CROSS-REFERENCES TO RELATED APPLICATIONS
STATEMENT REGARDING FEDERALLY SPONSORED RESEARCH OR DEVELOPMENT
BACKGROUND OF THE INVENTION
The present invention relates to games of chance and, more particularly, to games of chance incorporating a bonus multiplier.
With the expansion of casino gaining, the trend toward machine games rather than table games and the attraction of video games over traditional slot reel games, there has been a growth in demand for new video casino games. The majority of these games, however, have many similarities to traditional slot reel games and/or other video casino games.
Secondary screens with bonus features or games within games have become popular. The secondary bonus games reduce the win frequency and payoff in the primary game to enable an extra payoff in the secondary game. Multi-line games have also become popular, wherein, for example, all visible horizontal lines may be played rather than a single middle line. Other lines such as diagonals may also offer payoffs. Multi-line play in a video poker format is described in, for example, U.S. Pat. Nos. 5,823,873 and 5,732,950. Multi-line play allows a hand to be played on multiple lines with the subsequent draw as in original video poker applying to all hands. All multi-line games require multiple credits to play; that is, to play a three-line game for a maximum of five units per line requires fifteen credits, being three times the number of credits to play the traditional single line. Whilst the majority of players may play a multi-line game in the same monetary value denomination as a single line game, some players may trade down to a lower denomination, which is undesirable to the casino operator. Additionally, with multi-line play, the actual hit frequency increases although the win frequency may be lower. When a player with fifteen credits has two winning lines paying five credits each, the result is that there is actually a loss of five credits. In single line play, a partial loss situation could not occur as the minimum winning result is a return of the full five credits.
The mathematics of gaming dictate that where hit frequency increases, payoffs must decrease, therefore, game volatility is affected. Volatility is the comparative relationship between high payoffs, low payoffs and losses. A high volatility offers prospects of a positive result and may attract a more serious gambler, whereas limited volatility may attract a player wishing to pass the time.
Both multi-line games and secondary bonus games are thus not necessarily as attractive to traditional players.
BRIEF SUMMARY OF THE INVENTION
With the modes of play according to the present invention, a bonus multiplier can be incorporated into any video or table game providing added player attraction and excitement. With the bonus feature of the present invention, conventional game play is not affected. Once a winning combination (e.g., hand of cards, roll of dice, etc.) is established according to the rules of a particular game, another preferably higher criteria is used to determine whether that winning combination qualifies for a bonus round bonus multiplier. For example, in a Jacks or Better video poker game, a player's wager is usually returned with a hand of a pair of jacks or better. Higher payouts are provided for poker combinations of a higher rank, such as two pair or the like. For these winning combinations to qualify for a bonus round, however, according to the present invention, a higher hand rank such as three-of-a-kind may be required for qualification. Alternatively, other criteria may be used to qualify the winning combination, such as all cards being of the same color, all cards being higher or lower than a particular number, or combinations of hand rank and some other criteria.
In the bonus round, a bonus multiplier or bonus factor is generated that multiplies the payout for the winning combination. The bonus multiplier for qualified hands may be randomly generated or may be biased toward a particular number. Added excitement for the bonus round can be effected in the manner of determining or displaying the bonus factor. For example, in a video poker game, a single die may be displayed and “rolled” to determine a bonus factor between 1 and 6. In a table game, in a similar context, the dealer or player may roll a die to determine the bonus factor.
In one operating mode, there may be multiple bonus round levels with separate qualifications. For example, using hand rank as criteria, a hand rank of three-of-a-kind or better may qualify the result for a first level bonus round, whereas a hand rank of flush or better may qualify the result for a second level bonus round. In the second level, the potential bonus multiplier is higher, for example, using a pair of dice to determine the bonus factor.
In accordance with an exemplary embodiment of the present invention, a method is provided of playing a game including a bonus multiplier. At least one winning combination is established according to rules of the game, wherein the winning combination has a predetermined payoff based on a player wager. The game is played to arrive at a player result, and the player result is compared with the at least one winning combination. If the player result corresponds to the at least one winning combination and is a qualified result, the bonus round is entered to determine a bonus factor. The bonus round preferably includes multiple bonus levels based on the winning combinations. The qualified result may be determined according to criteria for establishing the at least one winning combination. In this context, at least two criteria may be used for establishing the winning combination, wherein the qualified result can be determined according to the at least two criteria. In this context, the qualified result may be determined according to a hand rank and one additional criteria.
In one embodiment, the game is a card game using at least one deck of cards, wherein a plurality of winning combinations are established by hand rank, and wherein the qualified result is set according to hand rank. In this context, a lowest hand rank that corresponds to the qualified result is preferably a higher hand rank than a lowest hand rank of the winning combinations. The plurality of bonus levels may be determined based on the hand rank.
The game may be a card game using at least one deck of cards, either actual cards or video cards, wherein a plurality of winning combinations are established by hand rank, and wherein the qualified result is not set according to hand rank. In this context, the qualified result may be based on at least one criteria of the cards, such as all of the cards being the same color, all of the cards having a numerical value of at least a particular number, or all of the cards having a numerical value less than or equal to a particular number, or both.
The bonus factor may be determined by assigning a random number, which may be between 1 and 6. In this context, the random number may be determined by rolling a six-sided die. Alternatively, the bonus factor may be determined by assigning a low-biased number between 1 and 6 as the bonus factor. Similar to the random number operating mode, particularly in a video format, the bonus factor can be displayed as a six-sided die.
If the qualified result is determined according to a hand rank, the multiple bonus levels may be determined based on the hand rank. The bonus factor in a first level can be determined as a number between 1 and 6, and the bonus factor in a second level can be determined as a number between 2 and 12. In this context, the bonus factor may be randomly determined according to a roll of one die in the first bonus level and a roll of two dice in the second bonus level. Alternatively, the bonus factor may be a low-bias number, wherein the bonus factor is displayed by a roll of one die in the first bonus level and a roll of two dice in the second bonus level. In still another arrangement, the bonus factor in the second level may be determined as a product of the two-dice roll, resulting in a bonus factor between 1 and 36.
In another exemplary embodiment of the invention, a method of playing a game including a bonus multiplier includes the steps of (a) establishing at least one winning combination according to rules of the game, the winning combination having a predetermined payoff based on a player wager; and (b) playing the game to arrive at a player result, and comparing the player result with the at least one winning combination. If the player result corresponds to the at least one winning combination and is a qualified result, the method includes (c) multiplying the predetermined payoff based on the player wager by a bonus factor to determine a game payout for the player, wherein the bonus factor is determined in one of multiple bonus levels that are based on the at least one winning combination.
In still another exemplary embodiment of the present invention, an apparatus is provided for carrying out the method of the invention.