A Look into the History of Pokies

Pokies are recognized everywhere as something that signifies and symbolizes the world of gambling. And rightly so. There is no mistaking that when you look at one of them, you are looking at something that is immediately identifiable with gambling. Folks who enjoy nostalgia and gambling at the same time often have collectible pokies in their homes.

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There is a tremendous value to pokies for the casino. That is because there is a big profit margin associated with them, and a clientele for pokies themselves that has a very wide base. They are easy to play, and they operate fast, which means that they can put a lot of money across in a short period of time. They have also become an interesting branding device, as you will very commonly see pokies that are attached to well-known institutions in the worlds of entertainment and pop culture.

But where did it all start?

Well, you would have to go back over a century to trace pokies back to the beginning.

And you would have to travel to the United States.

In 1891, Brooklyn-based Sittman & Pitt devised a machine that featured fifty cards, from a standard deck, along with drum symbols. There was actually a striking resemblance to a game of five-card stud; in effect, it was a poker machine, or "pokie." These machines became a mainstay of sorts around Manhattan, popular in night spots for amusement's sake, and even more so, if the innkeeper chose to compensate winners with prizes.

Charles Fey, an inventor who was based in San Francisco, came up with the device that is closest to what pokies, or slot machines, evolved into. He certainly goes back to the 19th century with it, though the exact date in uncertain. He constructed it with three reels and symbols that were derived from playing cards, just like Sittman & Pitt's, although he did at a Liberty Bell. In order to activate it, the player dropped in a coin and pulled a lever. The reels would spin, and if three Liberty Bells stopped across the payline, the machine paid off at 50 cents.

And so there you have it.