Feb 23, 2023

Video Poker Archaeology

Double Up Draw Poker
Merit Industries (1982)
One way to hide all of the weight I've gained over the past few years is to only be photographed behind the plexiglass of a 41 year old video poker machine.  I found this for sale at the Hometown Farmers Market.  I didn't buy it, but all kidding aside, it probably would make a cool picture frame for a family that's really into playing cards.

Source: Flyer Fever

The plexiglass came from a Double Up Draw Power arcade machine.  It was produced and sold by Merit Industries in 1982, along with a line of other card games that were "for amusement only", but were still used as gambling machines.

My grandparents used to play machines like these around town when I was growing up in the 80's.  I don't think they were any of these particular machines, but they worked pretty much the same.  The computer would deal you five cards, you'd press the buttons beneath the cards that you wanted to keep, then you'd press deal and your score would increase based on what hand you ended up with.  The poker machines that I remember the most were at the Blue Comet Diner on Route 309 in Hazleton.  If they did well, they would tell the hostess.  She'd come out and check the machine and literally pay them out of the cash register.

The laws in Pennsylvania have changed a lot over the past forty years, but using one of these for gambling was highly illegal in the 80's.  That didn't seem to matter too much in my hometown.  It wasn't like they kept these machines hidden in the back room of the Blue Comet.  They were the first thing you saw when you walked in the front door.   The only place I see old poker machines like this today are in arcades like Playland at Knoebels, and they pay off in prize tickets instead of cash.