Pokie machines are referred to by different names in different countries. A pokie machine in the United States is known as a fruit machine in the UK or a poker machine in Australia. They may also be referred to as a one-armed bandit which is a reference to the days when pokie machines had one long lever to pull in order to get the reels rolling. It is also a tongue-in-cheek reference to the fact that pokie machines can steal all your money and leave you penniless.

The aim of the pokie machine was to produce a gambling game that required no prior knowledge and no skill or expertise, and which could be played without placing large bets. These machines were often used as a distraction for wives or girlfriends while their men played "real" gambling games. Today, pokie machines are widely popular and make up 60-70% of gaming revenue within the United States.

The History of Pokie Machines

Pokie machines were originally invented in 1895 by a car mechanic from San Francisco, named Charles Fey. He named his first machine the Liberty Bell as a reference to the symbols on the reels. The machine had three spinning reels each with horseshoes, hearts, diamonds and spades painted on them. In addition, each reel had one liberty bell. Lining up three liberty bells gave the largest payout. The popularity of the Liberty Bell was huge and in 1907, a manufacturer of arcade machines in Chicago, Herbert Mills, began to produce his own pokie machine, the Operator Bell. These were the first machines to sport fruit as their symbols.

Electronic gambling games began to be produced in the 1930s, but it was not until 1963 that the first electromechanical pokie machine was built. Bally, the developer of the machine, called it Money Honey and these machines had a bottomless hopper and automatic payouts and meant that assistants were no longer necessary to operate the games.

In 1975 the first video pokie machines were introduced in Las Vegas, however they were not well accepted as patrons did not trust a machine where they could not see the reels spinning. These machines only really grew in popularity in the 1980s.

How the Original Pokie Machines Worked

Each pokie machine had three spinning wheels, each painted with the symbols of horseshoes, hearts, diamonds and spades. Each reel also had one liberty bell painted on it. There were ten symbols on each wheel. The player inserted their coins and pulled the long lever to start the reels spinning. Three of the same symbol lining up produced a payout and three liberty bells lining up produced the largest payout – ten nickels. The coins were dispensed from the machine when there was a winning combination.

How Modern Pokie Machines Work

The concept of how the modern pokie machines works is similar to the way in which the original machines worked. There are still reels that spin and payouts are still awarded for the correct combination of symbols lining up. The differences in the way that modern machines work compared to the original machines, is due to the fact that they are now electronic. Instead of pulling a lever to begin the game, players now simply press a button. Many machines now use touch screen technology. Pokie machines today sport many different symbols to support the huge variety of themes that are available. Progressive pokie machines also link machines within a casino or within a number of different casinos and these therefore offer much larger payouts that the original machines were able to. Video-based machines allow multi-betting-lines and these have also become very popular. Pokie machines today make use of a random number generator to make sure the reels spin in a totally random way.

Different Types of Pokie Machines

Today, there are a huge variety of pokies machines and pokie games that players can choose from. There are classic pokies, video pokies, progressive pokies, bonus pokies and more. You can play three reel or five reel pokies and can find pokies with multiple paylines – 5, 9, 20, 25 and more. In addition, you might find multiplier pokies, wild symbols, buy-a-pay pokies, i-pokies and real-series pokies. The possibilities are almost endless with today's exciting pokie options.

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