Video poker first became commercially viable when it became economical to combine a television-like monitor with a solid state central processing unit. The earliest models appeared at the same time as the first personal computers were produced, in the mid-1970s, although they were primitive by today’s standards.
Video poker became more firmly established when SIRCOMA, which stood for Si Redd’s Coin Machines (and which evolved over time to become International Game Technology), introduced Draw Poker in 1979. Throughout the 1980s video poker became increasingly popular in casinos, as people found the devices less intimidating than playing table games. Today video poker enjoys a prominent place on the gaming floors of many casinos. The game is especially popular with Las Vegas locals, who tend to patronize locals casinos off the Las Vegas Strip. These local casinos often offer lower denomination machines or better odds.
A few people that are skilled in calculating odds have made money playing video poker.
After inserting money (or a bar-coded paper ticket with credit) into the machine, play begins by placing a bet of one or more credits and pressing the “deal” button. The player is then given 5 cards (like five-card draw) and has the opportunity to discard one or more of them in exchange for new ones drawn from the same virtual deck. After the draw, the machine pays out if the hand or hands played match one of the winning combinations, which are posted in the pay table. Unlike the table version, the player may discard all 5 of their original cards if they so choose.
Pay tables allocate the payouts for hands and are based on how rare they are, the game variation, and the decision of the game operator. A typical pay table starts with a minimum hand of a pair of jacks, which pays even money. All the other hand combinations in video poker are the same as in table poker, including such hands as two pair, three of a kind, straight (a sequence of 5 cards of consecutive value), flush (any 5 cards of the same suit), full house (a pair and a three of a kind), four of a kind (four cards of the same value), straight flush (5 consecutive cards of the same suit) and royal flush (a Ten, a Jack, a Queen, a King and an Ace of the same suit).
Some machines offer progressive jackpots or other unique bonuses, spurring players to both play more coins and to play more frequently.
Video poker machines in casinos in the United States are regulated by state or Indian gaming agencies. These agencies typically require that the machines deal random card sequences using a virtual deck of cards. This is based on a Nevada Gaming Commission regulation later adopted by other states with a gaming authority. Video poker machines are tested to ensure compliance with this requirement before they are offered to the public.
There are many variations of video poker. They include Deuces Wild, where a two serves as a wild card; Joker’s Wild, where a joker serves as a wild card; Anything’s Wild, where the player selects any card (by rank) to act as the wild card before the hand is dealt; pay schedule modification, where four aces with a five or smaller kicker pays an enhanced amount (these games usually have some adjective in the title such as “bonus”, “double”, or “triple”); and multi-play poker, where the player starts with a base hand, and each additional played hand draws from a different set of cards with the base hand. (Multi-play games are offered in “Triple Play”, “Five Play”, “Ten Play”, “Fifty Play” and “One Hundred Play” versions.)
In games which do not have a wild card, a player on average will receive the rare four-of-a-kind hand approximately once every 500 hands, while a player may play tens of thousands of hands before a royal flush, which usually has the highest payout.
Video poker games online are now available in the US in 3 different states: New Jersey, Delaware, and Nevada. Players in all three states are able to enjoy fully regulated online video poker games provided that they are physically present in the respective state, of legal age to gamble, and can validate their identity.
Full pay games
When modern video poker games first appeared, the highest-paying common variant of a particular game was called “full-pay”. Game variants that returned a lower payback percentage were termed “Short-Pay”. Though the term full-pay is still in use, today, there are many game variants that return more. Payback percentage expresses the long-term expected value of the player’s wager as a percentage if the game is played perfectly. A payback percentage of 99 percent, for example, indicates that for each $100 wagered, in the long run, the player would expect to lose $1 if they played every hand in the optimal way. Full-pay Jacks or Better, for example, offers a payback percentage of 99.54%. Some payback percentages on full-pay games are often close to or even in excess of 100 percent.
Casinos do not usually advertise payback percentages, leaving it up to the player to identify which video poker machines offer the best schedules.
The payoff schedules for most video poker machines are configured with a pay schedule that pays proportionally more for certain hands (such as a royal flush) when the maximum number of credits (typically 5 coins) is bet. Therefore, players who do not play with the maximum number of credits at a time are playing with a smaller theoretical return.