Video Poker - A New Twist on an Old Game

By: Gen Wright

Ever since the days of the Wild West, when cowboys and businessmen would cram themselves into saloons and sit down to pass money back and forth on a card game, poker has been a mainstay in Americana. Now fast forward a hundred years or so. Now we have a new toy to entertain the masses - Television. It doesn't take a genius to figure out where this is going, and sure enough fast forward a few more years, and two of Americas favorite things combines - TV and Poker. Video Poker is a take off the old sit down versions, but it has come a long way from five card draw.

It started out in 1979, when it became feasible to combine a television monitor with a solid-state central processing unit. The computer was born, and around the same time, video poker was born. At first it was simple. Draw Poker. The timeless classic. 5 cards, throw some back, get some new ones and hope for a win. People lined up to try this new take on an old passion, and soon the money began flowing. The biggest draw to the game was the fact that you didn't have a dealer, a pit boss, or other players breathing down your neck. You could sit down and play some poker and just relax. Eventually this led to wide scale popularity in the machines, especially in casinos.

And who wouldn't be thrilled to sit at one of these fancy machines? The lights, the sounds, the money! Not only that, but video poker has evolved to much more than 5 card draw. Newer poker machines have seen so many different variant. You have Deuces Wild, where a two serves as a wild card and a jackpot is paid for four deuces or a natural royal, Jacks or Better, where you can win on a pair of, you guessed it, jacks or better, and even Bonus Poker, where you get to play High-Low, offering even more winnings for every hand won. Other machines have employed a new twist called Multi-Play Poker, where you start with a base hand of five cards, and each additional played hand draws from a different set of cards with the base hand removed. As time progresses, who knows what will come next.

So how do these marvelous attractions work? At the core of video poker machines lies the brain of the ordeal - the Random Number Generator; we'll call it the RNG from here on out. The RNG's soul job Is to make sure that the outcome of every game truly is random. Each card is given a numeric value. Once you press deal, the RNG generates 5 numbers, which correspond to your dealt cards. So say you have a two of hearts, ace of diamonds, 3 of hearts 5 of hearts and jack of clubs. Now you decide to discard all but the hearts. Those numbers are thrown out of the mix, and three more numbers are generated. This time, you get a 4 of hearts and a 6 of hearts - Congratulations! You've just gotten a straight flush, and watch your bankroll climb.

Video Poker is fun, less intimidating than traditional poker tables, and offers a wide arrangement of play styles to choose from. No wonder its Americas favorite game in the casinos.

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