A brief history of video poker

1891: The Brooklyn-based Sittman & Pitt Company invents a gambling machine with five “drums,” reels that contain the images of ten playing cards (a total of 50 card faces). First, the player inserts a nickel, and then he pulls the lever, causing the drums to spin and eventually slow to a stop, making a final poker hand. Based on poker, the gaming machine grows in popularity until it can be found in nearly every bar in the city of New York. There is no payout mechanism, so winning hands result in prizes like free beers or cigars, depending on the bar’s policy.

1887-1895: In San Francisco, mechanic Charles Fey invents a simpler mechanism containing three reels displaying five symbols: the four card suits, plus the Liberty Bell. The changes from ten cards to five symbols and from five to three reels decrease the number of possible wins, allowing for an automatic payout mechanism. (Accounts differ regarding which invention came first, but this feature adds weight to Fey’s credibility as a key figure.) The Liberty Bell is the first slot machine invention, offering a 50-cent payout when three bells are aligned. His machines are installed in many saloons throughout the city, but due to the illegal status of gambling, he is never able to patent his invention.

1901: Fey creates the Skill Draw poker machine, which includes a hold feature. This allows the player to keep one or more cards from the initial hand and spin again in an effort to improve his final hand. This is the first five-card draw poker machine.

1970: Dale Electronics releases Poker-Matic, the first video poker machine, though it receives a lukewarm reception as an unfamiliar addition to the gambling world.

1975: Si Redd, a distributor for Bally Manufacturing, has pitched the idea of marketing video poker machines to his employer. Unsuccessful, he leaves, retaining the rights to video poker, and forms his own company in order to sell the games. Si Redd’s Coin Machines (SIRCOMA), later to be renamed International Gaming Technology (IGT), begins to market video poker.

1979: Draw poker is introduced by SIRCOMA. Once the rules are adjusted to include a pair of jacks or better among the winning hands, the popularity of video poker skyrockets.

online video pokerToday: Many fans continue to play video poker, and it has become a staple of both brick and mortar and online casinos around the world, with Planet 7 being no exception. Real Time Gaming (RTG) founded in 1998, quickly becomes a leader in the field. RTG video poker games on Planet 7 include classics like Aces and Eights, Loose Deuces, All American Poker, Jacks or Better, Joker Poker, Sevens Wild and many more state-of-the-art games.

As with any casino game, learning to play video poker involves picking up unfamiliar lingo. Consult the list below for the most common terms used by video poker players – it’ll help you avoid getting confused mid-game, plus it’ll make you sound and feel like a pro, wherever you choose to play!

Video poker terms

  • Action, n.

The total amount of money wagered by the player. This includes all bets made, regardless of the resulting wins or losses.

  • All-in, n.

A player’s choice to raise a bet by putting all of his or her chips into the pot.

  • Average payback, n.

The rate at which a game pays out to the player compared with the house’s profit. This percentage can be calculated based on all of the games at a specific venue, or on all the gambling machines in a state or nation, depending on the sample size.

  • Bankroll, n.

The total amount of money that a player has designated for the purpose of gambling.

  • Bet max, v.

See maximum bet.

  • Bust, n.

A hand that does not improve after additional cards are drawn.

  • Cash back, n.

The perk of having a percentage of losses returned as a result of using one’s player’s card.

  • Cash out, v.

The act of claiming one’s winnings. The player’s credits are converted into money and awarded via the machine’s coin tray. Form online games, you must go to the cashier to request your cash out.

  • Comps, n.

Short for compensation. These are free perks and benefits that casinos offer to loyal players, including meals, airfare, accommodations, and show tickets. These rewards also include cash back, insurance or free gifts that come with being a VIP or using a special card like Players Reward Card online.

  • Cycle or royal flush cycle, n.

The average number of hands required for a video poker machine to deliver a jackpot, which typically occurs when a player hits a royal flush, roughly once in 40,000 hands.

  • Deuce, n.

A term used to refer to a playing card bearing the number two.

  • Discard, v.

The act of getting rid of one or more cards in one’s hand after the initial deal.

  • Double up, n.

The option that a video poker player has after winning a hand to bet twice the amount of his win against the outcome of the following hand.

  • Draw, n.

The second deal of cards after a player discards one or more cards from his initial hand.

  • Drawing hand, n.

The initial deal a player receives that needs to be improved in order to result in a payout.

  • Eighty-six or 86, v. (Eighty-sixed, 86ed, 86’d, adj.)

To eject someone or refuse service. This most often refers to a situation where a player is banned from a casino for cheating or fraud.

  • Expected return, n.

The long-term average payback on a video poker game that a player can expect to receive.

  • Expected value or EV, n.

The amount of money the player can expect to win on average for a specific bet. The term is often preceded by “positive” or “negative” to indicate the probability of one outcome or the other (+EV).

  • Face card, n.

Any playing card displaying a face instead of a number, i.e., Jack, Queen, or King.

  • Flush, n.

A hand containing five cards of the same suit.

  • Four of a kind, n.

A hand containing four cards of the same value.

  • Full house, n.

A hand containing three of a kind in addition to a pair.

  • Full pay, adj.

Describes a video poker machine using the best possible pay table for a specific type of game.

  • Hand pay, n.

A payout that the player receives from a member of the staff instead of the machine. This is applicable to land-based casinos, typically for larger jackpots.

  • Hold, v.

The act of keeping one or more cards after the initial deal; the opposite of discard.

  • Hopper, n.

The device located inside of a video poker machine that holds coins and releases them when the player cashes out.

  • House, n.

A synonym for casino.

  • House edge or house advantage, n.

The casino’s statistical profit advantage expressed as a percentage of the player’s original bet.

  • Inside straight, n.

A straight for which the player requires a card in the middle of the run, in order to complete the hand.

  • Jackpot, n.

The top payout offered by a video poker machine.

  • Kicker, n.

A side card that does not determine the rank of the hand but may break ties between hands of the same rank.

  • Low pay, v.

Describes a video poker machine with a pay table that is less than full pay.

  • Maximum bet or max bet, n. (bet max, v.)

The highest amount of money that can be wagered, usually five coins per hand, also referred to as “maximum coins.” By hitting the “Bet Max” button, the player automatically places the highest bet possible.

  • Multi hand, n.

A variation of video poker that allows the playing of more than one hand at a time.

  • Odds, n.

The probability of obtaining a specific hand.

  • Pair, n.

A hand containing two cards of the same value.

  • Pat hand, n.

A hand that is complete and cannot be improved after the initial deal.

  • Payback percentage, n.

The average percentage of each bet that will be returned.

  • Payout, n.

The amount of money offered by a video poker game for a particular hand.

  • Pay table, n.

A chart indicating the possible payouts for each hand.

  • Perfect play, n.

The act of playing according to the highest expected value during every hand. Perfect play requires memorization or a strategy card and achieves the lowest possible house edge on any given machine.

  • Progressive jackpot, n.

A jackpot that increases by a small percentage of each bet until a player hits it, typically through a royal flush. After it has been hit, the jackpot drops to a base amount and starts over.

  • Random number generator or RNG, n.

A mechanism ensuring that cards are consistently shuffled at random, present in all gaming machines.

  • Rank, n.

The numerical value of a card.

  • Royal flush, n.

A hand containing an ace, king, queen, jack, and ten cards of the same suit; the highest possible hand.

  • Sequential royal flush, n.

A royal flush displayed on the screen in order from lowest to highest, sometimes rewarded with an additional payout.

  • Straight, n.

A hand containing five cards in consecutive order but of different suits.

  • Straight flush, n.

A hand containing five cards in consecutive order of the same suit.

  • Strategy card, n. (also known as a “cheat sheet”)

A reference card showing the correct plays for every possible hand.

  • Suit, n.

All of the cards in a deck bearing the same symbol: spades, clubs, diamonds, and hearts.

  • Three of a kind, n.

A hand containing three cards of the same value.

  • Two pair, n.

A hand containing two separate pairs of cards.

  • Wild card, n.

A designated card that can be a substitute for any other card in a hand.

  • Wild royal flush, n.

A royal flush hand containing one or more wild cards.

  • Winning hand, n.

A final hand that results in a payout.

A staff writer at Planet 7, Kate Church is an avid reader, professional writer and lover of games. After taking her Bachelor of Arts degree in English writing and a minor in journalism at the University of Nevada, Reno, Kate has traveled the world, seeking out adventure, knowledge and games of skill and chance.