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The Evolution of Wild Card Video Poker

 
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When video poker began, there were just two versions. One paid out with a pair of jacks or better, and the other paid out on two pairs or better. Neither of these games had any wild cards. They both used a standard 52-card deck.

The first video poker game was the version that required a hand of two pair or better to pay out. This game only offered about a 90% payback, so it didn’t really pose any major competition for the slot machines.

The casinos tried increasing the pay table for this version of the game to attract more players, but they were put off by the low hit frequency. There were too many losing hands, and players lost interest in the game.

That is why the second version of the game was developed. This game paid out a pair of jacks or better. This resulted in a game that gave players a higher level of satisfaction because they were winning more often. Video poker started becoming more popular after that.

The new jacks or better version of video poker had a payback of 99.6^, which made most players happy. It was possible for even novice players to get over a 95% payback. However, the casinos wanted to make more money on the games, so they started looking for a way to reduce the payback without lowering player interest in the game.

This led to the development of the royal flush jackpot machine. On this machine, the payout for a full house was reduced from 9 to 6, and the payout on a flush was reduced from 8 to 5. In order to attract players to this new game, a jackpot was created for the royal flush. A portion of the amount that had been trimmed from the pay schedule for the full house and flush was added to a jackpot for the royal flush. Many players were happy with these machines, and they did well for the casinos.

The first video poker game with a wild card was the joker game. It was played with a 53-card deck that included one joker, which was wild. When this game first came out, it paid on two pairs or better like the first video poker game. It also had a fairly low payback. This game was a dud in Las Vegas, but did all right in Atlantic City due to a shortage in supply of video poker games that was caused by the regulations in that area.

When this game didn’t do well, manufacturers increased the pay schedule in the hopes of attracting more customers. They also made it so the games would pay out on a pair of aces or kings. This allowed players to win more frequently. This resulted in Joker Wild games that had a payback over 100%. You would think that the players would be happy with that. However, the games were too complicated, and newer players usually did not do well on them.

To make the game less complicated, manufacturers then came out with the Deuces Wild game. This game was played with a 52-card deck, but all four twos were wild. This game became immensely popular because even new players were able to win frequently. They might not understand the game or why they were winning, but that wasn’t important as long as they won. This game actually paid out over 100% on full-pay machines (5 on quads) to players who played with expert strategy.

Of course, now that the machines had become popular, the casinos decided to lower the pay schedule to increase their profits. This resulted in less interest from players.

The next game created was Deuces and Joker Wild. This was an action-packed game with a very high win frequency. However, the jackpot was extremely difficult to reach. In Deuces and Joker Wild, there is only one way to get the jackpot. You must get all four twos plus the jack to get the jackpot payoff. In other games, there are multiple ways to hit the jackpot. In games that pay the jackpot for a royal flush, there are four possible jackpot-winning hands, one for each suit. There are 13 different ways to hit an Atlantic City style 5-of-a-kind jackpot. With the chances of hitting the jackpot so low, players had a hard time reaching the 99% payback level and shunned the game.

As long as there is video poker, manufacturers will continue to tweak and tinker with the games and pay schedules. As with any other product, they must keep coming out with something newer to keep up their sales. So they develop new games and market them as the next big thing. Whatever games the casinos come up with, players will continue to learn and adapt their strategies to the new games. Games with high win frequency and payback will become popular, and those that cause players to become frustrated will flop.
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