This application is related to and claims priority to U.S. Provisional Patent Application Serial No. 60/684,380 filed May 25, 2006, titled “Wagering Game Having A Player-Selectable Pay Table,” which is incorporated herein in its entirety.
- FIELD OF THE INVENTION
A portion of the disclosure of this patent document contains material which is subject to copyright protection. The copyright owner has no objection to the facsimile reproduction by anyone of the patent disclosure, as it appears in the Patent and Trademark Office patent files or records, but otherwise reserves all copyright rights whatsoever.
- BACKGROUND OF THE INVENTION
The present invention relates generally to gaming machines, and methods for playing wagering games, and more particularly, to a gaming machine having a player-selectable pay table.
Gaming machines, such as slot machines, video poker machines and the like, have been a cornerstone of the gaming industry for several years. Generally, the popularity of such machines with players is dependent on the likelihood (or perceived likelihood) of winning money at the machine and the intrinsic entertainment value of the machine relative to other available gaming options. Where the available gaming options include a number of competing machines and the expectation of winning at each machine is roughly the same (or believed to be the same), players are likely to be attracted to the most entertaining and exciting machines. Shrewd operators consequently strive to employ the most entertaining and exciting machines, features, and enhancements available because such machines attract frequent play and hence increase profitability to the operator. Therefore, there is a continuing need for gaming machine manufacturers to continuously develop new games and improved gaming enhancements that will attract frequent play through enhanced entertainment value to the player.
- SUMMARY OF THE INVENTION
A gaming machine typically implements a single pay table specific to that particular gaming machine. Other gaming machines can implement a different pay table providing different payouts for the same winning combinations. For example, there are some video poker gaming machines that provide a larger payout (e.g., 9 times the original wager) for a “full house” combination of cards than other gaming machines (e.g., 6 times the original wager). Other gaming machines sometimes offer lower payouts for the same winning combination, but higher payouts for other combinations not available on all gaming machines (e.g., a progressive jackpot). However, if the player desires to play a wagering game having a different pay table than the one on the gaming machine currently being used, the player has to switch gaming machines entirely. Accordingly, the owner of the gaming machine runs the risk that the player will become bored and use a different gaming machine owned by a different proprietor. The present invention is directed to satisfying this and other needs.
According to one aspect of the present invention, a gaming machine for conducting a wagering game includes a wager-input device for receiving a wager from a player to play a wagering game. A display displays symbols of the wagering game indicating a randomly selected outcome selected from a plurality of outcomes in response to the wager. The plurality of outcomes includes at least one winning outcome that awards a payout according to a pay table. A plurality of pay tables are available for the wagering game. The pay table is selected from the plurality of pay tables to implement during the wagering game.
According to another aspect of the invention, a method of conducting a wagering game on a gaming machine comprises receiving a wager from a player. A game outcome is randomly selected from a plurality of outcomes in response to the wager. The game outcome for the wagering game is displayed as symbols indicating a randomly selected outcome selected from a plurality of outcomes in response to the wager. The plurality of outcomes includes at least one winning outcome that awards a payout according to a pay table. The pay table is selected from the plurality of pay tables to implement during the wagering game.
According to yet another aspect of the invention, a computer readable storage medium is encoded with instructions for directing a gaming device to perform the method described above.
An additional aspect of the invention is directed to a gaming system for playing a wagering game. The gaming system has at least one display and a controller coupled to the display and programmed to initiate the wagering game in response to detection of a wager from a player. The wagering game displays symbols indicating a randomly selected outcome selected from a plurality of outcomes. Symbols indicating a randomly selected outcome selected from a plurality of outcomes are displayed in response to the wager. The plurality of outcomes includes at least one winning outcome that awards a payout according to a pay table. A plurality of pay tables are available for the wagering game and the pay table is selected from the plurality of pay tables to implement during the wagering game.
BRIEF DESCRIPTION OF THE DRAWINGS
Additional aspects of the invention will be apparent to those of ordinary skill in the art in view of the detailed description of various embodiments, which is made with reference to the drawings, a brief description of which is provided below.
FIG. 1 is a perspective view of a gaming machine embodying the present invention;
FIG. 2 is a block diagram of a control system suitable for operating the gaming machine;
FIG. 3 illustrates a “Jacks or Better” video poker game displayed on the primary display according to an embodiment of the invention; and
FIG. 4 illustrates a plurality of selectable pay tables according to an embodiment of the invention.
While this invention is susceptible of embodiment in many different forms, there is shown in the drawings and will herein be described in detail preferred embodiments of the invention with the understanding that the present disclosure is to be considered as an exemplification of the principles of the invention and is not intended to limit the broad aspect of the invention to the embodiments illustrated.
Referring to FIG. 1, a gaming machine 10 is used in gaming establishments such as casinos. With regard to the present invention, the gaming machine 10 may be any type of gaming machine and may have varying structures and methods of operation. For example, the gaming machine 10 may be an electromechanical gaming machine configured to play mechanical slots, or it may be an electronic gaming machine configured to play a video casino game, such as blackjack, slots, keno, poker, blackjack, roulette, etc.
The gaming machine 10 comprises a housing 12 and includes input devices, including a value input device 18 and a player input device 24. For output the gaming machine 10 includes a primary display 14 for displaying information about the basic wagering game. The primary display 14 can also display information about a bonus wagering game and a progressive wagering game. The gaming machine 10 may also include a secondary display 16 for displaying game events, game outcomes, and/or signage information. While these typical components found in the gaming machine 10 are described below, it should be understood that numerous other elements may exist and may be used in any number of combinations to create various forms of a gaming machine 10.
The value input device 18 may be provided in many forms, individually or in combination, and is preferably located on the front of the housing 12. The value input device 18 receives currency and/or credits that are inserted by a player. The value input device 18 may include a coin acceptor 20 for receiving coin currency (see FIG. 1). Alternatively, or in addition, the value input device 18 may include a bill acceptor 22 for receiving paper currency. Furthermore, the value input device 18 may include a ticket reader, or barcode scanner, for reading information stored on a credit ticket, a card, or other tangible portable credit storage device. The credit ticket or card may also authorize access to a central account, which can transfer money to the gaming machine 10.
The player input device 24 comprises a plurality of push buttons 26 on a button panel for operating the gaming machine 10. In addition, or alternatively, the player input device 24 may comprise a touch screen 28 mounted by adhesive, tape, or the like over the primary display 14 and/or secondary display 16. The touch screen 28 contains soft touch keys 30 denoted by graphics on the underlying primary display 14 and used to operate the gaming machine 10. The touch screen 28 provides players with an alternative method of input. A player enables a desired function either by touching the touch screen 28 at an appropriate touch key 30 or by pressing an appropriate push button 26 on the button panel. The touch keys 30 may be used to implement the same functions as push buttons 26. Alternatively, the push buttons 26 may provide inputs for one aspect of the operating the game, while the touch keys 30 may allow for input needed for another aspect of the game.
The various components of the gaming machine 10 may be connected directly to, or contained within, the housing 12, as seen in FIG. 1, or may be located outboard of the housing 12 and connected to the housing 12 via a variety of different wired or wireless connection methods. Thus, the gaming machine 10 comprises these components whether housed in the housing 12, or outboard of the housing 12 and connected remotely.
The operation of the basic wagering game is displayed to the player on the primary display 14. The primary display 14 can also display the bonus game associated with the basic wagering game. The primary display 14 may take the form of a cathode ray tube (CRT), a high resolution LCD, a plasma display, an LED, or any other type of display suitable for use in the gaming machine 10. As shown, the primary display 14 includes the touch screen 28 overlaying the entire monitor (or a portion thereof) to allow players to make game-related selections. Alternatively, the primary display 14 of the gaming machine 10 may include a number of mechanical reels to display the outcome in visual associated to at least one payline 32. In the illustrated embodiment, the gaming machine 10 is an “upright” version in which the primary display 14 is oriented vertically relative to the player. Alternatively, the gaming machine may be a “slant-top” version in which the primary display 14 is slanted at about a thirty-degree angle toward the player of the gaming machine 10.
A player begins play of the basic wagering game by making a wager via the value input device 18 of the gaming machine 10. A player can select play by using the player input device 24, via the buttons 26 or the touch screen keys 30.
In some embodiments, the gaming machine 10 may also include a player information reader 52 that allows for identification of a player by reading a card with information indicating his or her true identity. The player information reader 52 is shown in FIG. 1 as a card reader, but may take on many forms including a ticket reader, bar code scanner, RFID transceiver or computer readable storage medium interface. Currently, identification is generally used by casinos for rewarding certain players with complimentary services or special offers. For example, a player may be enrolled in the gaming establishment's loyalty club and may be awarded certain complimentary services as that player collects points in his or her player-tracking account. The player inserts his or her card into the player information reader 52, which allows the casino's computers to register that player's wagering at the gaming machine 10. The gaming machine 10 may use the secondary display 16 or other dedicated player-tracking display for providing the player with information about his or her account or other player-specific information. Also, in some embodiments, the information reader 52 may be used to restore game assets that the player achieved and saved during a previous game session.
Turning now to FIG. 2, the various components of the gaming machine 10 are controlled by a central processing unit (CPU) 34, also referred to herein as a controller or processor (such as a microcontroller or microprocessor). To provide gaming functions, the controller 34 executes one or more game programs stored in a computer readable storage medium, in the form of memory 36. The controller 34 performs the random selection (using a random number generator (RNG)) of an outcome from the plurality of possible outcomes of the wagering game. Alternatively, the random event may be determined at a remote controller. The remote controller may use either an RNG or pooling scheme for its central determination of a game outcome. It should be appreciated that the controller 34 may include one or more microprocessors, including but not limited to a master processor, a slave processor, and a secondary or parallel processor.
The controller 34 is also coupled to the system memory 36 and a money/credit detector 38. The system memory 36 may comprise a volatile memory (e.g., a random-access memory (RAM)) and a non-volatile memory (e.g., an EEPROM). The system memory 36 may include multiple RAM and multiple program memories. The money/credit detector 38 signals the processor that money and/or credits have been input via the value input device 18. Preferably, these components are located within the housing 12 of the gaming machine 10. However, as explained above, these components may be located outboard of the housing 12 and connected to the remainder of the components of the gaming machine 10 via a variety of different wired or wireless connection methods.
As seen in FIG. 2, the controller 34 is also connected to, and controls, the primary display 14, the player input device 24, and a payoff mechanism 40. The payoff mechanism 40 is operable in response to instructions from the controller 34 to award a payoff to the player in response to certain winning outcomes that might occur in the basic game or the bonus game(s). The payoff may be provided in the form of points, bills, tickets, coupons, cards, etc. For example, in FIG. 1, the payoff mechanism 40 includes both a ticket printer 42 and a coin outlet 44. However, any of a variety of payoff mechanisms 40 well known in the art may be implemented, including cards, coins, tickets, smartcards, cash, etc. The payoff amounts distributed by the payoff mechanism 40 are determined by one or more pay tables stored in the system memory 36.
Communications between the controller 34 and both the peripheral components of the gaming machine 10 and external systems 50 occur through input/output (I/O) circuits 46, 48. More specifically, the controller 34 controls and receives inputs from the peripheral components of the gaming machine 10 through the input/output circuits 46. Further, the controller 34 communicates with the external systems 50 via the I/O circuits 48 and a communication path (e.g., serial, parallel, IR, RC, 10bT, etc.). The external systems 50 may include a gaming network, other gaming machines, a gaming server, communications hardware, or a variety of other interfaced systems or components. Although the I/O circuits 46, 48 may be shown as a single block, it should be appreciated that each of the I/O circuits 46, 48 may include a number of different types of I/O circuits.
Controller 34, as used herein, comprises any combination of hardware, software, and/or firmware that may be disposed or resident inside and/or outside of the gaming machine 10 that may communicate with and/or control the transfer of data between the gaming machine 10 and a bus, another computer, processor, or device and/or a service and/or a network. The controller 34 may comprise one or more controllers or processors. In FIG. 2, the controller 34 in the gaming machine 10 is depicted as comprising a CPU, but the controller 34 may alternatively comprise a CPU in combination with other components, such as the I/0 circuits 46, 48 and the system memory 36.
Turning now to FIG. 3, a “Jacks or Better” video poker game is displayed on the primary display 14 according to an embodiment of the invention. “Jacks or Better” is a video poker game in which the player makes a wager and receives a payout for certain winning combinations—the lowest winning combination is a pair of Jacks, Queens, Kings, or Aces.
A player begins play of the basic wagering game by inserting a wager input into the value input device 18 of the gaming machine 10. A player can select play by either using the touch screen 28 or push buttons 26. The CPU 34, or the external systems 50 in alternative embodiments, operates to execute a wagering game program causing the primary display 14 to display the wagering game that includes a plurality of visual elements.
According to one embodiment, a video poker game is played with a single standard 52-card deck (i.e., Ace through King of four different suits). The standard 52-card deck may then be supplemented with value symbol-bearing objects (e.g., jokers, wild cards, etc.).
During a particular poker hand, all of the cards are dealt from the same deck. After a card is dealt from the deck into the poker hand, the card is “used up” and cannot appear again until the next poker hand. The deck may be replenished and randomly shuffled prior to every poker hand. The system memory 36 includes a data structure for storing data representing each card of the deck. The CPU 34 randomly selects cards for each poker hand from the data structure and controls the primary display 14 to display the cards.
The main poker game screen shown in FIG. 3 featuring the “Jacks or Better” poker game in the illustrated embodiment may be displayed on the primary display 14. In the illustrated embodiment, the primary display 14 displays a user-playable hand 54 composed of a plurality of cards 54 a-e. A pay table 58 is also displayed along with game session meters and various buttons selectable by a player.
The game session meters include: a “credits” meter 60 for displaying a number of credits available for play on the machine; a “bet” meter 62 for displaying a number of credits wagered (e.g., from 1 to 10 credits); and a “paid” meter 64 for displaying an amount to be awarded based on the results of the particular rounds outcome. The player-selectable buttons include a “cash out” button 70 to collect the credits remaining in the credits meter 60; a “help” button 72 for viewing instructions on how to play the video poker game; a “speed” button 74 for allowing a player to adjust the speed that the cards are dealt, the hands are formed, the length of time the winning hand is displayed, the length of time the winnings are displayed, the overall speed of the game, etc.; a “see pays” button 76 for displaying a larger pay table to the player (or displaying the pay table in embodiments where the pay table is not constantly displayed); a “max bet” button 78 for wagering a maximum number of credits (e.g., 5 credits); a “deal” button 80 for causing the game to initially deal cards from a deck into the user-playable hand 54 face-up; and a “draw” button 82 for causing the game to replace any non-held card in the user-playable hand 54 with another card from the deck.
The pay table 58, shown on the primary display 14, may also or alternatively be displayed on the secondary display 16. The pay table 58 includes a list of winning poker hand rankings 83 and a plurality of payout columns with payouts associated with each ranking. The number of credits won is linearly proportional to the number of credits wagered, except that a royal flush typically yields a bonus when achieved on a maximum wager. The list of winning poker hand rankings 83 includes hand rankings beginning at a pair of jacks or better and includes hands through a royal flush.
To increase player excitement and participation, the player is given the opportunity to select the pay table 58 for the video poker game prior to making a wager. Although this feature is only described with respect to video poker, it could also be implemented in other wagering games such as slots, keno, etc.
When the player selects a gaming machine 10 on which to wager, a pay table selection screen is displayed to the player. FIG. 4 illustrates a plurality of selectable pay tables 400, 405, and 410 according to an embodiment of the invention. The gaming machine 10 displays a plurality of these pay tables 400, 405, and 410 on the primary display 14 or alternatively on the secondary display 16. The player can select one of the pay tables 400, 405, and 410 to utilize during game play by using, e.g., the soft touch keys 30. The first pay table 400 is a pay table for the “Jacks or Better” video poker, where a “Royal Flush” pays 250 credits for a 1-credit wager, and a “full house” pays 9 credits for a 1-credit wager. This pay table 400 is suitable for some players, but others prefer a different pay table that pays out for a larger number of combinations.
The second pay table 405 pays out on winning combinations of a pair of “8's” or better. In other words, unlike as with the first pay table 400, according to the second pay table 405, pairs of “8's,” “9's,” and “10's” are winning combinations. Therefore, selection of the second pay table 405 effectively converts the “Jacks or Better” video poker game into an “8's or Better” video poker game. Even though there are more winning combinations according to the second pay table 405, the payout percentage according to the second pay table 405 is about the same as the payout percentage for the first pay table 400. This is possible because the second pay table 405 provides lower payouts for most of the winning combinations. For example, a “royal flush” pays out 50 credits for a 1-credit wager and a “full house” pays out 5 credits for a 1-credit wager instead of the 250 credits and 9 credits, respectively, that would have been paid out according to the pay table 400 for the “Jacks or Better” video poker game.
The third pay table 410 provides payouts for even more winning combinations. Specifically, the third pay table 410 provides a payout for combinations as low as a pair of “4's.” Because there are more winning combinations, the payouts for the other winning combinations are lower, on average, than those in the first pay table 400 or the second pay table 405. Again, as with the second pay table 405, the third pay table 410 may provide a payout percentage that is about the same as that for the first pay table 400.
The player may select the desired pay table 400, 405, or 410 by pressing on a displayed symbol/image of one of the pay tables or a soft touch key 30 on the display screen. After the pay table 400, 405, or 410 has been selected, the player may then play the video poker wagering game.
The pay tables 400, 405, or 410 may be specific to a particular type of video poker. For example, a “Double Bonus” video poker game may provide different payouts for various winning combinations than the “Jacks or Better” video poker game. Accordingly, the various selectable pay tables 400, 405, or 410 available for “Double Bonus” video poker may be different than those available for “Jacks or Better” video poker.
When the player desires to play a wagering game, an initial display screen may be displayed which lists various wagering games available to the player. For example, the player may be shown symbols/images representative of various video poker games such as “Jacks or Better,” “Deuces Wild,” “Double Bonus,” etc. In some embodiments, the player is not presented with the option of selecting the wagering game—instead, the gaming machine 10 plays only a single type of wagering game. The player may select the desired game and then another screen may be displayed which shows the various pay tables 400, 405, or 410 available for the selected wagering game (see FIG. 4). As discussed above, the player may select the desired pay table 400, 405, or 410 by pressing on one of the soft touch keys 30.
After the selection of the pay table 400, 405, or 410 is made, the initial screen of the selected wagering game is displayed to the player and the player can start game play. However, up until the point at which the player makes the wager, the pay table 400, 405, or 410 can be switched.
After game play ends, the player again has the opportunity to change the pay table 400, 405, or 410. The player can return to the display screen of the pay tables 400, 405, or 410 by pressing a button or one of the soft touch keys 30 on the touch screen 28. If the gaming machine 10 has selectable wagering games, the player may also return to the screen where the player may select a different wagering game to play.
Although only three pay tables 400, 405, and 410 are shown in FIG. 4, additional selectable pay tables may also be presented to the player. Different wagering games may have differing amounts of available pay tables associated with them. Also, the payout amounts listed for the winning combinations and wagered amounts in the pay tables are merely exemplary. In other words, the actual pay tables may differ from what is illustrated in FIG. 4. Also, although it is desirable to have the same payout percentage for each of the various available pay tables for a wagering game, the actual payout percentages for each pay table may have a slight variance from each other. Also, in some embodiments the pay tables 400, 405, or 410 provide larger payouts when the pay tables provide fewer winning combinations, and in other embodiments, payouts are provided for other combinations that would not normally represent a winning combination (e.g., a combination of two “3” cards and a black “Ace” card).
In some embodiments, the pay table is randomly selected. For example, a plurality of player-selectable elements may be displayed, each of which masks (i.e., hides) a pay table, and the player is requested to selected one of the player-selectable elements, and the masked pay table for the selected player-selectable element is implemented. Alternatively, the pay table may be selected by a random number generator. In additional embodiments, the player may make a second wager, in addition to the initial wager, to purchase a different and more valuable pay table for use with the video poker game.
Each of these embodiments and obvious variations thereof is contemplated as falling within the spirit and scope of the claimed invention, which is set forth in the following claims.