My Lifelong Love of Video Poker

Way back when, probably over 25 years ago, I got my first exposure to the game of poker. My Dad taught me how to play poker when I was just a little kid and we used to sit for hours together playing around the kitchen table. I was hooked right from the get-go. During our 5–6 yearly trips to Las Vegas (we lived in LA, so it was a quick weekend getaway), I got my Dad to save me a few chips from his sessions at the many poker rooms he played at. This proved the start of my poker chip collection. Though I was obviously underage, I’d been bitten hard by the poker bug and had a natural affinity for anything and everything connected to the game. Any time my Dad hosted his regular home game (it rotated among the participants) I was sure to find a reason to hand around the table for a bit. Everything about poker was fascinating to me.

kitchen table poker

Me (in the middle), my Dad, my brother, and my grandparents – poker around the kitchen table

Video Poker as a Kid

Needless to say, at under 10 years old it’s not as though I could start getting poker games together amongst my friends. I did, however, find a way to scratch my nascent poker itch: through video poker. During one of our Las Vegas trips, my parents bought me one of those little electronic video poker games. I was as connected to that thing as people are these days to their Smartphones.

I used to go to a day camp over the summers. Most kids brought their Game Boys (remember those?) with them to pass the time over the bus rides. I brought my little video poker game. I remember how excited I used to get on the rare occasion I would hit four-of-a-kind. When it happened, I remember deciding not to play any additional hands on the machine so that I could show my parents how happy I was once I returned home.

video poker game

My little electronic video poker machine – horrible paytable, lol

Video Poker as an Adult

As you can imagine, I eagerly anticipated my 21st birthday so that I could “finally” start playing some poker for real. Before giving “real” poker a shot though, I wanted to see what it would be like to play some video poker in a casino. While I was obviously intimately familiar with the game of poker by then, I was somewhat unprepared for the plethora of options available to me at the casino’s video poker machine (this was at the Mirage, in Las Vegas, by the way).

See, I just thought I’d step up and start playing, hoping of course to hit the royal flush for the highest payout. It turns out that I had only had experience playing one type of video poker: Jacks of Better. There was also Deuces Wild Poker, Joker Poker, Double Double Bonus Poker and a few other varieties I can’t remember the names of anymore. I immediately fell in love with the Deuces Wild version of the game, as it was one of the games Dad had taught me way back when around the kitchen table.

Me and video poker game

I can’t believe I still have this little game after all these years!

Of course, I lost my $20 in nickels (yup; remember when the machines actually spat out coins instead of tickets?) pretty quickly. Nonetheless, I still enjoyed the thrill.

At 33 years old now, I’ve obviously come a LONG way since the incidents I’ve described above. I know a heck of a lot more about poker and video poker than I did as a “casino newbie” when I was 21. I’ve been employed full-time in the online gambling industry since 2010 and I’ve been blogging about poker here at Cardplayer Lifestyle since 2009. Dare I say I’ve even become somewhat of an authority. But no matter how high I climb in poker, I’ll never forget my “poker roots” and all those hours I used to spend playing video poker on that little electronic machine. I was inspired to write this article after finding that little machine while doing some Passover cleaning… I can’t believe I still have it! You can be sure that I’ll be thinking of this article next time I step up to play some more video poker in a casino.

Getting Into Video Poker

If online gambling is legal in your jurisdiction, starting to play is as easy as signing up to a legal operator and firing up a video poker game. Of course, so long as you’re of legal age, you can also head out to your local land-based casino and give a few hands of video poker a try. If you end up getting into it and loving the game, as I did, perhaps someday you’ll eventually make your way towards the poker tables where you play against real opponents instead of a computer program or the casino.



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Written By.

Robbie Strazynski

Robbie founded in 2009. A veteran member of the poker media corps, in addition to writing and video presenting, Robbie has hosted multiple poker podcasts over the years, including Top Pair, the Red Chip Poker Podcast, The Orbit, and the CardsChat Podcast. In 2019, Robbie translated the autobiography of Poker Hall of Famer Eli […]


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