US20070218968A1 - Wagering game with side wager providing tournament entry award - Google Patents

Wagering game with side wager providing tournament entry award Download PDF

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Publication number
US20070218968A1
US20070218968A1 US11/377,226 US37722606A US2007218968A1 US 20070218968 A1 US20070218968 A1 US 20070218968A1 US 37722606 A US37722606 A US 37722606A US 2007218968 A1 US2007218968 A1 US 2007218968A1
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Prior art keywords
player
game
wager
hand
dealer
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Abandoned
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US11/377,226
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Roger Snow
Philip Smith
Russell Dunn
Mark Yoseloff
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SHFL Enterteiment Inc
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SHFL Enterteiment Inc
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Priority to US11/377,226 priority Critical patent/US20070218968A1/en
Assigned to SHUFFLE MASTER, INC. reassignment SHUFFLE MASTER, INC. ASSIGNMENT OF ASSIGNORS INTEREST (SEE DOCUMENT FOR DETAILS). Assignors: DUNN, RUSSELL BROOKE, SMITH, PHHILIP S., SNOW, ROGER M., YOSELOFF, MARK E.
Publication of US20070218968A1 publication Critical patent/US20070218968A1/en
Priority claimed from US11/975,726 external-priority patent/US9067047B2/en
Application status is Abandoned legal-status Critical

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    • AHUMAN NECESSITIES
    • A63SPORTS; GAMES; AMUSEMENTS
    • A63FCARD, BOARD, OR ROULETTE GAMES; INDOOR GAMES USING SMALL MOVING PLAYING BODIES; VIDEO GAMES; GAMES NOT OTHERWISE PROVIDED FOR
    • A63F1/00Card games
    • AHUMAN NECESSITIES
    • A63SPORTS; GAMES; AMUSEMENTS
    • A63FCARD, BOARD, OR ROULETTE GAMES; INDOOR GAMES USING SMALL MOVING PLAYING BODIES; VIDEO GAMES; GAMES NOT OTHERWISE PROVIDED FOR
    • A63F1/00Card games
    • A63F1/06Card games appurtenances
    • A63F1/18Score computers; Miscellaneous indicators
    • AHUMAN NECESSITIES
    • A63SPORTS; GAMES; AMUSEMENTS
    • A63FCARD, BOARD, OR ROULETTE GAMES; INDOOR GAMES USING SMALL MOVING PLAYING BODIES; VIDEO GAMES; GAMES NOT OTHERWISE PROVIDED FOR
    • A63F1/00Card games
    • A63F2001/005Poker

Abstract

A method of playing an underlying wagering game using standard playing cards which includes a side bet wager providing players with the chance to win entry to a wagering game tournament, the method comprising the steps of: placing a first wager on a casino card game with specified rules; placing a side bet wager, wherein the outcome of the side bet wager depends on a comparison of the player's hand rank with a plurality of preset criteria; dealing the cards; resolving the first wager; comparing the player's hand with the plurality of preset criteria to resolve the side bet wager, wherein payouts are made on hands meeting the preset winning criteria, and when a player's hand also meets a second criteria qualifying for tournament entry, awarding the winning player a tournament entry voucher.

Description

    BACKGROUND OF THE INVENTION
  • 1. Field of the Invention
  • The present invention relates to wagering games, casino table wagering games, casino table playing card wagering games, and variants of casino table wagering games that use poker ranks in determining outcomes.
  • 2. Background of the Art
  • Conventional card or wagering game tournaments require the players to pay an entry fee. This fee can vary but is commonly fairly expensive. After the entry fee is paid, the players play with tournament chips, which they do not purchase. Thus, the entry fee is typically the only cost of participation.
  • Although such tournaments are exciting and fun for the players and audience, they often lack participants. This can be for a variety of reasons, the most obvious of which is that instead of paying the tournament entry fee, players would rather use that money to play on their own.
  • It has been found that tournament participation has been increased by televising the events. However, this can be expensive. Moreover, this can be risky in that the organizers can suffer a financial loss should player participation not at least meet a minimum amount.
  • There have been previous attempts at increasing tournament participation. For example, LET IT RIDE BONUS® Poker, as disclosed in U.S. Pat. No. 6,334,614, entitled MULTI-TIERED WAGERING METHOD AND GAME, and the more basic play of LET IT RIDE® casino table poker game as described in U.S. Pat. Nos. 6,273,424 and 5,288,081 disclose a card game in which the player plays a five card poker game. U.S. Pat. Nos. 5,544,892 and 6,019,374 disclose a “Tournament” form of this game, among other things. The aforementioned patents are all assigned to Shuffle Master, Inc. The contents of these patents are also incorporated herein by reference.
  • In the “Bonus” form of the LET IT RIDE® game, the player has an option to make a side bet on the occurrence of certain predetermined card combinations. The card combinations that qualify for bonus payments are a subset of winning card combinations appearing on the pay table in the base game, commonly the highest raking card combinations. In the “Tournament” form of the game, an optional side bet is made. The player qualifies for bonus payouts as described in the Bonus form of the game. Additionally, for certain high ranking hands, such as a royal flush, the player qualifies to return and participate in a playoff event.
  • For reasons such as those cited above, among others, there is a compelling interest in developing methods that would increase player participation in wagering game tournaments. It would especially be beneficial and desirable to casinos, gaming suppliers, and players, if such a method was uncomplicated and did not add further burden or expense. Accordingly, the present invention is directed to a method which meets the aforementioned needs.
  • SUMMARY OF THE INVENTION
  • The present invention meets the aforementioned needs, among other things, by providing a new and interesting wagering games and methods for increasing tournament participation.
  • In one aspect, the present invention is directed to a method of playing a wagering game using standard playing cards which includes a side bet wager providing players with the chance to win entry to a separate wagering game tournament, the method comprising the steps of: placing a wager on an underlying wagering game with predetermined rules; placing a side bet wager, wherein the outcome of the side wager depends on a comparison of the player's hand rank with a plurality of preset criteria; dealing the cards to form a player's hand and a dealer's hand; comparing the player's hand with the plurality of preset criteria to resolve the side bet wager, and awarding both a monetary amount determined by multiplying the side bet wager by a specific multiple, and wherein at least one of the plurality of preset criteria is operatively associated with the granting of a second award to a player upon satisfaction thereof, the second award including an entry pass to a separate wagering game tournament. The specific multiple is preferably based on the particular preset criteria satisfied.
  • Preferably, the underlying game is one in which the player plays against the dealer's hand. In one embodiment, the plurality of preset criteria comprise at least one standard poker hand rank, and may comprise poker hand rankings of royal flush, straight flush, flush, straight and three-of-a-kind. Preferably, the preset criteria operatively associated with the granting of a second award to a player comprises a royal flush.
  • In a preferred embodiment, the underlying game is Three Card Poker®, a game marketed by Shuffle Master, Inc. The side wager may be optional or mandatory. Preferably, the plurality of preset criteria comprise poker hand rankings of a pair, flush, straight, three-of-a-kind, straight flush and mini-royal flush, and the second award is granted to players receiving a mini-royal flush. The monetary award is preferably determined by the following paytable:
    Player's hand rank Ratio of first award to side bet wager
    Pair 1 to 1
    Flush 4 to 1
    Straight 6 to 1
    Three-of-a-Kind 25 to 1 
    Straight Flush 40 to 1 
    Mini Royal Flush 50 to 1 
  • The present invention is also directed to a method of qualifying for tournament play, comprising: placing a first wager to play an underlying casino card game; placing a second wager on the occurrence of one of a plurality of predetermined winning card combinations; dealing cards to each player; dealing cards to a dealer when the casino card game rules so require; resolving the first wager according to the rules of the casino card game; resolving the second wager against the predetermined winning card combinations and when a player holds a predetermined winning card combination, a payout is made, and when the winning card combination is designated for tournament entry, awarding the winning player an entry voucher. The entry voucher may be transferable.
  • The underlying casino game is typically a game where the players play against a dealer hand, and in a preferred embodiment, the game is a Three Card Poker® game. In such an embodiment, the first and second bets are preferably mandatory, but the first and/or second bets may be optional. The designated tournament entry hand is preferably a mini-royal. Winning payouts on the second bet are preferably resolved using a pay table. In another embodiment, the earnings from the second bet are used to fund tournament prizes.
  • The present invention is also directed to a multi-player platform that provides multiple player positions for live players to engage in an interactive wagering game with a virtual dealer and virtual cards comprising at least two player positions that enable players to place wagers on the game, a display system for showing a virtual dealer, a display system for showing the virtual cards used in play of the game, and a database that contains the rules of the wagering game, and a game engine for processing a game script including instructional steps enabling game play for each player according to the rules in the database.
  • In one embodiment, the multi-player platform is configured and adapted to operate a game having a game script comprising the steps of: receiving a wager on an underlying game with predetermined rules; receiving a side wager from a player, wherein the outcome of the side bet wager depends on a comparison of the player's hand rank with a plurality of preset criteria; dealing cards to form a player's hand and a dealer's hand; comparing the player's hand with the plurality of preset criteria to resolve the side bet wager, and awarding both a monetary amount determined by multiplying the side bet wager by a specific multiple, the specific multiple being based on the particular preset criteria satisfied, and wherein at least one of the plurality of preset criteria is operatively associated with the granting of a second award to a player upon satisfaction thereof, the second award including an entry pass to a separate wagering game tournament.
  • According to an embodiment of the present invention, the aforementioned game and platform are configured and adapted so that the plurality of preset criteria comprise at least one standard poker hand rank.
  • According to another embodiment of the present invention, the aforementioned game and platform are configured and adapted so that the at least one of the plurality of preset criteria operatively associated with the granting of a second award to a player comprises a royal flush.
  • According to yet another embodiment of the present invention, the aforementioned game and platform are configured and adapted so that the underlying game is a Three Card Poker® game. The game and platform may be configured and adapted so that the side wager is mandatory. The side wager may also be optional. In this embodiment, the game and platform may also be configured and adapted so that the plurality of preset criteria comprise poker hand rankings of a pair, flush, straight, three-of-a-kind, straight flush and mini-royal flush, and the second award is granted to a player that receives a mini-royal flush.
  • The present invention is also directed to a system for playing a wagering game comprising a database, a processor and a user interface. The database preferably is configured and adapted for storing game data relating to rules of a poker-type game and a side wager associated therewith, side wager winning criteria and a pay table relating thereto. The processor is preferably configured and adapted for: receiving a wager on an underlying game with predetermined rules; receiving a side wager from a player, wherein the outcome of the side bet wager depends on a comparison of the player's hand rank with a plurality of preset criteria; dealing cards to form a player's hand and a dealer's hand; and comparing the player's hand with the plurality of preset criteria to resolve the side bet wager, and awarding both a monetary amount determined by multiplying the side bet wager by a specific multiple, the specific multiple being based on the particular preset criteria satisfied, and wherein at least one of the plurality of preset criteria is operatively associated with the granting of a second award to a player upon satisfaction thereof, the second award including an entry pass to a separate wagering game tournament. The user interface may also be configured and adapted for facilitating player wagers and communicating game activity.
  • According to one embodiment of the present invention, the user interface is a portable, semi-portable or handheld device configured to provide the player with access to a game through wireless communication with other system components.
  • According to another embodiment of the present invention, the user interface is configured to operate over the world wide web to provide the player with access to the game using the world wide web.
  • The present invention is also directed to a machine readable media for facilitating a method of playing a wagering game, comprising one or more data segments and one or more code segments. The one or more data segments are preferably configured and adapted for storing game data relating to rules of a poker-type game and storing side wager winning criteria and a pay table relating thereto. The one or more code segments are preferably configured and adapted for receiving a wager on an underlying game with predetermined rules; receiving a side wager from a player, wherein the outcome of the side bet wager depends on a comparison of the player's hand rank with a plurality of preset criteria; dealing cards to form a player's hand and a dealer's hand; and comparing the player's hand with the plurality of preset criteria to resolve the side bet wager, and awarding both a monetary amount determined by multiplying the side bet wager by a specific multiple, the specific multiple being based on the particular preset criteria satisfied, and wherein at least one of the plurality of preset criteria is operatively associated with the granting of a second award to a player upon satisfaction thereof, the second award including an entry pass to a separate wagering game tournament.
  • These and other aspects of the system and method of the present invention will become more readily apparent to those having ordinary skill in the art from the following detailed description of the invention taken in conjunction with the drawings.
  • BRIEF DESCRIPTION OF THE FIGURES
  • So that those having ordinary skill in the art to which the present invention pertains will more readily understand how to make and use the method and system of the present disclosure, preferred and exemplary embodiments thereof will be described in detail herein below with reference to the drawings, wherein:
  • FIG. 1A shows a playing surface for use in playing a card game in a preferred embodiment of the present invention;
  • FIG. 1B shows a perspective view of a prior art format for an automated gaming system;
  • FIG. 2 shows a top plan view of a prior art format for an automated gaming system;
  • FIG. 3 shows a side elevational view of a prior art format for an automated gaming system;
  • FIG. 4 shows a block schematic diagram of the electronic configuration of a prior art automated gaming system;
  • FIG. 5 shows a perspective view of a format for an automated gaming system according to the present invention;
  • FIG. 6 shows a schematic diagram of a gaming engine useful in the practice of the present invention;
  • FIG. 7 shows a schematic diagram of a player station useful in the practice of the present invention; and
  • FIG. 8 shows a schematic diagram of a game display useful in the practice of the present invention.
  • DETAILED DESCRIPTION OF THE INVENTION
  • The following description is provided to illustrate various embodiments of the invention, but the description is not intended to limit the scope of the invention. For the purposes of this disclosure, “game elements” or “gaming elements” means information used by a player or dealer to participate in the game such as the face value of cards, dice, the face value of a die or dice, slot symbols, angular positions on a wheel or reel game, cards (e.g., from a standard or non-standard playing deck), tiles or the like. A preferred medium of play is with a single, typical (standard) fifty-two card poker deck (with or without jokers, or with cards removed as with Spanish Twenty-One™ where tens are removed from the deck) and a specific preferred game broadly involves the generally well recognized and accepted set of rules, procedures and wager-resolving outcomes of five card poker.
  • The gaming methods described in this disclosure may be played in a number of different formats such as live action casino table gaming format with a live dealer and real playing cards and chips, or with various automated formats with partial (e.g., wagers only) or complete (wagers, cards, dealer, etc.) automation of the format.
  • In one embodiment, the method of the present invention comprises a side wager against a pay table in an underlying game initiated by one or more players placing an ante wager against a dealer hand. The side wager may be added to the underlying game as a separate wager or incorporated in a side wager which is already included in the game. Preferably, the side wager is mandatory, but it may also be optional. The underlying game is preferably a poker-based game played as a table game using standard playing cards or as a simulation of a live table game supported on an interactive platform with representations of a dealer and cards.
  • The ante wager in the underlying game is preferably a wager against the dealer, in that it has an outcome that is resolved by comparing hand rankings between each player and the dealer to determine which of the two rankings is highest. The highest ranking hand between each player and the dealer wins the ante wager, which preferably pays even money (i.e., 1 to 1) on any amount wagered.
  • If a side wager is not already part of the underlying game, the side wager of the present invention is resolved by a comparison of the player's hand placing a side wager and a plurality of preset (i.e., set prior to the game being played) criteria to determine if any of the plurality of preset criteria have been satisfied. Preferably, only one of the plurality of preset criteria must be satisfied for the player to win. If the player, for example, has a hand combination which satisfies the preset criteria, the player is granted an award. The award preferably includes an entry pass to a wagering game tournament. Preferably, the wagering game tournament involves the same underlying game.
  • The preset criteria may relate to the cards received, poker hand ranking achieved or be satisfied if the player receives one or more special cards which can be added to the decks of cards used in the underlying game. The preset criteria may be set for the entire game or change between rounds, through a random selection system or otherwise, and a new criteria set prior to the beginning of each new round.
  • In the preferred embodiment of the present invention, a side wager associated with an award is already included in the underlying game. Thus, a side wager of the present invention would further include a second award in addition to the first, wherein satisfaction of at least one preset criteria results in a tournament entry pass.
  • For example, the present invention can be embodied in an underlying game having an existing side wager wherein the outcome of the side wager depends on a comparison with the player's hand rank and a pay table listing winning hand ranks and corresponding payout multiples or “odds.” The side wager is therefore resolved by comparing the player's hand with a plurality of preset criteria to determine whether payment of a monetary award is appropriate. Typically, the award would be determined by multiplying the amount of the side wager by a particular multiple, wherein the multiple depends on the specific criteria satisfied. According to the present invention, additional criteria would be set such that the player satisfying the criteria would win a tournament entry pass if the player placed the side wager.
  • Although the criteria for winning a monetary award on a side wager and the criteria for winning a tournament entry pass may be completely different, it is preferable that the preset criteria for winning a tournament entry pass be set as one or more of the criteria for winning a monetary award. Thus, in certain cases, a monetary award and a tournament entry pass would be awarded to a player for satisfying one or more particular preset criteria.
  • A preferred embodiment of the present invention incorporates the present invention with the well known game of Three Card Poker®. U.S. Pat. Nos. 5,685,774, 6,056,641, 6,237,916, 6,345,823 and 6,698,759 (all assigned to Shuffle Master, Inc.) disclose methods for playing the game of Three Card Poker®, and its variations, among other things. These patents are hereby incorporated herein.
  • In the standard game, three cards are dealt to each player and three cards are dealt to the dealer, all face down. Initially one or two wagers may be made by the player. One such side wager is for the “Pair Plus” bonus bet, a bet on achieving a winning combination included in a payout table. Another wager is the game “Ante” on which the player competes against the dealer. House rules dictate whether the Ante, Pair Plus or both bets are mandatory. The Pair Plus bet in one disclosed example is a wager that the three card hand will have a rank of at least one pair or more. The hand is paid off in multiples of the bet depending upon the rank of the hand, with up to 40:1 (or more), for example, paid out for three-of-a-kind. In the ante wager, if the player wants to compete against the dealer's hand (after viewing the rank of the player's hand), an additional “Play” wager equal to one or two times the Ante must be placed by the player. The dealer's hand is then exposed. If the dealer does not have a hand of at least a certain qualifying rank (e.g., at least Queen high), the dealer's hand is not in play. If the player has not made the additional Play wager, the Ante is collected by the dealer at some point in the play of the game. If the player has made the additional Play wager, the Ante is paid off to the player if the dealer's hand has not qualified or if the dealer's hand is not as high a rank as the player's hand. If the dealer's hand has qualified, and the dealer's hand is higher than the player's hand, then the Ante and the additional Play wager are collected by the house. If the dealer's hand qualifies (e.g., at least Queen high) and is lower than the player's hand rank, both the Ante and additional Play wager are paid off. An additional Ante payout that pays according to a multiple is also paid for certain high ranking hands (e.g., straights, flushes, straight flushes, three-of-a-kind, etc.).
  • The standard game employs a hierarchy of the various poker hands which is different than in typical five card poker games. The standard poker rankings in five card poker type games are presented in the following descending order: Royal flush, straight flush, four of a kind, full house, flush, straight, three of a kind, two pair and a pair. According to a preferred form of the invention, four of a kind, full house and two pair are not included in the three card poker pay table as those outcomes require more than three cards. A royal flush beats a straight flush in Five Card Poker. In three card poker, the order of certain hands (flush, straight and three of a kind) is inverted. The change in ranking is dictated by the frequency of occurrence of those hands. Although the minimum winning card combination in this example is a pair, the invention contemplates other minimum hands, such as a single face card or a high ranking pair, such as a pair of 10's or better.
  • In the case of one preferred version, hands are preferably ranked as follows, where A=ace, K=king, Q=queen, J=jack and numbers 10 to 2 designate the other cards:
  • Highest:
      • STRAIGHT FLUSH: Three cards of one suit in sequence
        • AKQ highest ranking brag
        • KQJ next highest ranking brag
        • QJ10 next highest ranking brag, and so on
        • until
        • 32A lowest ranking brag
      • TRIPS: Three cards of one Rank
        • AAA highest
        • KKK next highest ranking trips, and so on,
        • until
        • 222 lowest ranking trips
      • RUN: Three cards of mixed suits in sequence
        • AKQ highest ranking
        • KQJ next highest ranking, and so on,
        • until
        • 32A lowest ranking
      • FLUSH: Three cards of One Suit
        • AKJ highest ranking
        • AK10 next highest, and so on, until
        • 532 lowest ranking
      • PAIR: Two cards of the Same Rank
        • AAK highest ranking
        • AAQ next highest ranking, and so on,
        • until
        • 223 lowest ranking
  • Lowest:
      • HIGH CARD (a hand comprising none of the above combinations)
        • AKJ highest ranking
        • AK10 next highest ranking, and so on,
        • until
        • 532 lowest ranking
  • Ace is high, but can be low in 3-2-A Sequence.
  • The payout on the Pair Plus side wager may be made in accordance with a predetermined scale. The payouts may be at different rates that are proportional to the original wager, but not necessarily whole number multipliers, such as 2 to 1 or 14 to 5 for a pair. Those skilled in the art will appreciate that the payouts may be varied without departing from the scope of the present invention.
  • In a game according to the present invention, the underlying game is Three Card Poker®, as summarized above. According to the present invention, the pair plus wager is modified to include at least one preset criteria that will provide a player with an additional award consisting of a tournament entry pass to a Three Card Poker® tournament (e.g., the Three Card Poker National Championship™) upon satisfaction thereof. In one form of the invention, the entry pass is transferable to a tournament featuring a different game, such as Let It Ride® the Tournament or traditional poker. Preferably, the preset criteria consists of the player achieving a hand known in Three Card Poker® as the Mini-Royal, that is, a hand consisting of an Ace, King and Queen of the same suit.
  • The pair plus wager includes a payout associated therewith that is preferably reformulated or modified as necessary to account for the additional payout by the house of the tournament entry fee. For example, the pair plus payout in Three Card Poker® is typically as follows:
    Critieria Payout
    Pair 1 to 1
    Flush 4 to 1
    Straight 6 to 1
    3 of a Kind 30 to 1 
    Straight Flush 40 to 1 
  • In this preferred embodiment, the pair plus payout is modified as shown below.
    Criteria Payout
    Pair 1 to 1
    Flush 3 to 1
    Straight 6 to 1
    3 of a Kind 25 to 1 
    Straight Flush 40 to 1 
    Mini Royal 50 to 1*

    *Plus Tournament Entry
  • It should be noted that the multiple associated with achieving a Three-of-a-Kind has been lowered and a ranking of mini-royal added along with an associated multiple of 50 times (50 to 1) the wager. This change was made for a variety of reasons, such as to account for the extra amount paid out by the house to fund the tournament entry fee and provide a perceived additional benefit to the players. It should be readily apparent that the pair plus payout may be otherwise modified in a variety of ways to account for the tournament entry fee. Furthermore, the game according to the present invention may award the player with a transferable or non-transferable entry pass or voucher to a separate wagering game tournament.
  • It should be readily apparent that the entry pass can be for a regional tournament that is used to qualify players for a play-off tournament, and that the entry pass to the regional event may be transferable while the play off event tickets are not. Alternatively, both tickets can be transferable to other players, to other tournaments and to tournaments with different underlying games.
  • In one form of the inventions, the pay table is adjusted so that the house retains additional revenue to fund a separate tournament. The house keeps track of the number of tournament entry tickets awarded (corresponding to the number of mini-royals in the above preferred embodiment) and pays the tournament organizer either a fixed amount per ticket awarded or a percentage of the additional winnings retained.
  • A portion of the tournament organizer's payments are used to fund tournament prizes. Alternatively, the casino and/or the tournament organizer could fund the tournament prizes, depending upon the extra amounts retained by the house and paid to the tournament organizer.
  • Typically, the game would be played on an apparatus that comprises a rigid playing surface of board, plastic or other suitable material or may comprise a cloth or other flexible material defining a playing surface. A cloth playing surface is commonly referred to in the industry as a layout.
  • In a preferred form, as shown in FIG. 1A, the surface is of generally semi-circular form, the dealer's playing area being located proximate the straight edge of the playing surface or centrally thereof and the players' playing areas being disposed side-by-side in an arcuate array adjacent the curved edge of the playing surface.
  • A playing surface or table layout 210 may be marked or placed on any suitable surface such as a gaming table. For example, the layout may be in the form of a layout cloth supported on a supporting surface. In general, the invention can be practiced on existing casino tables, thus providing casino operators with additional revenue generating features without requiring extra casino tables, space, or game surveillance.
  • Layout 210 provides a playing area 212 for a plurality of players, for example seven players, and a separate area 214 for a banker who also preferably acts as a dealer. Each playing area 212 has a number of marked sections or zones 216, 218, and 220 for the player to place various wagers as will be described hereinafter. Layout 210 also displays various payout schedules 222 and 224. Other wager areas and/or information can be displayed on layout 210, such as the “Three Card Poker National Championship” promotional markings illustrated in FIG. 1A.
  • Each player takes a place at one of the areas 212. The game is played in a number of rounds as will be described. In each round, each player plays against the dealer and optionally wagers on the rank of his hand. The game can be played with a standard 52-card deck or a modified deck as described herein.
  • According to one example of a game of the present invention, each player who decides to play a particular round of the game must place an Ante wager on the value of that player's hand against that of the dealer and may place an optional Pair Plus wager. Each player makes an Ante wager by placing an appropriate wager, such as a toke (or chip), in section 218 of his playing area 212. The gaming chips may be of any conventional kind and are available in a number of denominations such as are well known within the art. If the player wishes to make the optional Pair Plus wager based on the value of his hand, he places an appropriate toke (or chip) in section 216 of his playing area 212. In an alternative variation of the game, the Pair Plus wager can only be placed if the Ante wager is also placed. In yet another example, both the Ante and Pair Plus wagers are mandatory. In the present example, the rules of the game provide that payouts will be made according to displayed Pair Plus payout schedules 222 (Pair Plus payouts starting at a Pair or better) and Ante bonus payouts according to pay table 224.
  • The payout schedule may be varied in accordance with rules of the game and/or by the casino. In the present invention, the schedule may be varied to account for the additional amount collected by the house due to fund the tournament entry fees. For example, as illustrated in FIG. 1A (schedule 222), the payout schedule of this embodiment is as follows:
    Pair  1 to 1.
    Flush 4 to 1
    Straight 6 to 1
    Three of a Kind 25 to 1 
    Straight Flush 40 to 1 
    Mini Royal 50 to 1*
  • The asterisk (*) refers to this payout including a tournament entry fee for the Three Card Poker National Championship™. The payout schedules are preferably displayed in a convenient manner and location. The details of payouts and any other payouts (e.g., extra bonus) may be marked on each player's playing 212 as illustrated in FIG. 1A. However, alternative arrangements can be used with the invention.
  • According to a preferred embodiment of the present invention, the two wagering options are independent, so that a player may wager unequal amounts on the Ante and Pair Plus options. In an alternative variation of the game, the Ante and Pair bets have a prescribed relationship.
  • In one form of the invention, commissions paid to the tournament organizer for each ticket awarded are based on a fixed bet of $5, for example. The amounts paid to the organizer are typically fixed, but could vary with the amounts bet on the Pair Plus wager, or other side wager.
  • After the above wagers are placed, the dealer preferably shuffles the cards (manually or otherwise) and then deals a three-card hand to each player and to himself. The cards may initially be dealt to the players face-up or face-down depending upon casino policy. All the dealer's cards are dealt face-down in this preferred embodiment.
  • After the cards have been dealt, the player inspects his hand and determines whether he wishes either to forfeit his Ante wager and not play the hand, or to continue. If he wishes to continue, according to this illustrated embodiment, he must place a Play wager, which must be of proportionate value to and is preferably is equal to the Ante wager. The Play wager is made by placing an appropriate toke (or chip) in section 220 of his playing area 212. After making the Play wager, the player places his cards in the area below section 220.
  • If a player has only made an Ante wager and decides not to make a Play wager, he forfeits his Ante wager, which is taken by the banker and the player's cards are discarded before the game proceeds.
  • At this point, the dealer then reveals his cards and arranges the cards to show the value of his hand. The dealer then in turn reveals each other player's hand (if not already visible) and resolves each player's wager(s). The dealer must qualify to play.
  • All players with Ante and Play wagers are automatically winners if the dealer does not have a Queen high hand or better. This rank may be varied in accordance with rules of the game or of the casino. As is illustrated in schedule 226 of FIG. 1A, when the dealer does not qualify, players are preferably paid even money (one to one) on their Ante wager and their Play wager is returned (a Push).
  • If the dealer has a Queen high qualifying hand or better, each player's hand is compared with that of the dealer. If the player's hand is higher (i.e., the rank of the player's hand exceeds that of the dealer's hand), the player is paid even money on both Ante and Play wagers (schedule 226). If the player's hand is lower, the player forfeits his Ante and Play wagers. If the dealer and player have the same hand, the player may either withdraw his wager or leave or amend it for the next round.
  • Preferably an additional extra bonus payout (e.g., Ante Bonus) is made by the banker to any player who is in play against the dealer (i.e., who has made the Ante and Play wagers) and who has a hand of a predetermined high rank. The ranks to which such extra bonus payouts are made may be predetermined by rules of the game and/or the casino. For example, as illustrated in FIG. 1A (schedule 224), the extra bonus payout schedule of this embodiment is as follows:
    Straight  1 to 1.
    Three of a Kind 5 to 1
    Straight Flush 6 to 1
  • Players who have also wagered on the value of the hand (i.e., Pair Plus wagers) win if the hand is at least a Pair, and are paid by the banker according to the posted scale (e.g., schedule 222 of FIG. 1A). These payouts are independent of the results of the game against the dealer. As described above, if the player places the Pair Plus wager and receives a Mini Royal, the player is awarded 50 times the amount of the pair plus wager and a tournament entry ticket.
  • This procedure completes a single round of the game. Play then continues in another round, with players commencing by making Ante and Pair Plus wagers.
  • The novel methods of the present invention may be played utilizing playing cards as illustrated above, or on an electrical or electro-mechanical device such as a single or multiple player gaming machine. Those skilled in the art will appreciate that suitable controls can be provided for receiving the necessary input and therefore will not be described in detail herein. While the gaming device is intended for play by a single player against the playing device, it is also within the scope of the present invention to provide a multi-unit video format wherein a plurality of players may play against each other and/or against a dealer. Similarly, from the present description, those skilled in the art will appreciate that the novel games of the present invention are readily adaptable for play either within a gaming establishment or at a remote location, such as on a terminal provided in a commercial aircraft, in a hotel room within a casino, or on the internet, for example. Furthermore, the game is readily adaptable to a scratch card format.
  • From the present description, those skilled in the art will appreciate that various modifications may be made without department from the scope of the present invention. For example, the naming of the wagers, the naming and/or ranking of any hand, the payout schedule and predetermined winning or losing ranks may be varied in accordance with the requirements of the casino. The table layout may be varied from that described and shown. The rules may be varied, or additional rules imposed, within the scope of the invention.
  • In accordance with the present invention, a method and system configured for simulating a live table game typically played in a casino and adapted to provide interactive game play, including receiving real-time wagers from one or more live game players and presenting representative game hands without involving physical playing cards, physical wagering chips or currency or live casino personnel such as dealers. Systems of the present invention, such as a multi-player platform, can be constructed, modified, or retrofitted in accordance with the present invention.
  • The game of the present invention can also be in the form of an executable program played on a computerized apparatus or system which may be integrated with one or more multimedia transceiving terminals. The game can be played by wagering monetary amounts or the game can be played with non-monetary credits. Practice play (that is, play for non-monetary credit) is contemplated according to the present invention. It should be readily apparent to those skilled in the art that a system in accordance with the present invention can include various computer and network related software and hardware, such as computer language programs, operating systems, memory storage devices, input/output devices, data processors, servers with links to data communication systems, wireless or otherwise, such as those which take the form of a local or wide area distributed computing network, and a plurality of data transceiving terminals within the network, such as personal computers, or otherwise. It should be understood that the system of the present invention may also include multiple, redundant or backup devices of those described herein. Those skilled in the art will further appreciate that, so long as its users are provided with access to a system and the ability to play the game according to the present invention, the type of network, software or hardware is not vital to its full implementation.
  • In an exemplary embodiment, the core functional components of a game system of the present invention include a database, processor, and one or more graphical user interfaces. One exemplary system can be configured to function as a free standing terminal but may also be configured provide the game of the present invention to a plurality of players via the world wide web.
  • Another exemplary system includes servers and processors for conducting game play and one or more portable devices having input and output interfaces supported thereon. The portable devices and servers are preferably configured to communicate via wireless connection. The servers and portable devices can be configured to transfer financial information, game selections, game play information and game results and present information to the user as necessary through a graphical user interface included in the portable device.
  • The system provides game play to players through graphical user interfaces which preferably include data entry terminals and monitors that provide visual depictions of the game as play ensues. The data entry terminals are preferably adjacent the monitor and can include buttons, touch screens, voice responsive actuators or any other device for indicating a preference.
  • The data storage device, which contains the programming, game rules, predefined criteria, wagering and payment information, among other data relating to operation of the game in accordance with the present invention, is operatively associated with one or more analytical processors by a control program. Programs in the system of the present invention may contain an instruction set written in a conventional computing language such as HTML, C++ or Java, for coordinating the interactive relationship between the data storage device, processor and graphical user interface.
  • The game play on the system of the present invention is preferably initiated by the player placing one or more wagers. The wagers can be placed by the player inserting money into a specially configured receiving slot in the data terminal or electronically from a credit card or ticket inserted into a reader or by inputting credit information into the system of the present invention via user interface. The wager amount is temporarily stored in the data storage device. The system accesses the game rules from the data storage device and game play continues according to the game rules.
  • During the game, the system may provide options to the player, receive selections, and compare existing circumstances in the game with any predefined criteria set in storage, such as a pay table with mathematical formulas or other such relations for prescribing payment on an optional side bet, to determine if any such criteria are satisfied. The game play continues until the final outcome is reached. Any winning hands are paid and the system restarts or otherwise readies itself to receive wagers for a new game.
  • Games according to the present invention may be implemented as live table games, television or cable game show game, video poker gaming machine platforms, hand-held games for play, multiple player interactive wagering platform games (with kiosk formats, single player screens, community screens, and/or banks of seats for players with a common dealer screen), cell phone games, games downloadable from the internet, parlor games, games executed on personal computers, palm pilots, play stations and the like. Each of the above game formats, among others, is contemplated by the present invention.
  • In another embodiment, a game in accordance with the present invention is provided in a multi-player platform configured to simulate a live table game. The platform of the present invention is adapted to provide interactive game play, including receiving real-time wagers from one or more live game players and presenting representative game hands without involving physical playing cards or live casino personnel such as dealers. The multi-player platform, can be constructed, modified, or retrofitted in accordance with the present invention. Examples of known multiple player platforms are described in U.S. Pat. No. 6,607,443, U.S. application Ser. No. 10/764,827, filed Jan. 26, 2004 and published as U.S. Publication No. 2005/0164759, and in U.S. application Ser. No. 10/764,995, filed Jan. 26, 2004 and published as U.S. Publication No. 2005/0164762. The content of these disclosures are hereby incorporated herein by reference.
  • Preferably, a multi-player gaming system that can be used to practice the method of the present invention comprises a table and an upright dealer “virtual” video display system positioned for view by players seated at the table. The table may seat at least two players up to the amount of players that can be configured about the table and have a view of the dealer video display system. Typically each gaming system will have at least four player available positions, with space determinations considered as to whether there would be 4, 5, 6 or 7 player positions. It is possible to have a completely circular dealer display (e.g., holographic display in a cylindrical centerpiece) and have players distributed around the entire periphery, but this is too dissimilar to standard play arrangements and could slow the game down, as play should approximate that of a live game, with players playing in sequence. A surface of the table will include a display surface for showing all player hands, community cards, dealer hands and any other cards used to play the game for any purpose, and, chips or other wagering designations. Alternatively, player hands can be displayed on a separate player station screens. The table surface may include push button and or touch screen player controls, with our without other display features specific to the individual player. For example, the individual player screen may show a running history of wins/losses, credits available, credits bet and other play options. A majority of the table surface comprises a video monitor in one example of the invention. A separate player screen with touch screen controls or separate player control panels may be provided at each player station near the continuous display surface.
  • The use of a large (common) display surface offers some significant advantages in simulating or recreating a standard card table surface. Cards may be readily viewed by other players at a table, which is standard in table games and adds to player enjoyment. Individual monitors, especially where slanted towards the individual players make such table-wide card reading difficult. The use of the full screen (continuous) display also allows for better animation to be provided, such as displaying virtual images of cards moving to the player and “virtual” chips being placed on the table when wagers are indicated. For purposes of this disclosure, the term “virtual” means a graphical video representation of a real object or person, such as a dealer, cards and chips, for example.
  • The individual player positions preferably have a separate intelligence at each player position that accepts player input and communicates directly with a game engine (main game computer or processor). The intelligence is preferably an intelligent board that can process information. For purposes of this disclosure the term “intelligent” refers to the ability to execute code, either provided in the form of software or hardware or a combination of software and hardware circuits. Such processing may at least comprise some of signal converting (e.g., signals from player card readers, credit deposit, currency readers, coin readers, touch screen signals, ticket readers/printers and control panel signals) into a signal that can be included in an information packet and interpreted by the main game computer when the signal is sent. Communication between the intelligence at each player position is direct to the main game computer and may be by self-initiated signal sending, sequenced polling by the main game computer (e.g., each position communicates directly to the main game computer in turn), timed communication, or any other order of communication that is direct between the intelligence and the main game computer.
  • One preferred form of communication between the main game computer and player station computers is by means of self-initiated signal sending. There is essentially a single main game computer that contains video display controls and programs for both the dealer display and the table top display, audio controls and programs, game rules (including storage of multiple games if intended to be available on the machine), random number generator, graphic images, game sequence controls, security systems, wager accounting programs, external signaling and audit functions, and the like. In other forms of the invention, the above functions are divided between a main processor and one or more additional processors. The intelligence at each player position speeds up the performance of all aspects of the game by being able to communicate directly with the main game computer and being able to process information at the player position rather than merely forwarding the information in raw form to the main game computer. Processing player information at player positions frees up resources for use by the main processor or processors.
  • A card game system may also include a suitable data and control processing subsystem that is largely contained within a main control module supported beneath the tabletop. The control and data processing subsystem includes a suitable power supply for converting alternating current from the power main as controlled by a main power switch.
  • The power supply transforms the alternating line current to a suitable voltage and to a direct current supply. Power is supplied to a power distribution and sensor/activity electronics control circuit. Commercially available power switching and control circuits may be provided in the form of a circuit board which is detachable, and plugs into a board receptacle of a computer mother board or an expansion slot board receptacle. A main game controller motherboard may include a central microprocessor and related components well-known in the industry as computers using Intel brand Pentium® microprocessors and related memory or intelligence from any other manufacturing source. A variety of different configurations and types of memory devices can be connected to the motherboard as is well known in the art. Of particular interest is the inclusion of two flat panel video display control boards connected in expansion slots of the motherboard. Display control boards are each capable of controlling the images displayed for the dealer video display and for the common display area. More specifically, the display control boards are connected to player bet interface circuits for the player stations. This arrangement allows the display control boards to provide necessary image display data to the display electronic drive circuits associated with the dealing event program displays and the dealer display.
  • The motherboard and/or the individual player intelligent boards also include a serial port that allows stored data to be downloaded from the motherboard to a central casino computer or other additional storage device. In one example, each player board communicates directly with the casino computer system. This allows card game action data to be analyzed in various ways using added detail, or by providing integration with data from multiple tables so that cheating schemes can be identified and eliminated, and player tracking can be maintained. Player performance and/or skill can be tracked at one table or as a compilation from gaming at multiple tables, as by using Bloodhound™ security software marketed by Shuffle Master, Inc., which may be incorporated into this automated gaming system. Additionally, player hand analysis can be performed. The motherboard and/or individual player intelligent boards may also have a keyboard connection port that can be used to connect a larger format keyboard to the system to facilitate programming and servicing of the system.
  • Although the preferred system shown does not require features illustrated for receiving automated player identification information, such features can alternatively be provided. Card or ticket readers such as those used with credit cards, play tracking tickets, player cards or other identification code reading devices can be added in the system to allow or require player identification in connection with play of the card game and associated recording of game action by one of the processors. Such a user identification interface, for example a card reader located at each player station, can be implemented in the form of a variety of magnetic card readers commercially available for reading user-specific identification information. The user-specific information can be provided on specially constructed magnetic cards issued by a casino, or magnetically coded credit cards or debit cards frequently used with national credit organizations such as VISA™, MASTERCARD™, AMERICAN EXPRESS™, casino player card registry, banks and other institutions. The information could also be provided on other writable media, such as an RFID chip or card with writable memory, or bar coding, as just a few examples.
  • Alternatively, it is possible to use so-called smart cards to provide added processing or data storage functions in addition to mere identification data. For example, the user identification could include coding for available credit amounts purchased from a casino. As further example, the identification card or other user-specific instrument may include specially coded data indicating security information such as would allow accessing or identifying stored security information which must be confirmed by the user after scanning the user identification card through a card reader. Such security information might include such things as file access numbers which allow the central processor to access a stored security clearance code which the user must indicate using input options provided on displays using touch screen displays. A still further possibility is to have participant identification using a fingerprint image, eye blood vessel image reader, or other suitable biological information to confirm identity of the user that can be built into the table. Still further it is possible to provide such participant identification information by having the pit personnel manually code in the information in response to the player indicating his or her code name or real name. Such additional identification could also be used to confirm credit use of a smart card or transponder. All or part of the functions dedicated to a particular player station are controlled by the player station intelligence in one form of the invention. Additionally, each player station intelligence may be in communication with a casino accounting system.
  • It should also be understood that the player display screens can alternatively be provided with suitable display cowlings or covers that can be used to shield display of card images from viewing by anyone other than the player in games where that is desirable. This shielding can also be effected by having light-orientation elements in the panel, and some of these light-orientation elements are electronically controllable. This type of shielding could also be used in controlling visual access to the main game play screen. In this manner, the processor can allow general viewing of cards in games where that is desirable or tolerated, and then alter the screen where desired. These types of features can be provided by nanometer, micrometer or other small particulate or flake elements within a panel on the viewing area that are reoriented by signals from the processor. Alternatively, liquid crystal or photo chromatic displays can be used to create a screening effect that would allow only viewers at specific angles of view from the screen area to view the images of cards. Such an alternative construction may be desired in systems designed for card games different from blackjack, where some or all of the player or dealer cards are not presented for viewing by other participants or onlookers. Such display covers or cowlings can be in various shapes and configurations as needed to prevent viewing access. It may alternatively be acceptable to use a player-controlled switch that allows the display to be momentarily viewed and then turned off. The display can be shielded using a cover or merely by using the player's hands. Still further it is possible to use a touch screen display that would be controlled by touch to turn on and turn off. Similar shielding can be used to prevent others from viewing the display.
  • A review of the Figures will assist in a further understanding of the invention.
  • FIG. 1B shows a fully automated gaming table 1 of the prior art, as disclosed in U.S. Patent Application 2003/0199316. The system 1 comprises a vertical upright display cabinet 2 and a player bank or station cluster arrangement 3. The vertical display cabinet 2 has a viewing screen 7 on which images of the virtual dealer are displayed. The top 8 of the player bank arrangement 3 has individual monitor screens 10 for each player position, as well and tabletop inserted coin acceptors 11, and player controls 12 and 13. There is a separate and larger common game play screen 9 on which dealer and player cards are displayed in a format large enough for all players to view. Additionally, wager areas and/or virtual chips representing wagers are also displayed in this area. Speakers 16 a and 16 b are provided for sound transmission and decorative lights 14 are provided.
  • FIG. 2 shows a top plan view of the same prior art automated gaming system 1 with the viewing screen 7 shown more clearly as a CRT monitor. It can also be seen that each player position has to form an arc cut into the semicircular player seating area 18. FIG. 3 shows a side elevational view of the same prior art automated gaming system of FIGS. 1B and 2 where the orientation of the three different types of CRT monitors 7, 9 and 10 are shown.
  • FIG. 4 shows the schematic circuitry of a prior art automated system as disclosed in U.S. Patent Publication No. 2003/0199316. FIG. 4 is a block diagram of processing circuitry in the game device of FIG. 1B. The game device housing comprises a CPU block 20 for controlling the whole device, a picture block 21 for controlling the game screen display, a sound block 22 for producing effect sounds and the like, and a subsystem 13 for reading out CD-ROM.
  • The CPU block 20 comprises an SCU (System Control Unit) 200, a main CPU 24, RAM 26, RAM 28, a sub-CPU 30, and a CPU bus 32. The main CPU 24 contains a math function similar to a DSP (Digital Signal Processing) so that application software can be executed rapidly.
  • The RAM 26 is used as the work area for the main CPU 24. The RAM 28 stores the initialization program used for the initialization process. The SCU 22 controls the busses 32, 34 and 36 so that data can be exchanged smoothly among the VDPs 38 and 40, the DSP 42, and other components.
  • The SCU 22 contains a DMA controller, allowing data (polygon data) for character(s) in the game to be transferred to the VRAM in the video picture block 21. This allows the game machine or other application software to be executed rapidly. The sub-CPU 30 is termed an SMPC (System Manager & Peripheral Control). Its functions include collecting sound recognition signals from the sound recognition circuit 44 or image recognition signals from the image recognition circuit 46 in response to requests from the main CPU 24. On the basis of sound recognition signals or image recognition signals provided by the sub-CPU 30, the main CPU 24 controls changes in the expression of the character(s) appearing on the game screen, or performs image control pertaining to game development, for example. The picture video block 21 comprises a first VPD (Video Display Processor) 38 for rendering TV game polygon data characters and polygon screens overlaid on the background image, and a second VDP 40 for rendering scrolling background screens, performing image synthesis of polygon image data and scrolling image data based on priority (image priority order), performing clipping, and the like. The first VPD 38 houses a system register 48, and is connected to the VRAM (DRAM) 52 and to two frame buffers 54 and 56. Data for rendering the polygons used to represent TV game characters and the like is sent to the first VPD 38 through the main CPU 24, and the rendering data written to the VRAM 52 is rendered in the form of 16- or 8-bit pixels to the rendering frame buffer 54 (or 56). The data in the rendered frame buffer 54 (or 56) is sent to the second VDP 40 during the display mode. In this way, buffers 54 and 56 are used as frame buffers, providing a double buffer design for switching between rendering and display for each individual frame. Regarding information for controlling rendering, the first VPD 38 controls rendering and display in accordance with the instructions established in the system register 48 of the first VPD 38 by the main CPU 24 via the SCU 22.
  • The second VDP 40 houses a register 50 and color RAM 58, and is connected to the VRAM 60. The second VDP 40 is connected via the bus 36 to the first VPD 38 and the SCU 22 and is connected to picture output terminals Voa through Vog through memories 62 a-d and encoders 64 a-d. The picture output terminals Voa through Vog are connected through cables to the main game displays 66, 68 and the satellite displays 70. Scrolling screen data for the second VDP 40 is defined in the VRAM 60 and the color RAM 58 by the CPU 24 through the SCU 22. Information for-controlling image display is similarly defined in the second VDP 40. Data defined in the VRAM 60 is read out in accordance with the contents established in the register 50 by the second VDP 40, and serves as image data for the scrolling screens that portray the background for the character(s). Image data for each scrolling screen and image data of texture-mapped polygon data sent from the first VPD 38 is assigned display priority (priority) in accordance with the settings in the register 48, and the final image screen data is synthesized.
  • Where the display image data is in palette format, the second VDP 40 reads out the color data defined in the color RAM 58 in accordance with the values thereof, and produces the display color data. Color data is produced for each display 66 and 68 and for each satellite display 70. Where display image data is in RGB format, the display image data is used as-is as display color data. The display color data is temporarily stored in memories 62 a-d and is then output to the encoders 64 a-d. The encoders 64 a-d produce picture signals by adding synchronizing signals to the image data, which is then sent via the picture output terminals Voa through Vog to the display 66, 68 and the satellite displays 70. In this way, the images required to conduct an interactive game are displayed on the screens of the display 66, 68 and the satellite displays 70. The sound block 72 comprises a DSP 42 for performing sound synthesis using PCM format or FM format, and a CPU 74 for controlling the DSP 42. Sound data generated by the DSP 42 is converted into 2-channel sound signals by a D/A converter 76 and is then presented to audio output terminals Ao via an interface (not shown). These audio output terminals Ao are connected to the input terminals of an audio amplification circuit (not shown). Thus, the sound signals presented to the audio output terminals Ao are input to the audio amplification circuit (not shown). Sound signals amplified by the audio amplification circuit drive the speakers 16 a and 16 b.
  • The subsystem 78 comprises a CD-ROM drive 80, a CD-I/F 82, and CPU 84, an MPEG-AUDIO section 86, and an MPEG-PICTURE section 88. The subsystem 78 has the function of reading application software provided in the form of a CD-ROM and reproducing the animation. The CD-ROM drive 80 reads out data from CD-ROM. The CPU 84 controls the CD-ROM drive 80 and performs error correction on the data read out by it. Data read from the CD-ROM is sent via the CD-I/F 82, bus 34, and SCU 22 to the main CPU 24 that uses it as the application software. The MPEG-AUDIO section 86 and the MPEG-VIDEO section 88 are used to expand data that has been compressed in MPEG (Motion Picture Expert Group) format. By using the MPEG-AUDIO section 86 and the MPEG-VIDEO section 88 to expand data that has been compressed in MPEG format, it is possible to reproduce motion picture. It should be noted herein that there are distinct processors for the CPU block, video block, sound block, CD-ROM drive and Memory with their independent CPU's. This requires significant computing power and still has dumb (no intelligence) player input components.
  • FIG. 5 shows another example of an automated table system 101 useful to practice the game play methods of the present invention. The system 101 has an upright dealer display cabinet 102 with a top 104 and the dealer viewing screen 107 which may be any form of display screen such as a CRT, plasma screen, liquid crystal screen, LED screen or the like. The dealer screen 107 displays a virtual dealer, the dealer responding to instructions from the players. The player bank arrangement 103 has a common display screen 109 on which images of cards being dealt 105, dealer's cards 108, player cards 109, bets wagered (not shown) are displayed. The display 110 may include a touch screen with or without electromechanical player input functions. The displays 110 are located at each player station can also display information such as the composition of the player's hand, the credits wagered, historical win/loss information, pay tables and the like. Other player input functions may be provided on a panel 106 which might accept currency, coins, tokens, identification cards, player tracking cards, ticket in/ticket out acceptance, and the like.
  • FIG. 6 shows an electronic/processor schematic for a MultiPlayer Platform (MPP) gaming system according to the presently described invention. The MPP Game engine (dealer) comprises a Heber Pluto 5 casino game board 120 (Motorola 68340 board) operating off the PC Platform Pentium® 4 MPP Game Display processor 122. The game display processor operates on a Windows XP platform. The respective subcomponents on the Pentium 4 processor are labeled to show the apportionment of activity on the motherboard and the component parts added to the board. As is shown, the game engine has an Uninterruptible Power Supply 124. The game display processor directs activity on the Speakers, directs activities onto the MPP Game Service panel, and the Plasma Monitor Card Table display. It is important to note that all communications are direct from the game display processor, freeing up resources available to the game engine processor.
  • FIG. 7 shows the electronic/processing schematics 126 of the MPP Player Station Intelligence board 128 (Heber Pluto 5 Casino, Motorola 68340), each of which player stations (one for each player position) is in direct connection to the MPP Game Engine 130 (Dealer), which is in turn directly connected to the PC Platform (not shown in this Figure). Each Intelligence board receives information for all player input systems 132 a-f specific to that player station, such as the shown Coin Acceptor, Coin Hopper, Bill validator, Ticket Printer, Touch Screen and/or Display Button Panel, Dual Wire Ticket-in-Ticket-Out Printing and SAS System (SAS is one exemplary standard communications protocol used by a number of casinos central computer systems.) A significant benefit resides in the use of the independent Intelligent boards 128 at each player position being in direct communication with the MPP Game Engine 130, as opposed to each individual player position button panel being dead or inactive until authorized by the main game processor, as previous automated gaming systems were constructed.
  • The above-described architecture is also an improvement in providing a system with not only the intelligence at each player position, but also in redistributing processing capability for functions among various processing components within the gaming system. In one architectural format, all functions of the gaming engine, except for the player localized intelligence functions, are consolidated into a single PC (e.g., the Pentium 4 shown in the Figures). This would include all game functions, player video functions, dealer video functions, dealer audio functions, security, central reporting (to a casino's central computer, for example), currency and debit functions, alarm functions, lighting functions, and all other peripherals on the system, except for the localized player functions. Alternatively, all functions requiring communication with the casino's main computer system are located on the player station intelligent boards. In this system, the main game processor would talk directly with the player intelligent boards, preferably in the same novel communication format described below.
  • An alternative system is shown in FIG. 8, where there is a dealer engine processor 132 intermediate the main game PC 134 and the Player intelligent boards (not shown). Both systems are a distinct improvement over the prior art, but with the higher power available for PC's, and with the ease of programming a PC as opposed to an embedded system, the consolidation of the game functions and the ability of the main game engine to communicate with each of the player positions is enabled. As shown in FIG. 8, the Game display processor 134 is preferably a Pentium® 4 PC and is separate from the main processor 132. With the player intelligent boards, the main game PC can receive packets of information from each player station as events occur rather than having to poll each player position on a regular basis 100 times to gain the specific information for each player input that may be made.
  • A description of the Heber Board, (an exemplary board that can be used as a player station processor and/or game engine processor 132) a commercially available intelligent processing board is as follows. The Heber Board is known for its reliability and flexibility, especially for the Pluto 5 family of gaming products. The Pluto 5 is the controller of choice for the global gaming industry. Flexibility comes from a set of features built into the Pluto 5 (Casino) controller, and from the choice of optional add-on boards that can be used to adapt the Pluto family to best suit individual applications. In the area of interfacing, there are three distinct boards, each of which serves a particular function in helping the Pluto 5 to connect with the world outside:
  • RS485 Board
  • RS485 is an industrial-grade board for linking multiple systems in unforgiving circumstances for centralized information gathering. The Heber RS485 board is fully optically-isolated to provide complete circuit safety when used within ‘electrically noisy’ environments. The RS485 board uses a single RS232 connection to the Pluto 5 board and all necessary power is also derived through this link. Two header connectors may be provided for the RS485 channel to allow daisy chain connections between multiple systems.
  • HII/ccTalk Board
  • This board specializes in communicating with industry standard note/coin acceptors and payout hoppers. Equipped with dual communication channels, each port is configurable to use either the HII format to connect with Mars® coin/note acceptors or the ccTalk format for Money Controls® hoppers. Both channels are controlled via a single RS232 connection to the Pluto 5 board and all necessary power is also derived through this link. The Heber FastTrack™ package contains modular library functions for passing information via these channels.
  • Four Channel Relay Board
  • The relay board allows control of medium- to high-level loads such as solenoids, without risk of damage or interference to the Pluto 5 circuitry. Four power-switching channels are available with absolute isolation from the Pluto 5 control signals. Each relay is capable of switching direct or alternating currents of up to 7A at a maximum voltage of 250V.
  • Like the Pluto 5 board itself, its modular options have been used extensively so that their designs are fully developed and entirely stable. The options that are specified are consistently provided in mass quantities. As with all Pluto products, programming for the modular options is straightforward. This is enhanced with the use of the Pluto 5 Enhanced Development Kit and also the FastTrack™ package. Between them, these kits contain all of the low level and high level programming tools and library functions needed for gaming applications. These systems can be provided through a Pluto 5 Enhanced Development Kit datasheet 80-15353-7 (Heber Limited, Belvedere Mill, Chalford, Stroud, Gloucestershire, GL6 8NT, UK Tel: +44 (0) 1453 886000 Fax: +44 (0) 1453 885013; www.heber.co.uk). Specifications for the various boards are identified below.
  • RS485 Interface
  • Host Interface
  • RS232 connection to Pluto 5/Pluto 5 Casino
  • All power provided via RS232 link from host system
  • Communication Port
  • Dual four-way Molex 0.1″ KK headers for daisy chaining purposes
  • Dimensions
  • 80×61 mm (3.14×2.4″)
  • Part Number
  • Opto-isolated RS485 board
  • 01-14536-2
  • HII/ccTalk Interface
  • Host Interface
  • RS232 connection to Pluto 5/Pluto 5 Casino
  • All power provided via RS232 link from host system
  • Communication Port
  • Single or dual 10 way header connectors
  • Dimensions
  • 101.6×69.85 mm (4×2.8″)
  • Part Number
  • Dual channel HII/ccTalk board
  • 01-16171-2
  • Four Channel Relay Board
  • Host Interface
  • Connection to Pluto 5/Pluto 5 Casino via ribbon cable using four standard output lines
  • All power provided via ribbon cable link from host system
  • Switching Capabilities
  • Up to 250V AC or DC @ 7A maximum per channel
  • Dimensions
  • 80×61 mm (3.14×2.4″)
  • Part Number
  • Four channel relay board
  • 01-15275-1
  • 80-16949-1
  • One proposed hardware configuration uses a “satellite” intelligent processor at each player position. The player station satellite processor is substantially the same as the primary game engine processor, a Heber Pluto 5 Casino board. The satellite processors receive instruction from the primary game engine but then handle the communications with player station peripherals independently. Each satellite processor communicates with only the peripherals at the same player station. Thus each player station has a dedicated satellite processor communicating with only the peripherals at the same player station and with the casino's central computer system. The peripherals are, but not limited to: Slot accounting Systems, Bill Validator, Ticket Printer, Coin Acceptor, Coin Hopper, Meters, Button panel or LCD touch screen and various doors and keys.
  • The satellite processors run proprietary software to enable functionality. The player station software is comprised of two modules, the first being an OS similar to the game engine Operating System and the second being station software that handles peripheral communications. The software may be installed on EPROMs for each satellite processor. The primary method of communication between the satellite processors and the primary game engine is via serial connectivity and the previously described protocol. In one example, information packets are prepared by the satellite processors and are sent to the game engine processor on the happening of an event.
  • The proposed game engine provides communication to the player stations to set the game state, activate buttons and receive button and meter information for each player station. Communication is via a serial connection to each of the stations. The new protocol for communication between the game engine, game display and player stations is an event driven packet-for-packet bi-directional protocol with Cyclic Redundancy Check (CRC) verification. This is distinguished from the Sega system that used continuous polling. This communication method frees up resources in the same engine processor because the processor no longer needs to poll the satellites continuously or periodically.
  • The new protocol uses embedded acknowledgement and sequence checking. The packet-for-packet protocol uses a Command Packet, Response Packet and a Synchronization Packet as illustrated below. The protocol uses standard ASCII characters to send data and a proprietary verification method.
  • Format of Command Packet
    STX SEQ DATA LENGTH DATA CRC-16 ETX
    1 1 3 3-999 5 1
  • Format of Response Packet
    STX SEQ DSP PRV ETX
    1 1 1 1 1
  • Format of Synchronization Response Packet
    STX MTS MRS ETX
    1 1 1 1
  • Legend For Figures
    STX Start of Packet Character
    SEQ Sequence # (Cycles from ‘0’ thru ‘9’)
    LEN Length of Data Area (‘003’ thru ‘999’)
    DATA ASCII Data Fields Separated with ‘|’ Character
    CRC CRC-16 Value (‘0000’ thru ‘65535’) Cyclic Redundancy Check
    ETX End of Packet Character
    DSP Disposition Code (‘A’ ACK, ‘N’ NAK, or ‘I’ Invalid Sequence)
    PRV Sequence Number of Last ACK'ed Packet (0 thru 9)
    MTS Main's Current Transmit Sequence Number
    MRS Main's Current Receive Sequence Number
  • The Command Packet and Response Packet are used during primary game communications. The protocol uses redundant acknowledgement. For example: The packet is initially acknowledged when first received by the recipient. The same recipient will resend anther acknowledgement in the next communication. This second acknowledgement is the ‘PRV’ data in the response packet.
  • The communications between the Game Engine and the Player Station intelligence is preferably a transaction-based protocol. Either device can start a transaction, which is why it is essential that there be an intelligent board at each player position. All packets of information may be sent in any acceptable format, with ASCII format preferred as a matter of designer choice. All command packets usually contain a sequence number that is incremented after each successful packet exchange. The Game Engine and the Player Station intelligence use sequence numbers that are independent of each other. The sequence number keeps the communications in synchronization. This synchronization method is described later.
  • The command packet is used to send various commands such as Inputs, Lamps, Doors, Errors, Chirp, Game Results, player input, coin acceptance, player identification, credit acceptance, wagers, etc. . . . The command packet format may be, by way of a non-limiting example:
  • <STX><Sequence number><Data Length><Data><CRC-16><ETX>
  • The data format with in the command packet may be:
  • <Address><Command><Field 1>|<Field 2>|<Field n>|
  • The response packet format may be:
  • <STX><Sequence number><Disposition><Previous ACK><ETX>
  • The sync request packet format may be:
  • <SYN>
  • The sync response packet format may be:
  • <STX><Mains Current Transmission Sequence><Mains Current Receive Sequence><ETX>
  • A major strength of the protocol is its resilience of the Game Protocol and its ability to free up resources within the game engine. Those resources can in turn be used to provide more intricate games, and multi-media affects.
  • Synchronization Method:
  • The satellite and host must become synchronized in order to provide for reliable communications using packet numbers. To facilitate this, a novel protocol synchronization method that is used. Upon applying power to the satellite, or after a communications failure, the satellite automatically enters into synchronization mode. In the synchronization mode the satellite sends out the ASCII SYN (0x16) character about every second. It is expecting a special response packet containing transmit and receive packet sequence numbers to be used from that point on. After receiving the special response packet, the sequence numbers are used as-is, and not incremented until a successful packet exchange is completed. After communications is synchronized, the sequence numbers are incremented after each packet is successfully sent or received.
  • As was noted before, the main game processor may contain information, data, programming and other necessary functions to enable the play of multiple games off the same machine. For example, the main game engine may have rules and commands that will enable play of the tournament entry qualifying games of the present invention and other card games. The system may be controlled so that different games may be played at different times on command of the casino or players.
  • All of the apparatus, devices and methods disclosed and claimed herein can be made and executed without undue experimentation in light of the present disclosure. While the apparatus, devices and methods of this invention have been described in terms of both generic descriptions and preferred embodiments, it will be apparent to those skilled in the art that variations may be applied to the apparatus, devices and methods described herein without departing from the concept and scope of the invention. More specifically, it will be apparent that certain elements, components, steps, and sequences that are functionally related to the preferred embodiments may be substituted for the elements, components, steps, and sequences described and/or claimed herein while the same of similar results would be achieved. All such similar substitutions and modifications apparent to those skilled in the art are deemed to be within the scope and concept of the invention as defined by the appended claims.

Claims (23)

1. A method of playing a wagering game using standard playing cards which includes a side bet wager providing players with the chance to win entry to a separate wagering game tournament, the method comprising the steps of:
placing a wager on a primary game with predetermined rules;
placing a side bet wager, wherein the outcome of the side wager depends on a comparison of the player's hand rank with a plurality of preset criteria;
dealing the cards to form a player's hand and a dealer's hand; and
comparing the player's hand with the plurality of preset criteria to resolve the side bet wager, and awarding both a monetary amount determined by multiplying the side bet wager by a specific multiple, the specific multiple being based on the particular preset criteria satisfied, and wherein at least one of the plurality of preset criteria is operatively associated with the granting of a second award to a player upon satisfaction thereof, the second award including an entry pass to a separate wagering game tournament.
2. A method according to claim 1, wherein the plurality of preset criteria comprise at least one standard poker hand rank.
3. A method according to claim 1, wherein the plurality of preset criteria comprise poker hand rankings of royal flush, straight flush, flush, straight and three-of-a-kind.
4. A method according to claim 3, wherein the at least one of the plurality of preset criteria operatively associated with the granting of a second award to a player comprises a royal flush.
5. A method according to claim 1, wherein the plurality of preset criteria comprise poker hand rankings of a pair, flush, straight, three-of-a-kind, straight flush and royal flush.
6. A method according to claim 1, wherein the underlying game is Three Card Poker®.
7. A method according to claim 6, wherein the side wager is mandatory.
8. A method according to claim 6, wherein the side wager is optional.
9. A method according to claim 6, wherein the plurality of preset criteria comprise poker hand rankings of a pair, flush, straight, three-of-a-kind, straight flush and mini-royal flush.
10. A method according to claim 9, wherein the at least one of the plurality of preset criteria operatively associated with the granting of a second award to a player comprises a mini-royal flush.
11. (canceled)
12. The method of claim 1, wherein the primary game is a game against a dealer hand.
13. A method of qualifying for tournament play, comprising:
placing a first wager to play an underlying casino card game;
placing a second wager on the occurrence of one of a plurality of predetermined winning card combinations;
dealing cards to each player;
dealing cards to a dealer when the casino card game rules so require;
resolving the first wager according to the rules of the casino card game;
resolving the second wager against the predetermined winning card combinations and when a player holds a predetermined winning card combination, a payout is made, and when the winning card combination is designated for tournament entry, awarding the winning player an entry voucher.
14. The method of claim 13, wherein the voucher is transferable.
15. The method of claim 13, wherein the underlying casino game is a game where the players play against a dealer hand.
16. The method of claim 15, wherein the game is a Three Card Poker® game.
17. The method of claim 15, where each player and the dealer receive three cards each.
18. The method of claim 15, wherein earnings from the second bet are used to fund tournament prizes.
19-22. (canceled)
23. The method of claim 13, wherein the designated tournament entry hand is a mini-royal.
24. The method of claim 13, wherein winning payouts on the second wager are resolved using a pay table.
25. A multi-player platform that provides multiple player positions for live players to engage in an interactive wagering game with a virtual dealer and virtual cards comprising at least two player positions that enable live players to place wagers on the game, a display system for showing a virtual dealer, a display system for showing the virtual cards used in play of the game, and a database that contains the rules of the wagering game, a game engine for processing a game script including instructional steps enabling game play for each player according to the rules in the database, wherein the game script comprises the steps of:
receiving a wager on an underlying game with predetermined rules;
receiving a side wager from a player, wherein the outcome of the side bet wager depends on a comparison of the player's hand rank with a plurality of preset criteria;
dealing cards to form a player's hand and a dealer's hand;
comparing the player's hand with the plurality of preset criteria to resolve the side bet wager, and awarding both a monetary amount determined by multiplying the side bet wager by a specific multiple, the specific multiple being based on the particular preset criteria satisfied, and wherein at least one of the plurality of preset criteria is operatively associated with the granting of a second award to a player upon satisfaction thereof, the second award including an entry pass to a separate wagering game tournament.
26-37. (canceled)
US11/377,226 2006-03-15 2006-03-15 Wagering game with side wager providing tournament entry award Abandoned US20070218968A1 (en)

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US20160307409A1 (en) * 2014-05-29 2016-10-20 Michael R Aboumrad, SR. Method of Managing a Card Game Through Player Terminals
US10032338B2 (en) 2015-09-23 2018-07-24 Igt Gaming system and method providing a gaming tournament having a variable average expected point payout
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