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Publication numberUS20050124404 A1
Publication typeApplication
Application numberUS 10/982,174
Publication dateJun 9, 2005
Filing dateNov 5, 2004
Priority dateNov 5, 2003
Also published asWO2005046815A2, WO2005046815A3
Publication number10982174, 982174, US 2005/0124404 A1, US 2005/124404 A1, US 20050124404 A1, US 20050124404A1, US 2005124404 A1, US 2005124404A1, US-A1-20050124404, US-A1-2005124404, US2005/0124404A1, US2005/124404A1, US20050124404 A1, US20050124404A1, US2005124404 A1, US2005124404A1
InventorsMark Nicely
Original AssigneeMark Nicely
Export CitationBiBTeX, EndNote, RefMan
External Links: USPTO, USPTO Assignment, Espacenet
Method and device for conducting a game with multi-threshold award
US 20050124404 A1
Abstract
A method and device for conducting a wagering game includes defining a schedule of awards correlated to a schedule of holdings. At least one of said awards is associated with an activation criterion which includes a threshold wager amount such that the award is only activated when a wager is greater than, or equal to, the threshold wager amount. In this manner, increased wagers may result in increased holdings eligible for awards, increased likelihood that an award may be obtained, or increased awards eligible.
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Claims(20)
1. A method for conducting a game where a player is issued a reward based on the player obtaining a winning holding associated with an award, the method comprising:
defining a schedule of holdings;
defining a schedule of awards, each award correlated to at least one holding;
defining an activation criteria for at least one of said awards, wherein said activation criteria includes a threshold wager amount such that said award associated with said activation criteria is not awarded unless a wager greater than, or equal to, said threshold wager amount is placed;
receiving a wager from a player;
in response to the receipt of said wager, conducting said game to produce a game result;
evaluating said wager to determine which, if any, of said activation criteria are satisfied;
examining said game result to determine whether any holdings associated with an award have been obtained, including any selectively activated awards that are active as a result of the satisfaction of said activation criteria; and
issuing any awards.
2. The method of claim 1 wherein said schedule of holdings includes symbol combinations.
3. The method of claim 2 wherein the quantity of symbol combinations associated with awards activated at a threshold wager amount increase with the size of the threshold wager amount such that increasing wagers by a player activate an increasing quantity of symbol combinations.
4. The method of claim 1 wherein said schedule of holdings includes symbol combinations appearing on pay lines.
5. The method of claim 1 wherein said schedule of holdings includes playing card combinations.
6. The method of claim 1 wherein multiple holdings are each associated with the same award but with different activation criteria having different threshold wager amounts such that increased wager amounts result in increased holdings that will result in the award.
7. The method of claim 6 wherein the likelihood of said multiple holdings occurring is cumulative such that increased wager amounts result in increased likelihood of obtaining said award.
8. The method of claim 1 wherein at least one of said awards associated with an activation criterion is a progressive award.
9. The method of claim 1 wherein the quantity of awards activated at any threshold wager increase with the size of the wager threshold amount such that the likelihood of a player obtaining an activated award increase with increased wager levels.
10. The method of claim 1 wherein at least one of said holdings is associated with a first award including an activation criterion and a second award not including an activation criterion such that a wager less than the threshold wager amount of the activation criterion will be rewarded with the second award for obtaining said holding and a wager greater than the threshold wager amount of the activation criterion will be rewarded with the first award.
11. A device for conducting a wagering game comprising:
a data processor;
a display communicating with said data processor;
a wager receiver communicating with said data processor;
a data structure communicating with said display, said data structure storing a schedule of holdings, a schedule of awards, wherein each award correlated to at least one holding, an activation criteria for at least one of said awards, wherein said activation criteria includes a threshold wager amount such that said award associated with said activation criteria is not awarded unless a wager greater than, or equal to, said threshold wager amount is placed, and instructions executable by said data processor to conduct a game method comprising:
receiving a wager from a player at said wager receiver;
in response to the receipt of said wager, said data processor conducting said game to produce a game result;
said data processor evaluating said wager to determine which, if any, of said activation criteria are satisfied;
said data processor examining said game result to determine whether any holdings associated with an award have been obtained, including any selectively activated awards that are active as a result of the satisfaction of said activation criteria; and
said data processor issuing any awards.
12. The device of claim 11 wherein said schedule of holdings includes symbol combinations.
13. The device of claim 12 wherein the quantity of symbol combinations associated with awards activated at a threshold wager amount increase with the size of the threshold wager amount such that increasing wagers by a player activate an increasing quantity of symbol combinations.
14. The device of claim 11 wherein said schedule of holdings includes symbol combinations appearing on pay lines.
15. The method of claim 11 wherein said schedule of holdings includes playing card combinations.
16. The device of claim 111 wherein multiple holdings are each associated with the same award but with different activation criteria having different threshold wager amounts such that increased wager amounts result in increased holdings that will result in the award.
17. The device of claim 16 wherein the likelihood of said multiple holdings occurring is cumulative such that increased wager amounts result in increased likelihood of obtaining said award.
18. The device of claim 11 wherein at least one of said awards associated with an activation criterion is a progressive award.
19. The device of claim 11 wherein the quantity of awards activated at any threshold wager increase with the size of the wager threshold amount such that the likelihood of a player obtaining an activated award increase with increased wager levels.
20. The device of claim 11 wherein at least one of said holdings is associated with a first award including an activation criterion and a second award not including an activation criterion such that a wager less than the threshold wager amount of the activation criterion will be rewarded with the second award for obtaining said holding and a wager greater than the threshold wager amount of the activation criterion will be rewarded with the first award.
Description
RELATED APPLICATION DATA

The present application claims the priority of U.S. Provisional Application Ser. No. 60/517,785 entitled “Game With Multi-Threshold Award,” filed Nov. 5, 2003 by Applicant herein.

FIELD OF THE INVENTION

The present invention relates to methods and devices for conducting wagering games. Specifically, the present invention is a method and device for conducting a wagering game in which at least one award is selectively activated based on the satisfaction of an activation criterion which may include the player wagering at or above a wager threshold.

BACKGROUND OF THE INVENTION

Modern multi-coin/multi-line slot games usually have a wide range of wager sizes. Players will often start playing at one wager size and adjust their wagers up or down based upon how well they are doing, how large or small their bankroll is, or in anticipation that a bonus event or large payout seems “due.”

Players are usually required to place a max coin bet to qualify for large progressive awards. The underlying reason is that maximum number of coins wagered per proposition maximizes casino profit per play and maximizes the player contribution to the progressive jackpot. However, it also makes the game prohibitively expensive for many players, especially if this is done for a multi-coin/multi-line game where the player is required to place a substantial wager in order to participate in the progressive. Similarly, if a less than max coin threshold is established in order for the player to be eligible for a progressive, for example, to play 1 or more coins per line on all lines, then the player has a disincentive to play any more than 1 coin per line, since such additional coins would have a lower payback than the original 1 coin per line.

The present invention overcomes the problem noted above by multiple betting thresholds, whereby each threshold gives the player an additional chance at winning a progressive or winning any other type of special award.

SUMMARY OF THE INVENTION

The present invention is a method for conducting a game where a player is issued a reward based on the player obtaining a winning holding associated with an award. An example would include slot games, card games, roulette games, or any other game using tiles, dominoes, playing cards, or other games of chance. A schedule of holdings and a schedule of awards are defined. Optionally, one of the awards is a progressive award. The holdings will be related to the particular game; thus, a slot game will include holdings of symbol combinations, optionally symbol combinations on pay lines, a card game will include playing card combinations, and so forth. Each award is correlated to at least one holding. Additionally, at least of the awards includes an activation criteria. The activation criterion may include one or more criterion, but at least includes a threshold wager amount such that the award is not awarded unless a wager greater than, or equal to, the threshold wager amount is placed.

Thus, in one optional embodiment, the quantity of symbol combinations associated with awards activated at a threshold wager amount increase with the size of the threshold wager amount. In such an optional embodiment, increasing wagers by a player activate an increasing quantity of symbol combinations that can result in an award. In another optional embodiment, multiple holdings are each associated with the same award but with different activation criteria having different threshold wager amounts such that increased wager amounts result in increased holdings that will result in the award. In an optional variation on such an embodiment, the likelihood of the multiple holdings occurring is cumulative such that increased wager amounts result in increased likelihood of obtaining the award.

In yet another embodiment, the quantity of awards activated at any threshold wager increase with the size of the wager threshold amount such that the likelihood of a player obtaining an activated award increase with increased wager levels. In another embodiment, at least one of the holdings is associated with a first award including an activation criterion and a second award not including an activation criterion such that a wager less than the threshold wager amount of the activation criterion will be rewarded with the second award for obtaining the holding and a wager greater than the threshold wager amount of the activation criterion will be rewarded with the first award.

In the game itself, a wager is received from a player. At some point, the wager will be evaluated to determine which, if any, of the activation criteria are satisfied. In response to the receipt of the wager, the game is conducted to produce a game result. The game result is examined to determine whether any holdings associated with an award have been obtained. This would include any selectively activated awards that are active as a result of the satisfaction of the activation criteria. Any awards so earned are issued to the player.

A device for conducting such a game includes a data processor, and a display, wager receiver, and data structure all communicating with the data processor. The data processor stores a schedule of holdings and a schedule of awards. As above, each award is correlated to at least one holding. Also, an activation criteria, including a threshold wager amount, is defined for at least one of the awards. The threshold wager mount serves to selectively activate the associated award such that the award associated with the activation criteria is not awarded unless a wager greater than, or equal to, the threshold wager amount is placed.

Additionally, the data structure stores instructions executable by the data processor to conduct a game method as described above. Specifically, the game method includes receiving a wager from a player at the wager receiver. At some point, the data processor evaluates the wager to determine which, if any, of the activation criteria are satisfied. In response to the receipt of the wager, the data processor conducts the game to produce a game result. The data processor examines the game result to determine whether any holdings associated with an award have been obtained, including any selectively activated awards that are active as a result of the satisfaction of the activation criteria. The data processor then issues any awards.

BRIEF DESCRIPTION OF THE DRAWINGS

FIG. 1 is a front view of a display of a game according to an embodiment of the present invention;

FIG. 2 is a pay table showing target award eligibility at four and five coins wagered per line;

FIG. 3 is a pay table showing target award eligibility at three, two, and one coin wagered per line;

FIG. 4 is a pay table showing awards for non-activated symbols;

FIG. 5 is a pay table showing awards for non-activated symbols using a “5” symbol;

FIG. 6 is a pay table showing other awards;

FIG. 7 is a front view of a display for a game machine according to an embodiment of the present invention;

FIG. 8 is a flowchart of a method according to the present invention.

DESCRIPTION

Reference is now made to the figures wherein like parts are referred to by like numerals throughout. This invention pertains to a wagering method or process where differing numbers of coins or betting units can be wagered on a given proposition. When the player wagers at least threshold coins (1≦threshold<max-coin) per pay line, one award opportunity is made available to the player. Threshold+k1 coins per pay line offers an additional award opportunity. Additional award opportunities can be established for other wager levels. For example, in such an optional embodiment, threshold+k2 coins per pay line offers yet an additional award opportunity, and so on. It is noted that in this embodiment of the present invention, the award amount does not vary with the wager, only the opportunity to win the award does. This makes it especially appropriate for a progressive jackpot or a physical prize like a car or vacation package.

While the examples below focus on multi-coin/multi-line (“MC/ML”) slot games such as 5 reel slot games, it is specifically noted that the present method also applies to single line slot games, as well as any other base game with other kinds of game result elements other than slot symbols including cards, dice, dominos, tiles, etc.

In one embodiment of this invention, if the player wagers one coin on each pay line of a MC/ML game, then the target award can be won if certain combination of symbols align along one specific pay line. Further, if the player wagers two coins on each pay line, then the target award can be won if certain combination of symbols align along either one of two specific pay lines, and so forth. The more coins played on each pay line, the more pay lines become eligible for paying out the target award if the winning combination of symbols aligns along that pay line. Typically the required winning combination is to get the award symbol on all reels aligned on an eligible pay line.

In another embodiment of this invention, a pay line eligible for a target award if the wager on that pay line is at a specified level, such as the maximum amount, in a MC/ML game where the player is allowed to independently select the wager amount for each pay line. That is, even if the other pay line wagers are not at the specified level, the player may be eligible on each pay line which is played at the specified wager level.

In another embodiment of the present invention, at least two different award symbols, say symbols S1, S2, . . . , are provided. If the player wagers one coin per pay line, then getting symbol S1 on every reel along one specific pay line will cause the player to win the target award. If the player wagers two coins per pay line, then getting symbol S1 on every reel on a specific pay line or getting symbol S2 on every reel on a specific pay line will cause the player to win the target award. Optionally, additional award symbols may be defined so that wagering additional coins on each pay line can result in activation of additional award symbols that trigger the target award if all of the same eligible symbol appears in the proper combination along the eligible pay line. The above example can also be offered in a configuration whereby the target award is paid if an eligible symbol appears in the proper combination along any active pay line or alternately only along certain pay lines.

The above two embodiments can be combined, whereby coin-in first buys additional symbol eligibility and then buys pay line eligibility. Alternately, coin-in could first buy additional pay line eligibility and then additional symbol eligibility.

Most of the above examples use coins per pay line with all pay lines bet as a sample threshold since it is wished to encourage players to bet on all pay lines to maximize their hit frequency and therefore overall enjoyment of the game. However, other thresholds could be defined, such as for every coin wagered or for every K coins wagered, regardless of how these coins may be distributed across the pay lines or perhaps only requiring at least one coin per pay line for base eligibility then allowing unequal coin distribution thereafter.

Furthermore, an embodiment in which thresholds, defined by coin-in amounts, which add additional eligible symbols can also be implemented with a scatter activation instead a specific pay line activation. In this case, the target award is paid if the player gets the eligible symbol on the required number of reels or positions in the game display. Typically, this would be defined as all the reels on which the symbol exists. This could be all five reels on a five reel game or any K reels of a five reel game, or K adjacent reels of a five reel game, as examples.

The scatter pay concept would also apply to grid games, such as a 3Χ3 games, wherein nine symbols, arranged in a three row and three column array, are independently chosen. Scatter pays in these types of game may often award prizes for getting k out of n possible symbols of a certain type, where k<n. This is even more likely in larger formats, such as 4Χ4 where it is exceedingly unlikely to get sixteen matched symbols.

For scatter pays, this invention could be applied in many ways. Higher wager thresholds could result in additional symbols becoming eligible for the target award via a scatter pay outcome. Alternately, the number of symbols required to form a successful scatter pay for the target award could be lowered at higher wager thresholds. Of course, these two mechanisms could be combined to allowed higher wager threshold to result in both increased symbol eligibility as well as decreased symbol count requirements.

It is noted that for the examples in which multiple symbols become eligible with increasing threshold bets, it will typically be the case, but need not necessarily be the case, that a winning combination would be comprised of matched symbols. For example, in such an optional embodiment, a target award may be awarded if the activated symbol S1 appears aligned on each reel along an eligible pay line or if the activated symbol S2 appears aligned on each reel along an eligible pay line, and so forth, but would not be awarded, in such an example, if a pay line includes a mixture of activated S1 and S2 symbols. However, a regular jackpot award (as distinguished from the target award) may be offered, if desired, for such mixed combinations of target award symbol in such an optional embodiment.

Additionally, it is noted that merely because a game outcome is not active for a target award, does not necessarily mean that the game outcome is a losing outcome. That is, if a game outcome would have resulted in the awarding of a target award, but the wagering requirements for the target award were not met, for example, because an insufficient wager was placed or because not all lines were wagered, the game outcome may still result in an award, but different from the target award for which the game outcome could have been activated. For example, an outcome of symbol S5 on all reels along an active payline which would pay the target award, say a progressive jackpot, if max coins were wagered, could instead pay a standard award, say 1000 times wager, if the max coin threshold was not met.

This invention can also be applied for other kinds of gambling games including those involving cards, dice, dominos, tiles, wheels, etc.

A video poker game, for example, could offer an award schedule for the following events:

    • 1 coin wagered: Standard pay for Royal Flush.
    • 2 coins wagered: Progressive award for Royal Flush in the suit of clubs.
    • 3 coins wagered: Progressive award for Royal Flush in the suit of clubs or diamonds
    • 4 coins wagered: Progressive award for Royal Flush in the suit of clubs or diamonds or hearts
    • 5 coins wagered: Progressive award for Royal Flush in the suit of clubs or diamonds or hearts or spades
      Of course this award schedule is merely exemplary and such a scheme could be applied to any pay and any game outcome, such as flush or straight flush.

A video poker game, as another example could activate a target award for straight flush of a certain high card based upon coin-in threshold. As one example:

    • 1 coin wagered: Eligible straight flush: Ace high only
    • 2 coins wagered: Eligible straight flush: Ace and king high
    • 3 coins wagered: Eligible straight flush: Ace, king and queen high and so forth
      In this example, a wager of three or more coins would activate a target award for a straight flush consisting of Queen-Jack-Ten-Eight-Nine, but a wager of two or fewer coins would not. This concept could also be applied to straights.

A video poker game, as another example, could include a target award for matching the rank outcome of a certain card that is activated based upon coin-in. As one example,

    • 1 coin wagered: Eligible 4 of a kind: target award activated for aces only
    • 2 coins wagered: Eligible 4 of a kind: target award activated for aces or kings
    • 3 coins wagered: Eligible 4 of a kind: target award activated for aces, kings or queens
    • and so forth

This invention could also be applied to other card games such as, for example, blackjack. As is well known, a player hand that is dealt an ace and a ten-value card in the first two cards is known as a blackjack. A side bet could be offered in which the player wagers that the suit of a blackjack will match, i.e. both the ace and ten-value card will be of the same suit. In an embodiment according to the present invention, the size of the side wager activates certain target awards and thereby alters the odds of a particular award winning. For example, a side bet wager of one unit activates a target award for only blackjacks with matching suit of clubs. For a side bet wager of two units, a target award is activated for only blackjacks with matching suits of clubs or diamonds. For a side bet wager of three units, a target award is activated for only blackjacks with matching suits of clubs, diamonds, or hearts. For a side bet wager of four units, a target award is activated for blackjacks with matching suits of any suit.

Similarly, the present invention could be applied to a side wager on the mere appearance of a blackjack. According to the present invention, the eligible ten-value card ranks increase with additional wager. For example, for a side bet wager of one unit, a target award would be activated for only blackjacks with a Ace and a ten-spot card. For a side bet wager of two units, a target award would be activated for only blackjacks with a Ace combined with a ten-spot card or a Jack. For a side bet wager of three units, a target award would be activated for only blackjacks with a Ace combined with a ten-spot card, Jack, or Queen. For a side bet wager of four units, a target award would be activated for blackjacks with a Ace combined with a ten-spot card, Jack, Queen, or King would be eligible. This could be offered with or without the requirement that suits of the ace and ten-value card match.

The above two blackjack game concepts could be combined such that additional side bet wagers increase both the eligible suit as well as the eligible rank.

Turning to the drawings, FIG. 1 shows a video slot game which makes use of the invention. FIGS. 2 and 3 demonstrate the wagering structure. If five coins are wagered on each line, then the target award, in this case a progressive award, is activated for symbols “1,” “2,” “3,” “4,” and “5.” Therefore, if a player makes a five coin per line wager, he will receive the progressive award if he gets any of the following symbol combinations along any one pay line: 1 - 1 - 1 - 1 - 1 2 - 2 - 2 - 2 - 2 3 - 3 - 3 - 3 - 3 4 - 4 - 4 - 4 - 4 5 - 5 - 5 - 5 - 5

If four coins are wagered on each line, then the target award is activated for the symbols “1,” “2,” “3,” and “4.” If three coins are wagered on each line, then the target award is activated for the symbols “1,” “2,” and “3.” If two coins are wagered on each line, then the target award is activated for the symbols “1” and “2.” If one coin is wagered on each line, then the target award is only activated for the symbol “1.”

FIGS. 4 and 5 illustrate that an alternate award to the target award is available in the case where the player obtains of the same symbols along a pay line, but when the target award is not activated for the symbols obtained.

These figures also illustrate that alternate awards to the target award may also be available obtaining fewer than five symbols, such as only 3 or only 4 symbols, left to right, on a wagered pay line and for obtaining an unmatched combination of the number symbols along a pay line.

FIG. 6 shows some award outcomes for symbols which are not related to the selectively activated or deactivated target award.

FIG. 7 is a wire frame version of FIG. 1, showing the essentials of a video game slot display 100 consisting of five reels 10, 20, 30, 40 and 50, each reel displaying three symbols 11-13 for the first reel, 21-23 for the second reel, and so on. Also displayed are three pay lines, 61-63. If the player places a wager on a pay line 61-63, then combinations of symbols along the pay line may lead to award. In the figures, the display 100 shows an award outcome because a winning symbol combination, in this case matching symbols, appears at 11, 21, 31 and 41 along pay line 62. A game could have a pay table which defines an award for getting four adjacent heart symbols, starting from the left-most reel, along a pay line.

It is specifically noted that the present invention could also be used to activate or deactivate target awards based on scatter symbols. A scatter pay is paid when a certain quantity of scatter symbols appear anywhere on a game display. That is, there is no requirement in a scatter pay that the award symbols, i.e. scatter symbols, appear on a pay line. Nonetheless, it is also noted that while there is no requirement that a scatter symbol appear on a pay line, it is possible to define a pay table which includes an award for obtaining scatter symbols, such as the star symbols of the figures, on three adjacent reels, as is the case with matching star symbols appearing on the adjacent reels 20, 30 and 40 at locations 22, 33, and 42.

FIG. 8 is a flow diagram of one embodiment of this game method. The player starts the game 205, which may optionally have involved player choosing a starting wager amount (not shown on Figure). The reels spins and display an outcome 210. The outcome is evaluated for a target award. If the target award has not been activated, or if the target award has been activated but an active symbol combination for that target award has been obtained, the standard outcomes are evaluated. In the case of FIG. 8, this includes the evaluation of whether five matching award symbols along a single pay line 220 have been obtained, then standard outcomes are evaluated 299 (not shown on Figure.). Similarly, in FIG. 8, a determination is made whether the pay line along which the matching special symbols occur is enabled based on the wager placed on that pay line 230; if the target award is not active for that symbol combination along that pay line, then there is no award and other standard outcomes are evaluated 299. The optional embodiment of FIG. 8 further includes a third optional criterion for a target pay activation. It is specifically noted that this criterion is wholly optional and is not a requirement to the preset method. In this optional embodiment, if the pay line along which the matching special symbols occur is enabled but a wager has not been placed on all pay lines 240, a condition for prize eligibility in this example, then a standard pay is awarded 242 and other standard outcomes are evaluated 299. Else we see which special symbol occurred 250, 260, 270, 280, 290 and determine if sufficient wagers were placed to allow for special pay 252, 262, 272, 282, 292. If the wager was not sufficient, then a standard pay is awarded 254, 264, 274, 284, 294 and other standard outcomes are evaluated 299. Else the wager was sufficient and a special pay is awarded 256, 266, 276, 286, 296 before the other standard outcomes are evaluated 299.

While certain embodiments of the present invention have been shown and described it is to be understood that the present invention is subject to many modifications and changes without departing from the spirit and scope of the claims presented herein.

Referenced by
Citing PatentFiling datePublication dateApplicantTitle
US20090298571 *Jun 1, 2009Dec 3, 2009Christopher ReynoldsSystem and method for gaming
Classifications
U.S. Classification463/20
International ClassificationA63F, A63F9/24, G07F17/32
Cooperative ClassificationG07F17/3244, G07F17/3258, G07F17/32
European ClassificationG07F17/32K12, G07F17/32K, G07F17/32