Faced with rejection, Redd had a revelation. He convinced the executives at Bally to let him have the patent on video poker. The executives did not realise that they were letting go of the goose that would soon lay golden eggs. It turned out to be a masterstroke for the innovator, who teamed up with Fortune Coin Company and began to mass produce video poker machines.
Expectations were high, especially considering Redd’s reputation in the industry. The early response was lukewarm. Players did not feel the need to indulge in a ‘computerised’ version of a live table game. There were also slots that held sway over the casinos. But like the tortoise that won against the hare, video poker soon overcame its slow and steady start.
The arrival of the 80s saw the game surge in popularity charts to become one of the hottest new arrivals on the Las Vegas strip. Now players simply couldn’t get enough of the new attraction that allowed you to pit your poker skills against machine intelligence.
As more and more players flocked towards video poker, it paved the way for video slots to enter the frame, and casinos have never been the same again. In a way, the video version of an old classic revolutionised an entire industry, and it all began with a few executives who rejected a bright, innovative idea.
A truth that we all must face is that playing a live round of poker at a casino table can be intimidating. Or for that matter, playing a live round anywhere can be a difficult experience, especially if your poker skills need polishing. With the advent of video poker, anyone who wanted to try the game could do so in a somewhat private setting, where they had to interact only with the machine. One could also say that the rise of the game coincided with that of the personal computer and video game culture that saw individuals being as comfortable with machines as with social interactions.
The other reason why video poker has continued to attract generation after generation of players is because of its odds and payout percentages. Some of the variants offer a 99.54% return on your bet if you win. Some intelligent players know where the best video poker odds can be found. This is the other aspect of video poker that makes it so intriguing; different games offer different odds and payouts. The new casinos, as expected, do not advertise which is the most generous. It is then left to the player to figure out the best option.
We like to think that there is a certain amount of comfort and solace that a machine holds, far away from the live games that can sometimes get loud and rowdy. Plus, you do not have to watch other players and study their behaviour. It is just you and the computer.
Online video poker is popular for a couple of reasons. First, as a game that was created to fit the computer platform, nothing much has changed since the move to online casinos, so gameplay is familiar.
The second reason is the sheer variety made possible by online casino sites. At the last count, there were more than a hundred different varieties of video poker, from the humble and still popular Jacks or Better to the new, cross-version of slot and poker called Spin Poker. Then there is Multi-Strike Poker, where multiple hands offer higher and higher payouts as you keep winning.
Video poker has evolved over the decades but has kept the basics simple. You pay your money, and press deal to get things started. The cards are then drawn, and you have the opportunity to replace one or more cards from a virtual deck. After the draw, you are paid if you possess the right combination of cards.
The pay table on the screen will inform you of the winning combinations. Once a round is over, you can choose to discard all your cards, an option not present in the traditional love or online versions. The lure of high winnings combined with the game’s simplicity makes video poker as addictive a choice as ever.