US20070265050A1 - Currency enabled gaming system and method - Google Patents

Currency enabled gaming system and method Download PDF

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Publication number
US20070265050A1
US20070265050A1 US11584618 US58461806A US2007265050A1 US 20070265050 A1 US20070265050 A1 US 20070265050A1 US 11584618 US11584618 US 11584618 US 58461806 A US58461806 A US 58461806A US 2007265050 A1 US2007265050 A1 US 2007265050A1
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respective
venue
game
player
total
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US11584618
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David Baazov
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Amaya Gaming Group Inc
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David Baazov
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    • GPHYSICS
    • G07CHECKING-DEVICES
    • G07FCOIN-FREED OR LIKE APPARATUS
    • G07F17/00Coin-freed apparatus for hiring articles; Coin-freed facilities or services
    • G07F17/32Coin-freed apparatus for hiring articles; Coin-freed facilities or services for games, toys, sports or amusements, e.g. casino games, online gambling or betting
    • GPHYSICS
    • G07CHECKING-DEVICES
    • G07FCOIN-FREED OR LIKE APPARATUS
    • G07F17/00Coin-freed apparatus for hiring articles; Coin-freed facilities or services
    • G07F17/32Coin-freed apparatus for hiring articles; Coin-freed facilities or services for games, toys, sports or amusements, e.g. casino games, online gambling or betting
    • G07F17/3202Hardware aspects of a gaming system, e.g. components, construction, architecture thereof
    • G07F17/3204Player-machine interfaces
    • G07F17/3211Display means
    • GPHYSICS
    • G07CHECKING-DEVICES
    • G07FCOIN-FREED OR LIKE APPARATUS
    • G07F17/00Coin-freed apparatus for hiring articles; Coin-freed facilities or services
    • G07F17/32Coin-freed apparatus for hiring articles; Coin-freed facilities or services for games, toys, sports or amusements, e.g. casino games, online gambling or betting
    • G07F17/3225Data transfer within a gaming system, e.g. data sent between gaming machines and users
    • G07F17/323Data transfer within a gaming system, e.g. data sent between gaming machines and users wherein the player is informed, e.g. advertisements, odds, instructions
    • GPHYSICS
    • G07CHECKING-DEVICES
    • G07FCOIN-FREED OR LIKE APPARATUS
    • G07F17/00Coin-freed apparatus for hiring articles; Coin-freed facilities or services
    • G07F17/32Coin-freed apparatus for hiring articles; Coin-freed facilities or services for games, toys, sports or amusements, e.g. casino games, online gambling or betting
    • G07F17/326Game play aspects of gaming systems
    • G07F17/3272Games involving multiple players
    • G07F17/3276Games involving multiple players wherein the players compete, e.g. tournament

Abstract

A wager-based gaming system provides a wager based game to players in venues in which the game is playable by the players from gaming computing devices operated by venue operators, which also operate the venues, and which are connected to at least one server computing device. The game is played by each player by making deposits of currency to establish a machine balance for the gaming computing device upon which the player plays the game. The player makes wagers using the machine balance, plays the game, and may be eligible for payouts based on an outcome of the game. At the end of a predetermined payment period, a venue balance is calculated for each venue to divide a total rake between the venues while taking into account deposits of currency and withdrawals made for payouts by a venue.

Description

    CROSS REFERENCE TO RELATED APPLICATIONS
  • The present invention is related to, and claims priority based upon, U.S. provisional application Ser. No. 60/794,140 filed on Apr. 24, 2006, which is incorporated herein by reference.
  • FIELD OF THE INVENTION
  • The present invention relates to a currency-enabled wager-based gaming system and methods therefore.
  • BACKGROUND OF THE INVENTION
  • Networked gaming systems and methods by which players may play wager-based games on networked gaming computing devices in an attempt to receive payouts based on wagers placed by the players during the game are well known in the art. Typically, such gaming systems and methods comprise a number of gaming computing devices, upon which players play the game against each other or against a computer generated player, communicably coupled by a network, such as the Internet and/or a private network, to one another and to one or more server computing devices which provides and manages the game, possibly as a service, to the users on the gaming computing devices. Often, the games may be accessed either by connecting a players personal computing device to the network and server computing device for use by the player as a gaming computing device, or from gaming computing devices connected to the server computing device and situated in gaming venues, such as casinos, bars, or the like in which a venue operator is responsible for operation of the gaming computing devices. Such gaming devices may be situated in such venues on gaming tables having a plurality of gaming computing devices situated thereupon. Such tables may, optionally, have a public display situated on the gaming table and visible to all players, such that they may observe a public portion of play of the game, such as cards played by themselves and other players, while private information, such as unplayed cards in the player's possession are only displayed on the player's gaming computing device. Such systems and methods may provide a variety of games from which a user may choose.
  • In general, players of the game place wagers and provide inputs to make moves, such as rolling dice or playing cards, during the game. The system then determines an outcome of the game, for example identification of players which have won or lost the game, based on the players' inputs and the wagers, and calculates payouts for players eligible therefor based on the outcome and the eligible players' wagers. In order to calculate the payouts, the system usually calculates a total pot, consisting of the total wagers placed by the players and calculates a total rake, deducted from the pot, to be retained by the operators of the system, such as the venue operators, with the remainder of the total pot being available for payouts to the players. The payouts are credited to the respective players eligible therefore and may be claimed thereby or used for playing another round of the game.
  • Each game typically generates a total rake, which is periodically distributed among the operators. Typically, wagers are placed by players from, and payouts credited to, player accounts or balances which players must establish prior to playing the game, usually by providing player information, such as the player's name and address, and a deposit of funds, as cash or from a credit card or a payment card, to a person working in the venue who establishes an account for the player by accessing the server computing device. Alternatively, credit cards and payment card information, along with player identification information, may be provided by the player to the gaming computing devices which communicates the card information and player information to the server computing device to establish the account. An example of a typical wager-based gaming system and method may be found U.S. patent application Ser. No. 993505, filed by Crawford et al. on Nov. 19, 2004. Crawford teaches a networked electronic wager-based card game system and method where players play a poker card game against one other from respective gaming computing devices situated on gaming tables in venues, with the gaming tables having a common display where players can observe game play of the game. The system and method taught by Crawford also includes a player-account based cash in/cash out system which creates a player account for each player. Once the player account is established for the player, the player is issued a Player Card having an associated personal identification number or PIN. Once the player has been issued a Player Card, their account may be funded by deposit of the player of cash at a cage, thus resulting in credits to the player's account. To play the game, the player swipes the player card at the gaming computing device and enters the PIN. The player may then place wagers from their account by converting all or a portion of the players balance in the account into electronic chips from which wagers may be made during the game. The system and method also calculate rakes for venue operators.
  • Unfortunately, systems such as those taught by Crawford are cumbersome in that they require creation of player accounts prior to playing the game, which often involves a registration process, which may involve presentation of player identification and/or credit cards, to create the account. Further, the player cards issued with such player accounts may be easily lost. Finally, to deposit money into the accounts, players are required to either physically attend and wait at a cage to deposit money into the players account, either using cash or payment cards, such as credit cards, debit cards, or the like.
  • Accordingly, there is a need for an improved wager-based gaming system that obviates the above difficulties.
  • SUMMARY OF THE INVENTION
  • It is therefore a general object of the present invention to provide an improved wager-based gaming system and method that allows multiple players to play against one another from different venues.
  • An advantage of the present invention is that currency, i.e. cash, can be deposited by a player to play the game directly at the device where the player plays the game.
  • Another advantage of the present invention is that cumbersome and lengthy account creation procedures are not required prior to playing the game.
  • Still another advantage of the present invention is that deposits and withdrawals made from each venue during game play are automatically considered when dividing a total rake between the venues.
  • According to a first aspect of the present invention, there is provided a system for providing at least one wager based game playable by a plurality of players and in which the players may play against each other from at least one venue operated by a respective venue operator, the system comprising:
      • for each venue, at least one respective gaming computing device situated in one of the venues and operated by the respective operator thereof, said gaming machine displaying the game and receiving at least one respective wager from a respective said player who plays the game thereupon;
      • for said respective gaming computing device, a respective currency receiving means communicably coupled thereto for receiving a respective machine deposit of currency from said respective said player and transmitting a respective value of said respective cash deposit to said respective gaming device; and
      • at least one server computing device to which each said gaming computing device is communicably coupled, wherein said respective gaming device transmits said respective wager and said respective value to said server computing device which credits said respective value to a respective machine balance for placing said respective wager therefrom, said server computing device processing said respective wager, determining an outcome for the game, and determining, based upon said outcome and said respective wager, whether the respective player is entitled to a payout and a respective payout amount of the payout.
  • In a second aspect of the present invention, there is provided a computer implemented method for providing at least one wager-based game to a plurality of venues having respective gaming computing devices operated thereby and situated therein and upon which a plurality of respective players may play the game with one another from the venues, said method comprising the steps of:
      • a) receiving from the respective players of machine deposits, as currency, to establish respective machine balances, in at least one cash receiving means coupled to the respective gaming computing devices for placement therefrom of respective wagers by the respective players on the respective gaming computing devices during the game;
      • b) displaying the game on each gaming computing device;
      • c) determining an outcome for the game; and
      • d) calculating respective player payouts creditable to said respective machine balances based on said outcome and said respective wagers.
  • In a third aspect of the present invention, there is provided a computer implemented method for dividing, between a plurality of venues, a total rake for a cash-enabled wager-based game playable on respective gaming computing devices operated by the venues and upon which respective players situated therein may play the game together, the method comprising the steps of:
      • a) receiving, from the respective players, respective deposits of money for respective machine balances therefor and from which the respective players may make wagers during the game, said respective machine deposits being receivable as currency deposited by the respective players in at least one of the venues into at least one respective currency receiver means coupled to the respective gaming computing devices therein;
      • b) receiving the respective wagers from the players;
      • c) calculating the total rake using a pre-determined rake algorithm;
      • d) calculating, for the respective machines on which the respective players are playing the game, respective machine contributions to the rake portion using a pre-determined machine contribution algorithm; and
      • e) calculating a respective venue share of the total rake for each respective venue by totaling said respective machine portions for the respective machines thereof having respective players playing the game thereupon.
  • Other objects and advantages of the present invention will become apparent from a careful reading of the detailed description provided herein, with appropriate reference to the accompanying drawings.
  • BRIEF DESCRIPTION OF THE DRAWINGS
  • Further aspects and advantages of the present invention will become better understood with reference to the description in association with the following Figures, in which similar references used in different Figures denote similar components, wherein:
  • FIG. 1 is a schematic view of a wager-based gaming system in accordance with an embodiment of the present invention;
  • FIG. 2 is an enlarged view of a gaming computing device, showing a virtual game environment thereon, of the system shown in FIG. 1;
  • FIG. 3 is a is a schematic view showing system modules for the system shown in FIG. 1;
  • FIG. 4 is an enlarged view of a gaming computing device, showing a representation of all game environments, of the system shown in FIG. 1;
  • FIG. 5 is a flow chart showing handling of player inputs and outputs by the system of FIG. 1;
  • FIG. 6 is a flow chart showing the method by which a game is played on the system shown in FIG. 1; and
  • FIG. 7 is a flow chart of a venue balance calculation method for the system shown in FIG. 1.
  • DETAILED DESCRIPTION OF THE PREFERRED EMBODIMENTS
  • With reference to the annexed drawings the preferred embodiments of the present invention will be herein described for indicative purpose and by no means as of limitation.
  • Referring to FIG. 1, there is schematically shown an embodiment of a wager-based gaming system, shown generally as 10, in accordance with the present invention. Generally speaking, the system 10 has at least one gaming computing device (GCD) 12 situated and operated in a respective venue 14, or location, therefor, and preferably a plurality of GCDs 12, situated in a plurality of respective venues 14. The venues 14 may be any sort of establishment in which wager-based games are provided, such as bars, casinos, hotels, restaurants, or the like, and the GCDs 12 are operated, or administrated, therein by venue operators that operate the venues 14. The GCDs 12 are communicably coupled to at least one server computing device (SCD) 16, which generates and manages instances of at least one wager-based game, and preferably a plurality of wager based games, which are playable on the GCDs 12 by players situated in the venues 14.
  • Optionally, each venue 14 may have a venue management computing device VMCD 18 associated therewith, and preferably, situated therein, and which has a respective venue manager module (VMM) 68 stored as software thereon or accessible therefrom. The VMCD 18 is communicably coupled to the SCD 16 and, via the SCD 16 to the GCDs 12 operated by the venue operator in the venue 14. The VMCD 18 is generally subservient to the SCD 16 and provides hardware surveillance of the GCDs 14 of the associated venue 16 and accounting functions for the venue, such as tracking the a mount of money received as deposits via the GCDs 12 of the venue 14 and a respective venue balance for the venue 14. For the purposes of this application, the term “communicably coupled” signifies that two devices or software modules are capable of transmitting and receiving data to and from one another over the network 200, which may be a public or private network and which may include wireless connections and communications. The SCD 16 is a computer having server capabilities to provide services to clients, typically the GCDs 12 and the VMCDs 18.
  • To better illustrate the GCD 12, reference is now made to FIG. 2. GCD 12 is a computer having a display, shown generally as 20, connected thereto for displaying the game, shown generally as 34, and respective player outputs to the player playing the game thereupon. The GCD 12 also has at least one input device 22 connected thereto and upon which the player can provide player inputs to play the game and to place wagers therefor. Preferably, for the embodiment shown, the display 20 is a touch screen which a player can touch to provide the inputs and which, therefore, also constitutes the input device 22. Accordingly, panel personal computers, having touch screen displays 20 are ideally deployed as GCDs 12. The input device 22 could, however, also be a mouse, a keyboard, or any other input device conventionally connectable to a conventional personal computing device having a display for the game 34. In fact, the GCD 12 could, if desired, be a cellular phone, a personal digital assistant, or any other computing which may be communicably coupled to the SCD 16 and which has a display, for displaying the game and player outputs, and an input device 20 for receiving inputs from the players. The display 20 may be housed outside the GCD 12 or, as shown by the dotted lines in FIG. 2, inside a housing 52 for the GCD 12.
  • Referring now to FIGS. 2 and 3, the GCD 12 has distributed client software 54 thereupon. The client software 54 handles generation of all displays, i.e. images, sounds, and texts, shown on the display 20 or played by the GCD 12 as player outputs, based on instructions received from the SCD 16. The client software 54, and therefore the GCD 12, also handles reception of all player inputs from the player on the GCD 12 or from any other devices connected to the GCD 12. Accordingly, the GCD 12 and client software 54 provide the interface by which the player plays the game 34. The client software 54 is game-independent and uses extremely flexible client logic, such that the client software 54 can dynamically support a large variety of wager-based games, such as poker, blackjack, bingo, roulette, etc. To facilitate multi-lingual environments, client software 54 allows the language used to be selected by the player on the GCD 12. As shown, the client software 54 is communicably coupled to the SCD 16.
  • Referring again to FIG. 2, the GCD 12 is communicably coupled to at least one currency, i.e. cash, receiving means (CRM) 24, such as an electronic bill acceptor and/or coin acceptor, capable of receiving deposits of currency, such as banknotes 28 or coins 30, and detecting, the value of the currency deposited therein. The value of the currency deposited into the CRM 24 is forwarded thereby to the GCD 12 which then forwards the value to the SCD 16. The CRM 24 may, optionally but preferably, validate the currency received, so as to detect counterfeit currency. The CRM 24 also has a secure currency storage container, not shown, such as a locked banknote or coin stacker or the like, for securely storing currency deposited therein. Such CRMs 24 are well known in the art. For example, the MEI AE 2600 bill acceptor, manufactured by Mars Electronics International, of West Chester, Pa. 19380, or the APEX 5000 bill collector furnished by Pyramid Technologies Inc. of Mesa, Ariz. could be deployed as the CRM 24. Preferably, each GCD 12 in a venue 14 will have a respective CRM 24 associated therewith and communicably coupled thereto, preferably in immediate proximity to the GCD 12 such that a player may deposit currency into the CRM 24 while at the GCD 12. The CRM 20 may also be housed, as shown by the dotted lines in FIG. 2, inside a housing 52 for the GCD 12. As shown by dotted lines in FIG. 3, the CRM 24 is also communicably coupled to the client software 54.
  • Referring again to FIGS. 1, 2, and 3, each GCD 12 is also communicably coupled to at least one respective printer 26 therefor. The respective printer 26 situated proximal thereto, if not incorporated into housing 52 as shown by dotted lines in FIG. 2, such that the player may access the printer 26 to receive a ticket 28 printed thereby. The player typically will cause the ticket 28 to be printed by selecting, with a player input on the GCD 12, a cash-out option, which will then transmit the input to the SCD 16. The GCD 12 will then instruct the printer 26 to print out the ticket 28, including a respective machine balance 30, representing the sum of all deposits, payouts, and losses incurred by the player on the GCD 12, inscribed on the ticket 28. The ticket 28 may then be presented to a cashier in one of the venues 14, and preferably in the venue 14 where the player played the game 34. The cashier validates the ticket 28 and pays the user the amount shown for the machine balance 30 inscribed thereon, When the ticket 28 is printed the GCD 12 sends a message to the SCD 16 indicating that this has occurred and when the player is paid the cash amount on the ticket, the amount paid out is automatically added by the SCD to a running venue withdrawal total of money withdrawn from the venue 14, the venue withdrawal total being stored on the SCD 16. As shown in FIG. 3 by dotted lines, the printer 26 is also communicably coupled to the client software 54 on the GCD 12.
  • Reference is now made to FIGS. 2 and 4. As best shown in FIG. 2, the GCD 12 typically displays the game 34 on the GCD 12 in a virtual game environment, shown generally as 32, such as a table or room, displayed by the GCD 12. The game is played in the virtual environment 32 by players who choose to play the game 34 in that virtual environment 32. The virtual environment 32 is generally associated with a specific type of game, such as poker, blackjack, bingo, ramoli, or the like. Accordingly, the player chooses the game 34 to be played by choosing a virtual environment 32 in which the desired type of game is played. More specifically, and as shown in FIG. 4, the GCD 12 displays a representation 36 of all available virtual environments 32, possibly with a description of the game 34 playable therein, which the player may select. The representation 36 may be, for example, an image of a lobby, shown generally as 58, displayed on display 20, with the virtual environments being represented as doors 58 in the lobby 58. The player then makes a player input, using input device 22, to select the virtual environment 32 to join to play the game with the other players who have selected the same virtual environment 22. The player input is communicated from the GCD 12 to the SCD 16, which then includes the player in the virtual environment 32. It should be noted that virtual environments 32 may also be created for specific tasks or events, such as tournaments of a given type of wager-based game 34. Additionally, if a given player knows which other players are in a given virtual environment 32, the player can choose to play the game 34 offered in that environment 32 against those other players by choosing the virtual environment 32 currently selected by the other players.
  • In order to provide the reader with an overview of processing of player inputs, including wagers, and player outputs, reference is now made to FIG. 5. The virtual environment 32, as well as the game logic for the game 34, are controlled and generated by the SCD 16, which communicates instructions to the GCD 12 which displays the game 34 and the virtual environment 32. The GCD 12 further displays respective player outputs for the player on the GCD 12. The respective player outputs are also generated by the SCD 16 and communicated therefrom to the GCD 12, which displays the outputs. Thus, as shown in step 40 of FIG. 5, during play of the game 34, each player enters player inputs, including respective wagers, into the player input device 22 on the GCD 12 to play the game 32. With regard to the respective wagers of the player, each player typically makes at least one wager on the outcome of the game until a player makes a respective final wager for the outcome of the game. In addition to wagers, player inputs include all inputs required from the player, including the choice of game by choosing the virtual environment 32, to play the game 34. As shown at step 42, the player inputs are communicated by the GCD 12 to the SCD 16 which, at step 44, processes the inputs using the game logic and generates respective player outputs thereto at step 46. The player outputs, at step 48 are communicated to the respective GCD 12 upon which the player plays the game 34. The GCD 12 then, at step 50, displays the player outputs for the player on the respective GCD 12, as previously described. Based on all player inputs and the game logic, the SCD determines an outcome for the game and calculates, based on the outcome and respective player wagers for each player, entitlement of the player to a respective payout and the amount thereof. As will be explained in further detail below, the SCD 16 also calculates a total rake to be distributed between the venue operators, as well as a respective venue portion of the total rake for each venue 14.
  • Referring again to FIG. 2, the wager-based game is preferably a card game 34, shown in FIG. 2, such as poker, in which the player plays a respective hand, shown generally as 60, of cards 62 for the game 34 against other players on other GCDs 12, who each have their own respective hand 60. Players may play the game 34 against other players, regardless of the venue 14 in which the other players are situated. The respective wagers, choices of cards 62 to play, choices of cards 62 to discard or to draw or receive from a deck 63, are entered by the player as player inputs using the input device 22. Player outputs include addition of cards 62 to the player's hand 60, and display thereof on the players GCD 12, displaying discarded cards 62, the outcome of the game 34 for the player and any payout for the player in response to the outcome of the game 34.
  • As stated earlier, while the wager-based game 34 shown is a card game, and preferably poker, other wager-based games may also be implemented on the system 10. For example, the system 10 could implement dice-based wagering games 34, such as craps. Other card-based wagering games could also be implemented, such as blackjack or the like. In brief, any game 34 in which players play against each other and may make wagers, with a rake to be retained for the venues 14, may be implemented on the system 10. In each case, the game 34 will be played in a virtual gaming environment 32, associated with the specific game 34, such as poker, blackjack, etc. played in that room.
  • Reference is again made to FIGS. 3 and 5. As noted earlier, the SCD 16 is typically responsible for generating and processing all game logic, player outputs, game outcomes, and processing player inputs and provides instructions to the GCD 12 which displays the game and player outputs thereupon. These functions are typically accomplished by a game server module (GSM) 64 on the SCD 16. The GSM 64 is responsible for a number of GCDs 12 associated therewith and hosts and manages all the games 34, including handling game logic, played on the associated GCDs 12. Accordingly, the GSM 64 runs the games 34, processes the bets and assigns payouts based on the game outcome to the players. In addition, the GSM 64 organizes the games into the virtual environments 32, by game type, which are generated and managed thereby. Further the GSM 64 calculates the total rake to be distributed among venues 14 using pre-determined rake calculation algorithms. The GSM 64 also determines and calculates limits for respective wagers placed by each player, as well eligibility of a respective player for a respective payout and the amount thereof. Finally, the GSM 64 transmits information on game activity, as well as financial information, such as total deposits and withdrawals for each venue, amounts of wagers, the calculated rake and venue portions thereof to a system administration module (SAM) 66 for storage and additional processing. The GSM 64 also manages tournaments by determining how many different virtual environments 32 are needed to suit the number of players for the tournament and creating the virtual environments 32 therefore. As the tournament progresses, the GSM 64 will transfer players to new environments and merge the environments as the number of players is reduced. The GSM 32 will also create new virtual environments 32 or a given type of game 34 as demand by players to play the game 34 increases. Thus, the GSM 64 has scaleable capacity.
  • The SCD 16 also provides administrative functions by which the system 10 may be configured and managed. Specifically, the SAM 66 allows system administrators, who administrate the system 10 for all venues 14, to configure the system 10 in its entirety, including games 34 on the GSM 64. The SAM 66 is accessible, pending validation of access rights, by a system administrator by connecting thereto from any computing device which may be communicably coupled the network, shown generally as 200, to which the SCD 16 housing the SAM 66 is connected. The SAM 66 is also accessible directly from the SCD 16 housing the SAM.
  • The monitoring features of the SAM 66 include software monitoring, such as viewing the action on a given virtual environment 32 or for a given GCD 12, and hardware monitoring, such as the ability to view the status of game terminals, associated peripherals such as bill acceptors and other system hardware. Monitoring can be done in real-time or historically, with the added capability of reporting and statistical analysis. The game 34 is configured for the GSM 64 from the SAM 66. For example, the rake algorithm, which is applied by the GSM 64 to calculate the total rake, and the algorithm for calculating the machine contribution to the total rake, which is also applied by the GSM 64, may also be set from the SAM 66, including limits on the amount of wagers, the absence of such limits, limits to the total pot and the like. Additionally, the SAM 66 is also used for configuring whether the game 34 in a virtual environment 32 is part of a tournament or not, and the type of game 34 in the virtual environment 32.
  • The SAM 66 is also responsible for tracking cash activity, i.e. currency received as respective deposits from players at the respective GCDs 12 in the venues 14 and currency paid out to players, i.e. as cash outs by players of machine balances, which include winnings or payouts, at the venues 14. Specifically, the SAM 66 calculates the respective venue portion of the total rake, typically based on the machine contribution for each GCD 12 upon which the players play the game 34 in the venue 14. For each venue 14, the SAM 66 keeps a respective running venue portion total of the respective venue portion of the total rake for all games played on GCDs 12 operated therein during a predetermined period of time, also configurable from the SAM 66. Further, the SAM 66 receives, from the GSM 64, the values for all deposits received at GCDs 12 in a respective venue and for all payouts of machine balances and maintains, respectively, respective venue deposit totals and respective venue withdrawal totals therefore for each venue 14 for a pre-determined payment period of time for which the respective venue balance is calculated to determine payments from or to each venue 14.
  • Reference is again made to FIG. 3. It should be noted that the SAM 66, GSM 64 may be situated, as software modules, on one SCD 16 and remotely accessible by system administrators from other computing devices communicably coupled to the SCD 16. Alternatively, the SAM 66 and GSM 64 may situated on different SCDs 16 communicably coupled to one another. The VMM 68 for each venue 14 may also be situated as a software module on one SCD 16, possibly along with the GSM 64and SAM 66, and accessible from the VMCD 18 or any other computing device that is communicably coupled to the SCD 16. There may also be dual GSMs 64 on different SCDs 16, with one GSM 64 acting as a backup in case of failure of the other GSM 64.
  • Having described the components of system, an explanation of their cooperation for providing the game 34 and calculation of venue balances, for cash reconciliation, is now provided with reference to FIGS. 6 and 7. Initially, the system 10 is initialized for the GCDs 12 connected to the SCD 16 and at least one virtual environment 32 is generated by the SCD 16 for play of a wager-based game 34, preferably a poker card game therein The availability of each virtual environment 32 for play of the respective game 34 offered therein is communicated to the GCD 12, which displays a virtual representation 36 of all the virtual environments 32 available and the respective game 34, whether poker, blackjack, or the like, available therein.
  • When a player first accesses a GCD 12 in a venue 14, the GCD 12 displays, during an environment display step 80, the representation 36 of all the virtual environments 32 available and prompts the player make a player input by touching the input device 22, preferably the touch screen, to select an environment 32 in which to play. The representation 34, as shown in FIG. 4, is preferably an image of a lobby room showing representations of all of the virtual environments 32, preferably as gaming rooms or doors representing gaming rooms, with details about the game 34 playable therein.
  • At selection step 82, the player selects the desired environment 32. The selection of the environment 31 is forwarded by the GCD 12 to the SCD 16 for processing. Prior to letting the player join the virtual environment 32 to play the respective game 34 thereof, the SCD 16 will perform a machine balance verification step 84 to determine whether the respective machine balance, stored on the SCD 16 for each GCD 12, of the GCD 12 at which the player is situated is above a given pre-determined minimum balance limit. This pre-determined minimum balance is determined as a function of the wagering rules, configured on the SAM 66 of the SCD 16 and may be any value. However, typically, the minimum balance limit will be zero. It should be noted that different virtual environments 32 may, based on the game playable therein, have different minimum balance limits.
  • If the respective machine balance is above the minimum balance limit then the player is permitted access to the virtual environment at step 92. Otherwise, at request deposit step 86, the SCD 16 declines the player access to the virtual environment 32 and instructs the GCD 12 to display a message to that effect and to request a respective machine deposit from the player. Referring still to step 86, the GCD 12 displays the message declining access and informing the player that the player must make a deposit using the CRM 24 for the GCD 12 to enter the virtual environment 32 and play the game 34. If the player wishes to continue, the player, at machine deposit step 88, makes a respective machine deposit of currency into the CRM 24 which evaluates the deposit value of the machine deposit and forwards this to the GCD 12, which displays the value of the currency deposited, preferably as a representation of betting chips, as well as the amount of the machine balance. The GCD 12 will forward the value of the machine deposit amount to the SCD 16, and notably the GSM 64 and SAM 66 which will also forward the value of the machine deposit to the VMM 68 for the venue 14 in which the GCD 12 receiving the machine deposit is situated.
  • Proceeding to step 90, the value of the currency deposited for the machine deposit is added by the SCD 16 to the respective machine balance of the GCD 12, stored on the SCD 16, as well as to a respective running venue deposit total which consists of the sum of all of the machine deposits for all respective GCDs 12 operated in a venue 14 during the pre-determined payment period. The respective venue deposit total for each venue 14 is calculated by the SCD 16 and stored thereupon, notably by the SAM 66. The venue deposit total for a given venue 14 is also viewable from the VMM 68 for that venue 14. It should be notes that, if desired, the system 10 can be configured to accept machine deposits into the CRM 24 at any time. In all cases, any machine deposits are credited to the machine balance of the GCD 12 to which the CRM 24 is communicably coupled, as well as to the venue deposit total, regardless of when they are made. The running venue deposit total is reset to 0 at the end of the pre-determined payment period, the respective venue balance for the venue 14 has been calculated.
  • Once the machine balance for the GCD 12 at which the player is situated is greater than the minimum balance limit for a virtual environment 32, the player can, at the game display step 92, enter the virtual environment 32 and will be given the opportunity to commence play as soon as the next instance of the game 34 playable therein begins. For example, for the case of a card wagering game 34 such as poker, the player will be allowed to commence play as soon as the hand 60 in progress in the virtual environment 32, if any, has ended. At this point, a new instance of the game 34 for the virtual environment 32 is generated by the SCD 16, notably the GSM 64, and is displayed on the respective GCDs 12 of the players which have chosen the virtual environment 32. For example, in the case of a wagering card game, such as poker, a respective hand 60 of cards 62 will be dealt to each player and will be viewable thereby, as player outputs, on the respective GCD 12 for the players. No other action is required by the player to commence play. Thus, cumbersome registration procedures and account creation procedures are avoided. Further, throughout the game, winnings and payout information, wagers, balance information, and the like are associated with the GCD 12 on which the player is playing, and not the player itself. This minimizes personal information about players kept in the system 10, thus reducing costs and space required for running the system 10.
  • At wagering step 94, each player makes at least one respective wager during the game 34, which may include choosing not to wager anything at all. For each wager, the wager is verified by the SCD 16 to ensure conformity with the wagering rules for the game 34 in the virtual environment 32. For example, the SCD 16 could verify that each wager is not above the machine balance for the GCD 12 upon which the player making the wager is playing. Placement of wagers at wagering step 94 may include a variety of rounds of placement of wagers until each player makes a respective final wager for the game 34. The SCD 16 stores at least the current respective wager for each player and adds each wager made by each player on a GCD 12 to a total pot for the game at pot update step 98. Thus, when all final wagers have been placed, the total pot is the total sum of the final wagers.
  • After the wagers are placed in wagering step 94, and possibly concurrently therewith, game play continues during game play step 96. During step 96, each player makes at least one player input onto the GCD 12, which is transmitted therefrom to the SCD 16, and notably the GSM 64, for processing. For example, in the context of a poker card game, such inputs could include choosing to receive additional cards 62, discarding cards 62, folding, making additional wagers, anteing, calling, folding, and raising. In general, for a wager-based card game such as poker, the GCD 12 will display the cards in the respective hand for the player playing thereon, which are hidden from other players, as well as cards played, which may be viewable by all players, depending on the rules of the game 34 set out in the game logic. The GSM 64 processes the player inputs and generates respective player outputs which are transmitted to the respective GCDs 12 and displayed thereupon. This process continues until, at game outcome step 100, the SCD 16, and notably the GSM 64 generates a game outcome, i.e. a result for the game 34, such as winners or losers thereof, based on the game logic and the player inputs.
  • Based on the outcome of the game 34 and the respective final wagers made by the players, the SCD 16, and notably the GSM 64 determines eligibility of each player, more specifically the GCD 12 upon which the player plays, for a respective payout and the amount thereof at payout determination step 102. If a player is eligible for a payout, the amount thereof is credited by the SCD 16, notably the SAM 66, to the machine balance. If the player is not entitled to a payout and the player must, according to the game logic, forfeit the respective final wager, then the amount of the final wager is debited, i.e. subtracted, from the machine balance for the GCD 12 upon which the player is playing.
  • At the end of the game, i.e. when the outcome and payouts have been determined, the player has, at cash out step 104, the option of cashing out by selecting a cash out option on the GCD 12. When the player selects the cash out option, the GCD 12 communicates this selection to the SCD 16. The GCD 12, at print ticket step 106, then actuates the printer 26 which prints out a ticket 28 having the machine balance inscribed thereupon. As mentioned previously, the ticket may be presented to cashier at the venue 14 to receive the payment of the machine balance inscribed thereon. Alternatively, the GCD 12 may offer the player an option of cashing out a portion of the machine balance, in which case the ticket 28 printed out has the amount of the portion of the machine balance selected by the player inscribed thereupon. Once the cash-out option has been selected, the machine balance stored on the SCD, and notably the SAM, is reduced by the amount printed on the ticket 28 for payout at step 108. Thus if the total machine balance is cashed-out, then the machine balance is reset to zero. Also at step 108, the amount of the cash-out is added to a respective running withdrawal total for the venue 14 operating the GCD 12 for which the cash-out is selected. The running withdrawal total is stored and updated, for each venue 14, on the SAM 66 for all cash-outs performed during the pre-determined time period. It should be noted that the cash-out option can be configured from the SAM 66 to be available to the player on the GCD 12 at other moments than the end of the game, if desired. The machine balance for each GCD 12 in a venue 14 and the running venue withdrawal total for the venue 14 are viewable from the VMM 68 for that venue 14, as well as from the SAM 66.
  • Once the game 34 has ended, the user may opt, at step 110, to play again in the same virtual environment 32 or to join another virtual environment 32 to play the game 34 offered therein. It should be noted that the cash-out option can be configured from the SAM 66 to be available to the player on the GCD 12 at other moments than the end of the game 34, if desired.
  • Reference is now made to FIG. 7. To ensure that payments of venue portions of the total rake to venues 14 take into account deposits and withdrawals in the venues 14, a venue balance calculation method is followed which reconciles deposits, withdrawals, and venue potions for each venue 14. During each game 34, or at the end of the pre-determined time period, the total rake, which is retained and distributed among the venue operators of the venues 14, is calculated by the SCD 16, and notably the GSM 64, at rake calculation step 112 by applying a pre-determined rake algorithm set in the SAM 66 by a system administrator. There are a number of types of pre-determined rake algorithms which may be applied. For example, a pre-determined percentage of the total pot could be could be deducted therefrom, leaving an adjusted pot from which payouts may be calculated and made. Alternatively, a pre-determined rake amount could be deducted from the total pot at an associated pre-determined pot threshold for the value of the total pot, again leaving an adjusted pot from which payouts may be awarded to players. For example, one dollar could be deducted from the total pot when the total pot reaches a threshold of 10$, and then another dollar could be deducted from the total pot when the pot reaches a threshold of twenty dollars. For such an algorithm, the total rake would thus be the sum of the pre-determined rake amounts deducted at each threshold. As either of these rake algorithms are based on a portion of the total pot, the total pot must be known, i.e. calculated, at step 98, prior to calculating the rake with these pre-determined algorithms and the total rake is calculated for each instance of the game 34, for example, in the case of a poker game, each hand played. Further, as the total rake is deducted from the total pot to calculate the adjusted pot, the total rake must typically be calculated prior to, or in conjunction with, the payment determination step 102. A maximum total rake may also be set by the SAM 66, such that the total rake will not exceed the value set for the maximum total rake regardless of the value of the total pot.
  • A timed rake algorithm, in which a certain amount could be deducted from the machine account for each player playing the game 34 at pre-determined time intervals could also be deployed for calculating the total rake. For example, a pre-determined rake amount could be deducted from each player, i.e. the machine balance, and added to the total rake at pre-determined time intervals starting at a pre-determined time, say every half hour starting at 1:00 p.m. for example. Alternatively, the amount deducted from the player, i.e. the respective machine balance, could be calculated as a portion of a pre-determined rake amount for a pre-determined time interval that is proportional to the amount of time the player has been in a given virtual environment 32. It should be noted that other pre-determined rake algorithms are possible and may be defined by a system administrator on the SAM 66 of the SCD 16. Using such time-based rake algorithms, it is not necessary that the total pot be calculated prior to the total rake and the GSM 64 need not calculate the total rake for each instance of the game 34. It is not the intention of the inventor to limit the scope of the invention to the pre-determined rake algorithms specifically enumerated herein.
  • Once the total rake has been calculated, a respective machine contribution is calculated, at machine contribution step 114 as a portion of the total rake, for each GCD 12 upon games 34 are played during the pre-determined payment period. This calculation is performed by the GSM 64 using a pre-determined machine contribution algorithm, defined and set by the system administrator from the SAM 66. As with the rake calculation algorithm, there are a number of possible types of pre-determined machine contribution algorithms. For example, for card-based wagering games, such as poker, the respective machine contribution could be determined by dividing the total rake by the number of GCDs 12 upon which a player is dealt cards prior to the start of a hand 60, in which case the machine contribution would be equal for all players who receive cards. Similarly, the respective machine contribution could be determined by dividing the total rake by the number of GCDs 12 upon which a player places a wager for the hand 60, in which case the machine contribution would be equal for all players who make a wager from their GCDs 12. Alternatively, the respective machine contribution for a GCD 12, and therefore the player playing the game 34 thereon, could be calculated by taking a proportion of the total rake that is equal to the proportion of the total pot represented by the respective final wager made on that GCD 12. For example, if the respective final wager made by a player on a GCD 12 is 20 percent of the total pot, then the machine contribution of that GCD 12 would be 20% of the total rake. In cases where the machine contribution is based on wagers in a game or reception of cards 62, the machine contribution step 114 must occur during the game 34, before or in conjunction with the payout determination step 102. As yet another alternative, applicable to cases where the rake calculation algorithm is based on time intervals, the machine contribution for the GCD 12 would be equal to the total amount deducted from the machine balance at the time intervals for the GCD 12 in question. As with the rake calculation algorithm, the machine contribution algorithm may be customized by the system administrator and the machine contribution algorithms enumerated herein are provided for purposes of example, and not of limitation.
  • Once the machine contribution has been calculated for each machine, the respective venue portion of the total rake is calculated at venue portion calculation step 116. At venue portion calculation step 116, the respective venue portion is calculated for each venue 14 by the SCD 16, and notably the SAM 66, by totalling the respective machine contributions for each GCD 12 operated by the venue operator of the venue 14. The respective venue portion may be calculated at the end of each game 34, for example at the end of each hand 60 for a card-based wager-based game 34, such as poker. Alternatively, the respective venue portion may be calculated at the end of the pre-determined payment period, set by the system administrator on the SAM 66, by totalling the respective venue portions for each game 34 played on GCDs 12 of that venue or, for time interval based rake calculation, totalling machine contributions for time intervals that have occurred during the pre-determined payment period. The venue portion is stored and updated throughout the pre-determined period on the SAM 66 and is also viewable from the VMM 68.
  • Once the respective venue portion of the total rake has been calculated, the venue portion may be paid to the venue operator of the venue 14, preferably at the end of the pre-determined payment period. However, as the venue 14 also makes payouts, by cashing out the machine balance for respective GCDs 12 operated thereby, the venue 14 must also be compensated for the respective withdrawals made therefrom for such payouts. Accordingly, at the venue balance calculation step 118, the respective running withdrawal total is added to the respective venue portion for the pre-determined payment period to calculate a respective venue balance for each venue 14. If the respective machine deposits for the venue 14 are not retained by the venue, i.e. are collected by a system administrator, then the venue balance is paid to the venues by the system administrator using the venue deposits collected from all venues 14. However, should the venues 14 be allowed to keep the venue deposits, the respective running venue deposit total is subtracted by the SCD 16, notably the SAM 66, from the sum of the running venue deposit total and the venue portion to calculate the respective venue balance. If the venue balance is negative, then the venue 14 will have received more money in deposits than the venue is entitled to for the venue portion of the total rake and the venue withdrawals taken therefrom, and the venue balance will be payable by the venue operator to a system administrator. If the venue balance is positive, then the amount of deposits collected by the venue 14 is lower than the amount to which the venue is entitled for the respective withdrawals and venue portion of the total rake, in which case, the venue will receive a payment from the system administrator using the monies payable from other venues for their respective venue balances as previously described. Thus, the calculation of the venue balance reconciles deposits and withdrawals between the venues 14, while ensuring that each venue still receives the respective venue portion of the total rake. For example, if one venue 14 consistently has strong players, then this venue 14 will pay out more, i.e. have greater withdrawals, than another venue 14, which hosts weaker players on its respective GCDs 12. This equalization, using the cash reconciliation with venue balance explained above ensures that certain venues are not penalized for hosting strong players while others are rewarded for weaker players. It should be noted that the calculation of the venue balance may be completed at the end of each game 34, at pre-determined time intervals during the pre-determined payment period, or simply at the end of the pre-determined payment period. Further, the pre-determined payment period may be the same for all venues 14, or each venue 14 could its own respective pre-determined payment period. Finally, it should be noted that all steps and methods described herein for providing the game, receiving the wagers and the currency, calculating the total pot, total rake, machine contributions, and venue balance, may be provided on any computer readable medium, including compact disks, memory chips, diskettes, or the like for loading onto computing devices 12,16, 22.
  • Although the present invention as been described with a certain degree of particularity, it is to be understood that the disclosure has been made by way of example only and that the present invention is not limited to the features of the embodiments described and illustrated herein, but includes all variations and modifications within the scope and spirit of the invention as hereinafter claimed.

Claims (20)

  1. 1. A system for providing at least one wager based game playable by a plurality of players and in which the players may play against each other from at least one venue operated by a respective venue operator, the system comprising:
    for each venue, at least one respective gaming computing device situated in one of the venues and operated by the respective operator thereof, said gaming machine displaying the game and receiving at least one respective wager from a respective said player who plays the game thereupon;
    for said respective gaming computing device, a respective currency receiving means communicably coupled thereto for receiving a respective machine deposit of currency from said respective said player and transmitting a respective value of said respective cash deposit to said respective gaming device; and
    at least one server computing device to which each said gaming computing device is communicably coupled, wherein said respective gaming device transmits said respective wager and said respective value to said server computing device which credits said respective value to a respective machine balance for placing said respective wager therefrom, said server computing device processing said respective wager, determining an outcome for the game, and determining, based upon said outcome and said respective wager, whether the respective player is entitled to a payout and a respective payout amount of the payout.
  2. 2. The system of claim 1, wherein said at least one venue comprises a plurality of venues operated by a plurality of respective venue operators and said at least one respective gaming computing device comprises a plurality of gaming devices.
  3. 3. The system of claim 1, wherein said respective cash receiving means is positioned proximal said gaming computing device for receiving said deposit while said player is situated at the gaming computing device to play the game.
  4. 4. The system of claim 2, wherein said server computing device calculates a total rake, using a pre-determined rake algorithm, to be divided among said respective venue operators.
  5. 5. The system of claim 4, wherein said server computing device calculates, for each venue, a respective venue share of said total rake.
  6. 6. The system of claim 5, wherein said server computing calculates said respective venue share by calculating, for each respective gaming computing devices operated in said venue, a respective machine contribution of said total rake by applying a pre-determined machine contribution algorithm and totaling said respective machine contribution for each said gaming computing device in said venue together.
  7. 7. The system of claim 6, wherein said server computer calculates, for each venue, a respective venue balance for a pre-determined payment period of time by totaling all said respective machine deposits received in said respective gaming computing devices to calculate a respective venue deposit total for said predetermined payment period, totaling all withdrawals from said venue by said respective players on said respective gaming computing devices to calculate a venue withdrawal period for the predetermined payment period, and subtracting said venue deposit total from a sum of said venue withdrawal total and said respective venue share.
  8. 8. The system of claim 1, further comprising at least one printer communicably coupled to said gaming computing device, said printer printing a ticket upon request by said player, said ticket being redeemable thereby for receiving said machine balance.
  9. 9. The system of claim 4, wherein, for said pre-determined rake algorithm, said total rake is calculated as a pre-determined percentage of a total pot of said wagers consisting of a sum of all said wagers.
  10. 10. The method of claim 4, wherein, for said pre-determined rake algorithm, said total rake is calculated by adding, as a total pot consisting of a totality of said wagers reaches a said pre-determined threshold, a corresponding pre-determined amount to said total rake.
  11. 11. A computer implemented method for providing at least one wager-based game to a plurality of venues having respective gaming computing devices operated thereby and situated therein and upon which a plurality of respective players may play the game with one another from the venues, said method comprising the steps of:
    a) receiving from the respective players of machine deposits, as currency, to establish respective machine balances, in at least one cash receiving means coupled to the respective gaming computing devices for placement therefrom of respective wagers by the respective players on the respective gaming computing devices during the game;
    b) displaying the game on each gaming computing device;
    c) determining an outcome for the game; and
    d) calculating respective player payouts creditable to said respective machine balances based on said outcome and said respective wagers.
  12. 12. The method of claim 12, wherein the wager-based game is at least one wager-based card game and the step b) of claim 11 comprises the step of displaying, for each respective player thereof, of a respective hand of cards therefore, said respective hand being displayed on at least said respective gaming computing device upon which the respective player plays the game.
  13. 13. The method of claim 11, wherein the wager-based game is a plurality of wager-based games and further comprising the steps of:
    e) displaying on each gaming machine a representation of virtual environments, each game being playable in a said virtual environment;
    f) receiving a choice made by the player on the respective gaming computing device of the virtual environment, thus permitting the player to choose the game to play.
  14. 14. The method of claim 11, further comprising the step of printing out a ticket with said payout amount, said ticket being redeemable by the player for money in the amount of said payout from at least one of the respective venues.
  15. 15. A computer implemented method for dividing, between a plurality of venues, a total rake for a cash-enabled wager-based game playable on respective gaming computing devices operated by the venues and upon which respective players situated therein may play the game together, the method comprising the steps of:
    a) receiving, from the respective players, respective deposits of money for respective machine balances therefor and from which the respective players may make wagers during the game, said respective machine deposits being receivable as currency deposited by the respective players in at least one of the venues into at least one respective currency receiver means coupled to the respective gaming computing devices therein;
    b) receiving the respective wagers from the players;
    c) calculating the total rake using a pre-determined rake algorithm;
    d) calculating, for the respective machines on which the respective players are playing the game, respective machine contributions to the rake portion using a pre-determined machine contribution algorithm; and
    e) calculating a respective venue share of the total rake for each respective venue by totaling said respective machine portions for the respective machines thereof having respective players playing the game thereupon.
  16. 16. The method of claim 15, further comprising the step of calculating, for the respective players, respective payouts from the total pot payable thereto based on an outcome of the game and said respective wagers.
  17. 17. The method of claim 16, further comprising the step of calculating respective total venue withdrawals, said respective total venue withdrawals by totaling any said respective payouts paid to the respective players therein.
  18. 18. The method of claim 17, further comprising the step of calculating, for each venue, of a respective venue balance by totaling the respective total venue withdrawal.
  19. 19. The method of claim 17, further comprising the step of calculating respective venue deposit totals for the venues by totaling, for each venue, respective machine deposits of the respective players who play the game therein.
  20. 20. The method of claim 19, further comprising the step of calculating a respective venue balance for each venue by subtracting said respective venue deposit total from a total of the respective venue withdrawal total and the respective venue share, said respective venue balance being payable to the venue when positive and payable thereby when negative.
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