Answering this question is quite a complex matter, but in essence they’re programmed to take your money. Video poker machines may make players believe they’re winning by increasing payouts for certain hands – however the house always wins in the end.
Slot machines and pokies traditionally employed physical reels; as technology advanced they switched to images on a screen instead. Each reel contained several symbols which, when activated by the machine, would spin. When activated they then formed winning combinations for particular slots or pokies depending on type.
Modern machines use pseudorandom number generators that continually produce random numbers at hundreds or thousands of times per second, using the most recent random number as its basis to decide upon play outcomes when users press the “Play” button.
To increase their chances of winning, some video poker machines allow players to hold specific symbols prior to spinning the reels, increasing the likelihood that specific pay lines will hit. Furthermore, certain machines are programmed to deliver nudges after every spin to improve your odds of hitting winning combinations.
Some video poker manufacturers also include an option to “weight” symbols. This involves altering the odds that certain images appear relative to their actual frequency on physical reels – the goal being that losing symbols appear less frequently than winning ones and therefore increasing time spent in “hot” states of playback.
Many video poker manufacturers offer bonus games that may payout multiple times an initial bet, giving a player the impression of significant wins that may encourage them to keep playing longer. It is important to remember, however, that any wins from bonus games are the result of chance rather than skill or hard work alone.
Video poker’s popularity stems from the misconception that cards are dealt at random, which isn’t the case. When you hit Deal, the machine does not begin another shuffle but instead displays five of the first cards out of its existing shuffle; for instance if you discard your 6 of hearts to draw three of a kind and draw a six of hearts (or whatever card comes next), which will then be dealt back out as soon as you hit Deal again.
At its core, video poker machines cannot be manipulated effectively to alter their odds in any significant manner. Even if you knew the probability that a machine would produce one result or another, calculating that probability precisely would be impossible as its software continually cycles through millions of possibilities. Furthermore, it is impossible to know how many games have been played – and thus how much may be due for any given outcome.