Where did the name “pokies” or “pokie machine” come from?

You may be aware that in the United States of America, what we call pokies in Australia are called “slot machines” or “slots” for short. The origins of this name are relatively easy to discern. The slot in “slot machine” being referred to is the coin slot that the money goes into. At the time of the development and mainstream popularity of slot machines, they were the only coin operated gambling machines widely available, so there was no confusion about different coin operated games. Once other games had appeared on the gambling scene, the name “slot machine” had stuck. So we can easily see where the United States name comes from. But what about the Australian name? “Poker machine” is a little more difficult to discern the origin of.

Okay, well we can pretty safely assume that “pokie machine” or “the pokies” is an abbreviation of “poker machine”. Classic Australian slang style is just to abbreviate everything, and “I’m off to the pub to play the pokies” just rolls off the tongue too easily for the phrase to remain “poker machine”. So that part is clear, but it is still not clear why they were ever called “poker machines” in the first place, seeing as they’re not really offering the game of poker. And this name is not just used among the punters either, advertising and all official reference by the companies or by pubs or bars or casinos to the slot machines has always been “pokie machines” or “pokies” in Australia – or for a long while at least! Well, if the truth be told, no one is totally sure about where this name comes from. In fact, no one is even sure when it started being used. However, we at Online Pokies Australia have our own theory to share with you! We think that the term “pokie machines” or “pokies” came about when there actually were poker machines beginning to appear in pubs and casinos – games that offered actual poker rather than lever-type slot games. When these games started appearing in pubs and casinos, and gaining in popularity, people started referring to them (in their Australian way) as “pokies” and soon, because these machines were all in the same room as the more traditional slot machines, the name soon came to be extended to refer to all of these games. Poker machines have since dropped in popularity, especially since the huge boom in playing poker online, but the name stuck around and now we call the slot machines “pokies”! Interestingly, and just as a little bit of trivia on the side there, pretty much every country in the rest of the world calls them slot machines – it is just here in Australia that the name “pokies” or “pokie machines” caught on! I guess we Aussies just like to be unique, don’t we?!