What Is a Video Poker Machine and How Does It Work

In the world of gambling, evolution is a key factor in its popularity. From Roman soldiers playing dice, to astronauts shuffling their decks in the space shuttle, gambling is as old and widespread as anything throughout history. But without the modern conveniences of today’s gambling, it wasn’t accessible to such a broad audience.

When humans began to revolutionize machinery, video poker machines weren’t high on their list. Yet since they’ve been around, these machines have grossed billions upon billions of dollars, and have become some of the most popular items in various shops and casinos.

Video poker machines work by using a random number generator (RNG), which is a software algorithm used to ensure a random outcome of game play. Though not all RNG’s operate the same, they all offer completely random numbers, with billions of variants. When the machine isn’t in action, the RNG runs hundreds of times per second.

Once the start, deal or bet button is pressed, the outcome is already predetermined, regardless of the particular player or number of coins bet. In five-card poker for example, the replacement cards are already set to be delivered. So whichever card is thrown away, the replacement will remain the same.

Video poker first became commercially popular when it became economical to combine a TV-style monitor with a solid state central processing unit. The earliest models of video poker machines appeared around the same time as the first personal computers, around the 1970s.

And although the first machines were very primitive by today’s high standards of technology, the first machines were widely popular. Just as our computers have changed from huge tabletop pieces of machinery, to small and compact devices we can lug around in our pockets, poker machines have also changed with the times. The first machines were large, hard to produce, and very slow-acting.

Video poker became more widely established when SIRCOMA (Si Redd’s Coin Machines), first introduced Draw Poker in 1979. Throughout the 1980s, video poker became increasingly popular in various casinos and underground betting shops.

A reason for the popularity of these machines may be simpler than most think. Playing at a table with live players and a dealer can be very intimidating. Video poker has its best advantage by acting as a solitary game: just the user and the machine. Today, video poker plays a prominent role in the complete gaming scene.

These games, though popular the world over, are the most popular in Las Vegas. The machines are so popular that Vegas casinos often offer lower denomination machines or machines with better odds to increase overall revenue.

This was more common in the 1990s, whereas now various casinos across the country have recently been cutting their pay tables, only offering 25 cent machines or higher. Different games offered on these machines include Jacks or Better, 10s or Better, Deuces Wild, Bonus Poker, Double Bonus, Double-Double Bonus, Five-Card Draw, and even Blackjack, which some don’t consider a poker game.

Technology continues to advance and poker machines are become more reliable, faster, and easier to operate than ever before.

Understanding Casino Payout Percentage

Payout percentage (also known as payout ratio) refers to the total payout by the casino to the players as compared to the total amount wagered by the players, for a period of time. It can be presented in terms of monthly, quarterly or annually. For example, if the casino receives a total bet of $1,000,000 and payout $975,000 to the players for a particular month, then the monthly payout percentage reported for that month will be 97.5%.

Payout percentage are often reported as an overall average by the online casino, but the percentage for individual games like slot machines, video pokers and table games are also available. Payout percentage varies between online casinos, games and reporting periods, because it is influenced by various factors as described below:

  1. Size of player base – An online casino with a small number of players will probably see a large deviation in the payout percentage between the reporting periods. A more popular online casino with a large player base will most likely generate consistent results over several reporting periods.
  2. Type of game – Slots and some table games like roulette belongs to the group where winning depends purely on luck. On the other hand, games like Blackjack or Video Poker depend on the skill of the players as well, and the skill element ensures that the payout percentage differs from other games. Even when comparing the same game against several casinos, they tend to differ as well.
  3. Reporting period – In general, the longer the assessment period, the more accurate will be the result. For example in slot machines, it is possible that the previous reporting period had a large jackpot payout and none in the current reporting period. The payout percentage for these 2 periods will be very different. A longer assessment period will be able to smoother this deviation.

From the above explanation, it should be clear to you that a $1,000 wagered on a particular game with a payout of 97.5% will not return you $975 of winning as expected. Remember that the payout is derived from the bets from many other players and over a long period of time.

As an online casino player, it is advisable to source for an online casino with the highest payout to reduce your risk. In general, a payout percentage of 95% and above is considered as a good payout. When comparing the payout percentages, players should not look at the overall payout for that particular online casino only, they should compare the payout percentage of the particular game that they will be playing against other online casinos. Players are also advised to look out for online casino/game with fairly consistent payout percentage over several reporting periods.

Some online casinos will post their payout percentage on their websites and they are updated from time to time, typically monthly. Sometimes, historical percentages are posted as well to allow comparison for consistency. If the information is not available on the website, you can always drop them an email or give them a call to request for the report.

When reading the payout report, players should take note whether they have been certified by any external auditing body. It should not be difficult to identify the auditing body that certifies the report by looking for the logo of the auditing body and the signed off portion at the bottom of the report. Some of the most common and reputable auditing bodies in the online casino industry are Technical Systems Testing (TST), e-Commerce and Online Gaming Regulation and Assurance (eCOGRA) and PricewaterhouseCoopers (PWC). A quality and trustworthy online casino would be one which updates it verification certificate regularly every month.

Using the Internet to Get a Casino Gaming Job


Perhaps you want to go pro, but are not ready to rely solely on winnings to pa the rent. Perhaps you want to be near the action. Or maybe, you just want to work in a casino. Whatever your motivation, there are a number of resources on the internet to help you achieve your goal.


If you need training, there are several schools you can attend to get the skills you need to handle any casino job. The following are schools that provide training for casino jobs from entry-level dealer to security:

Crescent Schools Gaming and Bartending Locations: New Orleans, Las Vegas, Biloxi & Tunica.

Casino Dealer College Locations: San Jose, Sacramento, Fresno, Orange County, Los Angeles, Singapore, Detroit, Phoenix and Denver.

The Casino College Locations: Tempe, Sacramento, San Francisco, San Jose, Merced, Los Angeles, Omaha, Detroit, Atlanta, Denver and Tunica.

Green Valley School of Gaming Locations: Las Vegas.

PCI Dealer’s School Locations: Las Vegas.

Dealer’s Choice Professional School of Casino Gaming Locations: Temecula, California.

Two other nearby schools that do not have webpages are:

Academy of Casino Dealings

2327 Veterans Memorial Boulevard

Kenner, LA 70062


Mighty River Poker School

12400 Jefferson Hwy

Baton Rouge, LA 70801


Job Resources

Once you have the skills you need, there are numerous resources on the web were you can search casino job openings, review salary offerings and submit applications and resumes. The following sites allow you to peruse listings for multiple casinos in one place:

Casino Careers Online lists job opportunities from casinos worldwide. Job listings are for every aspect of gaming from the casino floor to the food service to hotel management.

Cruise Ship Jobs accepts applications for cruise ship jobs including the following onboard casino jobs: casino manager, casino dealer/croupier, cashier and slot technician.

Gaming Floor Job Listings keeps a list of casino job ads with emails to reply to. The site is generally full of advertisements which makes job hunting slow.

Gaming Search Associates, Inc. is a company out of California that specializes in connecting casinos with employees. They have a small listing of job openings for their individual clients. They also accept resume submission by email.

Vancouver Casino Jobs Online at CasinoZone lists casino jobs in Vancouver.

World Casino Directory Job Listings lists jobs in the gaming industry worldwide.

Other Options

Most major casinos now have their own website. If you have a specific casino in mind to work for, many of the sites have an employment section that tells you how to apply. Many of the casinos also have their own training schools. Good luck!