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
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
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.