US20120225724A1 - System and method for facilitating gambling tournaments having updates in real time - Google Patents

System and method for facilitating gambling tournaments having updates in real time Download PDF

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US20120225724A1
US20120225724A1 US13/406,171 US201213406171A US2012225724A1 US 20120225724 A1 US20120225724 A1 US 20120225724A1 US 201213406171 A US201213406171 A US 201213406171A US 2012225724 A1 US2012225724 A1 US 2012225724A1
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game
tournament
room
network
host network
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US13/406,171
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Adam Barber
Sarah Jane Connors
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PLAYLINE STUDIOS Ltd
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PLAYLINE STUDIOS Ltd
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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
    • G07F17/3202Hardware aspects of a gaming system, e.g. components, construction, architecture thereof
    • G07F17/3223Architectural aspects of a gaming system, e.g. internal configuration, master/slave, wireless communication
    • 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
    • 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 system and method for facilitating gaming tournaments having updates in real time. In an illustrative embodiment, multiple clients running the game can connect with a server hosting the tournament. Each client pays a “buy in” and a seat for a game is allocated for the client when open. After each game outcome, tournament boards can be updated providing real time feedback. Because numerous games can exist within the tournament, the leader board can be updated frequently. The game can be implemented within social networking sites as well as casinos.

Description

    REFERENCE TO RELATED APPLICATIONS
  • This disclosure claims priority to U.S. Provisional Application Serial No. 61/448,833 titled SYSTEM AND METHOD FOR FACILITATING GAMBLING TOURNAMENTS HAVING UPDATES IN REAL TIME to ADAM R. BARBER and SARAH J. CONNORS that was filed on Mar. 3, 2011.
  • TECHNICAL FIELD
  • This disclosure generally relates to gaming, and more particularly, to a system and method for facilitating multiple synchronous game tournaments among multiple players with the outcome being updated on an in-game leader board in real time.
  • BACKGROUND
  • Only until recently have traditional gaming casinos been brought to the Internet. Since this time, online gambling has become very popular spawning a number of different websites such as bodog.com, clubworldcasinos.com and 32Red.com. In these games, players connect via a remote client to play the game. The game is generally hosted on a central server accessible through web interfaces. These games, however, do not provide for flexibility in multiplayer modes. Real time tournaments are not encompassed within these games.
  • Furthermore, players, who are affiliated with one another, could not be matched against one another in a game. If a player wanted a rematch, current systems would not allow them. The sheer volume of players playing tournaments simultaneously means that a solution is required to add players to the same tournament room under certain criteria.
  • A need therefore exists for a system and method for facilitating gaming tournaments having updates in real time while overcoming the above-described limitations. These, as well as other related advantages, will be described in the present disclosure. The tournaments, as provided in the present disclosure, can include any type of game including, but not limited, to slot machines, blackjack, poker, video poker, Caribbean stud poker, craps, roulette and baccarat.
  • SUMMARY
  • This summary is provided to introduce a selection of concepts in a simplified form that are further described below in the DESCRIPTION OF THE DISCLOSURE. This summary is not intended to identify key features of the claimed subject matter, nor is it intended to be used as an aid in determining the scope of the claimed subject matter.
  • In accordance with one aspect of the present disclosure, a method for facilitating a gaming tournament on a social network having updates in real time is provided. The method can include establishing a tournament room for a client, detecting at least one connection of the client established within the social network playing the gaming tournament, pulling in the at least one connection into the tournament room and starting game play for the tournament room when a maximum number of users have entered into the tournament room or when a force start has been enabled.
  • In accordance with another aspect of the present disclosure, a system is provided. The system can include a game host network for managing distributed instances of synchronous gaming tournaments among a plurality of clients with the outcome being updated on an in-game leader board in real time. The clients can come from a combination of a social network, casino and computing device.
  • In accordance with yet another aspect of the present disclosure, a device is provided. The device can include at least one processor and a memory operatively coupled to the processor, the memory storing program instructions that when executed by the processor, causes the processor to perform processes. The processes can include connecting with a game host network through a social network, receiving placement within a game room provided by the game host network and beginning game play if a maximum number of users have filled the game room, otherwise, wait until the maximum number of users are within the game room.
  • BRIEF DESCRIPTION OF DRAWINGS
  • The novel features believed to be characteristic of the disclosure are set forth in the appended claims. In the descriptions that follow, like parts are marked throughout the specification and drawings with the same numerals, respectively. The drawing figures are not necessarily drawn to scale and certain figures can be shown in exaggerated or generalized form in the interest of clarity and conciseness. The disclosure itself, however, as well as a preferred mode of use, further objectives and advantages thereof, can be best understood by reference to the following detailed description of illustrative embodiments when read in conjunction with the accompanying drawings, wherein:
  • FIG. 1 is an exemplary network environment in accordance with one or more aspects of the present disclosure;
  • FIG. 2 is a flowchart illustrating exemplary processes for the creation of a tournament and allocation of players into the tournament in accordance with one or more aspects of the present disclosure;
  • FIG. 3 is a flowchart illustrating exemplary processes for starting the tournament in accordance with one or more aspects of the present disclosure;
  • FIG. 4 is a flowchart illustrating exemplary processes for implementing a force start in accordance with one or more aspects of the present disclosure;
  • FIG. 5 is a flowchart illustrating exemplary processes for updating a game tournament leader board in real time in accordance with one or more aspects of the present disclosure;
  • FIG. 6 is an illustration of an exemplary tournament with a single player waiting for more players to join the tournament in accordance with one or more aspects of the present disclosure;
  • FIG. 7 is an example illustration of two players in a tournament with a force start enabled in accordance with one or more aspects of the present disclosure;
  • FIG. 8 is an illustration of an exemplary tournament having ten players playing in real time in accordance with one or more aspects of the present disclosure;
  • FIG. 9 is an illustration of multiple clients connected to multiple tournaments playing synchronously in accordance with one or more aspects of the present disclosure;
  • FIG. 10 is a block diagram showing game play within a social network in accordance with one or more aspects of the present disclosure;
  • FIG. 11 is a block diagram providing information of known users within the social network for game play in accordance with one or more aspects of the present disclosure;
  • FIG. 12 is a flow chart illustrating exemplary processes for matching friends within the social network for game play in accordance with one or more aspects of the present disclosure;
  • FIG. 13 is a block diagram providing illustrative components within a casino for game play in accordance with one or more aspects of the present disclosure;
  • FIG. 14 is a block diagram integrating illustrative components from a social network and casino for game play in accordance with one or more aspects of the present disclosure;
  • FIG. 15 is a flow chart illustrating exemplary processes for matching previous competitors in accordance with one or more aspects of the present disclosure; and
  • FIG. 16 is a block diagram illustrating exemplary components for taking information from a social network for use in game play in accordance with one or more aspects of the present disclosure.
  • DESCRIPTION OF THE DISCLOSURE
  • The description set forth below in connection with the appended drawings is intended as a description of presently preferred embodiments of the disclosure and is not intended to represent the only forms in which the present disclosure can be constructed and/or utilized. The description sets forth the functions and the sequence of steps for constructing and operating the disclosure in connection with the illustrated embodiments. It is to be understood, however, that the same or equivalent functions and sequences can be accomplished by different embodiments that are also intended to be encompassed within the spirit and scope of this disclosure.
  • Generally described, the present disclosure relates to gaming. More specifically, the present disclosure relates to tournament style games using real time updates. In an illustrative embodiment, multiple clients running the game can connect with a server hosting the tournament. Each client pays a “buy in” and a seat for a game is allocated for the client when open. After each game outcome, tournament boards can be updated providing real time feedback. Because numerous games can exist within the tournament, the leader board can be updated frequently. The game can be played over a variety of social networks and casinos with each importing their own unique features.
  • Numerous advantages can be provided throughout the illustrative system and method described above. The system and method can keep track of the numerous games concurrently being played while updating the leader board. Games can also start within the tournament when two or more players enter a game. Social networking, providing a known set of users, can be integrated into game play. From this, friends can play against one another. Previous competitors can also play against one another. Many additional features and elements of the present disclosure can become apparent to one of ordinary skill in the art in the following description.
  • As can be shown below, FIG. 1 provides an environment illustrating hardware for hosting the tournament. Exemplary flow charts for processing games within the tournament are described in FIGS. 2 through 5. FIGS. 6 through 8 show screen shots for the tournament followed by a block diagram showing multiple clients within games of a tournament in FIG. 9. FIGS. 10 through 16 will show systems integrating other components into the game host network. While the present disclosure is described for use with casino style games, other games can be implemented within the context of the system and method. By way of non-limiting examples, the games that can be played herein include checkers, chess, role playing games, shooting games, fantasy games, sports games, etc.
  • For purposes of this disclosure, “distributed instances” can refer to all aspects of a method that happen simultaneously meaning that there can be multiple instances of tournaments running at the same time in various different stages of completion. “Synchronous computer gambling game tournaments” can refer to multiple clients playing in the same virtual tournament room competing to obtain a first position and/or the highest score. “Gambling game” can mean games such as slot machines, blackjack, poker, video poker, Caribbean stud poker, craps, roulette and baccarat, while “distribution” can refer to remote clients that can possibly be located in different geographical locations.
  • Gaming rooms, or rooms, can be virtually created areas that players can enter and gamble therein. A predefined number of seats can be within each room, the seats representing the number of players allowed within the room. Continuing, a private tournament room can be an area that is reserved for either players of previous tournaments or friends. The room can be kept private so other non-friends or non-previous tournament players cannot join. After a period of time, any private seats that are not taken by friends or previous tournament players can be made public so that anyone can take them unless specified.
  • Turning now to FIG. 1, an exemplary network environment in accordance with one or more aspects of the present disclosure is provided. This illustrates how a client 110 connects to a networking cloud 120 via a wide area network (such as the internet), wireless network, cellular network, private network or a satellite connection to the game host network 130. The client 110 can run on a device such as a personal computer, hand held mobile computer device, such as a mobile phone or tablet or gaming terminal.
  • The device operating the client 110 can have a processor for implementing logic, a memory, a display and a keypad. The display of the device can be a liquid crystal display (LCD), or any other type of display commonly used in devices. The display can be touch-sensitive, and can act as an input device. The keypad can be a push button numeric dialing pad (such as on a typical telephone), a multi-key keyboard (such as a conventional keyboard), or any other device for inputting textual data. The memory generally includes both volatile memory (e.g., RAM) and non-volatile memory (e.g., ROM, Flash Memory, or the like). The non-volatile portion of the memory can be used to store persistent information which should not be lost when the device is powered down. The device can include an operating system (OS), such as Windows CE™ or Windows Mobile™ available from Microsoft Corporation, Android™ from Google or other OS. The OS can reside in the memory and be executed on the processor.
  • The device can also include a power supply, which can be implemented as one or more batteries, fuel cells, or other sources of electrical power. The power supply might further include an external power source, such as an AC adapter or a powered docking cradle that supplements or recharges the batteries. The device can include one or more audio, visual, and/or vibratory notification mechanisms. The mobile device can also include a wireless module, such as a WiFi® module that facilitates wireless connectivity.
  • In embodiments of the present disclosure, the client 110 can operate on a social network platform or casino style game. Typically, the device operating the client 110 can be on a device having hardware and software as described above. The client 110 can also be part of a broader social network, for example, Facebook®, Twitter® and Myspace®. Each client 110 can be associated with a set of “Friends” whom they can interact with. The client 110 can be part of services offered through a website. A client 110 can also operate on top of a dedicated gaming machine, such as a video-type gambling device. Clients 110 can be provided in a number of different forms and operate on a variety of platforms.
  • The clients 110 can be connected to a game host network 130 through a network 120. Many types of networks 120 can be integrated into the system. The network 120 shown within the system can include, but is not limited to, a local area network (LAN), wide area network (WAN), personal area network (PAN), campus area network (CAN), metropolitan area network (MAN), global area network (GAN) or combination thereof. Such networking environments are commonplace in office networks, enterprise-wide computer networks, intranets and the Internet, which are all types of networks.
  • The game host network 130 can take the form of a computer server, and more specifically a web server. The server can process incoming document queries as well as manage security features and authentications for the clients 110. The server can include ROM, operating system and software instructions, RAM, central processor unit (CPU), network interface connected to the network and data storage device. A conventional personal computer or computer workstation with sufficient memory and processing capabilities can be used as the server. Alternatively, multiple interconnected servers can also serve as the server.
  • As shown in FIG. 1, the game host network 130 can include database servers 150, website servers 160, a TCP socket connection server 180, a synchronization service 170, game server 190 and matching server 195. These elements can be connected together by switches and routers 140, which allow for speedy retrieval and throughput of data requests, processing and storage.
  • The game server 190 of the game host network 130 can be the server that hosts the game code that decides the outcome of any game in the tournament. For example, when a player initiates play on a game, the client can request the server 190 to issue an outcome of the play. Alternatively, where game outcome security is not required, the game server 190 can generate the outcome itself and send the outcome directly to the leader board and host network. In addition, the game server 190 can manage tournaments among friends. The server 190 can be used to setup a particular game room and tear it down when the game ends.
  • The client 110 can generate its own outcome in situations where no real world money is being wagered. Where real money is being wagered the game server 190 can issue the outcome. This reduces the likelihood of any security breaches influencing the game outcome. Each client 110 can communicate to the network environment and vice versa via a dedicated TCP socket connection, which facilitates the transfer of data in real time through the TCP socket server 180. The number of simultaneous client connections via TCP socket connections is theoretically unlimited meaning an unlimited number of clients can connect to the network environment.
  • The synchronization service 170 can be used to take incoming clients 110 and establish a forum for game play. By way of a non-limiting example, suppose that a number of clients 110 come into the gaming network 130 at different times say at time 1, time 2 and time 3. The synchronization service 170 can wait until the last client 110 comes in and then start the game, for example, at time 3 plus 5 seconds. In one embodiment, a force start can be implemented bypassing the synchronization service 170 of the game host network 130.
  • Continuing with FIG. 1, a number of database servers 150 can be provided within the game host network 130. The servers 150 can contain information relevant to the games played. By way of non-limiting examples, the servers 150 can manage each of the users within games being played in the game server 190. The servers 150 can manage games played between players and how many games have been played between each. Player information can also be kept within the servers 150, for example, how they are connected into the game host network 130, their personal information, etc. Other pertinent information can be provided and will be understood from the following description.
  • The database servers 150 can be connected to website servers 160. These website servers 160 can be used to provide and access information over the network 120 or through the Internet. Basic protocols between the game host network 130 and the clients 110 can be implemented by the website servers 160 through the network 120. Security and authentications can also be implemented by the website servers 160.
  • A matching server 195 can be connected to one or both website servers 160. The server 195 can be used to match players who have a relationship with one another. As will be discussed in the description provided below, players can be friends through a social network. In one embodiment, the server 195 can be used to match those players that previously competed against one another. By way of a non-limiting example, suppose player A and player B played two tournaments ago. The matching server 195 would detect that player A and player B have played before and that they should be matched up in a new tournament room. The matching server 195 can be used a variety of relationships to match players in a tournament room. Typically, the matching server 195 can always run and watch tournaments.
  • While described as a server, the game host network 130 can include multiple servers for each component therein. Furthermore, each component can be separated into distinct servers. These servers can be distributed over a cloud and communicate with one another. Furthermore, a number of configurations for the clients 110, network 120 and the game host network 130 can be provided and is not limited to that taught in FIG. 1.
  • Referring now to FIG. 2, a flowchart illustrating exemplary processes for the creation of a tournament and allocation of players into the tournament in accordance with one or more aspects of the present disclosure is provided. This illustrates the process of how a tournament is created from within the game host network 130. The player enters the tournament room at block 200, agrees to the rules of the game and a predefined tournament criteria, such as length, game style, number of players and/or buy in. The buy in is then deducted from the player's account at block 210. The buy in can be real money or perhaps virtual currency—with no real world value.
  • The system then checks at decision block 220 if there are any spare places (seats) in a tournament that fits the predefined tournament criteria at block 200 and has not yet started. By way of example, the tournament room has eight seats. If there is a spare place in a suitable tournament, that is seven people or less in the tournament room, the system can automatically add the player at block 240 in that tournament. If there is no spare place in a suitable tournament that meets the predefined criteria, the system can then create a new tournament at block 230 based on the criteria and add the player to that tournament at block 240 and continue to add players to the tournament until such time as a ‘start tournament command’ at block 250 is issued. The tournament starts at block 260 when the tournament receives a ‘start tournament command’. The processes can end at block 270. In the creation of tournament rooms described above, the game host network 130 can create an endless number of rooms, as permitted by memory.
  • FIG. 3 shows a flowchart illustrating exemplary processes for starting the tournament in accordance with one or more aspects of the present disclosure. The start tournament command at block 300 instructs the system not to allow anymore players through their clients 110 to enter the tournament and start an audible and visible countdown. When reaching the end of this countdown, the system starts the tournament. For example, an audible and visible countdown can be by way of showing “5,4,3,2,1” with audible bleeps when each number appears. Graphics can appear with the countdown.
  • A start tournament command can be triggered in a number of different ways, such as when the tournament has reached its predefined capacity and/or criteria at decision block 310. The predefined criteria can be based on: number of people in the tournament, a time and date or the size of the prize pool. Each time a player enters into the tournament room, they contribute two thousand dollars, or other denomination, by way of a non-limiting example. By way of a non-limiting example, when a twelve thousand dollar limit is reached, game play can begin. Alternatively, force start at decision block 320 can be achieved by players clicking the force start button from within the game or by voting to start the tournament before it has reached its predefined start criteria. An issued start tournament command can be provided at block 330. The processes can end at block 340.
  • FIG. 4 is a flowchart illustrating exemplary processes for implementing a force start in accordance with one or more aspects of the present disclosure. Force starts can be made when the player no longer wishes to wait for additional players to enter into a tournament room. As previously described, a player can be sent to a tournament room. At block 402, the game host network 130 can check waiting tournament rooms. At decision block 404, a determination can be made whether there are two or more players waiting in the room. If not, the game host network 130 can return to block 402 and check waiting tournament rooms.
  • If, on the other hand, two or more players are waiting within the tournament room, a force button is enabled at block 406. The force button can be lighted up on a graphical user interface or an audible indication can be given. At decision block 408, the game host network 130 can determine whether the force button has been pressed. By pressing the force button, the player indicates that they want to start the game quickly. Advantageously, the game can begin without the max number of players being specified by the entered in criteria.
  • If the force button is not pressed, at decision block 410, the game host network 130 can determine whether the tournament room has reached capacity. If not, the game host network 130 can return to block 406 where the force button can still be enabled. It should be noted that players can drop out as well disabling the force button. If the tournament has reached capacity, at decision block 410, or when the force button has been pressed, at decision block 408, a start command can be issued at block 412. This command can begin the game play between those players within a tournament room. The processes can end at block 414.
  • In the illustration described above, a “buy in” of two thousand dollars, or other denomination, was collected from each of the clients 110. A prize pool can be developed from these “buy ins”. After the game is played through the game host network 130, the prize pool can be distributed to at least one player within the room that competed. The full prize pool can be given to the player, or can be distributed through other method. For example, the prize pool can be distributed to the top three winners in a staggered fashion.
  • Referring now to FIG. 5, a flowchart illustrating exemplary processes for updating a game tournament leader board in real time in accordance with one or more aspects of the present disclosure is provided. This illustrates an example of how a tournament leader board is updated in real time. When a player is playing a game at block 510 in the client 110, each outcome of the game is sent to the in-game leader board at block 520 in real time and recorded in the database servers 150. Scores can be provided to the game host network 130 where it can be stored, for example, in the database servers 150. The system can then check that the leader board has been updated at decision block 530. If it has not been updated, the same instruction is sent again. Once it has been updated, the system checks to see if the tournament has finished at decision block 540. If it has not yet finished the whole process can start again at block 510. Once the tournament has finished, the final scores are calculated 450 at block 550 and the player is notified of the final result. The processes end at block 560.
  • Scores within the game host network 130 can unlock higher levels. The higher levels can be associated with different games that can be played by the clients 110. By way of a non-limiting example, once a client 110 reaches a score of ten thousand points, or a predefined number of wins (say 100), the client would be elevated to a next level. Through the next level, the user can play a poker type tournament instead of being limited to only a slot tournament. A number of different levels can exist. Other features that can be added with a new level can include a larger pool of clients 110, different prizes (instead of earnings from the prize pool, for example, coupons), extra spins when the client 110 is in a casino environment, etc.
  • In one embodiment, higher buy-ins can be required for different levels. By way of a non-limiting example, at a level higher than the initial level, the buy-in can be five thousand credits or dollars per person. This would create a larger pool size for the winner or winners of the tournament. At each level thereafter a higher buy-in can be required until a high-limit level is obtained. Generally, the higher the level, the greater the capabilities of the players are within that level.
  • The levels described above can represent a skill level obtained within the game host network 130. For example, a client 110 operating on top of a device can only be elevated to a next level if they have mastered a poker type game in a tournament setting. In one embodiment of the present disclosure, the scoring between game rooms can be dependent on the level of competition within the room. If a client 110 has a much higher level of skill than a secondary client 110 and the secondary client 110 wins, the secondary client 110 would obtain a larger score or more points. These points can be taken directly from the client 110 that lost. Algorithms can dictate the number of points received and taken away from each of the clients 110.
  • FIG. 6 provides an illustration of an exemplary tournament with a single player waiting for more players to join the tournament in accordance with one or more aspects of the present disclosure. This illustrates the disclosure when the first player first enters the tournament room. The popup box shows the current number of players in the tournament room, the total tournament prize pool, a countdown clock and some general instructions. The prize pool in this example is calculated as being based on each player who joins the tournament who adds $2,000 to the prize pool. The prize pool can be used to determine when to start the game.
  • On the right of the screen shown in FIG. 6, a grey oblong box can be seen. In this box the player can see the tournament name, prize pool/fund, their name (in this example Pirate's Treasure) and total winnings (highlighted in yellow) and the time left they have until the end of the tournament. In this example, the time left is 00:00:00 as the tournament is not underway.
  • Referring now to FIG. 7, an example illustration of two players in a tournament with “Force Start” enabled in accordance with one or more aspects of the present disclosure is provided. This illustration shows a scenario with two players in a tournament room. As there are two players in the room the force start button becomes active (can be pressed). If either of the players presses the force start button, the countdown can begin and the tournament can start. In one embodiment of the present disclosure, the force start button can begin with one player. For purposes of illustration, the single player can determine their best performance in the game.
  • FIG. 8 provides an illustration of an exemplary tournament having ten players playing in real time in accordance with one or more aspects of the present disclosure. This illustration shows a tournament in-play. In this example the prize pool is based on each player contributing $2,000 to the prize pool as such with ten players in the tournament the prize pool is $20,000. The player in this example (Pharaoh's Treasure) has won a total of 2,509 and therefore sits in position 3. The remaining time of the tournament 45 seconds and 87 milliseconds is indicated in red at the bottom right of the screen. When the tournament ends the final scores are calculated and the prizes awarded.
  • FIG. 9 is an illustration of multiple clients connected to multiple tournaments playing synchronously in accordance with one or more aspects of the present disclosure. This illustrates an example of multiple clients 110 playing in simultaneous tournaments 940. Each individual client 110 is connected by a socket connection 920 through the TCP socket server 180 which passes the results to and from the game host network 130. In one embodiment, the clients 110 can be grouped and then a single socket connection 920 can be used.
  • As shown, the game host network 130 can be capable of supporting a number of clients 110. The clients 110 can be grouped from a variety of sources, for example, a social network, computer terminal, casino, etc. The rooms can be monitored within the game server 190 or the database servers 150. Different numbers of players can be provided within each room. The rooms are constantly changing as typically, the game lasts for only a few minutes as specified within the game server 190 of the game host network 130.
  • In social networks, such as Facebook®, hi5®, Qzone®, Habbo®, Renren®, BaDoo®, MySpace®, LinkedIn®, Google+®, Friendster® and Vkontakte®, through a variety of methods as explained herein, the game host network 130 can ascertain if players who are in our game are connected to each other either by being connected as ‘friends’ from within the social network or by having previously played in the same tournament. The nature of synchronous competitive tournaments in high volume social network sites means it was previously impossible to match players in the same tournament room who had played against each other in a previous tournament. The sheer volume of players (that social networks allow/have) playing tournaments simultaneously means that a solution is required to add players to the same tournament room under certain criteria.
  • For purposes of illustration, if two friends who were in the same social network and connected as friends in that social network were playing the same game but in different tournament rooms (as described before) there would be no guarantee that they would be placed in the same room if they decided to play again. Equally, if they were playing in a tournament against nine other individuals who you had no friendship status with and then they were assigned into the next tournament with the same nine players, they would recognize their profile pictures and name. Having a feature that added players into the same tournament based on being connected as friends in a social network and/or having played in a previous tournament/s together benefits and improves the competitive element that tournaments naturally offer.
  • Referring to FIG. 10, a block diagram showing game play within a social network 1002 in accordance with one or more aspects of the present disclosure is provided. The game host network 130 can communicate with the social network 1002 through a network 120. With the social network 1002 a number of clients 110 can be provided. Additional information from each of the clients 110 can be gathered through the social network 1002. For example, their friends, likes, dislikes, addresses, phone numbers, etc. can all be gathered through the social network 1002. As will become apparent, each of these can be used in different games and configurations. Furthermore, a first name, last name, date of birth, email, friends, events they are attending, education, hometown, interests, location, personal relationships and work history can be provided by the social network 1002. Other information can be provided to those known in the relevant art.
  • FIG. 11 is a block diagram providing information for known users within the social network 1002 in accordance with one or more aspects of the present disclosure. Social networks 1002 can carry information about a number of known users 1102A, 1102B and 1102C (collectively users 1102). The known users 1102 can be part of the social network 1002 by providing data to the social network 1002. For example, the users 1102 can provide information 1104A, 1104B and 1104C (collectively information 1104) about themselves such as their home address, telephone number, if they are married or not, who they are dating, what school they are attended or attended, etc. In some embodiments, if the users 1102 are connected, they can share information 1104 with each other and keep that information private to users 1102 who they are connected with.
  • Each of the users 1102 can also download or accept applications 1106A, 1106B and 1106C (collectively applications 1106). These applications 1106 can be viewed by their “friends” on their unique user space within the social network 1002. By searching through a toolbar, by way of a non-limiting example, the users 1102 can be exposed to a number of applications 1106 which they can then download to their personal space. Applications can also be introduced through friends and advertisements. Important to social networks 1002 is the definition of friendships and how connections are acquired between the users 1102. User 1102A and 1102B can be friends with one another. Through the matching server 195, the users 1102A and 1102B can share information to compete against one another in the slots tournament 1120. Through these friendships 1108A and 1108B, the slots tournament application 1120 can be provided. For example, if one friend likes the application 1120, then the others can be exposed to the application and they can determine whether they would like to download it or not onto their personal space. Photos 1110B, 1110B and 11100 (collectively photos 1110) can also be kept for each of the users 1102.
  • The slots tournament application 1120 can also be provided on the social network 1002. Instead of the game host network 130 being connected to the social network 1002 through the network 120, the application 1120 can be integrated therein. The slots tournament 1120 is described in the previous FIGURES. A known user within a social network can pull in their friend into a game if they see them online Click-and-drag techniques can be employed within the slots tournament 1120 to enter people into a room or game. Indicators can be given to show them that they have been selected (dragged) into the tournament 1120. When selected, the user 1102 can either accept it or deny it even when they are not logged into the social network 1002.
  • The slots tournament 1120 can provide a room for friends and other invitees to play a game. In one embodiment, other users within the social network 1002 can also be imported into the game. A private tournament room can be enabled for these users. The room can be kept private so no other non-friends or non-previous tournament players can join. After a period of time, any private seats can be taken by public users within the social network 1002.
  • The game host network 130 can keep a database record of all of its players. From these records, it can be ascertained in an instant if multiple friends are playing in different tournaments at the same time/during that session. If they are playing at the same time but in different tournaments, and when that tournament finishes, the system forms a new tournament room and adds the matched friends into that tournament room.
  • As discussed above, the social network 1002 can operate the game host network 130 (slots tournament 1120). Once a client 110 (user 1102) joins the game, personal information 1104 can be extracted from their profiles. The personal information 1104 can include the user's name, location, email, their profile picture and friends 1108. The matching server 195 can look out for users 1102 who are playing the slots tournament 1120 at the same time. The social network 1002 can work with other types of games including, but not limited to, poker, roulette, etc.
  • FIG. 12 is a flow chart illustrating exemplary processes for matching friends within the social network 1002 for game play in accordance with one or more aspects of the present disclosure. In typical configurations, the game host network 130 can part of the social network 1002 with the matching server 195 operating thereon. The processes can begin at block 1200. At block 1202, the social network 1002 can query the matching server 195 on all running tournaments. The matching server 195, as described earlier, can monitor games and rooms continuously.
  • At decision block 1204, the matching server 195 can determine whether any player playing within the game host network 130 is friends with another player on the network 130. If not, the processes can end at block 1206. In one embodiment, the game host network 130 can match players that are not logged into the social network 1002. When players who are friends are on the social network 1002, the game host network 130 can ask each player if they wish to start a tournament.
  • At block 1208, and if the players are connected as friends, the matching server 195 can match grouped friends together. The friends can be matched for starting a new tournament. At decision block 1210, the matching server 195 can determine whether the players are in the same tournament already. If so, the processes can end at block 1212 as they are already playing one another. If the friends are not playing in the same game, the game server 190 can then wait for the first friend to finish a tournament at block 1214. At decision block 1216, the game server 190 can determine whether that player wants to play again. If not, the game server 190 can return to block 1214.
  • If the player wants to play again, the game server 195 can create a new private tournament and add the friend at block 1218. This information can be pulled from the matching server 195. A private room is a virtual room that can be established by drawing in clients 110 that know one another through an association, such as a friendship or connection in a social network 1002. At decision block 1220, a determination can be made whether all the private room seats have been taken. If all the seats have been taken, at block 1222, the game server 190 can start the tournament with those friends. The processes can end at block 1224. If there are seats available, the game server 190 can make the room public at block 1226. From there, the room can include both friends and non-friends. Force starts can be used such that only friends can be included in a room. The processes can end at block 1228.
  • Turning now to FIG. 13, a block diagram providing illustrative components within a casino 1302 for game play in accordance with one or more aspects of the present disclosure is provided. A casino 1302, or other similar institution, can be connected into the network 120 and with the game host network 130 described above. Alternatively, the game host network 130 can be incorporated into the casino 1302. The network 120 can connect with a LAN 1304 in the casino 1302.
  • The LAN 1304 can connect to multiple sets of machines 1306A, 1306B, 1306C, 1306D, 1306E, 1306F, 1306G and 1306H (collectively set of machines 1306) on the casino floor. The machines can each run a client 110, as described earlier. Players can be matched with each other on the casino floor through player cards identifying each of the players. Alternatively, games can be hosted by each set of machines 1306. The casino 1302 can include a number of other machines that can be integrated with the LAN 1304 for game play.
  • When the casino 1302 implementation is incorporated into the game host network 130, a variety of additional features can be provided. First, the machines 1306 can be used to directly compete with those that are on a social network 1002, personal computer, etc. Specific to the casino 1302, however, can be the addition of extra spins. For example, if the machine 1306 is plugged into a tournament room and they win, they not only receive their winnings but can also include additional spins on the unit they are playing on. A number of machines 1306 can include extra features in which credits can be obtained. For example, in a “Wheel Of Fortune” type gaming machine 1306, a player can spin a wheel to receive additional credits. Similarly, when the player wins a gaming tournament, they can also spin the wheel of the “Wheel Of Fortune” machine 1306.
  • FIG. 14 is a block diagram integrating illustrative components from a social network 1002 and casino 1302 for game play in accordance with one or more aspects of the present disclosure. In this embodiment, players within a casino 1302 and on a social network 1002 can be drawn in as clients 110 and the game host network 130 can establish rooms for game play within a larger pool of clients 110.
  • The players 1102 within the social network 1002 can connect to the slots tournament application 1120. The slots tournament application 1120 can then connect with the network 102. In this embodiment, the game host network 130. In addition, the casino 1302 can be connected into the game host network 130 through the LAN 1304. In one embodiment, the casino 1302 can track its players through player cards 1402A, 1402B and 1402C (collectively player cards 1402). Typically, the player cards 1402 can be read from machines within the set of machines 1306 on the casino floor.
  • When the players insert their player cards 1402 into the machines 1306, information from the cards is retrieved from a database 1404. The database 1404 can log active and inactive players within the casino 1302. While one casino 1302 is shown within FIG. 14, the LAN 1304 can be interpreted as a WAN that can connect with multiple casinos. The information within the database 1404 can be provided to the game host network 130 through the network 102. As such, a number of clients 110 within the casino 1302 and social network 1002 can play against one another. Friend matching can also be implemented and virtual private rooms can be created.
  • Beforehand, friends could be matched through the matching server 195 and could be set within a private room for game play. The game host network 130 can keeps a database record of all its players. From these records, the game host network 130 can be able to ascertain in an instant if players have competed together in a previous tournament (either in that gaming session or a previous session). If they are playing at the same time, but in different tournaments, and when that tournament finishes, the network 130 can form a new tournament room and add the matched previous competitors into that tournament room. The matching server 195 can detect friends and previous competitors from both environments such that players through the player cards 1402 can be matched with users 1102 in the social network 1002 through friendship or previous competitions.
  • FIG. 15 is a flow chart illustrating exemplary processes for matching previous competitors in accordance with one or more aspects of the present disclosure. The processes can begin at block 1500. At block 1502, the game host network 130 can track associations among players. The matching server 195 can query all running tournaments. In one embodiment, the database server or servers 150 can track this information and in particular, games played among the players.
  • At block 1504, the game host network 130 can group tournament players together that previously competed against each other. This grouping can be formed based on tournaments that happened in the last round or up to a predefined number of rounds. This can be performed by the matching server 195. At block 1506, the game host network 130 can wait for players' tournaments to finish. At decision block 1508, the matching server 195 can determine whether any players in a group wish to play again. If not, the game host network 130 can wait for players' tournaments to finish again at block 1506. The players can be holding for a new tournament to begin or within a tournament. If there is only one player, the matching server 195 within the game host network 130 can allow that player to play within other tournaments.
  • If, however, there is more than one player within current tournaments and there are associations among those players, a new tournament room can be formed at block 1510. The players can be pulled from rooms that are forming, but not yet started. Alternatively, the matching server 195 can wait until the players have finished with their respective tournament rooms. At block 1512, the game host network 130 opens a tournament to the player group only. The matched competitors are added into a room where they can once again compete against each other.
  • At decision block 1514, the game host network 130 determines whether all the private room seats are taken. If they are, the tournament can be started at block 1516 and the processes can end at block 1518. When the seats have not been taken, however, the room can be made public at block 1520. A force start can also be executed as well. The processes can end at block 1522.
  • FIG. 16 is a block diagram illustrating exemplary components for taking information from a social network 1002 for use in game play in accordance with one or more aspects of the present disclosure. A user 1102 can associate themselves with personal information 1104, applications 1106, friends 1108, photos 1110 and likes 1604. Their likes 1604 can be used by the slots tournament application 1120. By way of a non-limiting example, the player 1102 can like SeaWorld® 1604A and The Beatles® 1604B (collectively likes 1604). Taking the likes 1604, the game host network 130 can provide indicia within the graphics 1606 of a slots tournament, for example, on the wheels themselves. As shown, the graphics 1606 on the slots can reflect the user's likes 1604 by displaying indicia indicating The Beatles®.
  • In accordance with one aspect of the present disclosure, a method for facilitating a gaming tournament on a social network having updates in real time is provided. The method can include establishing a tournament room for a client, detecting at least one connection of the client established within the social network playing the gaming tournament, pulling in the at least one connection into the tournament room and starting game play for the tournament room when a maximum number of users have entered into the tournament room or when a force start has been enabled.
  • In one embodiment, establishing a tournament room for a client can include allocating memory within a game host network. In one embodiment, detecting the at least one connection of the client established within the social network can include searching for friends of the client. In one embodiment, pulling in the at least one connection into the tournament room can include waiting for the at least one connection to finish a current game.
  • In one embodiment, starting game play for the tournament room when a maximum number of users have entered into the tournament room can include filling open seats within the tournament room with public users. In one embodiment, the method can include retrieving likes from at least one user within the tournament room and implementing features associated with the likes inside the tournament room. In one embodiment, the method can include updating an in-game leader board based on the game play.
  • In accordance with another aspect of the present disclosure, a system is provided. The system can include a game host network for managing distributed instances of synchronous gaming tournaments among a plurality of clients with the outcome being updated on an in-game leader board in real time. The clients can come from a combination of a social network, casino and computing device.
  • In one embodiment, the game host network can include a matching server for identifying clients that have a relationship and placing those clients into a room for game play. In one embodiment, the relationship can associate friendship status between the clients. In one embodiment, the relationship can associate prior contests between the clients. In one embodiment, the game host network can break the plurality of clients into a plurality of rooms with each room having a predefined number of seats available for game play. In one embodiment, a new room can be started when the number of seats available is filled. In one embodiment, a new room can be started when a force start is enabled.
  • In accordance with yet another aspect of the present disclosure, a device is provided. The device can include at least one processor and a memory operatively coupled to the processor, the memory storing program instructions that when executed by the processor, causes the processor to perform processes. The processes can include connecting with a game host network through a social network, receiving placement within a game room provided by the game host network and beginning game play if a maximum number of users have filled the game room, otherwise, wait until the maximum number of users are within the game room.
  • In one embodiment, the memory storing program instructions when executed by the processors causes the processor to begin game play when a force start is entered by a user within the game room. In one embodiment, receiving placement within the game room provided by the game host network can include starting a new game room when the maximum number of users has filled a previous game room. In one embodiment, the memory storing program instructions when executed by the processors causes the processor to provide profile information to the social network for placement within the game room. In one embodiment, the game host network can place friends within the game room. In one embodiment, the game host network can fill up remaining seats within the game room with public users.
  • The data structures and code, in which the present disclosure can be implemented, can typically be stored on a non-transitory computer-readable storage medium. The storage can be any device or medium that can store code and/or data for use by a computer system. The non-transitory computer-readable storage medium includes, but is not limited to, volatile memory, non-volatile memory, magnetic and optical storage devices such as disk drives, magnetic tape, CDs (compact discs), DVDs (digital versatile discs or digital video discs), or other media capable of storing code and/or data now known or later developed.
  • The methods and processes described in the disclosure can be embodied as code and/or data, which can be stored in a non-transitory computer-readable storage medium as described above. When a computer system reads and executes the code and/or data stored on the non-transitory computer-readable storage medium, the computer system performs the methods and processes embodied as data structures and code and stored within the non-transitory computer-readable storage medium. Furthermore, the methods and processes described can be included in hardware modules. For example, the hardware modules can include, but are not limited to, application-specific integrated circuit (ASIC) chips, field-programmable gate arrays (FPGAs), and other programmable-logic devices now known or later developed. When the hardware modules are activated, the hardware modules perform the methods and processes included within the hardware modules.
  • The technology described herein can be implemented as logical operations and/or modules. The logical operations can be implemented as a sequence of processor-implemented executed steps and as interconnected machine or circuit modules. Likewise, the descriptions of various component modules can be provided in terms of operations executed or effected by the modules. The resulting implementation is a matter of choice, dependent on the performance requirements of the underlying system implementing the described technology. Accordingly, the logical operations making up the embodiment of the technology described herein are referred to variously as operations, steps, objects, or modules. It should be understood that logical operations can be performed in any order, unless explicitly claimed otherwise or a specific order is inherently necessitated by the claim language.
  • Various embodiments of the present disclosure can be programmed using an object-oriented programming language, such as SmallTalk, Java, C++, Ada or C#. Other object-oriented programming languages can also be used. Alternatively, functional, scripting, and/or logical programming languages can be used. Various aspects of this disclosure can be implemented in a non-programmed environment, for example, documents created in HTML, XML, or other format that, when viewed in a window of a browser program, render aspects of a GUI or perform other functions. Various aspects of the disclosure can be implemented as programmed or non-programmed elements, or any combination thereof.
  • The foregoing description is provided to enable any person skilled in the relevant art to practice the various embodiments described herein. Various modifications to these embodiments can be readily apparent to those skilled in the relevant art, and generic principles defined herein can be applied to other embodiments. Thus, the claims are not intended to be limited to the embodiments shown and described herein, but are to be accorded the full scope consistent with the language of the claims, wherein reference to an element in the singular is not intended to mean “one and only one” unless specifically stated, but rather “one or more.” All structural and functional equivalents to the elements of the various embodiments described throughout this disclosure that are known or later come to be known to those of ordinary skill in the relevant art are expressly incorporated herein by reference and intended to be encompassed by the claims. Moreover, nothing disclosed herein is intended to be dedicated to the public regardless of whether such disclosure is explicitly recited in the claims.

Claims (20)

1. A method for facilitating a gaming tournament on a social network having updates in real time, the method comprising:
establishing a tournament room for a client;
detecting at least one connection of the client established within the social network playing the gaming tournament;
pulling in the at least one connection into the tournament room; and
starting game play for the tournament room when a maximum number of users have entered into the tournament room or when a force start has been enabled.
2. The method of claim 1, wherein establishing a tournament room for a client comprises allocating memory within a game host network.
3. The method of claim 1, wherein detecting the at least one connection of the client established within the social network comprises searching for friends of the client.
4. The method of claim 1, wherein pulling in the at least one connection into the tournament room comprises waiting for the at least one connection to finish a current game.
5. The method of claim 1, wherein starting game play for the tournament room when a maximum number of users have entered into the tournament room comprises filling open seats within the tournament room with public users.
6. The method of claim 1, comprising retrieving likes from at least one user within the tournament room and implementing features associated with the likes inside the tournament room.
7. The method of claim 1, comprising updating an in-game leader board based on the game play.
8. A system comprising:
a game host network for managing distributed instances of synchronous gaming tournaments among a plurality of clients with the outcome being updated on an in-game leader board in real time, wherein the clients come from a combination of a social network, casino and computing device.
9. The system of claim 8, wherein the game host network comprises a matching server for identifying clients that have a relationship and placing those clients into a room for game play.
10. The system of claim 9, wherein the relationship associates friendship status between the clients.
11. The system of claim 9, wherein the relationship associates prior contests between the clients.
12. The system of claim 8, wherein the game host network breaks the plurality of clients into a plurality of rooms with each room having a predefined number of seats available for game play.
13. The system of claim 12, wherein a new room is started when the number of seats available is filled.
14. The system of claim 12, wherein a new room is started when a force start is enabled.
15. A device comprising:
at least one processor; and
a memory operatively coupled to the processor, the memory storing program instructions that when executed by the processor, causes the processor to:
connect with a game host network through a social network;
receive placement within a game room provided by the game host network;
begin game play if a maximum number of users have filled the game room,
otherwise, wait until the maximum number of users are within the game room.
16. The device of claim 15, wherein the memory storing program instructions when executed by the processors causes the processor to begin game play when a force start is entered by a user within the game room.
17. The device of claim 15, wherein receiving placement within the game room provided by the game host network comprises starting a new game room when the maximum number of users have filled a previous game room.
18. The device of claim 15, wherein the memory storing program instructions when executed by the processors causes the processor to provide profile information to the social network for placement within the game room.
19. The device of claim 15, wherein the game host network places friends within the game room.
20. The device of claim 19, wherein the game host network fills up remaining seats within the game room with public users.
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