BACKGROUND OF THE INVENTION
1. Field of the Invention
The present invention relates to playing card wagering games that can be played with playing cards, including a standard deck(s) of cards or by video machine technology, particularly in a casino environment. In particular, it relates to a method and apparatus for playing a wagering game, wherein the game includes bonus awards for predetermined card combinations, hands or ranks to a player, and where all players at the table have an option at the beginning of the game to place a side bet to participate in all awards to any player for obtaining such predetermined card combinations or hand ranks.
2. Background of the Art
There are many wagering games used for gambling. Such games should be exciting to arouse players' interest and uncomplicated so they can be understood easily by a large number of players. Ideally, the games should include more than one wagering opportunity during the course of the game, yet be able to be played rapidly to a wager resolving outcome. Exciting play, the opportunity to make more than one wager and rapid wager resolution enhance players' interest and enjoyment because the frequency of betting opportunities and bet resolutions is increased.
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. U.S. Pat. Nos. 4,861,041 and 5,087,405 (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 of 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. 5,288,081 (Breeding) describes the game Let It RideŽ stud poker which is played in many casinos around the world. That wagering game is played with a single, typical (standard) fifty-two card poker deck and broadly involves the generally well recognized and accepted set of rules, procedures and wager-resolving outcomes of five card poker. The game method comprises each player placing an initial, three-part wager to participate in the game. A separate bonus wager (a side bet wager) may be placed to play against a pay table. Cards are dealt by a dealer, three down to each player and two down to the dealer. Players inspect or “sweat” their cards, and the dealer asks “take it or leave it?” or as the name of the game implies, “Let It RideŽ?” with regard to the first part of the initial bet. Players can choose to retrieve or remove from play the first part of their initial bet, or leave the first part in play or at risk, based on the value of the three cards in their hand. The side wager or bonus wager cannot be withdrawn and is immediately withdrawn by the house in the play of the game. The dealer then turns over one of the dealer's cards and the dealer's query is repeated with regard to the second part of the initial bet. Players can choose to retrieve or remove from play the second part of their initial bet or leave the second part in play or at risk, based on the value of the four cards consisting of the three cards in the player's hand and the exposed dealer's card. Players have no option with the third part of the bet. Finally, all cards are shown and the payouts and collections are resolved according to the ranking of the poker hand of each player, i.e., the players are not playing against each other or the dealer.
Another element of play in casino games and particularly casino table card games is in the wagering structure. There are a multitude of card games that are based on one or more decks of conventional playing cards. Among the most popular of these games is poker, wherein a player's fortunes are determined by a well-known hierarchy of five card combinations. Card games that are variants of poker are also very popular, such as Let It RideŽ stud poker, Caribbean Stud PokerŽ, Three Card PokerŽ) and the like. Three Card PokerŽ utilizes a different poker hierarchy. This is due, at least in part, to the basic nature of the underlying game itself, combining elements of both strategy and luck. Additionally, poker-variants allow an existing player-base to capitalize on their preexisting knowledge of a game and to apply that knowledge in novel settings. The two most popular forms of traditional poker are draw poker and stud poker.
In a conventional hand of draw poker, a single 52-card deck of shuffled playing cards is used. Each player begins a hand by contributing an initial or “ante” bet to a common pool or “pot”, the pot ultimately going to the owner of the winning hand. The dealer then distributes five face-down cards to each player, the remaining cards in the deck being set aside for later use. Each player evaluates the cards that he or she has been dealt and each, in turn, is given an opportunity to discard one or more cards from the dealt hand. The dealer gives the player replacement cards for those that have been discarded by dealing additional cards face-down from the top of the deck. Following the deal, one or more rounds of betting take place, during which time each player may make an initial raise, a check wager, fold (drop-out), match a previous raise or raise a previous bet. The meanings of these wagering terms are well know to those skilled in the art and typical definitions of same may be found in, for example, Hoyle's Rules of Games, pp. 75-102, by Morehead and Mot-Smith, 1963, the disclosure of which is incorporated herein by reference. At the conclusion of the wagering rounds, the players display their hands and the holder of the highest ranking poker hand takes all of the money in the pot.
Stud poker is the most popular form of “open poker,” wherein each player is dealt some cards that are face-up and, hence, available for viewing by the other players. Stud poker comes in two varieties: 5-card and 7-card, the two being of approximately equal popularity. In five-card stud poker, the dealer gives each player a face-down (or “hole” card) and then a face-up card. Thus, at the start each player knows his own two cards and one card of each of his opponents. After the first two cards are dealt, a wagering round ensues, during which time each player contributes his or her wager to the pot. A typical description of the rules that govern this round might be found in, for example, Hoyle's Rules of Games, pp. 75-102, by Morehead and Mot-Smith, 1963, the disclosure of which is incorporated herein by reference. After the wagering round, another card is dealt face-up to each player. This is followed by another wagering round. Alternating dealing and wagering rounds continue until each player has a total of five cards: four face-up and a concealed hole card. After the final bets have been placed, each player who has not dropped out during the deal/wager rounds reveals his or her hole card. The owner of the highest ranking 5-card poker hand wins and takes whatever amount is in the pot.
Seven-card stud poker differs slightly from 5-card poker. First, in 7-card poker each player initially receives two cards face-down and one card face-up. A bidding round then ensues. The dealer then gives each player another face-up card, which is followed again by a bidding round. Deals (of one face-up card) and bids are alternated until each player has four face-up cards and two face-down cards. Finally, a third face-down card is dealt to each player (making a total of seven cards). This is followed by a last bidding round. The winner of the hand is the player who can form the highest ranking 5-card poker hand from his seven cards.
As is well known to those skilled in the art, five-card poker hands are ranked from “Royal Flush” (highest) to “High Card(s) in Hand” (lowest) according to the following ordering:
|Hand ||Description ||Example |
|Royal Flush ||The five top cards of a suit ||A, K, Q, J, 10 (suited) |
|Straight Flush ||Five cards in sequence in the ||5, 6, 7, 8, 9 (suited) |
| ||same suit |
|Four of a Kind ||Any four cards of the same ||2, 2, 2, 2, J |
| ||rank |
|Full House ||Three of a kind and a pair ||2, 2, 2, J, J |
|Flush ||Five cards of the same suit ||2, 4, 8, 10, A (suited) |
|Straight ||Five cards in sequence ||6, 7, 8, 9, 10 |
| || ||(unsuited) |
|Three of a Kind ||Three cards of the same rank ||2, 2, 2, 9, J |
|Two Pair ||Two cards of the same rank ||2, 2, Q, Q, A |
| ||and two others of a different ||(unsuited) |
| ||rank |
|One Pair ||Two cards of the same rank ||9, 9, 5, 8, K |
|High Card(s) in ||Five unmatched cards ||A, 9, 5, 3, 2 (unsuited) |
In some variations of poker, the ace may also act as the lowest card in the deck to form a straight when used in a sequence like A, 2, 3, 4. Additionally, a “wild card”—often the “joker” card may be designated, so that a person who holds that card may declare its value to be that of any card in the deck, the presumption being that the declared card value will help that player form a better poker hand.
At its core, poker is a vehicle for gambling. Commonly the quantities wagered are monetary, but that is not strictly required and poker chips, matches, and other non-pecuniary tokens have been used in place of money to help the players determine who is winning without exposing them to financial loss. Of course, casinos are in the business of providing people with the opportunity to gamble and, given the popularity of poker among the general populous, it only stands to reason that casinos would desire to offer this game in some form or another to those who seek to play it. However, conventional-rules poker is not particularly well suited for use in a casino.
A casino that offers traditional poker to its clientele typically does so by providing a dealer and a room in which to play, but the casino's dealer does not actually participate in the game as a player: his or her function is just to distribute the cards and referee the game. The casino makes its money by taking some percent of all of the money wagered (the “rake”) or by leasing the room to the participants. The cost of the lease may be measured in time (e.g., a fixed amount per hour) or by a count of the number of hands played. Traditional poker games are not particularly favored by casinos because the casino does not make as much money acting as a landlord as it would if it were an active participant in the game.
Similarly, from the standpoint of the gaming public, traditional poker has some disadvantages which have tended to make it less desirable as a casino game. First, traditional poker is readily available “at home,” e.g., at the Friday night poker session, and there is no particular need for most people to travel to a casino to play it. Second, when an individual wins at traditional poker it is at the expense of the other players/participants. Many people prefer to play against the more impersonal “house” (i.e., the casino) so that their winning hand does not necessarily result in a loss by a fellow player, who may be an acquaintance. Finally, traditional poker does not offer the excitement associated with “jackpot” type games. That is, a royal flush in traditional poker—as improbable as that card combination is—will result in winning only the amount in the pot and nothing more. Many players seek out games where there is some possibility of “winning big,” an option that is not available under conventional poker rules.
As a consequence of these disadvantages, casinos have introduced a variety of poker-type game variants to address the shortcomings discussed previously. One obvious advantage of these poker-type games from the casino's point of view is that the casino becomes an active participant in the game (as the house) and can, as a consequence, increase the revenue earned on the game. Additionally, these poker-type games are very attractive to many of the gambling public, and the mere fact that they are available in a particular casino has the potential to increase consumer traffic and revenue there.
A variety of innovative strategies have been employed to make poker-type games more appealing to casino gamblers. For example, many poker-variants are designed to let the players compete against the house, rather than against each other. In other cases, progressive betting has been utilized, wherein the player may increase his or her bet during the play of a hand. This makes the game more exciting to the player and potentially more profitable for the casino. Jackpots have been introduced, wherein certain predetermined card combinations in the player's hand result in an enhanced payout to that player. Finally, computer implementations of these games is always an attractive possibility, with video based casino games becoming increasingly popular. One such video implementation of a poker-type game is taught by Weingardt, U.S. Pat. No. 5,042,818. Of course, a natural next step is to offer these same video based casino games over the Internet, thereby making the games available to a potentially enormous audience. The most successful casino table poker games to date are Let It RideŽ stud poker (as originally described in U.S. Pat. No. 5,288,081), Caribbean Stud™ poker (originally described in U.S. Pat. No. 4,836,533), and Three Card™ poker (as described in U.S. Pat. No. 6,237,916).
In most casinos, a game of blackjack begins by having each player place an initial wager. The blackjack dealer then distributes two cards face-down to each player and two cards—one face up and another face down—to him or herself. After the player has examined the two dealt cards and compared those cards with the face-up dealer's card, a number of options present themselves to the player. The player may “stand” (i.e., take no further cards), draw one or more additional cards in order to increase the numeric sum of the hand, double down (a form of progressive wagering), or split the two cards. Additionally, if the dealer's face-up card is an ace, the player may elect to buy insurance against the possibility that the dealer has a blackjack. If, after the dealer's face-down card is revealed, the dealer does not have a blackjack, the player loses the amount that was paid as insurance (although he or she may go on to ultimately win that deal). If, on the other hand, the dealer has a blackjack, the player collects double the amount of insurance bought (but may still lose the amount of the original wager). The option of purchasing insurance is unique to blackjack type games and has not, heretofore, been available in poker-style games. The broad rules of blackjack are generally known to those skilled in the art and a fuller description may be found in the materials previously incorporated by reference.
In addition to novel games being introduced into casinos, novel betting formats have also been introduced. Side bets have always been common in wagering environments, but the use of side bets for jackpots and bonuses in casino table card games was believed to have been first practiced by David Sklansky in about 1982 in a public showing of Sklansky's Poker in Las Vegas, Nev. The play and/or betting structure of Caribbean Stud™ poker was modeled after that game. Blackjack has allowed surrender play at many tables, where half the original wager is withdrawn and the other half is forfeited to the house at the election of the player. U.S. Pat. No. 5,820,460 (Fulton) describes a method for playing a casino table card game wherein wagers are changed after some cards are viewed by the player. Let It RideŽ stud poker advanced that theory significantly as described in U.S. Pat. No. 6,273,424, where specific segments of wagers could be withdrawn from an original wager that was placed in multiple parts.
It is still beneficial to provide additional wagering formats and structures to add both interest to the game and better control over house retention and player awards.
The desired attributes of wagering games outlined above are in large measure provided by the method and apparatus for a wagering game in accordance with the present invention. The game is uncomplicated, exciting and provides the opportunity for players to make multiple wagers and choices regarding those wagers.
SUMMARY OF THE INVENTION
The wagering game of the present invention is played with at least a single standard fifty-two card poker deck and broadly involves the generally well recognized and accepted set of rules, procedures and wager-resolving outcomes of card games, especially five card poker and variations of five card poker. The table bonus wager and format of the present game is amenable to use with any casino table card game or video gaming equivalent where multiple players play at the same time against a house pay table or against the dealer, and bonus awards are provided for hands or at least a predetermined rank. Each player has the option (before seeing sufficient cards to provide even a preliminary evaluation of the likelihood of winning) of placing a side bet wager on the occurrence that a player at the table will obtain a hand of a predetermined rank that will receive a bonus payout. This is called a table wager, community wager, group wager, or the like. The player may also make an optional and additional individual wager that he/she will receive a hand of a predetermined rank that will receive a bonus payout.
The preferred game method played with this wagering format comprises Let It RideŽ stud poker, and a new variant of that game where each player placing an initial, four-part wager (as opposed to the required three-part wager used in Let It RideŽ stud poker) to participate in the game. Cards are dealt by a dealer, three down to each player and two down to the dealer. Players inspect or “sweat” their cards, and the dealer asks “take it or leave it?” or “Let It RideŽ?” with regard to the first part of the initial bet. Players can choose to retrieve or remove from play the first part of their initial bet, or leave the first part in play or at risk, based on the value of the three cards in their hand. The dealer then turns over one of the dealer's common cards and the dealer's query is repeated with regard to the second and third parts of the initial bet, except that withdrawal of the second part results in the house claiming the third part of the wager. This step requires that two parts (the second part and the third part) of the four-part bets (usually equal parts) be interdependent—that is, considered at the same time of play. Players can choose to retrieve or remove from play the second part and forfeit the third part of their initial bet or leave the second part and third part in play or at risk, based on the value of the four cards consisting of the three cards in the player's hand and the first exposed dealer's card. Players have no option with the fourth part of the bet, which is referred to as the contract wager, as it must remain in play through the conclusion of play of the game. Finally, all cards are shown and the payouts and collections are resolved according to the five card poker ranking of each player's hand, i.e., the players are not playing against each other or the dealer.
The pay table in this game (to be marketed as “Dakota Stud™” table card game) can be adjusted from the pay tables in Let It RideŽ poker to reflect the change in betting/wagering structure. For example, to compensate for the required forfeit of the third wager part if the second wager part is withdrawn, the qualifying hand for a win may be lowered from the pair of 10's ordinarily required to win against the pay table in Let It RideŽ stud poker. For example, the minimum winning hand may be any pair, a pair of 2's, 3's, 4's, 5's, 6's, 7's, 8's or 9's. Additionally, higher odds may be paid on higher ranked hands to make play of the game more attractive to players. The game may also be modified to provide the player with five cards and the dealer with two hole cards or common cards, with the best five-card poker hand playing against a pay table, or with the player being dealt four cards, and the dealer receiving three cards. This may be done with the dealer having one of the three cards exposed immediately before consideration of withdrawal of the first part of the wager, or with three cards provided face down. In the latter circumstance, the dealer's face down cards may be exposed one-at-a-time, or preferably two at one time and one card at another time in the betting/wagering sequence. Two cards may be exposed before consideration of withdrawal of the second (and third) parts of the wager, or first one card exposed at this stage and then two cards exposed at the end of play, after withdrawal of the second and third parts has been considered and exercised. Additionally, players may individually receive all cards, and play against each other, or a dealer hand, or both.
More specifically, in the preferred play of the game the initial wager placed by each player comprises four equal parts and is made or placed before any cards are dealt. Each player is dealt three cards face down in the customary fashion. Two common cards are dealt face down in front of the dealer for use by all of the players. Each player will use the two common cards in front of the dealer in combination with his or her three cards to create a five card hand. After all players have placed their four wagers/bets (and in an optional play of the game, a special bonus wager or jackpot wager for extra or extraordinary awards for high ranking hands against a pay table) and received and examined their cards, each is given the opportunity to retrieve one part (if equal wagers are placed, that is one-fourth) of the initial wager before the dealer reveals one of the two down cards previously placed in front of him. After all of the players have been queried and decided whether to withdraw the first part of their wager, the dealer turns one of the down cards face up. Each player now has the benefit of four cards, the three he or she is holding down plus the common card, and the dealer again gives each player the opportunity to retrieve further part(s) of the initial wager, In this case, with equal wagers, the player has the option of leaving the second and third parts in play or withdrawing the second part and forfeiting the third part before exposing the second common down card. After the second common down card is revealed, the players turn up the three cards they are holding thereby forming five card hands made up of the three cards dealt to each player and the two dealer cards. The dealer examines each of the players hands and determines what payout, if any, each player is entitled to receive according to that players' remaining wager and a preselected payout schedule. Payouts are made to players with winning hands and the losing wagers are collected. The cards are then reshuffled for the next hand. Where a separate side bet has been placed as a bonus or jackpot wager (against a pay table and/or against a progressive jackpot), that wager must also be resolved.
Apparatus is disclosed for playing the wagering game according to the method outlined above. A typical gaming table, with a playing surface, is modified to include specific areas that provide locations for placing the wagers and for displaying the common cards. A card shuffling machine such as that disclosed in U.S. Pat. No. 4,807,884 or other shuffling machines manufactured by Shuffle Master Gaming, Inc. of Las Vegas, Nev. for facilitating and speeding the play of the wagering game may be used. A display device may be associated with the apparatus for displaying game information, shuffle status, or other information relevant to the dealer, the players or the house.
The present invention provides an exciting and interesting wagering game. The wagering game is easy to learn, largely being based on five card stud poker and the well known ranking of poker hands. The present invention provides a new variation of a well known wagering game, five card poker, and in particular Let It RideŽ stud poker, which is made more interesting by providing the opportunity for players to make multiple wagers and decisions related to those wagers based on the progress of the game.
Still another aspect of the present invention is to provide a wagering game that is easy to learn, yet demands skill of players in making strategic decisions about whether to let part of their bet ride. It is yet another aspect of the present invention to provide a unique, exciting card game for play in casinos or at home and on various media including casino tables, video poker machines, video lottery terminals or home computers. It is an advantage of the game of the present invention that wagering decisions are inherent in the game. The game enhances players' sense of participation and takes advantage of players' inclination to let wagers ride once placed.