One of my favorite games, Joker Poker is also one of the oldest of my solid state electronic games.  An electro-mechanical (EM) version of the game was built by Gottlieb as well as this being their first foray in to electronic games.  My game was shopped by Jim Swenson over a period of months after he picked it up in October of 2001.  He did an excellent job bringing the game back from a parts box to a game that I still play to this day. 

The interesting thing is that I bought this game as a parts box for 50 bucks since nothing worked and most all of the connector pins were either missing, or corroded due to the ni-cad battery on the CPU board corroding.  This is probably the number one reason why folks that owned System 1 games parted them out.  The games were stored somewhere over the years and the ni-cad battery is soldered onto the CPU board and over time, it would begin leaking corrosion.  The battery would corrode and ruin the various nearby chips and also cause the connector pins to corrode and fall apart. 

The result?  The person would turn the game on and of course it didn't work.  Then they'd look in the backbox and discover the corrosion and after trying to find another CPU board. They would find that most all of the CPU boards suffered corrosion, so another CPU board was often not an option they could consider.  Another problem is that the original CPU board was made by Rockwell and they used specialty "spider" chips that were no longer being made.  Finally, Ace (David Humphrey - the creator of the Ni-Wumpf CPU board) got together with Steve Young who owned the rights to Gottlieb parts and he created the Ni-Wumpf CPU board that will work in all System 1 games.  Imagine the number of games that ended up either parted out or sent to the dump due to the lack of the CPU board that was corroded and could no longer be found in working condition.

I have found over the years that after buying many boards that suffered corrosion, I've been able to repair the board anyway.  It's mostly a matter of removing the corroded battery (assuming it didn't have its leads corrode away and fall off the CPU board), stopping the corrosion from spreading, and replacing the connector pins, especially the large connector that goes between the CPU board and the driver board.  Nearby chips are often affected so I remove the chips and after cleaning up the traces I use sockets for the new replacement ICs. I've had to change a couple of the spider chips that I steal from another board that's toast (usually U5 is shot on those boards), but I kind of avoid replacing the spider chips due to the sheer number of legs on the spider chip.  When there are circuit board traces that are corroded away I replace them with thin single strand wires that I can sometimes solder on the backside of the board where they won't show.  I always test a game with a Ni-Wumpf board when restoring a game, and once it works correctly, I go ahead and try to tackle repairing the CPU board if it came with one.

Jim took painstaking care to replace each and every edge connector's pins as well as replacing all the targets, pop bumpers, new coil tubes, and even the motherboard with a Ni-Wumpf board.  As a result of his work, I play this game virtually every week and never get tired of it.  I have actually gone months without playing Medieval Madness (huh?), but never Joker Poker.  I just keep coming back since I can never master the game.  When I got the game back from Jim, he had a HSTD set on it that took us over 4 months to beat and it wasn't THAT high a score. 

My buddy Clay and I play whichever game I've recently bought or finally got around to restoring since it will be new to the lineup, but we still compete against each other on Joker Poker most every time we get together.  Funny that we rarely ever play my newer games that are actually more popular than these old guys.  Even still, we love these old guys probably better than the new ones, so they get played the most.  Nothing like whacking a target to make you feel good and Joker Poker is loaded with good target shots.  The game is virtually unbeatable since you can play good one night and then not approach your old score for 6 months or more. 

Gottlieb made 9,280 solid state games in August of 1978 and they released 9,280 units.  There's also an electro-mechanical (EM) version of Joker Poker that looks the same but doesn't have the solid state electronics in it.  Only 820 EM games were made so they are pretty rare. Personally I like Joker Poker whether it's an EM or a solid state game, but I prefer the solid state version for game play. The game features 3 flippers (two lower, one upper), 2 pop bumpers, 1 slingshot, one 5-bank drop targets, one 4-bank drop targets, one 3-bank drop targets, one 2-bank drop targets, and a single drop target. It also has a single target that is associated with the extra ball when all the Aces plus the Joker are made, or the upper three lanes are completed. The game uses chimes instead of electronic sounds. Ed Krynski designed the game with artwork by one of my favorite artists - Gordon Morison.

You can also view a Joker Poker shop job I did in October and November of 2006. I have restored six Joker Pokers as of 2012, but not my own which Jim did back in 2001.

(click any picture to enlarge)

Flyer 1

 

Flyer 2

 

Playing Card 1

 

Playing Card 2

 

 

 

All Graphics & Text Steve Corley

The pictures you see were created by Steve Corley unless otherwise noted.
Unauthorized use is strictly prohibited