Back in the olden days pinball was a gambling device — and thus pinball became illegal in many areas. Payouts were delivered in cash and not in free games or extra balls like today.
But this is not a post about that…
Maybe due to the heritage of pinball being played for gambling, the theme of casino or card games has been popular throughout the history of pinball.
Here we will list the best pinball machines all time dedicated to gambling themes.
Playing poker at home with friends is an old standby hobby for many of us.
This Williams game from 1980 takes the idea to space in playing poker with aliens. This pinball machine has a lot going on, especially for the era. I like the left and right orbit shots on this game and the great retro sounds.
This 1971 Gottlieb pinball machine features classic card art from the legendary Gordon Morison. With drops on the sides and up top, your objectives feel so easy — but (like many EMs) it is not as easy as you think.
Another classic Gottlieb from 1977 by famed designer Ed Krynski with art by Gordon Morison.
The outlanes have holes at the end causing drains and the drop targets just half way up the playfield propel the ball back at your flippers fast. This is a tough game, which is why it is so fun.
High Roller Casino
Looking for something newer? Stern was still trying to find their way back in 2001 when they released this one.
The art is nothing great, the game is very stop and go, but the casino elements in here are neat. I also think the rules and software are done nicely.
Like most classic Stern pinball machines, this one plays quick and snappy. And it features a unique big giant spinning flipper up top. Add in some decent art, a fun spinner to rip and you have a great game.
They took the classic 80’s Williams pinball Pin*Bot but revamped the game in 1995 with a casino theme, new rules, and a DMD.
I still prefer the original, but Jackbot is also a wonderful pinball machine.
Yet another Gottlieb classic poker themed pinball machine from Ed Krynski & Gordon Morison to make our list. These guys were skilled!
This 1978 pinball machine may be the considered the creme of the crop here. It does not do anything particularly new, it just does everything really well and drop target placements are perfect.
From Williams in 1988 came this tasty game with amazing Python Angelo art & design. This pinball features the whimsical nature and sounds you would expect from a Python game…along with some unique features.
Sadly, they don’t make pinball machines with personality like this anymore.
Two years later, Williams released Riverboat Gambler.
This game is jammed with gambling features and might be the first game to feature action buttons on the lockbar. Another classic pinball machine that brings personality to the table (and some fun original music).
World Poker Tour
And to close things out the newest game on the list (they don’t make many gambling themed pinball machines any more) from Stern Pinball in 2006.
This Stern pinball machine may not win you at first because on the terrible artwork. You have to look past that. The rest of the game is solid. 16 drop targets, a few ramps, an upper playfield, complex rules and strategy. This is a true player’s game!