poker is a casino game based on five-card draw poker.
It is played on a computerized console similar in
size to a slot machine.
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, although this was more common
in the 1990s as casinos across the country have recently
been cutting their paytables and/or only offering
25 cent machines or higher.
play begins by placing a bet of one or more credits,
by inserting money (or in newer machines, a barcoded
paper ticket with credit) into the machine, and then
pressing a "Deal" button to draw cards.
The player is then given an opportunity to keep or
discard one or more of the cards in exchange for a
new card drawn from the same virtual deck. After the
draw, the machine evaluates the hand and offers a
payout if the hand matches one of the winning hands
in the posted pay schedule.
On a typical video poker machine, payouts start with
a minimum hand of a pair of jacks. Pay tables allocate
the payout for hands based partially upon how rare
they are, and also based upon the total theoretical
return the game operator chooses to offer.
Some machines offer progressive jackpots for the royal
flush, (and sometimes for other rare hands as well),
thereby spurring players to both play more coins and
to play more frequently.
poker machines operated in state-regulated jurisdictions
are programmed to deal random card sequences. A series
of cards is generated for each play; five dealt straight
to the hand, the other five dealt in order if requested
by player. This is based upon a Nevada regulation,
adopted by most other states with a gaming authority,
which requires dice and cards used in an electronic
game to be as random as the real thing, within computational
limits set by the gaming authority. Video poker machines
are tested to ensure compliance with this requirement
before they may be offered to the public. Video poker
games in Nevada are required to simulate a 52 card
deck (or a 53 card deck if using a joker).
It is unclear whether all video poker machines at
Indian gaming establishments are subject to the same
Nevada-style regulations, as Indian casinos are located
on reservations that are sovereign to the tribe which
holds the gaming license.
Newer versions of the software no longer deal out
all 10 cards at once. They now deal out the first
five cards, and then when the draw button is pressed,
they generate a second set of cards based on the remaining
47 cards in the deck. This was done after players
found a way to reverse engineer a random number generator's
cycle from sample hands and were able to predict the
hidden cards in advance.
Kinds of video poker
video poker machines may employ variants of the basic
five-card draw. Typical variations include Deuces
Wild, where a two serves as a wild card and a jackpot
is paid for four deuces or a natural royal; 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 of
five cards, and each additional played hand draws
from a different set of cards with the base hand removed.
(Multi-play games are offered in "Triple Play",
"Five Play", "Ten Play", "Fifty
Play" and even "One Hundred Play" versions.)
In the non-wild games (games which do not have a wild
card) a player who plays five or six hundred hands
per hour, on average, may receive the rare four-of-a-kind
approximately once per hour, while a player may play
for many days or weeks before receiving an extremely
rare royal flush.
Full pay games
pay video poker machines are games which offer the
typical maximum payback percentage for that game type.
Payback percentage expresses the long-term expected
value of the player's wager as a percentage. A payback
percentage of 99 percent, for instance, indicates
that for each $100 wagered, in the long run, the player
would expect to lose $1. Payback percentages on full-pay
games are often close to or even in excess of 100
percent, assuming error-free perfect play.
Full-pay Jacks or Better, for example, offers a payback
percentage of 99.54 percent when played with perfect
strategy. It must be remembered that winning the jackpot
(royal flush) is also part of the "long run"
in every variant. One should not play a "full
pay" video poker game expecting not to lose,
because even over many thousands of hands played,
you are playing a game that pays back less than 100%.
Casinos often place full pay machines alongside other
machines with pay schedules that offer less attractive
payback percentages, leaving it up to the player to
identify which video poker machines offer full pay
Most full pay machines are configured with a pay schedule
that is only full pay when the maximum number of credits
is bet (Credit: