Video poker machines (pokies) are actually a slight variant to the title of this w/u. The units commonly known as displaying poker games, or any "card" game, are actually called "cardies".
Background to poker machines

Video gambling machines or pokies are gaming machines designed around a few standard ideas, designed to allow easy acces to the gambling experience. They are generally sit-down ("table top") style, where the player sits and has a whole console of screen and buttons presented at chest height on an angle of about 85 degrees; or, wall-unit type, where the screen is perpendicular at eye level and buttons horizontal at chest level.


The pokie is a massive source of revenue for pubs, clubs and casinos. They often take both notes and coins, usually whole dollars or sub-denominations (quarters). When money is inserted in to the machine, a variable number of "credit" is given to the player - this generally determines the expected return for the gambler. As an example, a "1c pokie" gives 100 credits per dollar. 10c pokies give 10 credits per dollar, $1 pokies are 1 credit per dollar. 1c pokies are the most common, but 2, 5 10 and $1 are also available - the cheapest I have seen is 1000 credit per dollar machines, but are in very short supply.

Once creditted, a number of play options present themselves: Credits per line and lines played. Generally, a pokies player will only press one of the (usually 5) "lines played" buttons. This is then multiplyed by the number of credits bet per line. In Australia the option are generally Credits: 1, 2, 5, 10, 25 and Lines: 1, 5, 10, 15, 20. This 5x5 array allows bets from 1 to 500 CREDITS to be played. Note the value of this "spin" is based on the number of credits per dollar. $1 pokies (1:1 credit ratio) are VERY expensive to play, even at 1 line and credit per spin!

Playing the game

As mentioned before, the number of lines really determines the overall game that is played. The main screen of the pokie is made up of reels - large "spinning" columns of symbols of varying value. These (usually) 5 reels have a total of 3 resting positions displayed after being spun. A spin deducts credits x lines, as demonstrated above. The potential to "win" is based on reading the reels from left to right, and applying the pattern that the lines have. Each line (numbered 1 to 20) follows a certain pattern. from left to right they may take all the symbols lined up on the middle line (#1), or the top line (#2), or, from left to right, top line, middle, bottom, middle, top (#4).

4 \   /
   \ /
Ok, enough bad ASCII.

Now to the fun part. Say you have 3 "tens" all lined up on the middle. Each pokie has a pay structure or prize list which pays credits for combinations of the same symbol on a single line. Obviously, the more of the symbols you have, the bigger the prizes. 3 tens pays, say, 5 credits, 4 tens pay 20 credits, and 5 tens pay 100 credits! The thing is, all the symbols (tens in this case) have to be EXACTLY lined up, and each position on the reel can have any of up to 15 different combinations. The number of permutations makes winning anything remote, but possible. Generally, you need at least 3 or more of the same symbol to win anything. Often, a spin is filled with a variety of symbols which don't line up and nothing is won at all - that is why it is a real GAMBLE. Or, you bet 20 credits, and the best you can do is win off 3 tens - you win 5 credits back out of your 20. Your loss.

Gambling within gambling

So you just won 5 credits, but bet 20. Big deal. What can you do? Gamble your winnings. Whoa. Thats right - if you ever actually WIN something, you can gamble it - be it one credit or 100,000. When you hit the "Gamble" button, usually kept separate from the credits/lines buttons, you get a different screen, showing you a face-down deck of cards. You can then choose whether the next card will be red or black. If you pick the colour (a theoretical 50/50 chance) then you double your prize. Simple, right? BUT: you can gamble your winnings, compounding, up to FIVE TIMES. Won 5 credits? Gamble it 5 times, you get 5-10-20-40-80... 160 credits! Not bad! Except for the 1/32 (one in thirty two) chance of actually DOING that. Still not enough? In stead of picking the colour of the next card, you could try to pick the SUIT of the next card (hearts, clubs, diamonds, spades). A simple 1/4 (one in four) chance. Obviously, you get FOUR TIMES your gambled amount if you pick it. You can trun your measly 5 credit win in to 5120 credits! On a 1c machine, thats $51.20! Don't worry about the 1/1024 chance...

Wins are always based on the pricing structure, but multiplied by the credits per line bet.

Funky Stuff

NOBODY plays a pokies for straight win/gamble. They play it for the features. Almost all pokies have a feature built in to them, usually triggered off a certain winning combination, like 3 of a certain suitably rare symbol on a single line. Usually, this is off a "scatter" - a symbol that can pay a prize no matter where it appears on the reels. These scatters are usually like hens teeth - two of them usually returns DOUBLE your credits bet, but three is the common amount for a feature. With three scatters, you get the prize (often 5x credits bet - a good win in anyone's books!) AND the feature.

The simplest feature is free games. 15 free games, at the same number of lines that won the feature, usually with all prizes doubled. A good saving in anyones books AGAIN!

Often though, there are even funkier features. My favourite is Penguin Pays - each position on the screen in turn, gets turned in to a wildcard - and prizes paid accordingly. You can, if "oh so close to a win" get HUGE prizes from that. Or a la Flaming Arrow, a wildcard is "Shot" at the reels and a multiplier is added, up to 15x the resulting win! Even 5 credits (x15=75) returns over 3 times your initial bet.

Please note that all the examples use "1 Credit per line" as the example. They will be multiplied "per credit", as all prizes are.

Known models

So now you know what the basis of pokies are. What ones are there? TOO MANY TO NODE in one sitting, but I will make a start...

Penguin Pays
Queen of the Nile
Flaming Arrow
Cash Chameleon
More to be added at a later time

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