Video Poker is a game that doesn't have a history that dates back as far as some other popular casino games, and of course, that can be attributed to the fact that it's a product of technology. Video Poker games were initially inspired in part by Slot machines and in part by the popular Poker card game Five-Card Draw, and made their first appearance late in the 1970's.
Although the Video Poker games themselves may not have a long history, coin operated games like Slot machines go back much farther and can be considered their ancestors. Around 1848, after the Gold Rush, California became a hot spot for gambling, and particularly in San Francisco, Slots and coin operated games began appearing around San Francisco. The first Poker machine can be dated as far back as the 1890s, with Sittman and Pitt of Brooklyn beginning to manufacture Poker machines around 1891, expanding their appeal by 1896 so that they appeared in all places with a liquor license in the state.
Naturally, the Poker machines available in the early days were nothing like the Video Poker games of today, but since they were the models for the games that we play today, they're an important part of history. The games then had 50 playing cards attached to 5 drums which would allow players to get the Poker action without actually getting their hands on the cards. While players did have the chance of winning, with prizes for different hands being cigars or drinks at the bar; this type of machine allowed operators to rearrange the cards on the reels to reduce the players' chances of winning.
Later in the 1800's, producers of t these machines worked towards making it possible for the machines to automatically dispense prizes. The three-reel Card Bell was one that would announce winnings, and it's what has carried onto trends in casinos today which ring as soon as a player has had a good win! Once the technology was established, the Card Bell was able to payout between 2 and 20 coins - with the highest payout available to players with a Royal Flush, Ace, King and Queen of one suit. Eventually, the machines also began to dispense award cards that not only told players what their prizes would be (in establishments with no cash payouts, it's where odds and potential payouts were listed.
In the original games, players would pull a handle like in a slot machine. After the reels spun and stopped, the player could choose to hold certain cards, and could then spin the reels again to discard less desirable cards and receive new ones in their hand. But the mid-1960's, electronic betting games began to appear, including varieties of 21. By the 1970's, Video Poker began making an appearance, like the Dale Electronics' Poker-Matic which began appearing in casinos across Las Vegas, Nevada! The technology was further refine in 1975 when the Fortune Coin Company unveiled the first bell video slot machine in Las Vegas. At this stage, it was not regularly embraced by other casinos, but within a couple of years, the trend was adopted with both black and white and color versions of the game being released. By 1990, the style of Video Poker game we're familiar with today, with animations, bonus rounds and more was a staple in casinos worldwide.
Today, of course, the appeal of Video Poker games have expanded from brick and mortar casinos and can now be found at the majority of online casinos in wide variety!