu ‘pukka’.

The earliest known discussion of the game goes back all the way to 1834. It was at this time that Jonathan Green noticed the progression and also the development of the game as it was occurring on the Mississippi River riverboats.

Coin operated gaming mechanisms were first used on the East Coast of the United States and they date back to the later part of the 1800s. Such devices had become popular in various cigar stores as well as saloons in San Francisco.

These earliest machines were referred to as drop card machines. They used fifty cards situated on five drums. There were two cards that were usually absent from the deck being the Jack of Hearts and Ten of Spades.

You might think that this does not seem fair. If so, you would be right. There were however, those players that got back by using counterfeit coins.

In the early history of poker machines, quaint colorful customs were quite common. For example, commonly a Royal Flush would pay off with 100 cigars or drinks.

By 1899, Charles Fey had become well known throughout the industry on account of his three-reel Liberty Bell slot machine. This turned out to be a sign of things to come. The 6-Way Paying Teller was also produced by Fey in his Market Street factory.

This device contained 5 rows of drop cards. All but one of Fey’s “bell” machines were lost in the San Francisco fire and earthquake of 1906. This one was salvaged by Fey himself. This machine can still be seen today at his Fey’s grandson’s Reno Nevada Liberty Belle Saloon and Restaurant.

It was during the following years that mechanical poker machines went from being popular to not being popular. It was in 1964 that the electronics age actually began. It was at this time that the Nevada Electronics solid state “21” machine was created.

It was during the mid-70’s that other companies joined into the action by producing solid state roulette, horse racing and poker machines. The Poker-Matic that was brought out by Dale Electronic in Las Vegas, met with terrific success.

A video bell slot machine was built in 1975, by the Fortune Coin Company. Because of a rather indifferent acceptance on the part of the casinos, it ended up being converted into a draw poker machine.

This variation on the video slot machine was a terrific success. One of those who became a major industry leader was William “Si” Redd. It was his company that purchased Nutting Enterprises, the manufacturer of BlackJack and Draw Poker video consoles.

The company name was eventually changed by him to International Game Technology, which is known today as being a major leader in the field.

The invention of the video chip in the mid-70’s is what eventually brought about the development of video poker machines. They are now a major element of today’s casinos having spread significantly.