US 20010036864 A1
In a secondary game operating alongside a primary game or games, and in which the outcome of the secondary game is independent of the outcome of the primary game or games, a first determination is made to determine whether a prize or prizes will be awarded and the amount of the prize, and a second determination is made to determine a winner or winners of the prize among participants in the secondary game.
1. A method of operating a secondary game alongside a primary game or games, in which the outcome of the secondary game is independent of the outcome of the primary game or games, and in which in a secondary game cycle a first determination is made to determine whether a prize will be awarded and the amount of the prize, and a second determination is made to determine the or a winner of the prize among participants in the secondary game.
2. A method as claimed in
3. A method as claimed in
4. A method as claimed in
5. A method as claimed in
6. A method as claimed in
7. A method as claimed in
8. A method as claimed in
9. A method as claimed in any preceding claim, in which the second algorithm selects a number of winners per secondary game cycle, the number being related to the number of participants or participating tables in the secondary game cycle.
10. A method as claimed in any one of claims 1, in which the second algorithm selects a number of winners per secondary game cycle, the number being related to the number of participants or participating tables in the secondary game.
11. A method as claimed in
12. A method as claimed in any one of claims 1, in which the first algorithm determines a number of prizes per secondary game cycle, dependent on the number of participants or participating tables.
13. Apparatus for playing a secondary game in a casino, the apparatus comprising:
a gaming station at which the or a primary game is played by a number of participants;
means at the gaming station for a participant to indicate participation in a cycle of the secondary game;
means for determining the number of participants in a cycle of the secondary game;
means for distinguishing between the participants in the secondary game cycle;
means for determining in accordance with a first algorithm, which is independent of the primary game, whether a payout will be awarded in the secondary game cycle and/or the value of the payout; and
means for determining in accordance with a second algorithm which participant will be awarded the payout (if any).
14. Apparatus as claimed in
15. Apparatus as claimed in
16. A game emulator for simulating the playing of a game, comprising:
means for inputting a number of participants in a game cycle;
means for inputting a number of cycles of the game to be played;
means for calculating the amount wagered based on the number of participants in the game and number of cycles;
means for simulating the playing of the game or calculating based on the game algorithm the number and/or amount of payouts or winners of the game for the number of game cycles;
means for calculating the total game payout over the number of game cycles; and
means for comparing the game payout with the amount wagered.
17. A game emulator as claimed in
18. A game emulator as claimed in
 W099/42186 describes a secondary game designed to operate in parallel with one or more primary (or host) casino live table games and electromechanical devices (e.g. roulette, blackjack and slot machines). The outcome, operation and funding of the secondary game are independent of the primary game(s).
 In comparison to the host game, the secondary game cycle (or coup) is preferably very short. In cases where many tables are connected to the network which operates the secondary game, it may take the secondary game only a few milliseconds to complete a game cycle—that is to determine a winner. Hence, it is possible to run a secondary game cycle during each primary game cycle at a number of tables, even though the primary games of the tables are not synchronised. If a primary table game is not “caught” in one cycle of the secondary game, then it will be caught in a subsequent cycle before the primary game is completed.
 Bonafide players (i.e. players playing the primary game) are invited to participate in the secondary game cycle. Player participation could also be mandatory. Players may “enter” the secondary game by means of a player loyalty card and the payment of an entry wager or participation-fee or wager. Once the participation-fee has been collected and the entry confirmed by the dealer, the player is eligible to be included in the next secondary game cycle.
 A token representing the participation-fee is placed on a participation fee acceptor or inserted in the slot of slot m/c or an amusement with prizes (AWP) machine, at the appropriate place proximate to the player's position. A slot machine is generally considered to be a casino type machine which complies with International Gaming Standards, for example as to quality of manufacture, is compatible with on-line data retrieval systems and has no limit on stake and award. An AWP or low payout machine is generally used for street or rout operation in areas which have a maximum stake and award. The participation fee acceptor may also “double up” as an award or prize indicator. The preferred unit contains several concentric rings (e.g. 3) of various colours (e.g. Red, Blue, and Green) embedded in the gaming table.
 It will be appreciated that the player may pay a fee by means of a smart card, debit card or the like. The participation fee acceptor can be arranged to communicate between the player and the system, such as, for example, the illuminated acceptor of WO 99/42186. The present invention is concerned with providing a system to determine a pay-out of the secondary game, and selection of a winner of the game.
 Any scheme for determining the outcome of a casino game needs to satisfy the criteria of being fair to the player while making it reasonably likely that the casino or “house” will take a small percentage of the game participation fees—similar to the house advantage in roulette, for example. In the case of a secondary game, the casino may choose to weight the odds in favour of the player since the secondary game is primarily intended as a promotional tool. If the secondary game is operated simply as a pool betting system, with winners being paid only according to the size of the pool, it is difficult to provide a game which is attractive to players—since there is little attraction playing the game while the pool builds. It is possible to provide a lottery in some jurisdictions, but with a guaranteed level of payment it would carry a risk of financial loss for a casino beyond the normal gaming risks.
 A first aspect of the present invention provide a secondary game which runs alongside a primary game or games, in which the outcome of the secondary game is independent of the outcome of the primary game or games, and in which it is determined in accordance with a first algorithm whether a prize will be awarded, and the winner of the prize is determined in accordance with a second algorithm.
 By providing separate algorithms to determine whether a prize is awarded and to determine the winner of the prize, it is possible to configure the game so that it is fair and attractive to players, while providing an appropriate degree of security, or risk, for the casino.
 The first algorithm can be selected from one of many known algorithms. For example, a simple slot machine type algorithm may be used to provide a range of prizes or pay out values, and the probability of a win is dependent on the number of reels, the number of reel “stops” and the distribution of symbols on the reels. The algorithm can be, in effect, a game which is run in “virtual reality” by a computer. The computer may emulate, mimic or simulate the game cycle of, for example, a slot machine, a hand at a card game, a spin of a roulette wheel, etc.
 The second algorithm may be a simple random number generator to select a winner from the participating players.
 It will be appreciated that the algorithms may be operated independently. If the algorithms are designed to always select a player—the winner—but to produce a payout intermittently, the casino may choose whether to announce the “winner” first, so that attention is focused on that player, and to announce the pay-out (if any) second.
 When a large number of players is participating in the secondary game, it may be desirable to ensure a pay-out at more frequent intervals than when only a few players are participating, so that players have a more equal chance of winning at any time. The first algorithm may include a factor dependent on the number of players and or the number of gaming tables or slot machines, etc., participating in a cycle of the secondary game. For example, in the case of a slot machine type algorithm for the first algorithm, the reels may be “spun” a number of times in each game cycle or coup, dependent on the number of players to generate several chances of a win or pay-out in a single secondary game cycle.
 In one preferred form, the invention will provide a payout frequency, i.e. number of payouts, of about one payout per fourteen participants per cycle. This would approximate to a payout frequency of once per two primary games for a gaming table such as roulette or blackjack (assuming that players of the primary game take part in only one secondary game cycle during each primary game cycle). Thus if there are two tables side by side, it can be estimated that there is a secondary game winner at the frequency of the primary games.
 In a particularly preferred form, the first algorithm is run once, and the payout (if any) is then awarded to a number of players, chosen by the second algorithm and dependent on the number of players and/or tables. In the case of a high payout or ′jackpot′, this could be awarded to only a single player. In this way the frequency of payouts is readily predicted from the first algorithm, without being dependent on the number of players.
 The winner or winners of the secondary game payout may be selected entirely at random from the participating players. However, to improve the promotional aspects of the game, it is preferred that the second algorithm include a factor which is dependent on the individual player.
 In particular, a player may be given an enhanced chance of winning in accordance with certain criteria personal to the player such as the player's spend that evening, the player's frequency of attending, the player's theoretical win profile (TWP), the player's preferred game, minimum table stake or limit at the player's location at a table or game type, and his time there, a dealer's assessment of the player's worth, information ′unique′ to a player—such as whether it is his birthday etc. The criteria can be established and rated by the casino to attribute a player-worth or bonus point value.
 If the second algorithm is pictured as a random selection from a list of participating players, then the enhanced winning chance can be achieved by attributing to the player a number of entries in the list, dependent on the player-worth. A player with a relatively high player-worth will be awarded several entries in the list for that secondary game cycle, despite paying only a single participation fee.
 In another preferred form, the player s can be grouped according to their ′player-worth′ or player loyalty points, and a selection made form each group. Preferably the running and result of one or both algorithms is represented graphically to the players. In the case of the first algorithm, this could be a graphical representation of slot machine reels spinning to arrive at the result of the game. It could be a real time simulation, showing the result itself as it is calculated by the computer, or a pre-recorded simulation to arrive at a result which has already been determined.
 As mentioned, the first algorithm may be based on other games of chance, such as blackjack or roulette, where the odds of a pay-out are readily determined, or some other algorithm may be chosen or developed. Given the “virtual reality” or computer simulation system which is, most preferably, used, it is possible to combine known games in the first algorithm, or to select from a range of games when running the algorithm.
 The invention has thus far been described in relation to a secondary game of the type found in W099/42186 where the outcome of the game, i.e. the pay-out and the winner are independent of the primary game. It will be appreciated that the invention also has application in secondary games in which the outcome is related to the primary game, such as described in U.S. Pat. No. 4,861,041. In the ′041 patent, the secondary game participation fees form a jackpot and a player with a pre-selected hand wins a portion of the jackpot.
 In EP-A-787 026 a winning player is selected in one of a number of ways, and paid a proportion of the progressive jackpot which is accumulated as the secondary game progresses.
 In accordance with a second aspect of the present invention, there is provided a secondary game in which a winner of the secondary game is determined by a criterion dependent on the primary game, and the winner is awarded a prize or pay-out based on an algorithm which is independent of the primary game and independent of the total amount wagered by players in the secondary game.
 As noted above, it is important that the casino operator be able to assess the likely payout to players, or the anticipated profit or loss to the casino. Thus, another aspect of the invention provides a game emulator which simulates playing of the secondary game by enabling input of a number of parameters, such as the expected number of tables, the expected number of participants at a table, and either runs a sequence of secondary game coups to determine the frequency of payouts and amount of payout, or calculates the theoretical result based on the mathematical algorithm for the game. The emulator will thus predict the payout (frequency x amount) and compare this to the drop (number of tables x number of participants x number of coups) to give a prediction of the profit or loss to the casino operator. The number of tables and number of participants can be varied, and the game run for a different lengths of time, i.e. number of coups, to show how the “risk” for the casino operator varies with time. The game algorithm may also be varied to vary the expected profit or loss to the casino.
 The invention will be further described by way of example with reference to the accompanying drawings, in which:
FIG. 1 illustrates an embodiment of a game apparatus in accordance with the invention;
FIG. 2 is a flow chart illustrating the operation of a first embodiment of the invention;
FIG. 3 is a flow chart illustrating a sequence of operations at a gaming table;
FIG. 4 illustrates the selection of a winner according to one of a plurality of second, winner selection algorithms, and
FIG. 5 illustrates a game emulator in accordance with the invention.
 Referring to FIG. 1, a game apparatus of the invention comprises a “client” PC or CPU 2 which is located at a gaming table, such as a blackjack or roulette table. A plurality of participation fees acceptors 4 are connected to the CPU 2. Although the drawing shows only five, a participation fee acceptor is provided for each player position, typically 7 or 8 for a Blackjack table, 8 or 10 for roulette, etc. Each acceptor 4 incorporates a sensor for sensing placement of a chip 6 by a player to indicate that the player wishes to participate in the secondary game. The acceptor transmits a signal to the CPU 2 to indicate placement of the bet, and is also triggered by the CPU 2 to illuminate various indictors to show (a) that a fee can be placed; (b) that a fee has been accepted, and (c) that the player is a winner of the secondary game.
 A dealer keypad 8 is provided to allow the dealer or croupier to input information to the CPU 2. Such information will include swiping a player loyalty card in a slot 10 to identify the player and keying in the player position (1 though 5 in the illustrated embodiment). The dealer may also input additional information, for example to indicate when the table is ready to participate in the secondary game (vide hereinafter) and to provide additional information about a player, for example the player's current wagering activity in the primary game.
 A slot unit may be provided to retain a player loyalty card while the player is at the table. The dealer (or player) simply inserts the card in the slot, which detects and reads the card. The card is withdrawn when the player leaves the table.
 A display unit 12 displays the result of the secondary game, and may display other information such as described in W099/42186.
 A plurality of tables, each having a CPU 2, etc, are connected to a network 14 and then to a central file server 16.
 The file server 16 may be connected to a plurality of gaming tables of various types, to slot or AWP machines, and may incorporate a database containing player information related to the player via the loyalty card identifier. This may include historical information on the players gaming activity and also more uniquely personal information such as a player's date of birth.
 A second file server 18 runs the secondary game, although the game may be run on the central server 16.
 Also, it should be appreciated that although the network described is well suited to a single casino, the network may extend over several casinos. It may be necessary or desirable to ensure that player information cannot be exchanged between casinos, but the secondary game can be operated with suitable security.
 Similar game apparatus is described in W099/42186 and the contents of that specification are incorporated herein by reference.
 Referring to FIG. 2, a method of operating the secondary game will be described. At step S1 a secondary game cycle is begun. At step S2, game entries are collated via the main server 16 and the CPU 2 on each table which is ready to participate in the secondary game. (see step S9 below). A player is identified by his position (vide hereinafter). This is most readily achieved by means of the player activating a participation fee acceptor or communicator at his location. Other systems are possible, such as a dealer entering a position and player identification such as loyalty card details.
 At step S3 a first game algorithm is run to determine whether a prize or other pay-out will be awarded. At step S4, a second game algorithm is run to determine which player (position) is the winner. At step S5 the outcome of step S3 is displayed, and at step S6 the outcome of step S6 is displayed at the relevant participation fee 4, and/or the display 12. Display 12 may operate to display step 5 even if there is no winner at that particular table. Clearly, if step S3 produces no pay-out, step S6 is undesirable. Thus it may be preferred that the outcome of step S4, i.e. “the winner”, is displayed first, followed by the outcome of step S3, i.e. “no pay-out”. The first game algorithm may be configured so that there is always a winner—for example a refund of a participation fee or an award of player loyalty or bonus points.
 Referring to FIG. 3, this shows the procedure at a gaming table, such as a roulette or blackjack table.
 At step S7, the CPU 2 is triggered by the dealer, via keypad 8, to indicate that a primary game cycle is beginning. CPU 2 activates the acceptors 4 at step S8, at step S9 the dealer indicates to the CPU 2 via keypad 8 that no more participation fees on the secondary game are to be accepted. After this time CPU 2 will not actuate an acceptor 4 to indicate acceptance of a bet. At step S10, the CPU2 is interrogated by the central server 16 to determine if the table is ready to participate in the secondary game and, if so, to collect the game entries and loyalty card details for the entrants. It will be appreciated that CPU2 may simply transmit the information to server 16 as soon as it receives the signal from the dealer.
 Simultaneously, in a predetermined time slot, the central server 16 obtains or receives information from other CPUs 2 and, at the end of the time slot, is ready to run the secondary game (step S3 et. seq.). The time slot dictated at step S2 depends on the anticipated length of the primary games, and the number of tables connected to the system.
 It will be appreciated the secondary game needs to operate steps S1 through to S4 in sufficient time to be ready to display the results, steps S5 and S6, at each participating table at, or near, the end of the primary game coup being played at that table. This speed of operation is achievable over a local area network, but can also be achieved over a wide area network, linking several casinos, with appropriate communication links.
 The outcome of the secondary game is transmitted to CPU2, which then displays the results, steps S5 and 56, when the dealer signals CPU2, via key pad 8, that the primary game is at an end. This ensures that a player of the primary game is not distracted by the outcome of the secondary game while the primary game is being played.
 The first algorithm, step S3, is preferably based on a known casino game, such as a slot machine displaying three cherries etc, or an electronic poker game displaying a full house etc. for a payout. In this way, the player and the casino operator will be familiar with the game. It is possible to determine with good accuracy the pay-out expected of such a game. Some other algorithm can be used, but it is always desirable that the outcome, that is the probability of a win, be predictable over a period of time of payouts both as to frequency and amount.
 The casino may be given the option of tailoring the game to give a particular frequency of pay-outs. For example, it may be desirable to ensure frequent pay-outs of a small amount—almost every coup; a relatively large amount once per hour, and a jackpot pay-out once per night or per week.
 When the game is based on a simple mathematical algorithm as the first algorithm, instead of a known game, the result may still be demonstrated visually to players in the form of a known game, such as “spinning” slot machine reels which will come to rest at the required pay-out line.
 It is desirable to display the “game” of the first algorithm in action, such as the spinning slot machine reels rather than to simply display the winning or losing line in order to increase the anticipation factor for players. Additionally the participation fee acceptors may be triggered to flash when the results of the second algorithm, the player selection, are being displayed or communicated.
 As indicated above, with the first algorithm the frequency and amounts of payouts or prizes can be designed to ensure that the house advantage is maintained.
 One function of a secondary game can be to reward frequent players, or to encourage other players. With the second algorithm for selection of the winner (or the participant if the first algorithm is to be run “second”), it is possible weight the chances of a player winning. This can be done by reference to the player loyalty card scheme which is commonly used in casinos.
 In the absence of any weighting, the participating players are simply selected from by a random number generator. With a weighting scheme it is still necessary to ensure that all players have a chance of winning. Thus, in accordance with one aspect of the present invention, players are given additional entries in the second game algorithm according to their value measured by the loyalty scheme.
 Thus, if a player has a high loyalty card rating, or has been noted as a valuable player by the dealer, he may be given two or three additional entries in the second game algorithm, thus increasing his chances of winning.
 If a list of participating players, say 100 entries, is selected from at random, then by giving a play four bonus entries his chance of winning increases from 1% to about 5%; however, the chance of another player winning is diminished only a small amount.
 Another approach is to have two tier selection system. In the first selection, all players have an equal chance of selection, and several are selected. In the second, players are ranked by loyalty points or player-worth and the prize or a better prize is awarded to the higher ranking player. If it is desired to target player types more specifically, while still retaining a chance factor, players may be arranged on a distribution curve which ranks players in to groups dependent on their loyalty “points” or ranking, and then into a position in that group. A window selects a position in each group, and a random number generator selects from those positions to find the winner.
 The above winner selection processes utilised in the second algorithm will be described with reference to FIG. 4.
 In FIG. 4, at step 1 the main server 16 (of FIG. 1) has scanned the tables connected to the system via their respective CPUs 2, and has detected three players participating in the secondary game (only three is chosen to simplify depiction in the drawing). These have a table address in the format <casino number ><game><table number><position on the table>. Thus, player 1 having code 04BJ0307 is at casino No. 4, blackjack table No. 3, player position No. 7.
 In mode 1, players all have an equal chance of winning. The player locations are stored in a list or table, at step 3, and selected from by a random number generator at steps 4, 5 and 6.
 In mode 2 (and also in mode 3), the dealer is required to enter the players loyalty card details (as explained above in relation to FIG. 1). This information is fed to the main file server which accesses a player data base to determine at step 8 what “bonus points” to allocate to the player. At step 9 the dealer may also send additional bonus points to the main file server 16 at any time by identifying the player via his position, or via his loyalty card details at step 10. The players are ranged by their bonus points, alongside their physical location and their player ID. The casino, according to a predetermined marketing strategy, step 11, then allocates additional entries to each player, dependent on his number of bonus points, e.g. 1 extra entry for 99 to 199 bonus points, 3 extra entries for 200 to 399. The player entries are then “tabulated” as at step 13, and entries in the table are selected from by a random number generator, step 14. Thus a player having two or more entries will have a higher chance of winning than a player with one.
 In mode 3, players are again assessed according to their loyalty card and wagering profile, and tabulated as at step 18. Players are then ranked according to where their bonus points place them on the casino bonus point distribution curve. They are broken into discrete groups along that curve according to the number of points attributed to them by the casino based on the loyalty card scheme, etc. as outlined above. Players can then be ranked within each group:
 Thus, players with between 0 and 100 points may form a first, small group, between 100 and 200 points a larger second group, and between 200 and 400 points a small third group. A row in each group is then selected, thus highlighting one player in each group, and a selection made from those players. Of course, it is possible award a player in each group. The distribution of players on the player/loyalty point curve will be bell-like as illustrated at 19. By selecting groups at points along the curve, it can be seen that players in particular groups (in this case the upper and lower groups) have a higher chance of winning, because the group size is smaller. A player will move along the curve as his number of loyalty points etc. changes.
 As mentioned above, the secondary game algorithms may select more than one winner for a game.
 Bonus points or winning prizes may be converted to other casino currencies in any of the participating casinos. This is particularly advantageous when the casinos are linked via the internet.
 Players wishing to enhance their chances of winning may be allowed to purchase more bonus points and hence “collect” more bonus tickets.
 It will be appreciated that although we have referred to a secondary game, more than one secondary game could be played at a table or slot, giving rise to second and third secondary games—in effect tertiary and quaternary games.
FIG. 5 illustrates a game emulator forming an embodiment of the invention. The emulator is configured as a software program run on a PC 50 having a keyboard 52 for input of parameters and a screen 54 for displaying input parameters, the results of the emulation, etc. A user interface screen on the display 54 requests input of parameters on which a particular emulation will be run. Such parameters can include:
 Number of tables of each type.
 Number of player positions at each table type;
 Percentage occupancy of positions with time at each table type;
 Number of game cycles to be simulated.
 The system may provide the ability to select between different algorithms of the first type. If a slot machine, reel, type algorithm is provided, them there are off the shelf algorithms which include the ability to vary the parameters of the ′reels′ and the payout table (the criteria for a payout and the value)—enabling the simulation or emulation to be run with different parameters.