WO2013095700A1 - System, method and apparatus for scaled multiplayer games - Google Patents

System, method and apparatus for scaled multiplayer games Download PDF

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Publication number
WO2013095700A1
WO2013095700A1 PCT/US2012/039223 US2012039223W WO2013095700A1 WO 2013095700 A1 WO2013095700 A1 WO 2013095700A1 US 2012039223 W US2012039223 W US 2012039223W WO 2013095700 A1 WO2013095700 A1 WO 2013095700A1
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WIPO (PCT)
Prior art keywords
player
game
players
limited
tokens
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PCT/US2012/039223
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French (fr)
Inventor
Tor Steve BOWEN
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Bowen Tor Steve
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Priority to US201161489209P priority Critical
Priority to US61/489,209 priority
Application filed by Bowen Tor Steve filed Critical Bowen Tor Steve
Publication of WO2013095700A1 publication Critical patent/WO2013095700A1/en

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Classifications

    • GPHYSICS
    • G07CHECKING-DEVICES
    • G07FCOIN-FREED OR LIKE APPARATUS
    • G07F17/00Coin-freed apparatus for hiring articles; Coin-freed facilities or services
    • G07F17/32Coin-freed apparatus for hiring articles; Coin-freed facilities or services for games, toys, sports or amusements, e.g. casino games, online gambling or betting
    • G07F17/326Game play aspects of gaming systems
    • G07F17/3272Games involving multiple players
    • G07F17/3276Games involving multiple players wherein the players compete, e.g. tournament
    • 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

A method, system and apparatus for delivering a massively multiplayer version of a limited-player game such as poker, with a limited deck. A communication and data servers system generates a set of common cards randomly for all players to share, and for each player a set of hole cards drawn from the remaining cards in the deck, but with replacement. The computer communicates the common cards and allocates winning to the player or players with the highest ranking hands. Extension of the method, system and apparatus to repeat the game until a predetermined number of winners are selected. Extension of the method, system and apparatus for use to pre-select players for a multi-phase tournament. Extension of the method, system and apparatus to provide a shared multi-player gaming experience for supporters in venues such as a concert hall or sporting event.

Description

UNITED STATES UTILITY PATENT APPLICATION

SYSTEM, METHOD AND

APPARATUS FOR SCALED MULTIPLAYER GAMES

INVENTOR: TOR STEVE BOWEN

Filed by Andrew Clifford Greenberg, U.S. PTO Reg # 38476 Attorney Docket Number SBowenPCTOl CROSS REFERENCE TO RELATED APPLICATIONS

[001] This application claims the benefit of U.S. Provisional Application No.

61/489209, filed March 23, 2011.

BACKGROUND OF THE INVENTION

[002] 1. TECHNICAL FIELD

[003] Embodiments of the invention described herein pertain to the field of multiplayer games. More particularly, but not by way of limitation, one or more embodiments of the invention enable a system, method and apparatus for scaling multiplayer games suited to a limited number of players into multiplayer games suitable for a much larger, potentially arbitrary number of players.

[004] 2. DESCRIPTION OF THE RELATED ART

[005] Related art includes many forms of limited multi-player gaming, ranging from card games dealt from a small deck to a small number players, to raffles from limited ticket books, and to door-prize awards given to members selected from a population present at a venue or stadium. Limited scale gaming provides varying degrees of interaction and entertainment, but does not readily scale to

accommodate arbitrary numbers of players. Scaling is desired, in cases, to provide highly leveraged prize pools having larger rewards than more limited gaming, and in others to facilitate interest in and among a large multiplayer gaming community, both for skilled and unskilled players.

[006] Where prize pools are shared among winners based upon the number of players, scaling serves to increase the leverage of the game. That is, a single value unit invested by each player in a 100-player-games shares in a 100-unit pool, while a single value unit invested by each player in a 100,000 player game shares in the larger 100,000 unit pool.

[007] For example, a multi-player card game, such as Poker, permits plural players to share a gaming experience at a table or on-line, but leverage is limited by the relatively small size of the deck in play or the size of the table as to the number of players that may play the hand. For example, a game of seven-card stud requires seven cards for each player, drawn from a fifty-two-card deck, limiting the number of players that can participate in the game.

[008] Related art for scaling a limited deck card game such as poker is accomplished in cases through multi-player tournaments. Typically, players are each given a predetermined number of chips to play, and play a sequence of hands of a poker game at a limited-size table in accordance with tournament rules. The player continues until all chips have been lost, until one player wins all of the chips in play. A player's standing is determined by the order in which the player was eliminated, and leverage is obtained by awarding prizes based upon the player's standing and the number of players.

[009] Tables are provided to accommodate the number of players, and are consolidated as the number of players remaining diminishes. A per-hand bring-in, blind and/or ante is established to encourage players not to wait until they have perfect hands and keep the game moving with, so-called, "action."

[0010] Since the average number of chips held by each player increases as players are eliminated, the bring-in, blind and/or ante must increase to maintain action. Prizes are awarded to a given percentage of players, often on a scaled basis so that the top 6 to 10 awards for the so-called "final table" are the largest and leveraged. The "tables" may be provided in physical form, such as at a casino, or in virtual form, such as an on-line "poker room."

[0011] Where multi-player tournaments provide prize leverage, varying with the number of players entering the tournament, players may have to play for many hours or days before determining if they receive even the lowest prizes (typically the last 10%), and much longer to determine whether a player is at the final table. While so-called Turbo events (faster growing bring-ins, blinds and antes) have been used to reduce the amount of time, the events become far more random and require more gambling as the bring-in, blind and ante grows large compared to the average stack size. This is less appealing to expert players, who must resort to gambling rather than to skill in order to stay ahead of antes, without significantly improving the appeal of the game to weakest players, who may enjoy a faster gambling experience requiring less skill to play.

[0012] Other related art includes raffles and related gaming arts. In these cases, a game is played among various players in a common community or at, for example, a sporting event, with winners selected as the result of a game of chance.

[0013] Related art permits some degree of scaling, but not while retaining desirable features such as interactivity, competition and the ability to assure a single winner in each case. For example, a modern "lotto"-style lottery game permits individual players to select a sequence of numbers from a massive space of possible sequences, rather than being awarded. A winner is selected by use of a random device to select a sequence, whereby a prize is awarded only if a player selected winning sequence, otherwise the prize pool is added to a jackpot.

[0014] While such jackpot drawing approach admits some leverage, there can be no assurance that a prize will be awarded in any play of the game, and precludes meaningful interactions between players competing for a prize, when ultimately awarded. Such detachment results in many players withdrawing from the game until a jackpot has reached a substantial size.

BRIEF SUMMARY OF THE INVENTION

[0015] One or more embodiments of this invention enable a system, method and apparatus for scaling multiplayer games suited to a limited number of players for a much larger, potentially arbitrary, number of players.

BRIEF DESCRIPTION OF THE DRAWINGS

[0016] The above and other aspects, features and advantages of the invention will be more apparent from the following more particular description thereof, presented in conjunction with the following drawings wherein:

[0017] FIG. 1 is a flowchart illustrating a method of the present invention for providing a massively multiplayer extension of a predetermined multi-player game.

[0018] FIG. 2 is a flowchart illustrating a method of the present invention for providing a massively multiplayer extension of a game of Texas Holder.

[0019] FIG. 3 is a schematic illustrating a virtual or physical gaming arena apparatus and system of the present invention for providing a massively multiplayer extension of a game of Texas Hold'em. [0020] FIG. 4 is a flowchart illustrating a method for conducting an improved multiplayer Texas Hold'em tournament for an arbitrarily large number of participants.

[0021] FIG. 5 is a flowchart illustrating a method for conducting a shared multiplayer gaming experience to provide a scaled raffle game.

DETAILED DESCRIPTION

[0022] A system, method and apparatus for scaling limited multiplayer games suited to a limited number of players for a much larger, potentially arbitrary, number of players will now be described. In the following exemplary description numerous specific details are set forth in order to provide a more thorough understanding of the invention. It will be apparent, however, to an artisan of ordinary skill that the present invention may be practiced without incorporating all aspects of the specific details described herein. In other instances, specific features, quantities or measurements well known to those of ordinary skill in the art that have not been described in detail so as not to obscure the invention.

[0023] As used in this specification and any claims that may thereafter be associated therewith, the singular forms "a," "an," and "the" include plural referents unless the context clearly dictates otherwise. Thus for example, reference to a player of a game may include one or more players.

[0024] It will be evident to a person of ordinary skill in the art that many strategy games drawing from a random source without replacement, other than those set forth herein, may be used in accordance with the invention to extend a strategy game to a massively multiplayer strategy game. [0025] As used herein, the term "cards" shall refer to any game unit representation that may be assigned to a player or shared among players. The term "common card" will be used for a shared card. The term "hand" for a player will be used for the cards assigned to that player.

[0026] As used herein, the term "deck" shall refer to any source of cards.

[0027] As used herein, the term "deal" shall mean the random selection of one or more cards drawn from a deck without replacement. As used herein, the term "deck" shall refer to any source of information containing a discrete set of units, referred to herein as "cards."

[0028] As the terms are used herein, a "deck," may, but need not, be dealt using a uniform probability distribution, as might be suitable for a deck of cards. Artisans of ordinary skill will note that cards may alternatively be drawn from a deck with such probability distributions and weightings as may suit the particular game that is extended herein.

[0029] By way of example, and without limitation, portions of a deal, as that term is used here, could be formed using a traditional deck of cards, dealt after shuffling in the traditional manner; a tile drawn from a bag after shaking the bag to induce randomness; a ball drawn from a bingo or lotto device designed to induce

randomness, or a computer data structure having discrete information, dealt by selecting units of information by use of a suitable random number generator having sufficient entry with respect to the conditions of the underlying game, or any other means by which a random selection of one or more game representations may be assigned to a player or players. [0030] It will be evident to a person of ordinary skill in the art that other strategy games drawing from a random source, without replacement, may be used in accordance with the invention to extend a strategy game to a massively multiplayer strategy game.

[0031] As used herein, the term "central processing unit refers to any data processing system of, in or available to the provider for managing games such as those set forth herein. The data connection(s) between units and an appropriate central processing unit may be wired or wireless, using any form, format or protocol understood by those in the art.

[0032] FIG. 1 illustrates the instant invention as a method for providing a massively multiplayer extension of a predetermined multi-player game having 999 players, 10001 through 10999. It will be understood by a person of ordinary skill in the art that this number is arbitrary and may be extended or reduced as it may suit the available audience for the game.

[0033] In a first deck preparation step 11000, a common deck 11010 is prepared for dealing for the multi-player game from which a number of common cards may be dealt in accordance with the rules of a predetermined multi-player game 11020; provided, however that the rules of the predetermined multi-player game 11020 are modified so that all common cards are drawn before any of the players 10001 through 10999 are dealt any cards.

[0034] In a second deck preparation step 12000, player decks 12001 through 12999 are prepared for each of the players 10000 through 10999, respectively, after removing each of the common cards 11010 from each separate deck 12001 through 12999.

[0035] In a hand preparation step 13000, each player 10001 through 10999 is dealt a hand 13000 through 13999, respectively. The hand 13001 through 13999 for each player 10001 through 10999 is respectively determined by dealing cards from separate decks 12001 through 12999, in accordance with the rules of the

predetermined multiplayer game 11020; provided, however, that rules of the predetermined multiplayer game 11020 are modified to permit plural players to have similar cards.

[0036] In a disclosure and investment step 14000, an investment 14001 through 10999 is determined by each of the players 10001 through 10999 and contributed to a prize pool 16010. In one variation, a non-player may provide the prize without contribution by the players 10001 through 10999. In another variation, the prize pool 16010 may comprise investments as well as non-player contributions.

[0037] In the disclosure and investment step 14000, disclosure is made of hands 13001 through 13999 to each of the players 10001 through 10999, respectively. In one variation, the entire player hand may be disclosed at once. In another variation, portions of the player hand and common cards may be disclosed in phases.

[0038] In one variation, investments 14001 through 14999 for players 10001 through 10999 may be pre-determined in accordance with the rules of the predetermined multiplayer game 11020. In another variation, investments 14001 through 14999 may be respectively adjusted by each of the players 10001 through 10999 before, between and after each phase of disclosure of the corresponding player's hand. In another variation, each of the players 10001 through 10999 may be given an opportunity to "fold," that is to quit the game in lieu of making further investments to the prize pool 16010.

[0039] In a showdown step 15000, hand valuations 15000 through 15999 are determined for each of the players 10000 through 10999 hands, respectively, in accordance with the rules of the pre-determined multiplayer game 11020.

[0040] In a distribution step 16000, value units contributed to the prize pool 16010 units are distributed in accordance with the rules of the pre-determined multiplayer game 11020. In a first variation, the prize pool is distributed in equal shares among winning players who have not folded in accordance with the scoring attributed to the player's hand. In another variation, the prize pool is distributed among winning players who have not folded in accordance with the scoring attributed to the player's hand in proportion to the player's total investment to the prize pool. In yet another variation, the award, if any, for each of the players 10000 through 10999 may depend upon the size of the pool and the player's investment 25000 through 25999, respectively.

[0041] FIG. 2 illustrates a flowchart for providing a massively multiplayer extension of a strategy dealing game dealing cards from a traditional fifty-two (52) card deck for 999 players 20001 through 20999, substantially in accordance with the rules of a poker game known as Texas Hold'em.

[0042] In a first deck preparation step 21000, a common deck 21010 is prepared for dealing the hand, from which five (5) common cards 21020 through 21060 are randomly selected, but not disclosed, to any of the players 20001 through 20999. [0043] In a second deck preparation step 22000, player decks 22001 through 22999 are prepared for each of the players 20001 through 20999, respectively. The five common cards 21020 through 21060 are removed from each of the decks 22001 through 22999.

[0044] In a hand preparation step 23000, each player 20001 through 20999 is dealt a hand 23001 through 23999, respectively, by dealing two cards from the corresponding decks 22001 through 22999. In a variation, such as a game of draw poker, additional cared may optionally be dealt to replace selected cards in accordance with the variation's game rules.

[0045] In a disclosure and investment step 24000, players 20001 through 20999 initially invest a predetermined number of value units to prize pool 25010. In a variation, a flop comprising three of the common cards 21020 through 21060 are disclosed to each of the players 20001 through 20999, who are provided with the option to invest an additional amount of value units to the prize pool, or to fold and thereby quit the game. Thereafter, a turn comprising one of the common cards 21020 through 21060 is disclosed to each of the players 20001 through 20999, who are provided with an option to invest an additional amount of value units to the prize pool, or to fold and thereby quit the game. Finally, a river comprising the last undisclosed common card 21020 through 21060 is disclosed to each player is given an opportunity to fold or to invest an additional amount of value units to the prize pool 25010.

[0046] In a showdown step 25000, hand valuations 25000 through 25999 are determined for each of the players 20000 through 20999 hands, respectively, by determining for each player the poker rank of the best 5-card hand comprising cards from the corresponding player's hand and the five common cards.

[0047] In a distribution step 26000, the prize pool 26010 units are distributed in equal amounts to those of the players having the highest hand valuation and who have not folded their hand prior to the showdown step 2500.

[0048] FIG. 3 illustrates the game play of on embodiment of the invention for a table or gaming arena 100 having players 31001 through 31999, although it will be apparent to a person of ordinary skill in the art that the invention may be practiced with any number of players. The game play permits players to share common cards 33010, 33020, 33030, 33040 and 33050 drawn at random for the table or gaming arena, and game interactions based upon cards drawn by each of the players.

Despite the arbitrary number of players, FIG. 3 illustrates the game play of a game play with a look and feel of Texas Hold'em drawn from a traditional 52-card deck having the leveraged prize awards of a massively multiplayer pari-mutual game.

[0049] A person of ordinary skill in the art will apprehend that while the illustrated invention presents a game of Texas Hold'em drawn from a traditional 52-card deck, the invention illustrated may be applied to extend many other drawing games from finite decks, such as Omaha, Five Card Draw or Badoogie. Game play may involve multiple interactions with opportunities to draw or replace cards in accordance with the game rules, and to fold or to make further contributions to a common pot. Alternatively, the game may entail a single "buy-in" without skilled human interaction. [0050] A deck of cards 32000 through 32999 is provided for each player 31000 through 31999 at the table or gaming arena 100. Another deck of cards 33000 will be provided to generate common cards 33010, 33020, 33030, 33040 and 33050 for all players at the table or gaming arena 100.

[0051] In the illustration, the play of a Texas Hold'em hand at table or gaming arena 100 would proceed as follows. Common cards 33010, 33020, 33030, 33040 and 33050 shall be drawn at random from the deck of cards 33000 for the table.

Without loss of generality, for each player 31000 through 319999, common cards 33010, 33020, 33030 shall constitute the "flop," common card 33040 shall be the "turn," and common card 33050 shall be the "river" for the player's poker hand.

[0052] Cards corresponding by suit and rank to the suit and rank of common cards 33010, 33020, 33030, 33040 and 33050 are removed each deck of cards 32000 through 32999 for each player. Each player 32000 through 32999 shall then be dealt two cards randomly as hole cards for that player from the player's respective deck 31000 through 31999. Hole cards 34000 and 35000 shall be used to determine player 31000's hand, hole cards 34001 and 35001 shall be used to determine player 31001's hand, and in similar fashion hole cards shall be used to determine the remaining player's hands, so that hole cards 34999 and 35999 shall be used to determine player 31999's hand.

[0053] Accordingly, each player 31000 through 31999 shall be deemed to hold a seven card poker hand comprising the common cards 33010, 33020, 33030, 33040 and 33050, and said players' two respective hole cards. The value of each player 1000 through 31999's hand is determined in accordance with rules for the game corresponding to the embodiment, to determine the payouts. If any, for each player 31000 through 31999.

[0054] Players may be provided opportunities to contribute money to a prize pool before being shown any cards, after being shown the player's corresponding hole cards, after being shown the flop, after being shown the turn, and after being shown the river. The prize pool shall then be distributed in accordance with the rules for a particular game. In one embodiment, each player will pay 1 unit and be deemed "all-in," so that the winners will share 1,000. In another embodiment, each player will pay 1 unit at each interval after the corresponding cards are displayed or be given an option to "fold," and forfeit the prize amount.

[0055] FIG. 4 is a flowchart illustrating a method for conducting an improved multiplayer Texas Hold'em tournament for an arbitrarily large number of participants, having ten final round seats 41001 through 41010, and for each final round seat 41001 through 41010, a corresponding entry group 42001 through 42010 having one hundred qualifying entries each are provided to qualify for a corresponding final round seat 41001 through 41010. It will be apparent to a person of ordinary skill that the invention may be practiced by varying the number of final round seats and the number of qualifying entries for each seat to adjust the prize leverage and skill variance as may be desired by the players.

[0056] In a bidding step 41000, players bid to purchase one or more entries for a final round seat. In a preferred embodiment, players are limited to obtaining entries for one final round, although the player may bid for any number from one to all of the entries for a seat. In another embodiment, players may be given an opportunity to inspect who has purchased for each seat, and how many entries before making their bid for entries. The bidding step concludes when all qualifying entries have been purchased.

[0057] In a qualifying step 42000, each final round seat 41001 through 41010 shall be assigned to a player holding an entry for the corresponding final round seat who is the sole survivor of one or more hands of the massively multiplayer strategy dealing game illustrated in FIG. 1 and FIG. 2.

[0058] In a tournament step 43000, players who have qualified for a final round seat 41001 through 41010 compete in a traditional Hold'em tournament with the entire prize pool distributed among the winners in accordance with predetermined rules for awarding prizes.

[0059] FIG. 5 is a flowchart illustrating use of the instant invention in a method for conducting a shared multi-player gaming experience for a number of players 50001 through 50999 to provide a scaled lottery game that assures a winner for each play from a leveraged prize pool without resort to a jackpot.

[0060] In a variation, the invention illustrated in FIG. 5 may be used to provide players with an individually selected game presentation, or "skins," so that each player may choose to experience the multi-player gaming experience as one of various games. In this way, players may at once play a game of their choosing, but benefit from leveraging due to sharing a prize pool with players who have chosen to play games having different game presentation, but for which the process of determining of a winner among players and the amount of the prize are identical, regardless of the chosen game presentation. For example, different players may in the same be presented skins suggestive of a game of poker, bingo, lotto, slot machine or such other skin as can be made to fit the structure and probability distributions of the deck upon which the game is structured.

[0061] In variations, selected skins may be static or interactive. By way of example, an interactive experience may be presented by permitting a player to daub a bingo card or to simulate selecting cards from a scratch card responsive to "balls" that correspond to the actual results of the game. In another example, a player may be permitted to select favorite numbers as if in a lotto context, after which a result may be presented as though lotto balls were selected corresponding to the numbers so that the prizes awarded will correspond to the actual results of the game. As will be apparent to persons of ordinary skill in the art, many varieties of static and interactive skinning may be integrated in the ordinary course, so long as the prize award is consistent with the invention's underlying structure of the invention for selecting and determining a winner.

[0062] In a first deck preparation step 51000, player decks 51001 through 51999 are prepared for players 50001 through 509999, each having a predetermined number of cards, each card having a predetermined value.

[0063] In a hand preparation step 52000, player hands 52001 through 52999 are determined for each player 50001 through 50999, respectively by dealing a card from the corresponding player deck 51001 through 51999.

[0064] In a disclosure and investment step 53000, an investment 53001 thought 53999 is determined by each of the players 50001 through 50999 and contributed to a prize pool 56010. Disclosure is then made of hands 53001 through 53999 to each of the players 50001 through 50999, respectively. In one variation, a player's card is disclosed to them in the same or a similar manner. In other variations, each player's card is disclosed in a style and manner preselected by each player from predetermined choices. For example, one player may wish to see his card in the form of a poker hand having a relative value corresponding to each card, while another may wish to see his card in the form of a slot-machine display. As another example, a player may be permitted to preselect favorite numbers, as in a lotto-style game, while the presentation shows lotto-style balls being drawn that correspond to the valuation associated with the card so drawn.

[0065] In a showdown step 55000, hand valuations 55001 through 55999 are determined for each of the players 50001 through 50999 hands, respectively, as the value of the corresponding card for that player.

[0066] In a distribution step 56000, value units contributed to the prize pool 66010 units are distributed in accordance with the rules of the pre-determined multiplayer game and a winner or winners are announced accordingly as those of the players 50001 through 50999 having the highest hand valuations 55001 through 55999, respectively.

[0067] In a variation, the method for conducting a shared multi-player gaming experience for a number of players illustrated in FIG. 5 may be used to implement a shared gaming experience among supporters of one or more teams, groups, individuals or other entities at an event, such as a sporting event, with respect to which a spectator player of the gaming experience may be allied. Such supporter games may provide both individual displays as well as shared displays of game results such as an arena scoreboard or similar public display.

[0068] In variations, supporter games may be played solely among those attending an event at an arena, or may be extended to supporters monitoring the progress of an event via a broadcast medium, the Internet or some other public media.

[0069] In a variation, supporters would select their alliance and the game may be played one or more times to determine winners from a prize pool. In variations, the prize pool may be distributed from those contributing to each alliance respectively, or may be shared among all alliances.

[0070] It will be evident to persons of ordinary skill in the art that the invention set forth herein may be used as described either singly, in combination with other embodiments of the invention set forth herein or in combination with games not embodying the invention. Accordingly, an embodiment of a multi-player raffle game presented as poker might be combined in various manners with embodiments of a multi-player raffle game presented as a lotto, on one hand, or combined in various methods with a multi-player version of lotto presented in the manner of the prior art. It will be further evident that Games so combined may award prizes as though separate and independent games, or may be combined with additional rules that depend upon the results of the independent games.

COMPUTER SYSTEM ARCHITECTURE AND SUPPORT

[0071] Embodiments of the apparatus, systems and methods described herein may be implemented using electronic devices and communication media of various types. So embodied, the methods described herein are not limited as to any particular type of computer that may be used to implement the game apparatus of the invention. In one or more embodiments the inventions disclosed herein may be implemented and/or run on any computing device with the computational ability to perform and display the results of the games contemplated herein. Such a computing device may typically include a keyboard or means for user input or selections (such as a touchscreen keyboard or touch screen buttons, physical buttons, pointing input device (such as a mouse), a display device such as a monitor, or any appropriate

combination of input and output devices. The contemplating computing device typically comprises a memory, a read only memory (such as random access memory), a central processing unit and a storage device such as a hard disk drive (either local or remote and physically or logically coupled to the generalized computing device.) In some embodiments of the invention the computing device may also comprise a network connection that allows the computer to send and received date through a computer network such as the Internet. Mobile computer platforms such as cellular telephones, smart phones, Personal Desktop Assistants (PDAs), kiosks, set top boxes, games boxes or any other computational devices, portable, personal or otherwise may also qualify as a computing device capable of performing the methods described herein.

[0072] In various embodiments, the present invention may be implemented as a method, apparatus or article of manufacturing using standard programming and/or engineering techniques to produce software, firmware, hardware or any

combination thereof. The term "article of manufacture" (or alternatively, "computer program product") as used herein is intended to encompass a computer program accessible from any computer-readable device, carrier or media. In addition, the software in which various embodiments are implemented may be accessible through the transition medium, for example, from a server over a network. The article of manufacture in which the programming is implemented also encompasses transmission media, such as the network transmission line and wireless

transmission media. Thus, the article of manufacture also comprises the medium in which the code is embedded. Those skilled in the art will recognize that many modifications may be made to this configuration to implement such a system without departing from the scope of the invention described herein.

[0073] Embodiments of the system described may comprise software that may execute on one or more computing devices having a computer usable memory medium (or a computer readable memory medium) and computer readable program code. The computer readable program code may include an input function, gaming functions and an output means such as a computer display, audio output, printing support and /or payment output.

[0074] Furthermore, embodiments of the present invention may be implemented as a program of computer-readable instructions and/or computer-readable data stored on a computer-readable medium. Programs, data and other information may constitute, but are not limited to, sets of computer instructions, code sequences, configuration information and other information in any form, format or language usable by a general purpose computer or other processing device, such that when a computer contains, is programmed with, or has access to the programs, data and other information the general purpose computer is transformed into a machine capable of performing the simultaneous casino-style games, such as those described above. A computer-readable medium suitable to provide computer readable instructions and/or computer readable data for the methods and processes described herein may be any type of magnetic, optical or electrical storage medium including a disk, tape, CD, DVD, flash drive, thumb drive, storage card, or any other memory device or other storage medium known to those of skill in the art.

[0075] In one or more embodiments of the invention, the methods described here may not be limited as to the type of computing device it may be run upon and may, for instance, operate on any generalized computer system that has the

computational ability to execute the methods described herein and can display the results of the user's choices on one or more display devices. Display devices appropriate for providing user interaction with the invention described herein includes, but is not limited to, computer monitors, cell phones, PDAs, televisions or any other form of computer-controllable output display. As used herein, a computer system refers to but is not limited to any type of computing device, including its associated computer software, data, peripheral devices, communications equipment and any required or desired computers that may achieve director o indirect communication with a primary computing device.

[0076] In one or more embodiments of the invention, a general-purpose computer may be utilized to implement one or more aspects of the invention. In one or more embodiments of the invention, the computer may include various input and output means, including but not limited to a keyboard or other textual input devices, a display devices such as a monitor or other display screen, and a pointing device and/or user selection indicator such as a mouse, keypad, touch screen and a pointing device and/or user selection indicator such as a mouse, keypad, touch screen, pointing device, or other known input/output devices known to those of skill in the art. The general-purpose computer

[0077] Described herein may include on or more banks of random access memory, read only memory and one or more central processing unit(s). The general purpose described herein may also include one more data storage device (s) such as a hard disk drive, or other computer readable medium discussed above. An operating system that executes within the computer memory may provide an interface between the hardware and software. The operating system may be responsible for managing, coordinating and sharing of the limited resources within the computer. Software programs that run on the computer may be performed by an operating system to provide access to the invention along with access to the computer resources needed to execute the invention. In other embodiments, the gaming unit may run stand-alone on the processor to perform the methods and games described elsewhere herein.

[0078] In one or more embodiments of the invention, the method(s) described herein, when loaded on or executing through or by one or more general purposes computer(s) described above, may transform the general-purpose computer(s) into a specially programmed computer or device able to perform the methods or methods described herein. In one or more embodiments of the invention, the computer readable storage medium(s) encoded with computer program

instructions that, when addressed by a computer, may cause the computer to load the program instructions to a memory there accessible, thereby creates a specially programmed device able to perform the methods described herein.

[0079] The specially programmed device of the invention may also comprise a connection that allows the device to send and/or receive data through a computer network, such as the Internet or other communications network. Mobile computer platforms such as cellular telephones, Personal Desktop Assistants (PDAs), other hand-held computing devices, digital recorders, wearable computing devices, kiosks, set top boxes, games boxes or any other computational device, portable, personal, real or virtual or otherwise, may also qualify as a computer system or part of a computer system capable of executing the methods described herein as a specially programmed computer.

[0080] Computer systems as described in this section are well known to those of ordinary skill in the art and are therefore not further described or illustrated herein.

[0081] One or more embodiments of the invention may be configured to enable the specially programmed device to take the input data and transform it into a form usable by a unit to apply one or more of the methods and/or processes of the invention as described herein. Thus, the methods described herein are able to transform player selections using the system of the invention to result in an output of the system such as a display of game results and/or a payout.

[0082] Further modifications and alternative embodiments of various aspects of the invention may be apparent to those skilled in the art in view of this description, Accordingly, the foregoing description and specification is to be construed as illustrative only and is for the purpose of teaching those skilled in the art of the general manner of carrying out the invention. It is to be understood that the forms of the invention shown and described herein are to be taken as presently preferred embodiments. Elements, steps and materials may be substituted for those illustrated and described herein, parts and processes may be reversed or reordered and certain features of the invention may be utilized independently, all as would be apparent to one skilled in the art after having the benefit of this description of the invention. Changes may be made in the elements described herein without departing from the spirit and scope of the invention as described in the following claims. In addition, it is to be understood that features described herein

independently may, in certain embodiments be combined.

Claims

I claim:
1. A method for delivering a massively multiplayer modification of a limited- player game having a set of rules using a data server and communication system having the capability to generate random samples from a limited source of game tokens; to securely and independently communicate game information with the players; and to broadcast information to the players, said method comprising the steps of:
(a) generating a sequence of common game tokens at random from said limited source of game tokens in accordance with said set of rules;
(b) generating for each said player a sequence of player game tokens at random from said limited source of game tokens, excluding said common game tokens generated, in accordance with said set of rules;
(c) communicating securely said player game tokens to each player, respectively, in accordance with said set of rules;
(d) communicating the common sequence of game tokens and receive
communication of player investments to a prize pool from each player in reaction thereto, in accordance with said set of rules;
(e) determining said modified limited-player game results and allocating said prize pool in accordance with said set of rules; and
(f) broadcasting said modified limited-player game results and said allocation of said prize pool to each player.
2. The method of claim 1, where said limited-player game is a form of Texas Hold'em Poker where the tokens are the cards from a standard 52-card deck, said limited-player game is modified to permit players to have hole cards drawn from non-common cards, replacing said hole cards after each said player has drawn them.
3. The method of claim 1, where said rules of said limited-player game distinguish "round winners" and "round losers," and the steps (a) through (e) are repeated for the "round winners," removing said "round losers" from the game, until a predetermined number of game winners are determined.
4. The method of claim 3, having an initial step of players paying an entry fee for one or more of a predetermined number of qualifying games, said entry fees comprising an overall prize pool; applying the method of claim 3 for determining a winner for each of said predetermined number of qualifying games, respectively; delivering a final limited-player game to the winners of each said qualifying game to determine overall final results and allocating said overall prize pool; and
broadcasting said final limited-player game results and said allocation of said overall prize pool.
5. An apparatus for delivering a massively multiplayer modification of a limited-player game having a set of rules, including a communication system and data server system having capability to generate random samples from a limited source of game tokens; to securely and independently communicate game information with said players; and to broadcast information to the players, said apparatus communication system and data server system programmed to
interoperate for performing the steps of:
(a) generating a sequence of common game tokens at random from said limited source of game tokens in accordance with said set of rules;
(b) generating for each said player a sequence of player game tokens at random from said limited source of game tokens, excluding said common game tokens generated, in accordance with said set of rules;
(c) communicating securely said player game tokens to each player, respectively, in accordance with said set of rules;
(d) communicating the common sequence of game tokens and receive
communication of player investments to a prize pool from each player in reaction thereto, in accordance with said set of rules;
(e) determining said modified limited-player game results and allocating said prize pool in accordance with said set of rules; and
(f) broadcasting said modified limited-player game results and said allocation of said prize pool to each player.
6. The apparatus of claim 5, where said limited-player game is a form of Texas Hold'em Poker where the tokens are the cards from a standard 52-card deck, said limited-player game is modified to permit players to have hole cards drawn from non-common cards, replacing said hole cards after each said player has drawn them.
7. The apparatus of claim 5, where said rules of said limited-player game distinguish "round winners" and "round losers," and the steps (a) through (e) are repeated for the "round winners," removing said "round losers" from the game, until a predetermined number of game winners are determined.
8. The apparatus of claim 7, further configured for said communication system and data server system programmed to interoperate and further perform the steps of: initially receiving communication from players to pay an entry fee for one or more of a predetermined number of qualifying games, said entry fees comprising an overall prize pool; applying the method of claim 7 for determining a winner for each of said predetermined number of qualifying games, respectively; delivering a final limited-player game to the winners of each said qualifying game to determine overall final results and allocating said overall prize pool; and
broadcasting said final limited-player game results and said allocation of said overall prize pool.
9. An apparatus for conducting a shared multi-player gaming experience using a data server and communication system having capability to generate random samples from a limited source of game tokens; to securely and
independently communicate game information with the players; and to broadcast information to the players, said apparatus communication system and data server system programmed to interoperate for performing the steps of: (a) generating for each said player a sequence of player tokens at random from said limited source of game tokens;
(b) generating for each said player a sequence of player tokens from said player's said sequence of player tokens;
(c) receiving secure communications from each said player relating said player's contribution to each of one or more selected prize pools;
(d) determining said shared multi-player game results for each said selected prize pool for each said player in accordance with the rules for said multi-player gaming experience;
(e) communicating a representation of said multi-player game results to each said player in accordance with a skin chosen by each said player; and
(f) broadcasting said shared multi-player game results to said players;
10. The apparatus in claim 9, where said rules of said multi-player gaming experience distinguish "round winners" from "round losers," and the steps (a) through (e) are repeated for "round winners," removing said "round losers" from the game, until a predetermined number of game winners are determined.
PCT/US2012/039223 2011-05-23 2012-05-23 System, method and apparatus for scaled multiplayer games WO2013095700A1 (en)

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