US20160136511A9 - Four Card Poker Game with Variable Wager - Google Patents

Four Card Poker Game with Variable Wager Download PDF

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Publication number
US20160136511A9
US20160136511A9 US14/034,295 US201314034295A US2016136511A9 US 20160136511 A9 US20160136511 A9 US 20160136511A9 US 201314034295 A US201314034295 A US 201314034295A US 2016136511 A9 US2016136511 A9 US 2016136511A9
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Prior art keywords
player
hand
game
wager
play
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Abandoned
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US14/034,295
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US20140087806A1 (en
Inventor
Roger M. Snow
II Louis J. Castle
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Bally Gaming Inc
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Bally Gaming Inc
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Publication date
Priority to US10/152,325 priority Critical patent/US20020195775A1/en
Priority to US11/499,864 priority patent/US20070024005A1/en
Priority to US13/631,812 priority patent/US9849372B2/en
Application filed by Bally Gaming Inc filed Critical Bally Gaming Inc
Priority to US14/034,295 priority patent/US20160136511A9/en
Assigned to SHFL ENTERTAINMENT, INC. reassignment SHFL ENTERTAINMENT, INC. ASSIGNMENT OF ASSIGNORS INTEREST (SEE DOCUMENT FOR DETAILS). Assignors: SNOW, ROGER M.
Publication of US20140087806A1 publication Critical patent/US20140087806A1/en
Assigned to BALLY GAMING, INC. reassignment BALLY GAMING, INC. MERGER (SEE DOCUMENT FOR DETAILS). Assignors: SHFL ENTERTAINMENT, INC.
Assigned to SIERRA DESIGN GROUP, SHFL ENTERTAINMENT, INC, BALLY GAMING, INC, ARCADE PLANET, INC., BALLY TECHNOLOGIES, INC., BALLY GAMING INTERNATIONAL, INC. reassignment SIERRA DESIGN GROUP RELEASE BY SECURED PARTY (SEE DOCUMENT FOR DETAILS). Assignors: BANK OF AMERICA, N.A.
Assigned to BANK OF AMERICA, N.A., AS COLLATERAL AGENT reassignment BANK OF AMERICA, N.A., AS COLLATERAL AGENT SECURITY AGREEMENT Assignors: BALLY GAMING, INC
Assigned to DEUTSCHE BANK TRUST COMPANY AMERICAS, AS COLLATERAL AGENT reassignment DEUTSCHE BANK TRUST COMPANY AMERICAS, AS COLLATERAL AGENT SECURITY AGREEMENT Assignors: BALLY GAMING, INC, SCIENTIFIC GAMES INTERNATIONAL, INC, WMS GAMING INC.
Assigned to BALLY GAMING, INC. reassignment BALLY GAMING, INC. ASSIGNMENT OF ASSIGNORS INTEREST (SEE DOCUMENT FOR DETAILS). Assignors: CASTLE, LOUIS J., II
Publication of US20160136511A9 publication Critical patent/US20160136511A9/en
Assigned to DEUTSCHE BANK TRUST COMPANY AMERICAS, AS COLLATERAL AGENT reassignment DEUTSCHE BANK TRUST COMPANY AMERICAS, AS COLLATERAL AGENT SECURITY AGREEMENT Assignors: BALLY GAMING, INC., SCIENTIFIC GAMES INTERNATIONAL, INC.
Assigned to DEUTSCHE BANK TRUST COMPANY AMERICAS, AS COLLATERAL AGENT reassignment DEUTSCHE BANK TRUST COMPANY AMERICAS, AS COLLATERAL AGENT SECURITY AGREEMENT Assignors: BALLY GAMING, INC., SCIENTIFIC GAMES INTERNATIONAL, INC.
Assigned to BALLY GAMING, INC., WMS GAMING INC., SCIENTIFIC GAMES INTERNATIONAL, INC. reassignment BALLY GAMING, INC. RELEASE OF SECURITY INTEREST IN PATENTS (RELEASES REEL/FRAME 034530/0318) Assignors: DEUTSCHE BANK TRUST COMPANY AMERICAS
Application status is Abandoned legal-status Critical

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    • AHUMAN NECESSITIES
    • A63SPORTS; GAMES; AMUSEMENTS
    • A63FCARD, BOARD, OR ROULETTE GAMES; INDOOR GAMES USING SMALL MOVING PLAYING BODIES; VIDEO GAMES; GAMES NOT OTHERWISE PROVIDED FOR
    • A63F1/00Card games
    • 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
    • G07F17/3286Type of games
    • G07F17/3293Card games, e.g. poker, canasta, black jack

Abstract

An online casino game utilizes at least one deck of playing cards, the game comprising: each player placing at least one wager to participate in the casino game; dealing a first number of cards to a dealer, the first number of cards being greater than the number of cards to be used in determination of a poker rank hand for the dealer; dealing a second number of cards to each player, the second number of cards being greater than the number of cards to be used in determination of a poker rank hand for each player; the dealer discarding at least one card to form a resulting single dealer hand; each player discarding at least one card to form a resulting player's hand for each player, wherein the number of cards in resulting player's hands and the resulting dealer's hand are equal; and resolving each player hand against the dealer's hand according to predetermined game rules. The initial player's wagers must be at least matched with a Game Bet (or play bet) to remain in the game after players have received their cards. The Game Bet may be multiples of the initial player's wagers, for example, 1× to 5× the initial wager, or more.

Description

    CROSS REFERENCE TO RELATED APPLICATION
  • This application is a continuation-in-part of U.S. patent application Ser. No. 13/631,821, filed Sep. 28, 2012, which is a continuation of U.S. patent application Ser. No. 11/499,864, filed Aug. 4, 2006, which is a Continuation of U.S. patent application Ser. No. 10/152,325 filed May 20, 2002, the disclosure of each of which is incorporated herein by reference.
  • BACKGROUND
  • The present invention generally relates to a card game that can be played in a casino or in a card room. More particularly, it relates to a modified version of a stud poker game.
  • Many different wagering games presently exist for use in both home and casino environments. Such games should necessarily be exciting, uncomplicated and easy to learn so as to avoid frustrating the players. Designing new games that meet these criteria and are sufficiently different from old games to entice players to play the new game is a particularly challenge.
  • SUMMARY
  • A casino table poker game is played with poker hands of players competing against a poker hand of a dealer. A player enters the game by placing one or both of a Bonus Bet (also referred to as an Aces-Up wager) for competition against a pay table and an Ante for direct competition against the dealer. In some embodiments, the player also makes a mandatory Super Bonus bet to participate in the game. The player is dealt more cards than needed to form a poker hand. The dealer is also provided with more than the required number of cards, from which a number of cards are selected for the dealer's hand to play. The player is provided with bonus payouts (e.g., multiple returns) on the bonus bet for ranked hands of a predetermined rank or better. The players' hands also compete directly against the rank of the dealer's hand if an additional play bet is placed to supplement the ante. The additional play bet may be varied by the player to be 1×, 2×, 3×, 4×, or 5× the amount of the ante. Limits may be placed on play wager amounts. Bonuses may also be paid on the bonus bet (such as an Aces-Up bet) or ante wager with unusually high ranking player's hands (such as a straight flush or four of a kind), whether or not the rank of the player's hand exceeds the rank of the dealer's hand.
  • Further embodiments may include one, some, or all of the following: The acts of the dealer may be carried out by a visual representation of a dealer, the visual representation being generated and/or displayed by a computer. The visual representation may be a virtual person (e.g., an animation), or may be a transmission (e.g., a video) of an actual person. The visual representation may be part of an online gaming experience of the disclosed game. The acts described in this disclosure associated with a dealer, including dealing cards, displaying or turning cards over, receiving or paying bets, receiving game play elections or any other actions, may be represented in any way when used in an online environment. For example, the cards associated with a dealer action, described as being dealt or otherwise handled by a dealer, may appear as virtual cards, as transmitted pictures of physical cards or as cards that appear in a streaming video image of a live dealer dealing cards. This may include a display of virtual card decks where each deck, individual card, and hand is displayed to an online player in a manner consistent with the game play disclosed herein, but may or may not include a visual representation of a dealer with the cards. Likewise, betting activity may be displayed in any manner to a player, including, but not limited to, virtual chips, betting pools, numbers, or other indicia of a bet amount.
  • The online experience may involve players playing remotely (e.g., in a different physical location) from the dealer, the location of a game server, or both, interacting through a networked connection that may include, but is not limited to, the Internet. The online game play may involve players who are also physically remote from each other. Remote connections may use networks involving several types of network links including, but not limited to, the Internet. Networked connections allowing physically remote players to play a game using a game server or system may be part of an implementation of a virtual or online gaming environment.
  • The actions described in this disclosure as the acts of a player, including betting, card selection (if any), card discards (if any), or any other actions, may be carried out over a network where the indicated actions are received as input to a user device. The input-receiving user device is typically physically remote from the game server or game host and connected over a long-distance network, but may also be implemented over a wired or wireless LAN in one building, or even in one room, for example. In one embodiment, game play generated at the server or host location may be displayed on the same device as the user device. In some embodiments, game play may be conveyed to remote players in devices separate from the devices receiving input from a player, such as public screens or publicly broadcast data about a game coupled with individual or private user input devices. The reception of an input at a device may be accomplished through any technology adapted for such a purpose including, but not limited to, keypads, keyboards, touchpads, mice, optical location devices, eye movement/location detectors, sound input devices, etc. When discussing a device, it is understood the device may comprise multiple components and be complex, including hardware components combined with firmware and/or software, and may itself be a subcomponent of a larger system.
  • Yet other embodiments may comprise apparatuses and systems for administering wagering games according to embodiments of the disclosure.
  • BRIEF DESCRIPTION OF THE FIGURES
  • While the disclosure concludes with claims particularly pointing out and distinctly claiming embodiments within the scope of the disclosure, various features and advantages of embodiments encompassed by the disclosure may be more readily ascertained from the following description when read in conjunction with the accompanying drawings, in which:
  • FIG. 1 is a flowchart diagram of a method of administering a wagering game;
  • FIG. 2 is a diagram of a playing surface for implementation of the wagering game;
  • FIG. 3 is an enlarged diagram of one of the player positions of the playing surface of FIG. 2;
  • FIG. 4 is a flow chart diagram of a method of administering a wagering game that may be at least partially player-pooled;
  • FIG. 5 is a perspective view of an individual electronic gaming device configured for implementation of embodiments of wagering games;
  • FIG. 6 is a top view of a suitable table configured for implementation of embodiments of wagering games;
  • FIG. 7 is a perspective view of another embodiment of a suitable table configured for implementation of embodiments of wagering games having a virtual dealer;
  • FIG. 8 is a schematic block diagram of a gaming system for implementing embodiments of waging games;
  • FIG. 9 is a schematic block diagram of a gaming system for implementing embodiments of wagering games including a live dealer feed; and
  • FIG. 10 is a block diagram of a computer for acting as a gaming system according to one embodiment.
  • DETAILED DESCRIPTION
  • The illustrations presented herein are not meant to be actual views of any particular act in a method of administering a wagering game, apparatus for use in administering a wagering game, or component thereof, but are merely idealized representations employed to describe illustrative embodiments. Thus, the drawings are not necessarily to scale. Additionally, elements common between figures may retain the same or similar numerical designation. Elements with the same number, but including a different alphabet character as a suffix should be considered as multiple instantiations of substantially similar elements and may be referred generically without an alphabet character suffix. For example, elements 100 a, 100 b, 100 c, may be a device that is instantiated three times and referred to generically as element 100.
  • The terms “gaming,” “gambling,” or the like, refer to activities, games, sessions, rounds, hands, rolls, operations, and other events related to wagering games such as web-based games, casino games, card games, dice games, and other games whose outcome is at least partially based on one or more random events (“chance” or “chances”), and on which wagers may be placed by a player. In addition, the words “wager,” “bet,” “bid,” or the like, refer to any type of wagers, bets or gaming ventures that are placed on random events, whether of monetary or non-monetary value. Points, credits, and other items of value may be purchased, earned, or otherwise issued prior to beginning the wagering game. In some embodiments, purchased points, credits, or other items of value may have an exchange rate that is not one-to-one to the currency used by the user. For example, a wager may include money, points, credits, symbols, or other items that may have some value related to a wagering game. Wagers may be placed in wagering games that are “play for pay” as well as “play for fun,” as will be described in more detail below.
  • Referring to FIG. 1, a flowchart diagram of a method of administering a wagering game is shown. A card game is played by at least one player and a dealer. For simplicity in the following discussion, a single player's actions are described, though many players may play simultaneously. The dealer usually represents the house or the casino in the play of the game. In this embodiment, a player makes 100 at least an ante wager and an equal bonus wager at the beginning of each round of play. In this embodiment, the bonus wager is mandatory and equals the size of the ante wager. This mandatory bonus wager equal to the ante is termed a “super bonus” to distinguish this bonus wager from other bonus wagers described further below.
  • To initiate play of the game, at least one (and usually only one) deck of standard or variant playing cards is provided. In other forms of the game, multiple intermixed decks of cards, decks with wild cards or special decks (i.e. decks with certain cards removed) are used. After placing at least the ante wager, the cards are dealt 102 to the player and the dealer. In one embodiment, the dealer is dealt five cards, and the player is dealt five cards. In other embodiments, the number of cards dealt to the player is unequal to the number of cards dealt to the dealer. In general, at least one additional card is dealt to the player and the dealer than the number of cards required to complete a hand. In this embodiment, the player and dealer form four-card poker hands. In some embodiments, the player makes a best four-card hand from the five available cards though a user device. In other embodiments, the gaming system is able to assist the player by making the best four out of five card poker hand.
  • After receiving the cards, the player determines whether to make 104 a variable play wager or to fold. The amount of the variable play wager available for the user to make varies based on the rules of the particular game. In this embodiment, the player may wager 1× to 3× the player's ante wager as a play wager, when the player hand is a minimum qualifying rank, such as a pair of aces or better. When the player hand is less than the qualifying rank, the play wager must equal the Ante wager. Alternatively, the player may fold, which forfeits the player's ante wager. Next, the player and dealer each make 106 a four-card hand based on the cards dealt to each. That is, the player discards a card from the player's five cards, while the dealer discards one cards from the dealer's five cards. The player's four-card hand is evaluated 108 against the dealer's four-card hand using a four-card poker ranking to determine whether the player's hand beats the dealer's hand. The player's four-card hand is also evaluated against a paytable for the super bonus wager. Based on the evaluation, the wagers are resolved 110. When the player's hand beats the dealer's hand, the player wins the ante and play bet, and when the player's hand does not beat the dealer's hand, the player loses the ante and play bet. If the player and dealer tie, the ante and play bet are resolved based on the rules of the game. For example, in one embodiment the play bet is a push, and the ante bet is a loss to the dealer when the player and dealer hands tie. In another embodiment, when the player and dealer hands tie, the Ante and Play bets push.
  • The player's bonus wager is resolved based on the applicable paytable and the strength of the player's hand. For example, in one embodiment the bonus is paid based on premium hands, such as a four-of-a-kind or a straight flush. In one embodiment, if the player wins the ante and play bet, but does not qualify for the paytable of the bonus bet, the bonus bet is a push and is neither won nor lost. In yet other embodiments, the bonus bet pushes if the player hand is not a predetermined winning hand, but the player hand beats the dealer hand.
  • Additional variants and embodiments of four-card wagering games are described below. In the description that follows, games are described may include or not include the super bonus bet described above. While generally describing four-card wagering games, these methods of play are not limited to games using four-card hands and are more generally applicable to games using more or fewer cards to form a hand. These wagering games may include more or fewer cards dealt to a player and with additional or fewer wagers placed by the player, such as an additional bonus bet, as further described below.
  • Referring to FIG. 2, a diagram of a playing surface for implementation of the wagering games within the scope of the present disclosure is shown. Wagering areas 110 are provided for each player, and card receiving areas 112 are available for each of the players and the dealer. The wagering area may include three distinct wagering zones for each player comprising a Bonus wager area 114 (also termed an Aces-Up wager), an Ante area 116, and a Play Bet area 118. The wagering area may also include a Super Bonus wager area 120. Each player who wishes to enter the play of the game makes at least one wager selected from the Bonus Bet (or Aces-Up bet) and the Ante. One or both of these wagers may be made. The player may also play the hand blind (also referred to as the “House Way”) by placing both an Ante and an additional Play Bet (also referred to as the Game Bet). The player may also bet the Super Bonus bet which in some embodiments is a mandatory bet.
  • Referring to FIG. 3, an enlarged diagram of one of the player positions of the playing surface of FIG. 2 is shown. In one embodiment of a player position 110, the card receiving areas 112 include an area for each card received by a player, in this case five. In other embodiments, the card receiving areas 112 are not marked, or are marked with multiple cards together in one location. Also shown in this embodiment is the super bonus bet area 120 for a bet termed a “super bonus” bet. This super bonus bet may be used in certain embodiments of the described wagering game, and not used in other embodiments. When the super bonus is used, it is generally equal in size to the ante 116, as indicated on the player position 110. When the super bonus is not used, the super bonus bet area 120 may be omitted from the player position 110. Though not shown in FIG. 3, a paytable may also be provided at each player position 110 when the game is played at a table, and may be accessible on a display when the game is played electronically.
  • After placement of the at least one wager, each player who has made an at least one wager is provided with five cards, in this embodiment, from which to select a best four-card poker hand. The cards may be dealt as a complete set of five cards or in portions of one or more cards. At about the same time, the dealer is dealt a number of cards exceeding four. In one embodiment, six cards are dealt to the dealer. One or more additional cards can be dealt to the player, the dealer or both.
  • Although in one example the dealer receives one more card than each player, the number of cards dealt can be equal. In particular, enough cards are dealt so that at least one discard can be made.
  • In an embodiment, a four card poker hand is played. The player reviews the five cards received at that player position and determines what best four-card poker hand can be made from the five cards. If the player believes that the cards cannot form a four-card poker rank of sufficiently high rank to warrant competition against the dealer's hand (even without that hand or any portion of that hand having been displayed), the player may fold the hand, refusing to place an additional wager. At this time or usually a later time, the Ante would be collected by the dealer. In one example, if the player made the Aces-Up bet and the Ante bet and decides to fold, the Aces-Up bet is swept along with the Ante. In another embodiment, if the player remains in the game by making the Play Bet and the player's hand does not contain a hand ranking of a pair of Aces or higher, and a bet was made on the Ace-Up wager, that wager may be now or later collected by the dealer. If the player determines that the rank of the best four-card poker hand that can be made from the five cards dealt to the player is sufficiently high as to warrant competition against the dealer (or if the player wants to ‘bluff’ against the dealer, particularly if the dealer must qualify), the player makes an additional wager, referred to as a play bet or game bet. That additional wager may be multiples of the Ante, such as 1×, 2×, 3×, 4× or 5× the amount of the original Ante, at the option of the player. In some embodiments, the game bet is 1× the ante unless the player has a qualifying hand such as a pair of kings or better for example. If the player's hand qualifies he has the option of increasing his bet. Fractional amounts or larger amounts may be allowed, but they can complicate the payout or alter the hold for the house, so those changes are in the discretion of the casino. After discarding excess cards and placing the Game Bet, or placing the fifth card face down, or merely leaving the fifth card in the hand so that the hand may be arranged and ranked by the dealer or player when exposed, the player's hand is placed on the table for display. The dealer's hand is then revealed after each and every player has determined whether or not the Game Bet is to be made. The dealer compares the value or rank of his hand against the value or rank of each player's hand, usually in succession around the table, and each series of wagers (the Aces-Up wager, the Ante and the Game Bet) is resolved. Ties on the rank of player's hands and dealers hands may be either paid to the player, called a push, or collected by the dealer, depending upon the desired house advantage the casino wants to build into the game. The dealer may either always qualify to play, or a level of qualification may be built into the game (such as at least Queen high, at least King high, at least Queen-Jack, At least King-Jack, at least Ace-King, or at least one pair).
  • Resolution on the wagers may be based upon pay tables for the Aces-Up wager, pay tables on the Ante, and/or the Game Bet. One embodiment of play of the game provides pay tables for one or more of the Aces-Up wager, the Ante and an automatic bonus payout on the ante. The Game Bet pays one-to-one with a player win. Because the player can see the strength of the player hand when making the game bet, the player would be at an extreme advantage in placing a 5× Game Bet, assuring a very high multiple payout, with essentially no risk or little risk involved in the placement of the 5× Game Bet wager. The payout of wagers may be tailored by the casino by selecting pay tables designed for greater player payouts or greater casino earnings.
  • Although a four card poker game is one embodiment, the game could also be played with three, five or seven cards, with necessary adjustments to the pay tables.
  • For example, in a four card game, the hierarchy of hands is as follows:
      • Four of a Kind
      • Straight Flush
      • Three of a Kind
      • Flush
      • Straight
      • Two Pair
      • Pair
      • High Card.
  • A three or five card game may require a different hierarchy of hand rankings.
  • There are many variations of the game that may be played. The following variations on the format described above illustrate the expanded scope of play available under various methods.
  • Version I—Each player receives 5 cards, and the dealer receives 6 cards. The players and the dealer identify their best four card poker hands, the players may rely upon the house for assistance, if needed. The dealer always qualifies, that is the dealer's hand and any players' hands are always in play if the ante bet is made. Players have the choice of placing one or both of the Ante Bet and a Bonus Bet (e.g., the Aces-Up wager). House rules may require the player to make the Ante Bet, the Bonus Bet, or both the Ante and Bonus Bet. The Ante wager is a wager directly against the rank of the dealer's hand, and the Aces Up Bonus Bet is a bet against a pay table. If after viewing his/her hand, a player chooses to stay in the game against the dealer (keeping the Ante wager in play), the player must make an additional Game Bet to stay in the game. This Game Bet may be, for example, between 1 and 5 (or between 1 and 4, or between 1 and 3) times the amount of the initial Ante wager at the opinion of the player. In other forms of the game, the player's Game Bet must be 1× the ante unless the player holds a qualifying hand of a pair of Aces or better. If the player has a qualifying hand, he can bet up to 3× the Ante. The player must hold a pair of aces or better to win on the Bonus Bet (hence the name ‘Aces-Up’) in this embodiment. The Bonus Bet pays a maximum return of 50:1 in one embodiment, but payouts may theoretically be as high as 500:1 for certain hands, such as for four Aces. The Bonus Bet side bet game may or may not be present in the rules of the game. In this example, the game pays an automatic bonus for certain high ranking hands according to a payout schedule. This bonus is paid on the Ante wager, and does not require the player to make a separate bet to qualify for this payout. For example, automatic bonuses are paid on three of a kind, straight flushes and four of a kind.
  • Version II—Each player and the dealer gets five cards to make the best four-card poker hand. If the dealer's hand does not equal or exceed a certain rank (e.g., a pair of 2's or better), he discards all cards and draws a new five card hand, and then makes a four-card poker hand from the five cards. The player must make the Ante wager to be in the game against the dealer. The dealer always qualifies to play against the player. It is possible to allow the player or require the player to make the Ante wager 1) before the deal of cards, 2) after the deal of cards but before any cards are revealed, 3) after the deal of cards and after the players has reviewed his cards but before the dealer has exposed cards, 4) after the deal of cards and a partial or complete revelation of the dealer's five cards (but before review of the player's cards), or 5) after the deal of cards and a review of the players' cards and a partial revelation or complete revelation of the dealer's five cards, which play might be restricted to where the dealer has not qualified (but not after revelation of any sixth card). The player's hand may be required to exceed a minimum rank to bet more than 1× the Ante. For example, if the player has a qualifying hand of a pair of Kings or better, the player can make a Game Bet of 1×, 2× or 3× the Ante. As with Version I, the rules can provide that the Bonus Bet (side bet) is mandatory or both initial bets (the Ante and the Bonus Bet) are mandatory. The automatic bonus against a pay table on the Ante bet may or may not be present in the rules of the game. The Bonus Bet game may or may not be present, also in the rules of the game. In this example, a pair of aces or better qualifies the player for an Aces-Up payout of 1:1. The automatic bonus pays even if the player's hand is lower in rank than the dealer's hand.
  • Version III—The players and dealer each receive five cards to make their best four-card poker hand. The betting/wagering rules and procedures are the same as in the previous versions, except for those listed below. Either the Ante is mandatory, the Ante or the Bonus Bet is mandatory, or both initial wagers are mandatory. The dealer must qualify to play (for example, with a hand of Ace high or better, King-Queen or higher, Ace-King or higher, pair of deuces or higher, etc.). The automatic bonus side bet game against a pay table is present in the rules of this example of the game.
  • If the player stays in the game, the player can bet 1× to 3× the Ante if the player has a qualifying hand of a pair of Kings or better. Otherwise, the maximum Game Bet is 1× the Ante. The lowest ranking hand that qualifies for the bonus payout is a pair of Aces or better.
  • Version IV—Four Card Poker with Super Bonus—The dealer and each player are dealt five cards each. The cards are used to make the best four card poker hand by the players and the dealer. The hands are ranked according to the following four card poker ranking schedule:
      • Four of a Kind
      • Straight Flush
      • Three of a Kind
      • Flush
      • Straight
      • Two Pair
      • Pair
      • High Card.
  • Players can make a bet against the dealer (Ante), a bet against the pay table (Aces-Up Bonus Bet) or both. House rules may require one or both bets to be mandatory. In addition, the players are required to make a Super Bonus bet in an amount equal to the Ante in this version.
  • Players place equal bets on the Ante and/or Super Bonus and/or Bonus spots on the layout. After viewing the cards, the player must fold or place an additional Bet (play wager). If the player's hand does not qualify with a pair of Kings or better, he must bet 1× the ante to stay in the game. With a qualifying hand of a pair of Kings or better, he can bet an amount equal to or multiples of the Ante, such as 1×, 2× or 3× the Ante.
  • If the player has a higher ranking hand than the dealer's hand, the player is paid 1:1 on the ante and the play bet. If the dealer's hand outranks the player's hand, the player loses the ante and the play bet.
  • The player has the option (or may be required) at the beginning of the game to place an Aces-Up bonus bet. In this example, the player wins a bonus payout for a pair of Aces or better. If the player makes the Ante and Play bets and beats the dealer, but does not have a pair of Aces or better, the player pushes on the bonus bet. The player is always paid on the Aces-Up bonus bet, regardless of whether or not the player's hand beats the dealer's hand.
  • In addition, this example includes a mandatory Super Bonus bet that is made in an amount equal to the ante. The player wins a payout for certain high ranking hands such as a straight flush or four of a kind. A pay table is provided on the layout to identify winning hands and payout amounts.
  • A failure to obtain a “Super Bonus” hand does not result in an automatic loss of the bet. For example, when the player's hand against the dealer does not qualify with a pair of kings or a straight flush or better, but the hand still beats the dealer, the Super Bonus bet pushes. But, if the player folds on the ante or lose the ante and play bets against the dealer, the Super Bonus bet is also lost.
  • The Super Bonus bet is desirable in some instances where it is desired to provide the house with more of an advantage. In this example of the game, removing the mandatory Super Bonus bet causes the game to favor the player. However, other rule changes such as requiring the dealer to qualify, or raising the minimum qualification hand ranking when making the play bet are other means to shift the odds to favor the house.
  • There are a number of advantages of the games as described herein. The fold rate for a player using good strategy on this game is approximately 21%, which is lower than the fold rate in some other games. This feature is believed to attract and retain players, making the game more appealing to casinos.
  • Players win this game approximately 48% of the time, which exceeds the expectation of many players, and increases player appeal.
  • In some situations, e.g., when the player has a qualifying hand, additional betting opportunities are available, such as tripling down on the Ante, increasing player appeal.
  • By varying the number of cards made available to the dealer and/or players, in forming the hands, by requiring the dealer's hand to qualify or by eliminating dealer qualification, by modifying the payouts and winning hand combinations possible on the bonus bet, by adding the Super Bonus bet etc., the payouts can be made to pay as high as 500:1, e.g., for four of a kind hands. This feature is believed to attract and retain more poker players.
  • Various platforms are contemplated that are suitable for implementation of embodiments of wagering games according to the present disclosure. For example, embodiments of wagering games may be implemented such that one or more players may place wagers and engage in game play according to the rules of the wagering games. For example, wagering games may be implemented on gaming tables, which may include physical gaming features, such as physical cards, physical chips, and may include a live dealer and a shuffler or shoe. More specifically, a live dealer may deal physical cards, accept wagers, issue payouts, and perform other administrative functions of game play. Some embodiments may be implemented on electronic devices enabling electronic gaming features, such as providing electronic displays for display of virtual cards, virtual chips, game instructions, pay tables, etc. Some embodiments may include features that are a combination of physical and electronic features.
  • As an example, embodiments of wagering games may be implemented on an individual gaming device for accepting wagers that has a display screen and input devices for enabling game play of the wagering games. Such an individual gaming device may be linked with other gaming devices that may be operated, for example, by other players. Some individual electronic gaming devices may be referred to as an individual player “cabinet” and may be stationary, such as being located on a casino floor. Other individual electronic gaming devices may be portable devices that may be carried to different locations by the player. Portable devices may include both display of the ongoing game play and input reception for game play by a player, and may be configured for receiving input from a player while the game play is displayed on a public monitor, or other display device. Game play and game outcomes may also be displayed on a portable device.
  • As previously noted, the present games and rules may be played as a live casino table card game, as a hybrid casino table card game (with virtual cards or virtual chips), on a multi-player electronic platform (as disclosed in U.S. patent application Ser. Nos. 10/764,827; 10/764,994 (now U.S. Pat. No. 7,661,676, issued Feb. 16, 2010); and Ser. No. 10/764,995, all filed on Jan. 26, 2004, the disclosure of each of which applications is incorporated herein in its entirety by this reference), on a personal computer for practice, on a hand-held game for practice or on a legally authorized site on the Internet.
  • In one embodiment, the players are remotely located from a live dealer and the players observe a live dealer and a game table on their monitors via a video feed. The players' video feeds may be transmitted to the dealer and also be shared among the players at the table. In a sample embodiment a central station includes a plurality of betting-type game devices, and an electronic camera for each game device. A plurality of player stations remotely located with respect to the central stations, each one including a monitor for displaying a selected game device at the central station, and input means for selecting a game device and for placing a bet by a player at the player's station relating to an action involving an element of chance to occur at the selected game device. Further details on gambling systems and methods for remotely located players are disclosed in U.S. Pat. No. 6,755,741 B1, issued Jun. 29, 2004, and titled “Gambling Game System and Method for Remotely-Located Players,” the disclosure of which is incorporated herein in its entirety by this reference, and in connection with FIGS. 9 and 10.
  • In some embodiments, the wagering games described herein may be played against the house (i.e., be “house-banked”), which may involve playing against a dealer hand or a pay table, with payouts on wagers being paid by a casino or other gaming establishment and losses on wagers being collected by the casino or other gaming establishment. For example, payouts associated with the ante bet, play bet, bonus bet, and (if applicable) super bonus bet may be banked by the house and payouts made by the house. In the house-banked game, the player's hand is played against the dealer's, where the player's four-card hand is compared against the dealer's four-card hand. When the player makes an ante, and makes a play wager, these bets may be resolved against an account of the house, such as a dealer adding player chips to a chip rack of the house or adding chips to the player stacks from the chip rack of the house.
  • In other embodiments, the wagering games, or at least one wager associated with the wagering game, may enable players to play against one another (i.e., be “player-banked” or “player-pooled”), with payouts on wagers being paid from a pot and losses on wagers being collected by other players. Player-banked games allow a player or a professional banker to take all other player losses and pay payouts to players. In a player-banked version of a game of the present disclosure, a house may provide a dealer to administer the game, and may rake wagers made, payouts won, or charge a flat fee for playing the game. Player-banked games are typically offered as live table games in card rooms where house-banking gaming is not permitted by local gaming regulations. Player-pooler variants of games may be offered as live table games, but are more typically offered in electronic format, where tracking the value of a jackpot pool is conducted using computer-controlled equipment. Player-pooled variants are particularly useful when regulators of online casino play permit the play of “poker”.
  • Referring to FIG. 4, a flow chart diagram of a method 200 of administering a wagering game, which may be at least partially player-pooled, is shown. The method 200 includes accepting a first “poker” wager from a player and adding the first wager to a first poker pot (e.g., a pool or accumulation of bets), as indicated at operation 202. The wagers contributed to the poker pool may be raked in one example of the invention.
  • A second wager may be received at operation 204. The second wager may comprise, for example, a base game wager (e.g., antes, blinds, play bets, raises, and other bets made on the underlying wagering game) or a side wager. Second wagers may be raked. Alternatively, payouts on second wagers may be raked. More specifically, the second wager may comprise, for example, the ante wager and any of the play wagers, or a separate pay table or progressive side wager. The second wager may be accepted, for example, by performing any of the acts described previously in connection with FIG. 1. In one example, the second wager may comprise all wagers made in any of the four-card games described above, and the first wager may be an additional “poker” wager. The first poker pot may be non-progressive, meaning that the entire value of the pot is distributed to a player at the conclusion of a round of play. If two players tie with a highest ranking hand, the poker pot may be split. In other embodiments, the player holding the highest ranking hand is awarded a percentage of the pot, and a player holding a second highest ranking hand is also awarded a percentage of the pot. An exemplary split between highest and next highest hand is 80/20 for example.
  • The second pot may be separate from the first pot. For example, the first and second pots may include chips located in separate areas on a gaming table when the wagering game is conducted live in a casino. As another example, the first and second pots may be displayed as separate amounts on one or more of video displays 374, 404, 414, 418, 430, 532, 560, 564, and 658 (see FIGS. 5, 6, 7, and 9) (e.g., a monitor) controlled by one or more of processors 350, 414, 428, 597, and 642 (see FIGS. 5, 6, 7, and 9) and may be maintained in separate accounts when the wagering game is conducted online. The second wager may enable a player to be eligible to win an additional award, such as, for example, a progressive payout for a predetermined premium hand.
  • In one embodiment, all odds payouts are paid out of the second pot, and all losses are accumulated in the second pot. When a predetermined event occurs, such as a player holding a predetermined premium hand such as a royal flush in hearts, for example, the administrator of the game may award the entire second pot to the player holding the premium hand at operation 214.
  • In other embodiments, all normal game wagers such as the Ante and all play wagers in the present game are placed in the second pot, and all payouts are made from the second pot. Excess amounts that grow in the pot are redistributed to players in the form of a dividend distribution (e.g., a share of the second pot awarded to each participating player), from the second pot. The second wager may comprise, for example, the ante wager or any of the play wagers.
  • In some embodiments, the second wager may be a mandatory wager. In other embodiments, the second wager may be optional, and a player wishing to play the poker wagering game may do so by placing a bet in the first pot without placing the second wager and without being eligible to win any award from the second pot. In some embodiments, the second wager may include multiple sub-wagers. For example, the second wager may include an ante wager, a first play wager, a second play wager and a third play wager. In other embodiments, a third pot (not shown) for participating in a progressive side bet game is provided. Such third pots may be separate from the other pots, or may be combined with one of the other pots. The second wager may be accepted, for example, by performing any of the acts described previously in connection with FIG. 1.
  • In some embodiments, the second pot may be a pooled or linked pot. For example, the second pot may include second wagers accepted from multiple concurrent wagering games, which may include only second wagers from those wagering games currently being played or may include accumulated second wagers from past wagering games. As specific, nonlimiting examples, the second pot may include all second wagers accepted from a group of tables or local wagering game administration devices at a casino, from multiple groups of remote devices connected to network gaming architecture, or both. In other embodiments, the second pot may not be pooled, and awards for the second wager may be limited to the amounts wagered at a respective table, local wagering game administration device, or group of remote devices.
  • A rake (e.g., a commission for the house) may be taken on at least one of the first and second wagers, as indicated at operation 206. For example, the house may collect a portion of the second wager at the time the second wager is placed or may collect a portion of amounts awarded from the second pot at the time the second pot or a portion of the second pot is awarded. The rake may comprise, for example, a fixed percentage of the second wager. More specifically, the percentage of the second wager collected for the rake may be, for example, greater than a theoretical house advantage for the underlying game. As another example, the rake may be less than an average house advantage for play of the wagering game by all players, including average and sub-average players, which may be calculated using a historical house advantage for the wagering game (e.g., a house advantage for the wagering game over the last 5, 10, or 15 years for a given casino or other gaming establishment). As specific, nonlimiting examples, the percentage of the second wager collected for the rake may be between 3% and 8%, between 4% and 7%, or between 5% and 6%. In other embodiments, the portion of the second wager collected for the rake may comprise a variable percentage of the second wager or may comprise a fixed quantity (e.g., a flat fee) irrespective of the total amount for the second wager, a fixed percentage with a cap, or a time-based fee for increments of time playing the wagering game.
  • All profits for the house may be made from the rake in some embodiments. In such embodiments, all second wagers in excess of the rake may be redistributed back to the players, rather than be collected by the house as additional revenue. Such limiting of profits for the house and redistribution of second wagers back to the players may increase the attractiveness of the wagering game to both inexperienced and highly skilled players. Because the amount earned by the house is known, highly skilled players may perceive that their skill will enable them to increase winnings, and inexperienced players may be enticed by the possibility of winning the second pot or a portion thereof. In other embodiments, the house may make profits on the rake and on losses from one or more of the wagers (e.g., ante and play wagers), including losses resulting from optimal and suboptimal play. The rake may be maintained in a rake account, and profits for the house may be deducted from the rake account. The rake may be taken by, for example, electronically transferring funds from the second pot to a rake account (e.g., as instructed by a game server 606 (see FIG. 8) using casino account servers 610 (see FIG. 8)) or physically removing or exchanging money or representations of money from the second pot on a live table.
  • A round of the underlying wagering game may be played, as indicated at operation 208. For example, the underlying wagering game may be played at least substantially as described previously in connection with FIGS. 1 through 3. In one embodiment, an additional side wager is played between players, rather than against a pay table. The additional side wager may be a fixed amount, such as an amount equal to the ante bet. The additional side wager is added to a first pot that is completely distributed at the end of each round of play. The distribution of the additional side wager may be based, for example, on the highest player hand at the conclusion of the game. The ante and play wagers are added to a second progressive pot for distribution based on the pay table. In this way, the first pot allows the players to compete based on hand strength against other players, while the second pot is able to support larger progressive awards based on a pay table.
  • At the end of a round of play, the first wager may be resolved and at least a portion of the first pot may be awarded to at least one player, as indicated at operation 210. Each successive round of making wagers, dealing cards, and resolving wagers may constitute a round of play, and the first pot or a portion of the first pot may be awarded to at least one player at the end of each round of play. The player to whom the first pot or the portion of the first pot is awarded may hold a winning hand or at least a tying hand for that round of play according to the rules of the underlying wagering game. Awarding the first pot or the portion of the first pot may comprise crediting a player account of each wining player or may comprise distributing physical money or physical representations of money to each winning player.
  • In some embodiments, an entire amount of the first pot may be awarded to at least one player at the end of each round of play. In such embodiments, the first pot may be a non-progressive pot. Awarding the entire first pot to at least one player at the end of each round of play may enable the wagering game to qualify as a legal form of online “poker” play under some relevant statutes. For example, in games that require a mandatory pot bet that may or may not be raked, and that has no house advantage, and all other bets go into a second pot that is raked, the game may qualify as “poker” to gaming authorities, especially for online versions of the games. Awarding the entire amount of a first pot to at least one player at the end of each round of play redistributes lost first wagers attributable to suboptimal play to other players, rather than to the house. Accordingly, such a wagering game may be particularly attractive to players who perceive themselves as being highly skilled in the wagering game and, therefore, more able to take advantage of suboptimal play by other players. In some embodiments, a portion of the first pot may be awarded to at least one player at the end of each round of play. For example, the house may take a rake on the first wager, which may still enable the wagering game to be qualify as a legal form of online gambling under some relevant statutes. The rake taken may comprise, for example, between 1% and 8%, between 2% and 6%, or between 3% and 5% of the first wager. The rake amounts on each wager may be more than, less than, or equal to the rake taken on other wagers in some embodiments. In still other embodiments, a portion of the first pot may remain in the first pot or be redistributed to another pot (e.g., the second pot) to be awarded in a subsequent round of play as a progressive payout or a dividend distribution. In such an example, the portion of the wager remaining in the first pot or redistributed to another pot may comprise, for example, a fixed percentage of the first wager, a variable percentage of the first wager (e.g., an odds payout may be awarded and the remainder retained in the first pot or redistributed to the other pot), or a fixed amount.
  • In lieu of, or in addition to, a rake taken on one or more wagers or from winnings, the house may be compensated in a number of other ways, including without limitation a flat fee per round of play, a percentage of wagers made with or without a cap, rental of a player “seat,” or otherwise as is known in the gaming art. All such compensation may be generally referred to as a commission.
  • All or portions of the second pot are distributed when there is a qualifying event, as indicated by operation 212. In embodiments where the second pot is a progressive pot, at least a portion of the second pot may be awarded to at least one player when a predetermined non-premium winning hand combination is dealt, as indicated at operation 214, or when a premium winning hand composition is dealt, as indicated at operation 216. The second pot may not be awarded at the end of each round of play, but may grow during each successive round in which no player is dealt a premium winning hand combination. Awarding the second pot or a portion of the second pot may comprise crediting a player account with funds from the second pot or may comprise distributing physical money or physical representations of money from the pot to the player. In some embodiments involving a no-house-advantage first pot awarded at the end of each round and a progressive second pot that receives all other game bets, all players participating in the wagering game who have made the second pot wager may be eligible to win the second pot or a portion of the second pot. Players who are ineligible to win the first pot, and players who have folded but still have one or more other active bets in play, may be eligible to win the second pot or a portion of the second pot.
  • A predetermined winning hand combination may comprise, for example, four of a kind, a full house, a flush, a straight, three of a kind, two pair, or one pair. The hands qualifying as new winning hand combinations may be predetermined at the beginning of each round of play in some embodiments. In other embodiments, new winning hand combinations may be predetermined at the beginning of play and may remain fixed until at least one player achieves a predetermined winning hand combination, at which time new winning hand combinations may be predetermined. In still other embodiments, the hand combinations qualifying as winning hand combinations may be predetermined at the outset of the wagering game and remain fixed for the duration of the wagering game. The hands qualifying as winning hand combinations may be predetermined at random from a list of possible winning hand combinations, from among a schedule with a fixed rotation of possible winning hand combinations, or using a fixed table of winning hand combinations.
  • A premium winning hand composition may comprise, for example, four of a kind, a straight flush, a royal flush or a royal flush of a certain suit. The hand compositions qualifying as premium winning hand compositions may remain fixed throughout the duration of the wagering game or may change during the wagering game. For example, after a player has achieved a premium winning hand composition, the hand compositions qualifying as premium winning hand compositions may be made more restrictive or less restrictive. As a specific, nonlimiting example, after a player has achieved a straight flush, the hand compositions qualifying as premium winning hand compositions may be restricted to royal flushes or may be expanded to include four of a kind. The hands qualifying as premium winning hand compositions may be predetermined at random from a list of possible premium winning hand compositions, following a schedule with a fixed rotation of possible premium winning hand compositions, or according to a fixed table of premium winning hand compositions.
  • In embodiments where the second pot is a progressive pot, the amount awarded from the second pot for achieving a premium winning hand composition may be a progressive payout at least as great as a maximum progressive payout for achieving a predetermined winning hand composition. For example, the entire second pot may be awarded when a player or multiple players are dealt a premium winning hand composition, and only a portion of the second pot may be awarded when a player or multiple players are dealt a predetermined winning hand combination.
  • In embodiments, the qualifying event at operation 212 is based on a predetermined event that is not based on hand composition. In embodiments where the amount of the second pot is adjusted using a dividend refund method, the second pot, less the rake, may be distributed among the players upon the occurrence of a predetermined event. The predetermined event may not be based, for example, on player skill or chance events occurring in the underlying wagering game. The predetermined event may comprise, for example, the expiration of a time limit or the amount of the pot reaching a certain threshold amount. The pot, which has already been raked, less a minimum seed amount is divided pro-rata between players who are currently participating, to players who contributed to the pot, or to players according to another distribution method. The distribution can take the form of a debit to a player account, and the distribution does not take place as part of a game play event. Players may receive dividend refunds on play conducted on a live gaming table, on a game administered by an electronic gaming machine, or remote gaming device.
  • In some embodiments, the dividend distributions may not be paid to players who have not contributed to the second pot since the last dividend distribution was paid. The percentage of the second pot, less the rake, paid to each player as a dividend distribution may be, for example, approximately equal to the percentage of hands won by each player, the percentage of first pot winnings won by each player, the percentage of total amounts wagered by each player, the proportional number of wagers made by each player, the proportional length of time spent playing the wagering game by each player, or an equal percentage for each player eligible to receive a dividend distribution from the second pot.
  • Alternatively, the second pot and/or any other pots may be distributed (wholly or partially) in response to a predetermined event or condition. The predetermined event or condition may be time-based, pot-based (or pool-based), game-based, or other. Further details on pot distributions based on predetermined events and conditions are disclosed in the U.S. patent application Ser. No. 13/871,824, filed Apr. 26, 2013, and titled “Distributing Supplemental Pot in Wagering Games Based on Predetermined Event,” the disclosure of which is incorporated herein in its entirety by this reference.
  • In some embodiments, the second pot may be seeded with money from the rake account or reserve account at the beginning of play, after the second pot or a portion of the second pot has been awarded, or both. For example, the second pot may be seeded from the rake account of the house, and the house may maintain an amount of funds in the rake account sufficient to significantly reduce (e.g., to essentially eliminate) the likelihood that any payouts made from the rake account and any seeding amounts withdrawn from the rake account exhaust or overdraw the rake account. In some embodiments, a casino reserve account may be provided to fill the rake account in the event of an overdraw. Such seeding may incentivize players to participate in the wagering game, and specifically to place the second wager to be eligible for the second pot. In addition, such seeding may reduce the likelihood that the amount of funds in the second pot may be insufficient to cover all the payouts to players. For example, where a player achieves a premium winning hand composition in one round of play, a player achieves a predetermined winning hand combination in the immediately following round of play, and a fixed odds payout is to be awarded to the player holding the predetermined winning hand combination, the amount seeded to the second pot between those rounds of play may be at least as great as the maximum fixed odds payout awardable for any predetermined winning hand combination. The second pot may be seeded each time the second pot is awarded in its entirety or each time the amount in the second pot is lower than the maximum fixed odds payout.
  • As a specific, nonlimiting example, a player-banked wagering game may comprise receiving an ante bet and additional side bet from a plurality of players. The additional side bet is added to a first poker pot that is not raked, having no house advantage, and being completely distributed to the players after each round. The ante bet and any subsequent play bets may be added to a second game pot having a progressive payout for achieving a predetermined rank, such as a rank listed on a pay table as described above. After placing the ante bet and optionally an additional side bet, the game is played as described above. Additional bets in the hand are added to the second pot. After completing the hand, the first pot is awarded to the player remaining in the hand with the highest hand. The second pot is a progressive pot and awards a hand that matches a pay table.
  • As another specific, nonlimiting example, a player-banked wagering game may comprise receiving an ante bet and additional side bet from a plurality of players. The additional side bet is added to a first pot that is not raked, having no house advantage, and being completely distributed to the players after each round. The ante bet and any play bets are added to a second pot having a dividend payout for reaching a predetermined event. After placing the ante bet and additional side bet, the player play of a game round is provided as described above. Any additional bets are added to the second pot. After completing the hand, the first pot is awarded to the player remaining in the hand with the highest hand. The second pot is a progressive pot and awards a distribution from the second pot based on a predetermined event. The predetermined event may be selected from the group consisting of participating for a predetermined number of hands, completing a predetermined number of rounds, reaching a predetermined time limit, or reaching a predetermined amount in the second pot.
  • In some embodiments, wagering games may be played without risking money in connection with the wagers (i.e., “play-for-fun” games). Access to play-for-fun wagering games may be granted on a time period basis in some embodiments. For example, upon initially joining the wagering game, each player may automatically be given wagering elements, such as, for example, chips, points, or simulated currency, that is of no redeemable value. After joining, the player may be free to place bets using the wagering elements and a timer may track how long the player has been participating in the wagering game. If the player exhausts his or her supply of the wagering elements before a predetermined period of time has expired, the player may simply wait until the period of time passes to rejoin the game and receive another quantity of the wagering elements to resume participation in the wagering game.
  • In some embodiments, a hierarchy of players may determine the quantity of wagering elements given to a player for each predetermined period of time. For example, players who have been participating in the wagering game for a longer time, who have played closest to optimal strategy for the game, who have won the largest percentage of wagers, or who have won the largest quantities of wagering elements from their wagers may be given more wagering elements for each allotment of time than players who have newly joined, who have played according to poor strategy, who have lost more frequently, or who have lost larger quantities of wagering elements. In some embodiments, the hierarchy of players may determine the duration of each allotment of time. For example, players who have been participating in the wagering game for a longer time, who have played closest to optimal strategy for the game, who have won the largest percentage of wagers, or who have won the largest quantities of wagering elements from their wagers may be given shorter allotments of times to wait after exhausting their supply of wagering elements than players who have newly joined, who have played according to poor strategy, who have lost more frequently, or who have lost larger quantities of wagering elements. In some embodiments, players who have not run out of wagering elements after the period of time has expired may have the balance of their wagering elements reset for a subsequent allotment of time. In other embodiments, players who have not run out of wagering elements may retain their remaining wagering elements for subsequent allotments of time, and may receive additional wagering elements corresponding to the new allotment of time to further increase the balance of wagering elements at their disposal. Players may be assigned to different categories of players, which determine the number of wagering elements awarded. In a given period of time, higher level players, or players who have invested more time playing the game may earn more wagering elements per unit of time than a player assigned to a lower level group.
  • In some embodiments, a player may be permitted to redeem an access token of no redeemable face value, such as, for example, points associated with a player account (e.g., social media account credits, online points associated with a transacting account, etc.), to compress the period of time and receive more wagering elements. The access tokens may be purchased or may be obtained without directly exchanging money for the access tokens. For example, access tokens may be acquired by participating in member events (e.g., completing surveys, receiving training on how to play the wagering game, sharing information about the wagering game with others), spending time participating in the wagering game or in a player account forum (e.g., logged in to a social media account), or viewing advertising. Thus, an entity administering play-for-fun wagering games may not receive money from losing player wagers or may not take a rake on wagers, but may receive compensation through advertising revenue or through the purchase of access tokens redeemable for time compressions to continue play of the wagering game or simply to increase the quantity of wagering elements available to a player.
  • After a player has stopped participating in a play-for-fun wagering game, any remaining quantities of the wagering elements may be relinquished by the player in some embodiments. For example, logging out of a play-for-fun wagering game administered over the Internet may cause any remaining wagering elements associated with a respective player to be lost. Thus, when the player rejoins the play-for-fun wagering game, the quantity of wagering elements given to the player for an allotment of time may not bear any relationship to the quantity of wagering elements held by the player when he or she quit playing a previous session of the wagering game. In other embodiments, the quantity of wagering elements held by a player when stopping participation may be retained and made available to the player, along with any additional quantities of wagering elements granted for new allotments of time, when rejoining the wagering game.
  • Referring to FIG. 5, an example of an individual electronic gaming device 300 configured for implementation of embodiments of wagering games according to the present disclosure is shown. The individual electronic gaming device 300 may include an individual player position 314 that includes a player input area 332 for a player to interact with the individual electronic gaming device 300 through various input devices (not shown). The electronic gaming device 300 may include a gaming screen 374 configured to display indicia for interacting with the individual electronic gaming device 300, such as through processing one or more programs stored in memory 340 to implement the rules of game play at the individual electronic gaming device 300. Accordingly, game play may be accommodated without involving physical playing cards, poker chips, and/or live personnel. The action may instead be simulated by a control processor 350 operably coupled to the memory 340 and interacting with and controlling the individual electronic gaming device 300. Although the figure has an outline of a traditional gaming cabinet, gaming device 300 may be implemented in any number of ways, including but not limited to client software downloaded to a portable device, such as a smart phone, tablet, or laptop personal computer. Gaming device 300 may also be a non-portable personal computer (e.g., a desktop or all-in-one computer) or other computing device. In some embodiments, client software is not downloaded but is native to the device, or otherwise delivered with the device when received by a player.
  • A communication device 360 may be included and operably coupled to the processor such that information related operation of the gaming device 300, information related to the game play, or combinations thereof may be communicated between the gaming device 300 and other devices (not shown) through a suitable communication media, such, as, for example, wired networks, Wi-Fi networks, and cellular communication networks.
  • The gaming screen 374 may be carried by a generally vertically extending cabinet 376 of the individual electronic gaming device 300. The individual electronic gaming device 300 may further include banners (not shown) configured to communicate rules of game play and/or the like, such as along a top portion 378 of the cabinet 376 of the gaming device 300. The individual electronic gaming device 300 may further include additional decorative lights (not shown), and speakers (not shown) for transmitting and/or receiving sounds during game play. Further detail of an example of an individual electronic gaming device (as well as other embodiments of tables and devices) is disclosed in U.S. patent application Ser. No. 13/215,156, filed Aug. 22, 2011, and titled “Methods of Managing Play of Wagering Games and Systems for Managing Play of Wagering Games,” the disclosure of which is incorporated herein in its entirety by this reference.
  • Some embodiments may be implemented at locations that include a plurality of player stations. Such player stations may include an electronic display screen for display of game information, such as displaying virtual cards, virtual chips, and game instructions, and for accepting wagers and facilitating credit balance adjustments. Such player stations may, optionally, be integrated in a table format, may be distributed throughout a casino or other gaming site, or may include both grouped and distributed player stations. While some features may be automated through electronic interfaces (e.g., virtual cards, virtual chips, etc.), some features may remain in the physical domain. As such, the game play may be administered by a live dealer, a virtual dealer, or a combination of both.
  • Referring to FIG. 6, an example of a suitable table 400 configured for implementation of embodiments of wagering games according to the present disclosure is shown. The table 400 may include a playing surface 404. The table 400 may include a plurality of player stations 412 a through 412 g. Each player station 412 a through 412 g may include a player interface 416 a through 416 g, which may be used for displaying game information (e.g., game instructions, input options, wager information including virtual chips, game outcomes, etc.). The player interface 416 a through 416 g may include a display screen in the form of a touch screen, which may be at least substantially flush with the playing surface 404 in some embodiments. Each player interface 416 a through 416 g may be coupled respectively with its own local game processor 414 a through 414 g (shown in dashed lines), although in some embodiments, a central game processor 428 (shown in dashed lines) may be employed and communicate directly to player interfaces 416 a through 416 g. In some embodiments, a combination of individual local game processors 414 a through 414 g and a central game processor 428 may be employed.
  • A communication device 460 may be included and operably coupled to one or more of the local processors 414, the central game processor 428, or combinations thereof, such that information related operation of the table 400, information related to the game play, or combinations thereof may be communicated between the table 400 and other devices (not shown) through a suitable communication media, such, as, for example, wired networks, Wi-Fi networks, and cellular communication networks.
  • The table 400 may further include additional features, such as a dealer chip tray 420, which may be used by the dealer to cash players in and out of the wagering game, whereas wagers and balance adjustments during game play may be performed using virtual chips. For embodiments using physical cards 406 a and 406 b, the table 400 may further include a card handling device 422 that may be configured to shuffle, read, and deliver physical cards for the dealer and players to use during game play or, alternatively, a card shoe configured to read and deliver cards that have already been randomized. For embodiments using virtual cards, such virtual cards may be displayed at the individual player interfaces 416 a through 416 g. Common virtual cards may be displayed in a common card area (not shown).
  • The table 400 may further include a dealer interface 418, which, like the player interfaces 414 a through 414 g, may include touch screen controls for assisting the dealer in administering the wagering game. The table 400 may further include an upright display 430 configured to display images that depict game information such as pay tables, hand counts, historical win/loss information by player, and a wide variety of other information considered useful to the players. The upright display 430 may be double sided to provide such information to players as well as to the casino pit.
  • Further detail of an example of a table and player displays is disclosed in U.S. Patent Application Pub. No. 2010/0016050, filed Jul. 15, 2008, and titled “Split Screen on a Chipless Gaming Table,” the disclosure of which is incorporated herein in its entirety by this reference. Although an embodiment is described showing individual discrete player stations, in some embodiments, the entire playing surface 404 may be an electronic display that is logically partitioned to permit game play from a plurality of players for receiving inputs from, and displaying game information to, the players, the dealer, or both.
  • Referring to FIG. 7, another example of a suitable table 500 configured for implementation of embodiments of wagering games having a virtual dealer according to the present disclosure is shown. The table 500 may include player positions 514 a through 514 e that are arranged in a bank about an arcuate edge 520 of a video device 558 that may comprise a card screen 564 and a dealer screen 560. The dealer screen 560 may display a video simulation of the dealer (i.e., a virtual dealer) for interacting with the video device 558, such as through processing one or more stored programs stored in memory 595 to implement the rules of game play at the video device 558. The dealer screen 560 may be carried by a generally vertically extending cabinet 562 of the video device 558. The card screen 564 may be configured to display at least one or more of the dealer's cards, community cards, and/or player's cards by the virtual dealer on the dealer screen 560 (virtual dealer not shown in FIG. 7).
  • Each of the player positions 514 a through 514 e may include a player interface area 532 a through 532 e, which is configured for wagering and game play interactions with the video device 558 and/or virtual dealer. Accordingly, game play may be accommodated without involving physical playing cards, poker chips, and/or live personnel. The action may instead be simulated by a control processor 597 interacting with and controlling the video device 558. The control processor 597 may be located internally within, or otherwise proximate to, the video device 558. The control processor 597 may be programmed, by known techniques, to implement the rules of game play at the video device 558. As such, the control processor 597 may interact and communicate with display/input interfaces and data entry inputs for each player interface area 532 a through 532 e of the video device 558. Other embodiments of tables and gaming devices may include a control processor that may be similarly adapted to the specific configuration of its associated device.
  • A communication device 599 may be included and operably coupled to the control processor 597 such that information related operation of the table 500, information related to the game play, or combinations thereof may be communicated between the table 500 and other devices (not shown) through a suitable communication media, such, as, for example, wired networks, Wi-Fi networks, and cellular communication networks.
  • The video device 558 may further include banners (not shown) configured to communicate rules of play and/or the like, which may be located along one or more walls 570 of the cabinet 562. The video device 558 may further include additional decorative lights (not shown) and speakers (not shown), which may be located on an underside surface 566, for example, of a generally horizontally depending top 568 of the cabinet 562 of the video device 558 generally extending toward the player positions 514 a through 514 e.
  • Further detail of an example of a table and player displays is disclosed in U.S. Patent Application Pub. No. 2005/0164762, filed Jan. 26, 2004, and titled “Automated Multiplayer Game table with Unique Image Feed of Dealer,” the disclosure of which is incorporated herein in its entirety by this reference. Although an embodiment is described showing individual discrete player stations, in some embodiments, the entire playing surface (e.g., player interface areas 532 a through 532 e, card display 564, etc.) may be an electronic display that is logically partitioned to permit game play from a plurality of players for receiving inputs from, and displaying game information to, the players, the dealer, or both.
  • Wagering games in accordance with embodiments of the disclosure may be administered over the Internet, or otherwise online, in one embodiment using a gaming system employing a client server architecture. Referring to FIG. 8, a schematic block diagram of a gaming system 600 for implementing wagering games according to an embodiment is shown. The gaming system 600 enables end users to access proprietary and/or non-proprietary game content. Such game content may include, without limitation, various types of wagering games such as card games, dice games, big wheel games, roulette, scratch off games (“scratchers”), and any other wagering game where the game outcome is determined, in whole or in part, by one or more random events. This includes, but is not be limited to, Class II and Class III games as defined under 25 U.S.C. §2701 et seq. (“Indian Gaming Regulatory Act”). Such games may include banked and/or non-banked games.
  • The wagering games supported by the gaming system 600 may be operated with real currency or with virtual credits or other virtual (e.g., electronic) value indicia. For example, the real currency option may be used with traditional casino and lottery-type wagering games in which money or other items of value are wagered and may be cashed out at the end of a game session. The virtual credits option may be used with wagering games in which credits (or other symbols) may be issued to a player to be used for the wagers. A player may be credited with credits in any way allowed, including, but not limited to, a player purchasing credits, being awarded credits as part of a contest or a win event in this or another game (including non-wagering games), being awarded credits as a reward for use of a product, casino or other enterprise, time played in one session, games played, or may be as simple as virtual credits upon logging in at a particular time or with a particular frequency, etc. Although credits may be won or lost, the ability of the player to cash out credits may be controlled or prevented. In one example, credits acquired (e.g., purchased or awarded) for use in a play-for-fun game may be limited to non-monetary redemption items, awards, or credits usable in the future or for another game or gaming session. The same credit redemption restrictions may be applied to some or all of credits won in a wagering game as well.
  • An additional variation includes web-based sites having both play-for-fun and wagering games, including issuance of free (non-monetary) credits usable to play the play-for-fun games. This may attract players to the site and to the games before they engage in wagering. In some embodiments, a limited number of free or promotional credits may be issued to entice players to play the games. Another method of issuing credits includes free credits in exchange for identifying friends who may want to play. In another embodiment, additional credits may be issued after a period of time has elapsed to encourage the player to resume playing the game. The system may enable players to buy additional game credits to allow the player to resume play. Objects of value may be awarded to play-for-fun players, which may or may not be in a direct exchange for credits. For example, a prize may be awarded or won for a highest scoring play-for-fun player during a defined time interval. All variations of credit redemption are contemplated, as desired by game designers and game hosts (the person or entity controlling the hosting systems).
  • The gaming system 600 may include a gaming platform that establishes a portal for an end user to access a wagering game hosted by a game server 606 through a user interaction server 602. The user device 620 may communicate with a user interaction server 602 of the gaming system 600 using a network 630 (e.g., the Internet). The user interaction server 602 may communicate with the game server 606 and provide game information to the user. In some embodiments, the game server 606 may also be a game engine. In some embodiments, a single user device communicates with a game provided by the game server 606, while other embodiments may include a plurality of user devices 620 configured to communicate and provide end users with access to the same game provided by the game server 606. In addition, a plurality of end users may access a single user interaction server 602, or a plurality of user interaction servers 602, to access game server 606.
  • The user interaction server 602 may communicate with the user device 620 to enable access to the gaming system 600. The user interaction server 602 may enable a user to create and access a user account and interact with gaming server 606. The user interaction server 602 may enable users to initiate new games, join existing games, and interface with games being played by the user.
  • The user interaction server 602 may also provide a client 622 for execution on the user device 620 for accessing the gaming system 600. The client 622 provided by the gaming system 600 for execution on the user device 620 can comprise a variety of implementations according to the user device 620 and method of communication with the gaming system 600. In one embodiment, the user device 620 connects to the gaming system 600 using a web browser and the client 622 executes within a browser window or frame of the web browser. In another embodiment, the client 622 is a stand-alone executable on the user device 620.
  • In one embodiment, the client 622 may comprise a relatively small amount of script (e.g., JavaScript®), also referred to as a “script driver,” including scripting language that controls an interface of the client 622. The script driver may include simple function calls requesting information from the gaming system 600. In other words, the script driver stored in the client 622 may merely include calls to functions that are externally defined by, and executed by, the gaming system 600. As a result, the client 622 may be characterized as a “thin client.” As that term is used herein, the client 622 may be little more than a script player. The client 622 may simply send requests to the gaming system 600 rather than performing logic itself. The client 622 receives player inputs and the player inputs are passed to gaming system 600 for processing and executing the wagering game. In one embodiment, this includes providing specific graphical display information to client 622, as well as game outcomes.
  • In other embodiments, the client 622 comprises an executable file rather than a script. In that case, client 622 may do more local processing than does a script driver, such as calculating where to show what game symbols upon receiving a game outcome from game server 606 through user interaction server 602. In one embodiment, it may be that portions of asset server 604 are loaded onto the client 622, and used by the client 622 in processing and updating graphical displays. Due to security and integrity concerns, most embodiments will have the bulk of the processing of the game play performed in the gaming system 600. However, some embodiments may include significant game processing by client 622 when the client and user device 620 are considered trustworthy or when there is reduced concern for security and integrity in the displayed game outcome. In most embodiments, it is expected that some form of data protection, such as end-to-end encryption, will be used when data is transported over network 630. Network 630 may be any network, including, but not limited to, the Internet.
  • In an embodiment where the client 622 implements further logic and game control methodology beyond a thin client, the client 622 may parse and define player interactions prior to passing the player interactions to the gaming system 600. Likewise, when the client 622 receives a gaming interaction from the gaming system 600, the client 622 may be configured to determine how to modify the display as a result of the gaming interaction. The client 622 may also allow the player to change a perspective or otherwise interact with elements of the display which do not change aspects of the game.
  • In one form of the invention, the client 622 is part of an online casino that enables game play on gaming system 600 by players playing on a user device 620. The client 622 provides a portal to the gaming system 600 and the player may not be aware that a game that is being played on the online casino is being administered by the gaming system 600. In other embodiments, the gaming system 600 is an integral part of the online casino. In other embodiments, the gaming system 600 is operated by a different entity than the entity that operates the online casino.
  • The gaming system 600 may include an asset server 604, which may host various media assets (e.g., audio, video, and image files) that may be sent to the client 622 for presenting the various wagering games to the end user. In other words, in this embodiment the assets presented to the end user may be stored separately from the client 622. In one embodiment, the client 622 requests the assets appropriate for the game played by the user; in other embodiments, especially those using thin clients, just those assets that are needed for a particular display event will be sent by game server 600 when the game server 600 determines they are needed, including as few as one asset. In one example, the client 622 may call a function defined at the user interaction server 602 or asset server 604, which may determine which assets are to be delivered to the client 622 as well as how the assets are to be presented by the client 622 to the end user. Different assets may correspond to the various clients that may have access to the game server 606 or to different games to be played.
  • The game server 606 is configured to perform game play methods and determine game play outcomes that are provided to the user interaction server 602 to be transmitted to user device 620 for display on the end user's computer. For example, the game server 606 may include game rules for one or more wagering games, such that the game server 606 controls some or all of the game flow for a selected wagering game, as well as determining game outcomes. Game server 606 may include pay tables and other game logic. The game server 606 also performs random number generation for determining random game elements of the wagering game. In one embodiment, the game server 606 is separated from the user interaction server 602 by a firewall or other method of preventing unauthorized access to the game server 606 from the general members of the network 630.
  • The user device 620 may present a gaming interface to the player and communicate the user interaction to the gaming system 600. The user device 620 may be any electronic system capable of displaying gaming information, receiving user input, and communicating the user input to the gaming system 600. As such, the user device 620 can be a desktop computer, a laptop, a tablet computer, a set-top box, a mobile device, including, but not limited to, smart phones, a kiosk, a terminal, or another computing device. The user device 620 may operate the client. When the user device operates the client 622, the user device may comprise an interactive electronic gaming system 300 (see FIG. 5), as described above. The client 622 may be a specialized application or may be executed within a generalized application capable of interpreting instructions from the interactive gaming system 600, such as a web browser.
  • The client 622 may interface with an end user through a web page, or an application that runs on a device, including, but not limited to, a smartphone, a tablet, or a general computer, or be any other computer program configurable to access the gaming system 600. The client 622 may be illustrated within a casino webpage (or other interface) indicating that the client 622 is embedded into a webpage, which is supported by a web browser executing on the user device 620.
  • In one embodiment, the gaming system 600 may be operated by different entities. The user device 620 and/or device housing the client 622 may be operated by a third party, such as a casino or an individual, that links to the gaming system 600, which may be operated, for example, by a wagering game service provider. Therefore, in some embodiments, the user device 620 and client 622 may be operated by a different administrator than the operator of the game server 606. In other words, the user device 620 may be part of a third-party system that does not administer or otherwise control the gaming system 600 or game server 606. In another embodiment, the user interaction server 602 and asset server 604 are provided by a third-party system. For example, a gaming entity (e.g., a casino) may operate the user interaction server 602 or user device 620 to provide its customers access to game content managed by a different entity, which may control game server 606, amongst other functionality. In some embodiments, these functions are operated by the same administrator. For example, a gaming entity (e.g., a casino) may elect to perform each of these functions in-house, such as providing both the access to the user device 620 and the actual game content and providing administration of the gaming system 600.
  • The gaming system 600 may communicate with one or more external account servers 610, optionally through another firewall. For example, the gaming system 600 itself may not directly accept wagers or issue payouts. That is, the gaming system 600 may facilitate online casino gaming, but may not be part of a self-contained online casino itself. Instead, the gaming system 600 may facilitate the play of wagering games owned and controlled by a company offering games and gaming products and services, such as SHFL entertainment, Inc. Another entity (e.g., a casino or any account holder or financial system of record) may operate and maintain its external account servers 610 to accept bets and make payout distributions. The gaming system 600 may communicate with the account servers 610 to verify the existence of funds for wagering, and instruct the account server 610 to execute debits and credits.
  • In some embodiments, the gaming system 600 may directly accept bets and make payout distributions, such as in the case where an administrator of the gaming system 600 operates as a casino. As discussed above, the gaming system 600 may be integrated within the operations of a casino rather than separating out functionality (e.g., game content, game play, credits, debits, etc.) among different entities. In addition, for play-for-fun wagering games, the gaming system 600 may issue credits, take bets, and manage the balance of the credits according to the game outcomes, but may not permit payout distributions or be linked to an account server 610 that permits payout distributions. Such credits may be issued for free, through purchase, or for other reasons, without the ability for the player to cash out. Such play-for-fun wagering games may be played on platforms that do not permit traditional gambling, such as to comply with jurisdictions that do not permit online gambling.
  • The gaming system 600 may be configured in many ways, from a fully integrated single system to a distributed server architecture. The asset server 604, user interaction server 602, game server 606, and account server 610 may be configured as a single, integrated system of code modules running on a single server or machine, where each of the servers is functionally implemented on a single machine. In such a case, the functionality described herein may not be implemented as separate code modules. The asset server 604, user interaction server 602, game server 606, and account server 610 may also be implemented as a plurality of independent servers, each using its own code modules running on a separate physical machine, and may further include one or more firewalls between selected servers (depending on security needs). Each server could communicate over some kind of networked connection, potentially as varied as that described for network 630. Further, each single server shown in FIG. 8 may be implemented as a plurality of servers with load balancing and scalability factors built into the embodiment. All such embodiments and variations are fully contemplated.
  • Additional features may be supported by the game server 606, such as hacking and cheating detection, data storage and archival, metrics generation, messages generation, output formatting for different end user devices, as well as other features and operations. For example, the gaming system 600 may include additional features and configurations as described in U.S. patent application Ser. No. 13/353,194, filed Jan. 18, 2012, and application Ser. No. 13/609,031, filed Sep. 10, 2012 both titled “Network Gaming Architecture, Gaming Systems, and Related Methods,” the disclosures of which are incorporated herein in their entirety by this reference.
  • The network 630 may enable communications between the user device 620 and the gaming system 600. A network (not shown) may also connect the gaming system 600 and account server 610, and, further, one or more networks (not shown) may interconnect one or more of the other servers shown collectively as game system 600. In one embodiment, the network 630 uses standard communications technologies and/or protocols. Thus, the network 630 can include links using technologies such as Ethernet, 802.11, worldwide interoperability for microwave access (WiMAX), 3G, digital subscriber line (DSL), asynchronous transfer mode (ATM), InfiniBand®, PCI Express Advanced Switching, etc. Similarly, the networking protocols used on the network 630 can include multiprotocol label switching (MPLS), the transmission control protocol/Internet protocol (TCP/IP), the User Datagram Protocol (UDP), the hypertext transport protocol (HTTP), the simple mail transfer protocol (SMTP), the file transfer protocol (FTP), etc. The data exchanged over the network 630 can be represented using technologies and/or formats including the hypertext markup language (HTML), the extensible markup language (XML), etc. In addition, all or some of the links can be encrypted using conventional encryption technologies such as secure sockets layer (SSL), transport layer security (TLS), virtual private networks (VPNs), Internet Protocol security (IPsec), etc. In another embodiment, the entities can use custom and/or dedicated data communications technologies instead of, or in addition to, the ones described above. Depending upon the embodiment, the network 630 can include links comprising one or more networks such as the Internet.
  • FIG. 9 is a schematic block diagram of a gaming system for implementing embodiments of wagering games including a live dealer feed. Features of the gaming system 600 as described above are generally implemented by this embodiment, except as further described. In this embodiment, rather than cards being determined by a computerized random process, cards are dealt by a dealer 650 at a table 640 from a card handling system 660. A table manager 648 assists the dealer 650 in facilitating play of the game by transmitting a video feed of the dealer's actions to the user device 620 and transmitting player elections to the dealer 650. As described above, the table manager 648 communicates with a gaming system 600 to provide gaming at table 640 to users of the gaming system 600. Thus, the table manager 648 communicates with the user device 620 through a network, and may be a part of a larger online casino, or may be operated as a separate system that facilitates game play. In various embodiments, each table 640 is managed by an individual table manager 648 constituting a gaming device, which receives and processes information relating to that table. For simplicity of description, these functions are described as being performed by the table manager 648, though certain functions may be performed by an intermediary gaming system 600. In some embodiments, the gaming system 600 may match players to tables 640 and facilitate transfer of information between user devices and gaming devices, such as wagering amounts and player action elections, but does not manage gameplay at individual tables. In other embodiments, functions of the table manager 648 are incorporated into a gaming system 600.
  • The table 640 includes a camera 670 and optionally a microphone 672 that capture video and audio feeds relating to the table 640. The camera 670 is trained on the dealer 650, play area 642, and card handling system 660. As the game is administered by the dealer 650, the player using the user device 620 is shown the video feed captured by the camera 670 and any audio captured by the microphone 672.
  • The card handling system 660 is typically a shuffling device, though the card handling system 660 may also be a shoe for dispensing cards. When the game play rules require cards to be dealt, the dealer 650 obtains card from the card handling system 660 and places the card in the appropriate location in a play area 642. The play area 642 depicts player positions and any applicable card locations for playing the same, such as shown in FIGS. 2 & 3. As determined by the rules of the game, the player at the user device 620 is presented options for responding to an event in the game using a client 622 as described with reference to FIG. 8.
  • The user device 620 presents the options to the player and permits the player to select an election from among the options. The election is transmitted to the table manager 648, which provides player elections to the dealer 650 using a dealer display 646 and player action indicator 644 on the table 640. The dealer display 646 and player action indicator 644 provide information to the dealer 650 regarding the game play and elections made by players. Using the dealer display 646, for example, the dealer 650 may obtain information regarding where to deal the next card, or which player position is responsible for the next action.
  • In one embodiment, the table manager 648 receives card information from the card handling system 660 describing cards dealt by the card handling system 660. The card handling system 660 may include a card reader that determines card information from the card. For example, the card handling system 660 may process an image of the card, or the card handling system 660 may include a barcode reader or other system for obtaining information regarding each card. The card information may include rank and suit of each dealt card, which is obtained by the card handling system 660 and transmitted to the table manager 648. The card handling system 660 may also dispense more than one card at once, or identify a set of cards dispensed together as a hand. One example card handling system 660 is described in U.S. Pat. No. 8,070,574, which is hereby incorporated by reference.
  • Using the card information, the table manager 648 identifies hands associated with each player and, when applicable, the dealer. The table manager 648 uses the card information and identified hands, along with the elected player decisions, to determine gameplay events and, using the rules of the game, determine wager results. Alternatively, the wager results are determined by the dealer 650 and input to the table manager 648, and may be used to confirm automatically determined results by the gaming system. Optionally, the card information relating to cards viewable by a player is also transmitted to the user device associated with the player, permitting representations of the cards to be displayed to the user in addition to the cards viewed in the play area 642.
  • The live video feed permits the dealer to show cards dealt by the card handling system and play the game as though the player were at a live casino. In addition, the dealer can prompt a user by announcing a player's election is to be performed. In embodiments where a microphone 672 is included, the dealer 650 can verbally announce action or request an election by a player. In some embodiments, the user device 620 also includes a camera or microphone, which also captures feeds to be shared with the dealer 650 and other players.
  • Referring to FIG. 10, a high-level block diagram of a computer system 740 for acting as a gaming system 600 (see FIGS. 8 & 9) according to one embodiment is shown. Illustrated are at least one processor 742 coupled to a chipset 744, as indicated in dashed lines. Also coupled to the chipset 744 are a memory 746, a storage device 748, a keyboard 750, a graphics adapter 752, a pointing device 754, and a network adapter 756. A display 758 is coupled to the graphics adapter 752. In one embodiment, the functionality of the chipset 744 is provided by a memory controller hub 760 and an I/O controller hub 762. In another embodiment, the memory 746 is coupled directly to the processor 742 instead of the chipset 744.
  • The storage device 748 is any non-transitory computer-readable storage medium, such as a hard drive, a compact disk read-only memory (CD-ROM), DVD, or a solid-state memory device (e.g., a flash drive). The memory 746 holds instructions and data used by the processor 742. The pointing device 754 may be a mouse, a track pad, a track ball, or other type of pointing device, and is used in combination with the keyboard 750 to input data into the computer system 740. The graphics adapter 752 displays images and other information on the display 758. The network adapter 756 couples the computer system 740 to a local or wide area network.
  • As is known in the art, a computer system 740 can have different and/or other components than those shown in FIG. 9. In addition, the computer system 740 can lack certain illustrated components. In one embodiment, a computer system 740 acting as a gaming system 700 lacks a keyboard 750, pointing device 754, graphics adapter 752, and/or display 758. Moreover, the storage device 748 can be local and/or remote from the computer system 740 (such as embodied within a storage area network (SAN)). Moreover, other input devices, such as, for example, touch screens may be included.
  • The network adapter 756 (may also be referred to herein as a communication device) may include one or more devices for communicating using one or more of the communication media and protocols discussed above with respect to FIG. 8.
  • In addition, some or all of the components of this general computer system 740 of FIG. 10 may be used as part of the processor and memory discussed above with respect to the systems of FIGS. 5, 6, and 7.
  • The gaming system 600 may comprise several such computer systems 740. The gaming system 600 may include load balancers, firewalls, and various other components for assisting the gaming system 600 to provide services to a variety of user devices.
  • As is known in the art, the computer system 740 is adapted to execute computer program modules for providing functionality described herein. As used herein, the term “module” refers to computer program logic utilized to provide the specified functionality. Thus, a module can be implemented in hardware, firmware, and/or software. In one embodiment, program modules are stored on the storage device 748, loaded into the memory 746, and executed by the processor 742.
  • Embodiments of the entities described herein can include other and/or different modules than the ones described here. In addition, the functionality attributed to the modules can be performed by other or different modules in other embodiments. Moreover, this description occasionally omits the term “module” for purposes of clarity and convenience.
  • Some portions of the disclosure are presented in terms of algorithms (e.g., as represented in flowcharts, prose descriptions, or both) and symbolic representations of operations on data bits within a computer memory. These algorithmic descriptions and representations are the means used by those skilled in the data processing arts to most effectively convey the substance of their work to others skilled in the art. An algorithm is here, and generally, conceived to be a self-consistent sequence of steps (instructions) leading to a desired result. The steps are those requiring physical manipulations of physical quantities. Usually, though not necessarily, these quantities take the form of electrical, magnetic, or optical signals capable of being stored, transferred, combined, compared, and otherwise manipulated. It is convenient at times, principally for reasons of common usage, to refer to these signals as bits, values, elements, symbols, characters, terms, numbers, or the like. Furthermore, it is also convenient at times to refer to certain arrangements of steps requiring physical manipulations or transformation of physical quantities or representations of physical quantities as modules or code devices, without loss of generality.
  • However, all of these and similar terms are to be associated with the appropriate physical quantities and are merely convenient labels applied to these quantities. Unless specifically stated otherwise as apparent from the following discussion, it is appreciated that throughout the description, discussions utilizing terms such as “processing,” “computing,” “calculating,” “determining,” “displaying,” “determining,” or the like, refer to the action and processes of a computer system, or similar electronic computing device (such as a specific computing machine), that manipulates and transforms data represented as physical (electronic) quantities within the computer system memories or registers or other such information storage, transmission or display devices.
  • Certain aspects of the embodiments include process steps and instructions described herein in the form of an algorithm. It should be noted that the process steps and instructions of the embodiments can be embodied in software, firmware, or hardware, and when embodied in software, could be downloaded to reside on and be operated from different platforms used by a variety of operating systems. The embodiments can also be in a computer program product, which can be executed on a computing system.
  • Some embodiments also relate to an apparatus for performing the operations herein. Such an apparatus may be specially constructed for the purposes, e.g., a specific computer, or it may comprise a general-purpose computer selectively activated or reconfigured by a computer program stored in the computer. Such a computer program may be stored in a computer-readable storage medium, such as, but is not limited to, any type of disk including floppy disks, optical disks, CD-ROMs, magnetic-optical disks, read-only memories (ROMs), random access memories (RAMs), EPROMs, EEPROMs, magnetic or optical cards, application specific integrated circuits (ASICs), or any type of media suitable for storing electronic instructions, and each coupled to a computer system bus. Memory can include any of the above and/or other devices that can store information/data/programs and can be a transient or non-transient medium, where a non-transient or non-transitory medium can include memory/storage that stores information for more than a minimal duration. Furthermore, the computers referred to in the specification may include a single processor or may be architectures employing multiple processor designs for increased computing capability.
  • The algorithms and displays presented herein are not inherently related to any particular computer or other apparatus. Various general-purpose systems may also be used with programs in accordance with the teachings herein, or it may prove convenient to construct more specialized apparatus to perform the method steps. The structure for a variety of these systems will appear from the description herein. In addition, the embodiments are not described with reference to any particular programming language. It will be appreciated that a variety of programming languages may be used to implement the teachings of the embodiments as described herein, and any references herein to specific languages are provided for the purposes of enablement and best mode.
  • While certain illustrative embodiments have been described in connection with the figures, those of ordinary skill in the art will recognize and appreciate that embodiments encompassed by the disclosure are not limited to those embodiments explicitly shown and described herein. Rather, many additions, deletions, and modifications to the embodiments described herein may be made without departing from the scope of embodiments encompassed by the disclosure, such as those hereinafter claimed, including legal equivalents. In addition, features from one disclosed embodiment may be combined with features of another disclosed embodiment while still being within the scope of the disclosure, as contemplated by the inventor.

Claims (22)

What is claimed:
1. A method of managing play of a wagering game by a processor in communication with a remote user device, comprising:
receiving, by a processor from the user device, an indication of a mandatory ante wager and a mandatory bonus wager associated with a player to participate in the wagering game;
determining, by the processor, a set of player hands, each player hand including five randomized playing cards from a set of playing cards;
providing, by the processor, a player hand to the user device for display on the associated user device;
determining, by the processor, a dealer hand including five randomized playing cards from the set of playing cards;
receiving, by a processor from the user device, an indication of a best four-card poker hand for a player;
determining, by the processor, a best four-card poker dealer hand using the dealer hand;
receiving, by the processor from the user device, a game play election option including one of a fold election and a play wager election, wherein an amount of the play wager is variable and equals the ante wager or, if the player hand rank exceeds a predetermined threshold ranking, the play wager optionally equals up to three times the ante wager;
resolving, by the processor, the ante and play wager by comparing the best four-card poker hand of the player to the best four-card poker hand of the dealer;
the processor enabling paying a payout on the ante when the player hand outranks the dealer hand; and
resolving the bonus wager by comparing the player poker hand ranking to a bonus threshold and resolving the bonus wager according to a bonus pay table.
2. The method of claim 1, wherein the ante wager is placed in wagering elements.
3. The method of claim 2, wherein the wagering elements are play-for-fun credits.
4. The method of claim 2, further comprising awarding a quantity of wagering elements to the set of players based on a hierarchy of players.
5. A method of managing play of a wagering game by a processor in communication with a remote user device, comprising:
receiving, by a processor from a remote user device, an indication of an ante wager and a bonus wager for a player playing on the user device to participate in the wagering game;
determining, by the processor, a player hand, each player hand including five randomized playing cards from a set of playing cards;
providing, by the processor, the player hand to the user device for display on the user device;
receiving an instruction from the user device to form a best four-card hand from the player hand;
providing, for display on the user device, the best four-card player hand;
receiving, by the processor from the user device a game play election option including at least one of a fold election and a play wager election, wherein an amount of the play wager is variable and equals the ante wager or, if the player hand rank exceeds a threshold ranking, the play wager optionally equals up to three times the ante wager;
adding, by the processor, the ante, bonus and play wagers to a game pot; and
resolving, by the processor, at least the ante and play wagers by awarding at least a portion of the game pot to the player when a player poker hand ranking exceeds a dealer poker hand ranking; and
resolving the bonus wager by comparing the player hand to a bonus threshold and resolving the bonus wager according to a bonus pay table.
6. The method of claim 5, and further comprising receiving, by the processor from the remote user device, an indicate of a poker wager, wherein all poker wagers are combined in a poker pot, and wherein the poker pot has no house advantage.
7. The method of claim 5, further comprising adding an additional bonus wager to the game pot, and awarding at least a portion of the game pot based on a predetermined event.
8. The method of claim 7, wherein a rake is collected from wagers combined in the game pot.
9. The method of claim 7, wherein the predetermined event is selected from the group consisting of a predetermined number of hands, a predetermined number of rounds, a predetermined time limit, and a predetermined amount in the second pot.
10. The method of claim 7, wherein the predetermined event is a player hand meeting a qualifying hand or better.
11. The method of claim 7, wherein the game pot is a progressive pot.
12. A system for managing play of a wagering game, comprising:
a communications interface communicating with a plurality of user devices, each user device corresponding to a different player;
a processor configured to execute instructions; and
a set of instructions stored on a non-volatile medium that when executed by the processor cause the processor to:
receive, from each user device, an indication of an ante wager and a bonus wager associated with a player to participate in the wagering game;
determine a player hand for each user device, each player hand including five randomized playing cards from a set of playing cards;
provide a player hand to each user device;
determine a dealer hand including five randomized playing cards from the set of playing cards;
receive, from each user device, an indication of a best four-card hand from a received five card player hand;
determine, a four-card poker dealer hand using the dealer hand;
receive, from each user device, a game play election option including a fold election or a play wager election, an amount of the play wager that is variable and equals the ante wager or, if the player hand rank exceeds a threshold ranking, the play wager optionally equals up to three times the ante wager;
resolve each ante and play wager by comparing the associated poker playing hand to the poker dealer hand; and
resolve each bonus wager by comparing the associated poker playing hand to a bonus threshold and resolving the bonus wager according to a bonus pay table.
13. The system of claim 12, wherein the ante wager is placed in wagering elements.
14. The system of claim 13, wherein the wagering elements are play-for-fun credits.
15. The system of claim 13, wherein the instructions further cause the processor to award a quantity of wagering elements to the set of players based on a hierarchy of players.
16. A system for managing play of a wagering game, comprising:
a communications interface communicating with a plurality of remote user devices, each operated by a different player;
a processor configured to execute instructions; and
a set of instructions stored on a non-volatile medium, that when executed by the processor cause the processor to:
receive, from each user device an indication of an ante wager and a bonus wager e
determine a set of player hands, each player hand including five randomized playing cards from a set of playing cards for each user device;
determine a dealer hand including five randomized playing cards from a set of playing cards;
provide each player hand to each user device;
receive, from each user device an indication of a best four-card poker hand from each five card poker hand;
receive, from each user device a game play option including a fold or a play wager that is variable and equals the ante wager or, if the player hand rank exceeds a threshold ranking, the play wager optionally equals up to three times the ante wager;
deliver, by the processor a best four card dealer hand from the five card dealer hand to each user device;
compare, by the processor a best four card hand of the dealer and of the player;
add, by the processor, the ante and play wagers to a game pot;
award, by the processor, at least a portion of the game pot to the player having a hand ranking that outranks a dealer hand ranking; and
resolve each bonus wager by comparing the associated poker playing hand to a bonus threshold and resolving the bonus wager according to a bonus pay table.
17. The system of claim 16, and further comprising the processor accepting a poker wager from a user device, wherein the poker wagers are combined into a poker pot and wherein the poker pot has no house advantage.
18. The system of claim 16, wherein the instructions further cause the processor to add an optional bonus wager to the game pot and award a portion of the game pot based on occurrence of a predetermined event.
19. The system of claim 18, wherein a rake is collected from the second pot.
20. The system of claim 18, wherein the predetermined event is selected from the group consisting of a predetermined number of hands, a predetermined number of rounds, a predetermined time limit, and a predetermined amount in the second pot.
21. The system of claim 18, wherein the predetermined event is a player hand meeting a qualifying hand or better.
22. The system of claim 18, wherein the game pot is a progressive pot.
US14/034,295 1994-07-22 2013-09-23 Four Card Poker Game with Variable Wager Abandoned US20160136511A9 (en)

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US10/152,325 US20020195775A1 (en) 1994-07-22 2002-05-20 Four card poker and associated games
US11/499,864 US20070024005A1 (en) 2002-05-20 2006-08-04 Four card poker game with variable wager
US13/631,812 US9849372B2 (en) 2012-09-28 2012-09-28 Method and apparatus for improving efficiency without increasing latency in emulation of a legacy application title
US14/034,295 US20160136511A9 (en) 2002-05-20 2013-09-23 Four Card Poker Game with Variable Wager

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US10357706B2 (en) 2019-07-23
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