BACKGROUND OF THE INVENTION
The invention herein relates to table card games. More particularly it relates to poker games and apparatus used for the play thereof, and particularly adapted for use in casinos.
- SUMMARY OF THE INVENTION
In the past there been numerous poker games played in the conventional manner in which the individual players play against each other and where the position of the dealer rotates among the players. Cardhouse/casino poker games may have a house dealer sit in to deal the cards but the dealer is not involved in the game itself, and the players still play only against each other. Conversely there are other games such as Caribbean poker in which each player plays only against the house dealer and the specific hand held by each of the players is of little consequence to the other players. Games in which a player can play simultaneously with a single hand against both a dealer and the other players are seldom found. However, such games are anticipated to be highly popular with players because the games give them the opportunity to have two winnings with each hand, one against the house dealer and the other against the other players.
The invention herein is a unique poker card game, particularly adapted for casino play, in which each player in a given game, using only a single dealt hand, plays simultaneously separately against the dealer (the house) and against the other players. Betting for the two lines of play may be separate or may be linked, and a player can elect to play only against the dealer or to play both lines together. A player can fold against the other players without also folding against the dealer, but cannot fold against the dealer without thereby also folding against the other players.
The game is played as a form of five-card stud starting with an ante and an initial two-card deal face up to all players and the dealer, and progresses with subsequent one-card deals, also face up, with betting before each deal. At the end of each hand a player's status as to whether he/she beat the dealer, beat the other players or both, is determined and displayed, and winners are paid accordingly. Any or all of the players may be winners against the dealer. With respect to the players' pool pot, several alternatives are possible, and any one may be chosen or two or more combined for specific games at the selection of the house or of the players. The preferred alternative is that only the player with the highest ranking hand will win the pool pot, but only if that player also beats the dealer. Another alternative is that only the player with the highest ranking hand will win the pool pot, but that player need not also beat the dealer. Yet another alternative is that if no player beats the dealer on a hand, the money in the pot rolls over to the next hand and is incorporated into that hand's pot. Still another alternative is that two or more players share the pot, under conditions which may include whether or not one or more has also beaten the dealer on the hand, how the players' hands ranked compared to each other, and whether shares are to be equal or divided in accordance with predetermined ratios based on relative hand rankings. It will be evident that two or more of these alternatives may in some cases be combined, as long as the combination conditions are consistent.
Conventional dealing may be used, but it is preferred that a biased deal, which reduces the proportion of weak poker hands from that produced by normal non-biased deals and thereby enhances the opportunities for players to be dealt reasonably good poker hands, be used to encourage players to play complete hands (i.e., not fold during a hand).
While the game may be played manually with dealt cards laid face up on a poker table surface, the game is primarily intended to be played as an electronic casino game, using a specially configured table with computer monitors built into the table at the dealer's position and at each player's position. All of the monitors are connected to a central (usually dedicated) computer processing unit which may also be built into the table. The software which runs on the processing unit and operates the play of the game is controlled from the dealer's monitor which includes a touch screen controller. The players' monitors can also have touch screens to communicate with the processor, but only for the purpose of indicating that a player wishes to bet or fold prior to a deal. Preferably the players' monitors will be for viewing only and players will announce verbally at the table whether they are betting or folding prior to each deal, and after each player has verbally announced the dealer will enter any folds into the system via his/her touch screen and then activate the deal of the next card, also from the touch screen.
The game as designed has great attractiveness to players because of its ability to generate multiple winners on each hand. Each player has the chance on a single hand to be both a winner against the dealer (house) and also the players' pot winner. Multiple players can win on a single hand against the dealer. If the house or table rules permit, there can also be a variation where multiple players can split the players' pot. The use of a biased deal enhances the attractiveness, since all players can expect to be dealt hands that are good enough in ranking to be worth playing through an entire hand or at least through the first or second additional dealt cards. Because players stay in each hand longer, larger player pots are built, and players find the potential rewards of playing and winning to be a significant enticement to play the game, as compared to prior art casino poker games.
- BRIEF DESCRIPTION OF THE DRAWINGS
In the description of the invention herein, the term “game” will be used in two senses. In the broad discussion “game” will mean the overall inventive concept of the described variation of poker in which players can obtain two winnings on a single hand of cards. In this sense, players may participate in the “game” over a period of time (e.g., several hours) repeatedly dealing, betting and playing an extended sequence of dealt hands. Thus players would, say, spend an evening “playing the game.” Alternatively, in the description of play herein “game” will mean a single round of deals and bets to determine the outcomes of a single hand for each player against the dealer's hand and the other players' hands. In this sense, each round of dealing of a five-card hand to the dealer and each player, with the resultant payout of winnings against the dealer and distribution of the pool pot, constitutes a “game” and the players and dealer thereafter start another “game” with another dealt hand to the dealer and each player. This second usage is to avoid possible confusion with the use of the term “hand” when the latter refers to the cards dealt to each player and the dealer. The distinction is that each player and the dealer receives, evaluates and plays their own individual “hands” within a single “game” and then, following the completion of the “game” using those “hands,” they proceed to a next “game” with a new round of “hands.” The context will make evident the intended meaning of each of the terms where they appear.
FIG. 1 is a plan view of a casino table configured for playing the poker game of the present invention showing the dealer's positions, positions for up to six players and a typical position for the accumulation of the chips in the players' pool pot.
FIG. 2 is a diagram of the dealer's monitor screen prior to start of a game.
FIG. 3 is a diagram of a player's table position prior to start of a game, showing both the player's monitor screen and the markers indicating locations for placement of bets by the player.
FIG. 4 is a diagram of the dealer's monitor screen after the antes have been placed and the initial two cards dealt. The Xs in columns 1 and 6 indicate that there are no players at those positions for this game.
FIG. 5 is a diagram of a typical example of one player's monitor screen and table position (using the example of Player 2) after the antes have been made and the initial two cards dealt. The player's ante chip(s) cover the first bet marker.
FIGS. 6, 7, 10 and 11 are diagrams showing the cards indicated on all of the players' monitor screens and the dealer's monitor screen following, respectively, the ante deal and three subsequent card deals showing the progress of example hands of the game of the present invention.
FIGS. 8 and 9 are diagrams, respectively, of the monitor screen of a player (here exemplified by Player 4) and the dealer's monitor screen following that player's folding during the example game.
FIG. 12 is a diagram of the monitor screen at the end of the game of a player (in this example Player 3) who has both beaten the dealer and also won the pot against the other players. The monitor screens of the other players who complete the game will be similar with the applicable “WIN” or “LOSE” indicated for each player with respect to the “dealer hand” and the “player pot”.
- DETAILED DESCRIPTION OF THE PREFERRED EMBODIMENTS
FIG. 13 is a diagram of the dealer's monitor screen following the end of the exemplary game, showing the dealer's final hand and the “WIN”, “LOSE” or “FOLD” status of each player upon conclusion of the game.
The present invention is best understood by reference to the Figures and the following recitation of the play of an example game. FIG. 1 shows the typical arrangement of a casino table 20 configured for the present game with up to six players and a dealer. The players' positions are indicated by the circles numbered 1-6 along the curved perimeter of the table 20, proceeding counter-clockwise starting on the dealers right. There may be fewer or more player positions, up to eight (the maximum allowable for single-deck poker), depending on the configuration of the table and space available on the casino floor; five or six positions would be the normal number of table positions in most casinos. Conveniently the conventional half-circle casino card game table 20 is used, although other table configurations are suitable depending on the number of players and the ability of each player to see the other players' and dealer's monitor screens showing their hands. Adjacent to the dealer's position is a conventional poker chip rack 26 and a marked area 28 for collection of chips bet into pool pot.
In front of the dealer's position and each of the players' positions is a computer monitor screen 22 or 24 built into the tabletop. All the players' screens 24 have the same configuration, but the dealers screen 22 is significantly different from the players' screens. The dealers screen 22, which is shown in FIG. 2 in its configuration prior to initial dealing of the hands, is a touch control screen which allows the dealer to operate the computer software which controls the play and flow of the game. The upper portion 30 of the dealer's screen, which is closest to the players, shows the cards being played in the dealer's hand. Three of the four lower rows 32, 34, 36, 38 (the control rows) of the dealer's screen 22 are variable and allow the dealer to run the game. In the initial configuration the upper part 30 of the dealer's screen 22, where the cards in play will be shown during the hand, will either be blank or, as illustrated, show the backs of up to five cards. (Alternatively a casino may elect to have some other indicia shown in portion 30 between games, such as the casino logo or promotional material, but such is not recommended because of the likely effect of being distracting to the players as they prepare for the subsequent game.) The first control row 32 below the card display portion 30 shows the control button 40 for starting a new game as well as the lighted indicators 42 and 44 which show, respectively, whether a new game is in progress or the previous game has ended. The second (34), third (36) and fourth (38) control rows on the dealer's screen 22 are divided into the same number of columns as there are positions at the table 20 for potential players (illustrated in this example as six columns and players), with each player's column designated in the second control row 34 by the player's seating position number 1-6. This row 34 of control buttons does not change its appearance; the buttons are normally used to close out a player's position column if no player is seated at that position or a seated player folds during a hand. Below the position number row 34 in each of the columns there is a touch control button in third row 36 for the dealer to signal to the software as to whether or not the respective player wishes to bet on the next card in the player's individual game against the dealer, and another control button in fourth row 38 for the dealer to signal to the software as to whether or not the player wishes to bet on the next card against the other players in the players pot. If there is no player at a particular position the dealer's control buttons for that player's position in the third and fourth rows 36 and 38 show the letter X (or some other “non-playing” indicia such as the casino logo) as illustrated in FIG. 4. In FIG. 2 for convenience in describing the invention there is shown an asterisk for each of the player position control buttons in rows 36 and 38 at the start of the game, but in actual practice there would probably be some decorative indicia shown such as the casino's logo in place of the asterisk.
In the exemplary play of a game described herein, a game with four players present, seated at positions 2-5, is illustrated. Each player's screen 24 prior to dealing of a hand is normally blank or merely shows the backs of up to five cards, as illustrated in FIG. 3. On the table surface above the each of the players' screens in the area indicated as 46 are marked the letter P and below that a row of the numerals 14. The letter P is the marked location for each player to place his or her chips to bet in the player pool and the numbers 1-4 are the marked locations for placing of the ante and the following bets on the successive individual cards dealt in each player's individual game against the dealer.
The game is started by each of the players anteing by placing one or more chips 50 on the 1 marker in front of each player position, as illustrated in FIG. 5. If a player also wishes to play in the player pot aspect of the game he or she also places one or more chips (not shown) on the letter P marker. The dealer inputs to the software through the dealer's screen 22 whether each player is playing against the dealer/house only or also against the other players for the players' pool pot. The amount of betting and/or raising during the play of a hand may or may not be limited according to the house or table rules for the particular game being played. As will be discussed below, various alternatives are contemplated. In one preferred embodiment, either the ante or the first bet by the first player fixes at that amount the bets that all other players must call, if they do not wish to fold. In this embodiment that first bet also fixes at that amount the bets allowable in the subsequent rounds of that game. Raising is not allowed. In other alternatives subsequent players in a round may raise, and that raise may be limited to a predetermined amount; and/or the bet on each subsequent round may be reset by the bet on the ranking player in that round; and/or checking by the ranking and subsequent players in a round may be allowed, with a subsequent player in the round starting the betting. It will be evident that any level of betting, calling and/or raising may be specified by rules for a game, series of games or an entire period of play.
Once all players have anteed the dealer moves the pot chips from the P markers in front of the players to the “Pot” area 28 of the table close to the dealer and then presses the “start game” button 40 on the dealers control screen so that the apparatus “deals” the first two cards electronically to the dealer and each player face up. The deal may be a regular poker deal or it may be a biased deal as will also be discussed below. At the end of this first deal the dealers screen changes to the configuration shown in FIG. 4 to show the dealers initial cards and each players screen shows the initial cards dealt to the player as indicated in FIG. 5. Each player can now see the status of the other players' hands as well as the dealers hand as diagramed in FIG. 6 (in which the players' positions are shown as in FIG. 1, with Player 2 at the dealers right and the other Players 3, 4 and 5 in sequence counter-clockwise, ending with Player 5 on the dealers left). Note that the dealers cards are oriented so as to face the players (reading the cards conventionally from left to right) while the players' screens also have the same orientation, so that all card hands are facing the players.
Customarily as in other poker games the player with the highest ranking hand shown (in the example this is Player 3 with cards A-K) starts the betting for the deal of the next card, by placing the appropriate chips on the 2 position marker. Each of the other players in sequence around the table then decides whether to call the bet, raise the bet or fold his/her hand, depending on the rules of the game. The dealer neither bets nor folds throughout the hand. In the example game each of the player is shown as continuing with a bet (but no raise) in order to obtain a third card in this round. If a player betting also bets into the pot by placing additional chip(s) on the letter P in front of him/her all other players must also bet into the pot if they wish to continue in the player pool pot. A player may at any time stop placing any further chips into the pool pot but if he/she does so his/her chips already played into the pot in this game are forfeited and he/she is not permitted to reenter the pool pot on subsequent card rounds in this game. However, the player continues to play against the dealer unless he/she subsequently folds.
When all bets are placed the dealer again collects the pot chips placed on the P markers, moves them into the “pot” 28 and then presses the “deal” button 48 on his control screen 22 and the apparatus deals a third card to the dealer and each of the continuing players. The configuration of the screens after this second deal is shown in FIG. 7. Once again the then-highest ranking player (in the example this is still player 3 now with A-K-K) starts the next round of betting by checking or placing a bet on the 3 marker on the table in front of him/her. Each player in sequence again decides whether to bet, call, raise or fold in the conventional poker manner. At this stage in the example Player 4 decides to fold his/her hand. The dealer will then collect that folded player's chips on the player's 1 and 2 markers and the player's chips placed in the player pot by the player will be forfeited to the pot. The dealer also then presses the bet and pot buttons in column 4 of the dealer's screen, which causes the word “FOLD” to be displayed on the dealer's screen 22 in column 4 as shown in FIG. 9 and the word “FOLDED” to be displayed across Player 4's cards on his/her screen 24 as shown in FIG. 8, so that the continuing players have a visual indication that Player 4 has folded and is no longer participating in the game.
The last two rounds follow in the same manner with the status of the hands being as shown in FIGS. 10 and 11. In the example all the remaining Players 2, 3 and 5 are shown to have elected to continue through the final deal. It will be seen from FIG. 11 that the dealer ended with a straight with J-10 high. Player 5 therefore loses to the dealer since Player 5's hand is a lower ranked straight (9-8 high). As noted above, it is preferred that a player's loss against the dealer will also constitutes the player's loss against the pot. Player 2, on the other hand, has beaten the dealer by having a flush, which outranks the dealer's straight in the conventional poker hand hierarchy. The dealer therefore pays Player 2 a number of chips equal to the number of chips which Player 2 has bet on his/her 14 markers (a 2-1 payoff). Player 2, however, loses to Player 3 for the chips in the pot, since Player 3 has obtained a full house (Ks over As) which ranks higher than the hands of the dealer and of Players 2 and 5. Player 3 therefore receives the 2-1 payoff for his/her 1-4 bets from the dealer and also collects the entire pot from the other players; i.e., he receives all of the chips accumulated in the “pot” area 28. Player 3's final screen 24 is shown in FIG. 12 indicating both his final hand and his wins against the dealer and the other players in the pool pot. The final screens 24 for Players 2 and 5 are not shown, but similarly show the players final hand and “win/lose” status against the dealer and in the pool pot. (The chips placed on the 14 markers sequentially during play of the game are not shown directly in the Figures. It will be understood, however, that for each player who completes a game, at the end of the game there will be chips 50′ on each of the 14 markers, as indicated in phantom in FIG. 12, which will be equal to the player's bet against the house/dealer. A player who has beaten the dealer will receive the payoff described above based on the chips bet on the 14 markers, while the chips on the 1-4 markers of players who have lost to the dealer will be collected by the dealer.
Normally there will be a definite “high hand” among the players so that, preferable assuming that the high hand has beaten the dealer's hand, the player with the high hand will be the sole winner of the players' pot. In the rare instance where two players have equally high hands (for instance, two equal straights or flushes), the pot can be split between them. It is also contemplated that house or table rules can provide for split pots in other situations or even in every game in which two or more players complete the game (and, preferably, also beat the dealer). Pots may be split into equal shares to each player who beats the dealer, or they may be split into graduated-size shares according to the relative rankings of the winning hands. In this regard, house or table rules may permit all players who complete the game (i.e., have not folded during the game) and who have also bet into the pot at each round of the hand, to participate in a split of the pot, even if they have not also beaten the dealer. The latter variation is not preferred, however, and should be considered only if the shares are graduated and the shares returned to players who did not beat the dealer are less than the amounts they bet into the pool pot, to discourage players with weak hands from continuing to play in a game in effect just to get some portion of their bet back.
The hand now being over, the dealer's screen for a period of time shows the configuration illustrated in FIG. 13, with the dealer's final hand and the final hand status of all of the participating players. The final configurations of all dealer and player screens 22 and 24 are maintained for a predetermined amount of time (e.g, 2-3 minutes) to allow the dealer and the players time to review the play of the game and identify any suspected or actual discrepancies. If there are no issues of play raised by any participant of the game, after the predetermined time the dealer's screen 22 reverts to the configuration shown in FIG. 2 and the players' screens 24 return to the FIG. 3 configuration in preparation for the next game. It is contemplated that the software can include a function to allow the dealer to extend the “hold” of the FIGS. 12 and 13 configurations following a game in the event that any participant in the game raises any issue regarding play of the game, so that all participants can continue to refer to the results of the game while the issue is considered, whether by the participants, the dealer and/or representatives of the casino or appropriate gaming authorities.
It is also contemplated that preferably a “qualifying hand” will be established by house or table rules in order for a player to win against the dealer/house. For instance, the qualifying hand could be defined as a pair of sevens. If the dealer's hand upon completion of a game does not rank above a pair of sevens, all players that have not folding during the course of the game will win only a single bet against the dealer, rather than winning all four bets (on the 14 markers) against the dealer. Alternatively, the win against a non-qualifying dealer's hand for a player completing the game could be defined by rules as return of the player's ante bet placed on the 1 marker, with no winnings from any of the 24 marker bets. In either case all of the non-folded players wins the single- or ante-bet from the dealer, regardless of whether a player's hand does or does not beat the dealer's hand. Also, the ante and all 24 marker bets made by the non-folding players are retained by them.
Each game can be played with a regular deal, as in a conventional poker game, so that the cards as dealt can be any five-card combination within a deck of cards from the lowest possible ranking hand (2-3-4-5-7, assuming A is high only) to the highest possible ranking hand (an A-high straight flush). However, it is preferred that biased dealing be used to enhance the game experience for the players. The purpose of a biased deal in the present game is to increase the likelihood that each of the players will be dealt a reasonably good poker hand. This reduces the chance that players will get poor early cards and fold at an early round, leaving only one or two continuing players and substantially reducing the amount of the player pot available. Numerous types of biased deal methods are known and most are likely to be suitable for use in the present game. The specific type of biased deal is not critical. A particularly preferred biased deal method for use in the present game is described in U.S. Patent Application Publication No. U.S. 2005/0077679 A1 (inventors Campell et al.), published on Apr. 14, 2005.
The dollar value of the bets or raises permitted will be determined prior to the game by house or table rules. It is preferred, however, to keep bets and raises (if the latter are allowed) the same or within a narrow range in a hand, in order to encourage most or all of the players to stay in the hand and thus avoid having hands prematurely halted by a sudden overwhelming bet or raise by one player. By thus restricting bets and raises, the game experience is enhanced for all of the players. Thus, in a preferred mode the first player's ante or bet in the first round after the ante establishes the basic bet to the pot and thereafter all players must bet the same amount or raise by not more than a predetermined amount, which is preferably limited to no more than a low multiple of the basic bet. This prevents any player who has an apparently good hand based on early cards to bluff and attempt to “by the pot” by making a large early pot raise and thereby discouraging the other players from continuing. On the other hand, individual players' bets against the dealer may vary or may be determined by the initial player's bet, as predetermined by the house or table rules. Preferably each player's subsequent bet against the dealer (on the 2, 3 and 4 markers) must be the same as the player first bet at the beginning of the game (on the 1 marker). This is intended to protect the house, in that if a player after one or two card rounds senses that he/she is going to have a better hand than the dealer he/she cannot take advantage of the house by then increasing his/her bet substantially on the remaining rounds.
As mentioned above, the game is primarily intended to be played as an electronic casino game, using a specially configured table with computer monitors built into the table at the dealer's position and at each player's position. All of the monitors are connected to a central (usually dedicated) computer processing unit normally which may also be built into the table. The software which runs on the processing unit and operates the play of the game is controlled from the dealer's monitor which includes a touch screen controller. The players' monitors can also have touch screens to communicate with the processor, but only for the purpose of indicating that a player wishes to bet or fold prior to a deal round. Preferably the players' monitor will be for viewing only and players will announce verbally at the table whether they are betting or folding prior to each deal, and after each player has verbally announced the dealer will enter any folds into the system via his/her touch screen and then activate the deal of the next card, also from the touch screen.
It will thus be seen that this game allows the players to win either by playing against the dealer or by playing against the other players or both. Not only does this feature of the invention make for a much more profitable game for players, but it also raises the players' interest in the progress of each hand since each player must consider not only the status of the other players' hands but also the dealer's hand in determining whether to bet, call, raise or fold on a particular round.
it will be evident that there are numerous embodiments of the present invention which, while not expressly set forth above, are clearly within the scope and spirit of the present invention. The scope of the invention is therefore to be determined solely by the appended claims and the embodiments described in the above specification are to be considered exemplary only.