Evolution of Video PokerBy: rkingsley, Friday June 17th 2011
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Video poker at online casinos is based on the concept of draw poker games in which players ask for replacement for a number of cards from the dealt hand. The difference is that in video poker the final hand is not compared with the hands of other players but against a payout table.
The earliest video poker game was Jacks or Better in which payouts started with a pair of jacks. The first variations involved introduction of wild cards by way of a joker as in Joker Poker or by way of designating a card as wild as in Deuces Wild. Some variations were introduced by splitting the four of a kind hand.
Multi hand video poker games were introduced in which players could play a number of hands simultaneously. The objective was to allow wagering at a faster pace by eliminating the steps required to start each new hand. One hand was dealt and players marked the cards to be held in that hand. These cards were automatically transferred to all hands. The remaining cards were randomly dealt in each hand and each hand was independently assessed against the payout table. The software provider Microgaming called its multi hand video poker games as Power Poker and had different games for different number of hands. Other software providers allowed players to choose the number of hands within the same game. Multi hand video poker games with up to 100 hands can be played.
Progressive jackpot games are very popular at online casinos and these were introduced in video poker games as well. Usually the progressive jackpot is hit in video poker games if the player gets a natural royal flush with five coins wagered. In some progressive jackpot video poker games the suit of the royal flush is also specified. SupaJax from Microgaming is a unique game in which the progressive jackpot is hit when the player draws four jacks along with the SupaJax card.
In order to differentiate some of their video poker games, some software providers introduced innovative features. In all video poker games the discarded cards are not put back into the deck and therefore cannot be dealt again. This is consistent with the purpose of discarding these cards. The online casino software provider Cryptologic offers a series of games called Bonus Video Poker. In these games the rejected cards are put back in the deck. But if they are dealt again the player gets a bonus payout, whether he is able to make a winning hand ranking or not.
A major innovation was heralded by Microgaming in its Level Up video poker games. The player has to put up the stake for four video poker hands representing four levels up front. If he wins a hand he plays the game at the next higher level. However if he loses a hand he cannot play out the remaining higher levels, even though he has paid for them. He is compensated by being given doubled payouts at each successive higher level. Bump It Up video poker from Vegas Technology has a similar format. Over Poker from Cryptologic has a more complicated format. Instead of just holding or discarding a card the player has the option to start a new level with that card. He places a fresh bet whenever he starts a new level.
Microgaming has again set the pace with a new video poker format called Reel Play Poker. The process of play is very similar to a multi hand video poker game. The final hands do not appear as separate independent hands but are formed from the zigzagging paylines of a five reel three rows slot game.
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