The 70s are known as the age of counterculture and Beatlemania. What many forget is that – amongst all the talk of free love, peace, and anti-war demonstrations – a device that would soon change the world made a quiet appearance. The humble PC. Up until then, a digital culture was something relegated to science fiction narratives.
The technology itself was in its nascent stages but the potential was limitless.
Inspired by capabilities of the early personal computer, William Redd had a brainwave. Redd was an employee of Bally Gaming.
His profile said that he was a distributor, but he had cemented his name as an enterprising innovator with an enviable track record in slot machines. He pitched his brainwave to his employers, fully confident that they will buy into his idea.
Bally Gaming was comfortable in their zone of slot machines, which was quite the money spinner, and did not want to break out. Not only did they pass on the opportunity of a lifetime, the gaming company also allowed Redd to carry the patent of what would become video poker.
The rejection that he faced from his employers turned out to be the best thing that ever happened to William Redd. He convinced Fortune Coin Company about the untold profits they could earn. and that was that.
Soon, video poker machines were mass produced and entered the mainstream. Early expectations were high, considering the reputation Redd had in the industry. The response from players, however, was lacklustre.
They did not see the point of indulging in a digital version of the game they could easily play with physical cards and real people. Then there were the slots that was the prima donna of the casinos. The tide soon turned.
By the time the 80s rolled in, players and promoters alike had warmed up to the idea of video poker. More and more enthusiasts made their way to the machines, enthralled by the idea that they could play a game against a machine and even beat it.
William Reed’s million-dollar idea had indeed realised its potential, becoming the hottest new arrival on the Las Vegas strip. What many did not know then was the pleasant side effect that video poker had on the industry. The digitisation of the game spread to slots as well, and casinos have never been the same again. You could say that a concept, rejected by a few bright executives, went on to change the industry.
A great fear that many of us have is performing poorly against others. Traditional poker is a game that requires practice. If you just take it up on a lark, chances are that you will lose your money, and lose face as well.
Video poker provides a safe space where anyone can practice their skills against a machine. A player will learn which strategy works best for them, and, more importantly, when to raise the stakes, when to walk away.
Having grown comfortable, the player can then practice his new-found skills against live opponents. Bottom line: video poker provided a far less intimidating experience than the traditional version.
The other reason why video poker has continued to draw 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. As far as the odds are concerned, intelligent players have been able to calculate which particular machine will pay you the best on a particular casino floor.
Yes, odds and payouts are different for different machines. The popularity of video poker is, in a way, symbolic of the current state of society - people are just as comfortable interacting with machines and devices as with other people.
The game has evolved from its traditional roots to a more sophisticated digital version; but the basics are still simple and easy. Video poker was a clear contender for the switch to virtual, as nothing of the basic gameplay needed changing.
Simply deposit money at an online video poker site – or play with free bonus credits if you’re lucky and shop around – place your bets 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. Once a round is over, you can choose to discard all your cards.
Search here for the best video poker sites, and look for the ones offering generous odds. It won’t be long before you’ll see some video poker winnings.