BACKGROUND OF THE INVENTION
In U.S. Pat. Nos. 5,845,906 and 6,113,101, the text of which is incorporated by reference herein, I described methods for playing wagering games which were based, in substantial part, on the rules of poker. As was the case with these earlier disclosures, the present invention relates generally to a playing card wagering game which is particularly applicable to a casino environment in which multiple players compete with themselves and with the house. The game in its variations can also be played in a home environment.
Wagering games, particularly those intended primarily for play in casinos, should provide players with a sense of participation and control, the opportunity to make decisions, and reasonable odds of winning, even though the odds favor the casino, house, dealer or banker. The game must also meet the requirements of regulatory agencies.
Wagering games, including wagering games for casino play with multiple wagering opportunities, are known. In addition to the above-mentioned patents, U.S. Pat. Nos. 4,861,041 and 5,078,405 (both to Jones et al) disclose methods and apparatus for progressive jackpot gaming, respectively. The former patent discloses that a player may make an additional wager at the beginning of a hand, the outcome of the additional wager being determined by a predetermined arrangement of cards in the player's hand. U.S. Pat. No. 4,836,553 (to Suttle and Jones) discloses a modified version of a five card stud poker game.
Additional symbols may be added to the usual means of playing a game to increase wagering opportunities. This is disclosed in U.S. Pat. No. 5,098,107 (to Boylan et al). Somewhat similarly, U.S. Pat. No. 3,667,757 (to Holmberg) discloses a board game and apparatus, including a way to allow the player to make a choice with respect to several different alternative types of game play and risk-bearing strategies. The alternative play is based on providing cards with additional symbols and therefore, a new set of odds. The game and apparatus disclosed by Holmberg requires new sets of rules, relatively complicated procedures and time for a player to learn the game.
U.S. Pat. No. 5,154,429 (to LeVasseur) involves the dealer playing multiple hands against a player's single hand, whereby the number of hands played in the same amount of time is increased.
U.S. Pat. No. 5,437,462 (to Breeding) discloses a casino-type poker game wherein players are given an opportunity to withdraw at least a part of their bets before all the cards are dealt. The game employs at least one common card which can be used by all of the players.
SUMMARY OF THE INVENTION
The present invention relates to a card game, in particular to a card game suitable for use in casinos, and to tables for playing the game. The game combines the concepts of draw poker with simultaneous play against a dealer (the house) and play against other players. Players who are dealt “premium hands” (as hereafter defined) can receive bonus payments, depending on the value of the hand. Because the players are not permitted to increase their wagers, the game moves rapidly.
The game follows the rules of stud poker, and a single, 52-card deck is used. Each player's poker hand is made from 5 dealt cards, with the right to use a common card to improve the dealt hand if the player so elects and pays the house for the privilege of using this common card. The dealer has same option as other players, i.e., to make the best five-card hand from six cards; however, the dealer does not pay to use the common card. Each player plays head-to-head against the dealer for one part of the wager, and against the other players or another part of the wager (the “common pot” or “Players Pot”). A bonus or “premium hands payout” provides the players with an opportunity to win a multiple of their ante wagers.
Premium or bonus pots have become very popular with the gaming public. This game incorporates a system for rewarding players having exceptional (statistically rare) hands, but unlike conventional games (e.g., Caribbean Stud) where players contribute to the makeup of that pot, the present game has a bonus system which does not require a direct contribution by the players. Casino games which provide bonus payouts for extraordinary hands generally limit such payments to truly outstanding hands—a straight or better. Although the practice of limiting premium payments to a straight or better could be maintained in the present game, statistical analysis indicates that the game will generate a profit to the house even if payouts are made to players having poker hands as low as three-of-a-kind. Accordingly, as used herein, a “premium hand” refers to poker hands of three-of-a-kind or better, or a straight or better, depending on the threshold set by the house.
No matter which threshold is adopted—three-of-a-kind or straight—a player will receive a bonus or premium payment from the house only if the player's hand is higher than that of the dealer. For example, if a player holds a straight and the dealer holds a flush, the player will loose his bet with the dealer and no bonus (premium) payout will be made.
In cases where a premium hand is eligible for a bonus payment, the amount of the bonus payment is based on the rarity of the hand. For example, if a first player has a hand containing three-of-a-kind, and a second player has a hand containing a straight flush (both hands higher than that of the dealer), the second player would receive a higher bonus payout than the first player. As the forgoing example illustrates, more than one player may receive a bonus payment in a given round.
From the house's perspective, providing an opportunity for a bonus payment for hands as low as three-of-a-kind should attract additional players to the table. Statistical analysis of the game demonstrates that the funds required to make the bonus payouts can be generated from the monies paid to the dealer (house) when players buy the right to employ a sixth card. Although the amount or cost of the right to use the sixth card can be varied, the suggested price in this game would be $5.00. Because premium payouts will not be an every-game occurrence, sufficient funds to seed and maintain this bonus pool can easily be obtained from amounts paid over the course of many hands.
The game would proceed as follows. The dealer (house) operates from a table playing station which provides easy access to the players. In addition to the dealer, the game can be played by as many as six players around the table, each operating from a playing station which has a card playing area and a betting area. Each player's betting area contains at least two wager zones: a first Ante zone, a second zone for wagers which form the “Players Pot” and a third zone for placing a payment for the right to use a sixth card if the player wishes to avail himself of this option. Each of the players stations also contains a region or zone where cards can be dealt.
The dealer's playing station is somewhat different than that of the players. In addition to a region or zone for placing the five cards dealt to the dealer, in a preferred embodiment, the dealer's playing station contains a marked area or zone for placement of a common card which can be utilized by any of the players, including the dealer. In a preferred embodiment, the dealer's playing station also contains a region or zone for maintaining a common Players Pot.
In a preferred method, play would commence as follows: Each player would place two wagers: an ante in a first zone which can be from $5.00 to $25.00 in whole dollar amounts; and an additional $5.00 wager in a second zone which will form part of the players pot. Although these table limits could be varied at the option of the house (e.g., $10.00 to $50.00 ante, and $10.00 for the players pot), the amount which can be wagered in the players pot is a fixed sum. Only the ante wager with the house can be varied, in whole-dollar amounts, and that wager only at the onset of play, before any cards have been dealt. In order to maintain the flow of play, there is no opportunity to raise any bet after the cards have been dealt. Since there is no qualifying hand by the dealer or minimum hand to open, all hands play and the players pot will be won each hand by the player with highest poker hand.
Five cards are dealt to each player, starting with a player adjacent to the dealer; the dealer being dealt last. The cards may be dealt from right-to-left or left-to-right. The cards are dealt one-at-a-time, unless a machine is used, in which case the cards may be dealt five-at-a-time. Individual players are permitted to play only one hand at a time.
At some point in the deal, the dealer places a single card in a “common card” zone region of the table. All cards—players, dealer's and the common card—are dealt face down.
The players look at their five cards and determine if they wish to fold, stand pat or utilize the sixth card or common card. A player desiring to fold surrenders his hand to the dealer and forfeits both of his original bets; the ante bet is collected by the dealer, and the bet in the players pot zone is retained for the player with the highest poker hand. If a player wishes to utilize the sixth card or common card, the player will place $5.00 in a designated area on the table in front of his playing station. The fact that a bet appears in this third area is an indicator to the dealer that the player is entitled to use the sixth card.
The sixth card can be used to improve players present five card hand but only five cards are used to make up players best hand. Upon completion of the hand, the extra card payments go to the house.
As noted above, it is envisioned that the receipts from players who opt to use the extra or common card will off-set any payments the house may make to players who have poker hands comprising three-of-a-kind or better. Players having these types of hands (a “bonus” hand) are entitled to a bonus or premium in addition to any wagers they may recover from the dealer or from other players through the “Players Pot.” One over-riding limitation on the right to receive a bonus payout is that the player's hand must be higher than that of the dealer. For example, a player holding a hand containing three fours, would not only loose to a dealer holding three fives, but that player would also not be entitled to a bonus payout. However, as described below, the player holding three fours could prevail in play against the other players and be entitled to the funds in the Players Pot.
As will be described in greater detail below, the wager in the Ante zone represents a bet between the player and the dealer. The wager in the player's second or Players Pot zone represents a bet with each of the remaining players, apart from the dealer. That is to say, except for a service charge or “rake” (described hereafter), the dealer is generally not eligible for any portion of the Players Pot (with one exception, described below).
Although the dealer does not participate as a player, the house may be entitled to a portion of the Players Pot as a service charge or “rake”. A commonly-used rake for casino card parlors is 5% of the pot. The 5% “rake” would be paid to the house when the “Players Pot” is finely won by a player. These suggestions concerning the amount of the house “rake” are for illustration only, and variations could be made at the option of the house.
With respect to the bets placed at each player's “Players Pot” zone, these wagers could be gathered by the dealer in the common Players Pot region on the table or left in front of the individual player at the option of the house.
After each player has made his or her decision with respect to the sixth card, the dealer would turn over and expose the five cards which were dealt to the dealer.
After the five cards dealt to the dealer have been exposed, the dealer exposes the common card. Irrespective of the result of this turn-over on the value of the dealer's hand, all dealer hands must play.
After the dealer's hand has been exposed, the dealer turns up each player's hand, starting from his left to right. The dealer pays an amount equal to the Ante wager in the first betting zone to each player who has a higher poker hand than the dealer, and collects the Ante bets from all of the players with lower hands than the dealer. All hands are left exposed for dealer to determine highest player hand and to distribute funds from player pot to that player. If the highest poker hands are of equal value, the players pot would be split.
In a preferred embodiment, if the player's hand is both: 1) higher than the dealer's hand; and, 2) of the type which constitutes a “bonus” band, then the player would receive a multiple of his bet. For example, if the player had anted $20, the dealer has a pair, and the player has two pairs, the player would receive his original $20 bet, plus $20 from the dealer. Given the same situation, but the player's hand comprising a full house, the player would receive his original $20 bet, plus $140 from the dealer (a 7:1 return in accordance with the following table). In those situations where a player and the dealer have hands of the same value, these hands result in a “push”, and no money is exchanged between the player and the dealer.
Similarly, in those rare situations where two players have identical winning hands, the players pot is split between the two players.
One additional advantage of the present game is that it can be played by up to six players on a standard 76 inch black jack table and does not require a large amount of floor space in a casino operation.
As to the amount of the bonus, in the preferred method, the bonus payouts by the dealer would be based on the amount a player has anted. Suggested payouts based on this system are as follows:
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| ||Three of a Kind || 2 to 1 |
| ||Straight || 3 to 1 |
| ||Flush || 5 to 1 |
| ||Full House || 7 to 1 |
| ||Four of a Kind || 20 to 1 |
| ||Straight Flush ||125 to 1 |
| ||Royal Flush ||250 to 1 |
| || |
Using the above table, and assuming that the player's hand is higher than that of the dealer, a player who has anted the minimum of $5.00 who holds a flush would be entitled to a payment of $25.00 from the dealer, plus return of the $5.00 ante bet.
The foregoing table of bonus payouts has been provided by way of example, only, and could be varied at the discretion of the house. In particular, the house might well decide to start the bonus payouts at hands comprising a straight or better.
The final stage of play involves head-to-head competition among the players. The wagers in this second zone, form a common, Players Pot. This pot will be paid to the player who has the highest poker hand each round.
As noted above, the dealer does not normally participate in the Players Pot (apart from the house “rake”).
There is one exception to the rule that the dealer is not eligible for the Common Players Pot. In the event that only one player is at the table, the house may play by placing a wager which is equivalent to the players pot wager (e.g., $5.00). This exception would only apply in the case where only one player is left at the table.
In summary, under the method described above, a player has three opportunities to win: 1) by having a higher poker hand in one-on-one play with the dealer; 2) by having the highest poker hand among all of the players at the table; and, 3) by having a “premium” or “bonus” hand (e.g., three-of-a-kind or better) which entitles the player to a premium payout from the house. Operation of the game can be further understood with reference to the description of apparatus for playing the game.
Finally, it should be possible to add a “progressive pot” option to the present game. Progressive pots, which are familiar to participants in casino poker games, provide a player with an option of contributing a small wager (e.g., $1.00) for the opportunity to win a relatively large sum of money in the event the player holds a royal flush. The normal procedure with respect to this option is to allow funds to accumulate over a long period of time, and to award the accumulated value of the progressive pot (less expenses and a house rake) to any player who has such a hand. In straight poker, the odds of being dealt five cards comprising a royal flush are in the neighborhood of 650,000:1. While providing players an opportunity to use a sixth card will reduce these odds, somewhat, nonetheless, statistics would predict a payout of several hundred thousand to one, which could further enhance the allure of the game.
Although certain apparatus constructed in accordance with the teachings of the invention is described herein, the scope of coverage of this patent is not limited thereto. On the contrary, this patent covers all embodiments of the teachings of the invention fairly falling within the scope of the appended claims either literally or under the doctrine of equivalents.