Before we can discuss the history of video poker we should look at poker itself. You see, poker has its origins back to the 17th century or earlier depending on the type of game. This means that video poker has the same roots. Sittman and Pitt just took the idea of poker for a table game and turned it into a solitary affair in 1891. This is along the same time that the slot machines were being created by Fey. The first video poker machine was a 50 card symbol with five drums. It had the jack and ten of spades removed from play to make it more difficult to get the better hands.
Fey in 1897 began work on the first slot machine called the 'Liberty Bell'. This slot used the kings, queens, and jacks as the symbols to pay out. So you were seeing the cards on the reels, even though the game was not really based in poker. It was not until the 1970's that the poker hands returned to the machines in the way we now see them. Dale Electronics had the Poker Matic Video Poker Machine. It was introduced into the Las Vegas casinos, but was largely un- played.
In 1975 Walt Fraley designed a different type of video slot for Las Vegas. These machines got a little popularity, but for the most part the fact that you couldn't see the reels spinning caused a lot of disgruntled customers. It was in 1979 that video poker like we see today was created. IGT was the first company to create Draw Poker. It was a success because you weren't spinning reels, but playing an actual poker hand. In the 80's we saw more and more slot machines and video poker games hit the casino floors. Now you have several types to choose from that are largely based on five card draw.
The variations of poker include draw poker, deuces wild, aces and kings, jacks or better, and several others. They all have the same base, but offer different payouts and bonuses. The internet has taken the video poker world even further since 1994. You can now play your favorite games at home and save the travel fare. In 1994 Microgaming came into the picture with the first online video poker game. You can download the software or just play it online at a casino in the quick play sections.