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Pinball / Joker Poker

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Jokers Gone Wild!

Joker Poker is a Gottlieb pinball machine designed by Ed Krynski and illustrated by Gordon Morison. Released in 1978, it is considered one of the classics of pinball's early solid-state era.

The premise is simple enough — hit the various drop targets to assemble five poker hands of varying strengths, from a single ten up to four aces and a Joker. However, different targets must be hit depending on which ball is in play, testing the player's mastery of the entire board with ever-increasing difficulty. Successfully make the current target bank to light the 5x bonus multiplier, and get the top rollovers for an extra ball.

Joker Poker is a game that's truly easy to learn but hard to master. Ten thousand machines were made; most were solid-state, but 820 were electro-mechanical versions with slightly different art and rules. The solid-state game is lauded by players, while collectors have pushed prices for the EM version into the stratosphere.

Joker Poker demonstrates the following tropes:

  • Headless Horseman: In the electro-mechanical version of Joker Poker, a roly-poly cartoon jester fills the center of the playfield, wearing a crown and with his nose as the "5X Multiplier" light. The solid-state version keeps the crown and the light, but inexplicably removes his head all together.
    • Art Shift: The jester has surprisingly detailed hands.
  • The Magic Poker Equation: Played with; the player must assemble a Ten, two Jacks, three Queens, four Kings, and five Aces (four Aces plus a Joker).
  • Masculine Lines, Feminine Curves: Three curvacious female jokers are featured on the backglass, while the playfield has two playing-card Kings, sporting traditional angular features.
  • No Plot? No Problem!
  • Sexy Jester: The backglass features three playful sexy jokers courtesy of Gordon Morison.
  • Wackyland: The jokers on the backglass are playing in a checkerboard landscape beneath a red and yellow sky.