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Publication numberUS20060084505 A1
Publication typeApplication
Application numberUS 11/294,301
Publication dateApr 20, 2006
Filing dateDec 5, 2005
Priority dateJan 26, 2004
Publication number11294301, 294301, US 2006/0084505 A1, US 2006/084505 A1, US 20060084505 A1, US 20060084505A1, US 2006084505 A1, US 2006084505A1, US-A1-20060084505, US-A1-2006084505, US2006/0084505A1, US2006/084505A1, US20060084505 A1, US20060084505A1, US2006084505 A1, US2006084505A1
InventorsMark Yoseloff, R. Dunn, Roger Snow
Original AssigneeShuffle Master, Inc.
Export CitationBiBTeX, EndNote, RefMan
External Links: USPTO, USPTO Assignment, Espacenet
Multi-player platforms for special multiplier bonus game in Pai Gow poker variant
US 20060084505 A1
Abstract
A multi-player platform that provides multiple player positions for live players to engage in an interactive wagering game with a virtual dealer and virtual cards comprising at least two player positions that enable live players to place wagers on the game. The game comprises the steps of: placing a wager on a Pai Gow game using Pai Gow hands of seven cards; providing the player in the Pai Gow game with the opportunity to place a side bet wager wherein the outcome of the side bet wager depends on achieving at least a predetermined minimum poker hand rank using the player's seven cards in the Pai Gow hand; providing cards to the player and the dealer to form the player's Pai Gow hand and the dealer's Pai Gow hand, respectively; resolving the Pai Gow game according to the rules of Pai Gow poker; determining the highest ranking poker hand possible using the cards in the player's Pai Gow hand if the player placed the side bet wager; comparing the highest ranking poker hand with the predetermined minimum poker hand rank if the player placed the side bet wager; and providing an award to the player if the highest ranking poker hand is of equal or greater rank than the predetermined minimum poker hand rank.
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Claims(37)
1. A multi-player platform that provides multiple player positions for live players to engage in an interactive wagering game with a virtual dealer and virtual cards comprising at least two player positions that enable live players to place wagers on the game, a display system for showing a virtual dealer, a display system for showing the virtual cards used in play of the game, and a database that contains the rules of the wagering game, the processor enabling play for each player according to the rules in the database, wherein the game comprises the steps of:
a) placing a wager on a Pai Gow game using Pai Gow hands of seven cards;
b) providing the player in the Pai Gow game with the opportunity to place a side bet wager wherein the outcome of the side bet wager depends on achieving at least a predetermined minimum poker hand rank using the seven cards in the Pai Gow hand;
c) providing cards to the player and the dealer to form the player's Pai Gow hand and the dealer's Pai Gow hand, respectively;
d) resolving the Pai Gow game according to the rules of Pai Gow poker;
e) determining the highest ranking poker hand possible using the cards in the player's Pai Gow hand if the player placed the side bet wager;
f) comparing the highest ranking poker hand with the at least a predetermined minimum poker hand rank if the player placed the side bet wager; and
g) providing an award to the player if the highest ranking poker hand is of equal or greater rank than the predetermined minimum poker hand rank.
2. The multi-player platform of claim 1, wherein the outcome of the side bet wager is a multiple of the amount wagered.
3. The multi-player platform of claim 2, wherein the multiple is variable and depends at least partially on the poker hand rank achieved.
4. The multi-player platform of claim 2, wherein the multiple is variable and depends at least partially on the amount of the side bet wager.
5. The multi-player platform of claim 2, wherein the multiple is variable and depends at least partially on the highest poker hand rank possible using the cards in the dealer's Pai Gow hand.
6. The multi-player platform of claim 1, wherein the side bet wager is required.
7. The multi-player platform of claim 1, wherein the side bet wager is optional.
8. The multi-player platform of claim 1, wherein the poker hand rank associated with the side bet wager is determined based on the highest five card poker hand possible using the cards in the player's Pai Gow hand.
9. The multi-player platform of claim 1, wherein the poker hand rank associated with the side bet wager is determined based on the highest seven card poker hand possible using the cards in the player's Pai Gow hand.
10. The multi-player platform of claim 1, wherein the poker hand rank associated with the side bet wager is determined based on the highest three card poker hand possible using the cards in the player's Pai Gow hand.
11. The multi-player platform of claim 1, wherein the poker hand rank associated with the side bet wager is determined based on the highest four card poker hand possible using the cards in the player's Pai Gow hand.
12. The multi-player platform of claim 1, wherein the game further comprises an Envy bonus event, wherein the outcome of the Envy bonus event depends on at least one of the highest ranking poker hands being of a poker hand rank equal to or greater than a predetermined minimum Envy bonus poker hand rank.
13. The multi-player platform of claim 12, wherein the Envy bonus event is actuated by any player placing the side bet wager.
14. The multi-player platform of claim 12, wherein the Envy bonus event is actuated by any player placing a side bet wager of at least a preset amount.
15. The multi-player platform of claim 12, wherein the Envy bonus event is actuated by a separate wager that may be placed by any player in the Pai Gow game.
16. The multi-player platform of claim 12, wherein the Envy bonus event can only be won by a player having placed the side bet wager.
17. The multi-player platform of claim 12, wherein the Envy bonus event can not be won by any player having the poker hand rank equal to or greater than the predetermined minimum Envy bonus poker hand rank.
18. The multi-player platform of claim 12, wherein a winning outcome of the Envy bonus event is a payout comprising a multiple of the side bet wager.
19. The multi-player platform of claim 18, wherein the multiple is variable and depends at least partially on the poker hand rank achieved.
20. The multi-player platform of claim 12, wherein a winning outcome of the Envy bonus event is a payout comprising a fixed amount depending at least partially on the poker hand rank achieved.
21. The multi-player platform of claim 18, wherein the multiple is variable and depends at least partially on the amount of the side bet wager.
22. The multi-player platform of claim 18, wherein the multiple is variable and depends at least partially on the poker hand rank of the cards in the dealer's Pai Gow hand.
23. The multi-player platform of claim 12, wherein the poker hand rank associated with the Envy bonus event is determined based on the highest five card poker hand possible using the cards in the player's Pai Gow hand.
24. The multi-player platform of claim 12, wherein the poker hand rank associated with the Envy bonus event is determined based on the highest seven card poker hand possible using the cards in the player's Pai Gow hand.
25. The multi-player platform of claim 12, wherein the poker hand rank associated with the Envy bonus event is determined based on the highest three card poker hand possible using the cards in the player's Pai Gow hand.
26. The multi-player platform of claim 12, wherein the poker hand rank associated with the side bet event is determined based on the highest four card poker hand possible using the cards in the player's Pai Gow hand.
27. The multi-player platform of claim 12, wherein the predetermined minimum Envy bonus poker hand rank is four of a kind.
28. The multi-player platform of claim 1, wherein the predetermined minimum poker hand rank is three-of-a-kind.
29. The multi-player platform of claim 1, wherein the predetermined minimum poker hand rank is a straight.
30. The multi-player platform of claim 1, wherein the virtual cards comprise a standard fifty-two card deck and at least one joker card.
31. The multi-player platform of claim 1, wherein any player having placed a side bet wager loses the side bet wager if the highest poker hand rank possible using the cards in the player's Pai Gow hand is less than the predetermined minimum poker hand rank.
32. The multi-player platform of claim 1, wherein the award is enhanced if the highest poker hand rank possible using the cards in the dealer's Pai Gow hand is equal to or less than a predetermined dealer qualifying poker hand rank.
33. The multi-player platform of claim 32, wherein the predetermined dealer qualifying poker hand rank is Ace high.
34. The multi-player platform of claim 1, wherein the award is doubled if the highest poker hand rank possible using the cards in the dealer's Pai Gow hand is equal to or less than a predetermined dealer qualifying poker hand rank.
35. A system for playing a wagering game comprising:
a) a database for storing game data relating to rules of Pai Gow, rules of a poker-type game, player and dealer hand information, and a predetermined hierarchy of poker hands in a pay table relating to the poker-type game;
b) a processor for
i) receiving a wager from a player relating to a Pai Gow game using seven-card Pai Gow hands;
ii) receiving a side bet wager wherein the outcome of the side bet wager depends on achieving a predetermined minimum poker hand rank using the seven cards in the Pai Gow hand;
iii) communicating the identity of cards in the player's and a dealer's Pai Gow hands, respectively;
iv) resolving the Pai Gow game according to the rules of Pai Gow poker contained in the database;
v) determining the highest ranking poker hand possible using the cards in the player's Pai Gow hand;
vi) comparing the player's highest ranking poker hand with the predetermined minimum poker hand rank; and
vii) providing an award to the player if the player's highest ranking poker hand is of equal or greater rank than the predetermined minimum poker hand rank; and
c) a user interface for receiving wagers and communicating game activity.
36. The system of claim 35, wherein the user interface is configured to operate over the world wide web to provide the player with access to the game using the world wide web.
37. A machine readable media for facilitating a method of playing a wagering game, comprising:
a) a data segment for,
i) storing game data relating to rules of a Pai Gow game;
ii) storing game data relating to rules of a poker-type game;
iii) storing player and dealer information;
iv) storing a predetermined hierarchy of poker hands in a pay table relating to the poker-type game;
b) a code segment for,
i) receiving a wager from a player relating to a Pai Gow game using seven-card Pai Gow hands;
ii) receiving a side bet wager wherein the outcome of the side bet wager depends on achieving a predetermined minimum poker hand rank using the seven cards in the Pai Gow hand;
iii) communicating the identity of cards in the player's and a dealer's Pai Gow hands, respectively;
iv) resolving the Pai Gow game according to the rules of Pai Gow poker contained in the database;
v) determining the highest ranking poker hand possible using the cards in the player's Pai Gow hand;
vi) comparing the player's highest ranking poker hand with the predetermined minimum poker hand rank; and
vii) providing an award to the player if the player's highest ranking poker hand is of equal or greater rank than the predetermined minimum poker hand rank.
Description
CROSS REFERENCE TO RELATED APPLICATIONS

This application is a continuation-in-part of U.S. patent application Ser. No. 10/770,613, filed on Feb. 2, 2004, the disclosure of which is incorporated herein by reference. This application is also a continuation-in-part of U.S. patent application Ser. Nos. 10/764,827; 10/764,994; and 10/764,995, all filed on Jan. 26, 2004, the disclosures of which are incorporated herein by reference. This application is related to U.S. patent application Ser. No. 11/225,781, filed on Sep. 12, 2005, the disclosure of which is also incorporated herein by reference.

BACKGROUND OF THE INVENTION

1. Field of the Invention

The present invention relates to games of chance, particularly card games of chance, and more particularly to bonus games in casino table card games such as Pai Gow poker. More particularly, the present invention relates to platforms for automated gaming, and especially to multi-player platforms for automated gaming which simulate the casino environment and enhance the automated gaming experience.

2. Background of the Art

Although the game of Pai Gow Poker, frequently referred to as Asian Poker and double hand poker, has been around for many years, it has not received widespread play in gambling establishments throughout the United States. As is well known in the art, the game is played with either tiles or with a standard deck of 52 playing cards with one Joker added. In some versions of the game, a joker is utilized to represent only a limited number of cards such as an Ace or as part of a Straight or Flush. Rankings in Pai Gow Poker are substantially the same as rankings in other types of poker games.

Pai Gow Poker is typically played in a casino at a table much like that used for Blackjack, casino table poker variants, Baccarat or the like, except that there is typically one less player position. That is, there is a dealer position and six player positions equally spaced around the perimeter of the table. The game is limited to six player hands and a dealer hand, using 49 cards, and leaving four remaining cards. At each player position, there are normally markings or indicia for setting the dealer's and players' high and low hands (explained hereinafter) and a spot for each player to place his or her Ante or Bet wager.

The game is typically started by each player placing a bet. The dealer then deals seven cards to himself and seven cards to each of the six player positions, using 49 of the 53 cards in the playing card deck. Each player, including the dealer, then forms two hands from the holdings of seven cards. One hand, referred to as the low hand, consists of two of the dealt cards. The other hand, referred to as the high hand, consists of the remaining five cards that were dealt to that player. The high hand must be higher in poker rank than the low hand. If the hand is a Pai Gow (no ranked hands possible higher then an Ace high), then the highest ranked card must be present in the high hand.

The only requirement in forming or setting the high and low hands is that the low hand must be of a lower rank than the high hand. The ranking of the hands is similar to traditional poker with the exception as pointed out above that the joker can be used to represent an ace or to represent any one card of either a straight or a flush. Thus, the highest possible hand is five aces.

If the player's low hand and high hand are both higher in rank than the low and high hand of the dealer or banker, the player is a winner and the banker loses. However, if both of the dealer's or banker's hands are higher than the player's, the player is a loser and the banker wins. If only one of either of the player's high or low hands tie or lose to the comparable dealer's hand, the round is considered a push. Under some house rules, the banker's hand is normally considered to be the winner in the event of a tie in both hands or even one hand, although this latter rule is rarely in play.

If the player's low hand is of a higher rank than the banker's low hand but the player's high hand is of a lower rank than the banker's high hand, neither wins and there is considered to be a push. Similarly, a push exists when a player's low hand is of a lower rank than the banker's low hand and the player's high hand is of a higher rank of the banker's high hand. There is, therefore, no winner when a push exists.

In some casinos, the banker and the dealer are one and the same and is employed by the casino. The dealer is employed by the casino and deals the cards but is also a player. More frequently, however, the players are given an option, in turn, to be the banker and each of the other players would then play against the banker/player. (The banker is the dealer or player who is responsible for paying or collecting from each of the players.) When this is done, the house, that is, the establishment operating the game, takes a commission by way of a percentage on all winning wagers or is paid a flat commission per round or per hour.

The house also takes a commission or ante from each player when they win. The commission may be about 1% of the wager, such as taking $0.25 from a $25 wager, $0.50 from a $25-50 wager, and $0.75 for a wager between $51-75. There are numerous ways in which the house can collect on a player-banked game.

There are a few known special bonuses that can be won at Pai Gow poker. In some locations, there may be bonuses for specially ranked hands, such as a Pair of Aces and four of a kind or higher, and a special bonus or jackpot for a pair of Aces as the low hand and a straight flush or royal flush for the high hand.

U.S. Pat. No. 6,491,302 describes a method of playing a Pai Gow poker game in which, in addition to the usual seven cards dealt to each player and the dealer, a single player tiebreaker card is dealt for all players and a single dealer tiebreaker card is dealt to the dealer. The ante bet of each player is then paid off for winning and losing hands in the usual manner of a Pai Gow game. However, with push hands (where only one of the two-card hand and five-card hand of the player has a higher poker rank than the respective two-card hand and five-card hand of the dealer), the winner is determined by the higher value of the player and dealer tiebreaker cards so that no push bets occur.

U.S. Pat. Nos. 5,931,472 and 6,070,876 describe improved games of Pai Gow which include offering the player an optional bonus wager. Should the tiles of the Player's hand match any predetermined bonus outcome tile combination, the Player receives a reward for their bonus wager regardless of whether or not the Player has won their hand according to the rules of Pai Gow.

U.S. Pat. No. 6,007,424 describes a method, device and system for playing a new game of Pai Gow Poker. The method includes dealing seven cards to the dealer and to each player, the players and dealer each (from those seven cards) assembling a five card high hand and a two card low hand. For the player to win their wager, both the player's high and low hands must outrank the dealer's hands according to the ranking of hands of Poker. For a push the player's high hand must have a higher ranking the dealer's and be Jacks or better. All other hands are losses. The method provides for greater payoffs if the player has one of a plurality of payoff qualifying holdings. The device includes a processor programmed to play the game according to the method. The system provides for linking devices to amass a progressive jackpot payout should the player obtain a qualifying hand.

U.S. Pat. No. 6,113,103 teaches a variation of Pai Gow Poker known as Dragon Poker. A player makes a wager and is dealt a first four of seven cards face down. A bank is dealt a first a first four of seven cards, three of which are dealt face up. The player is then given an option of surrendering and receiving a return of a portion of the wager. With the surrender, the player's participation in the game is at an end. The player who does not surrender is a surviving player who may be given an option of increasing the wager. The surviving player and the bank are each dealt three additional cards to enable formation of a player back hand and a player front hand and formation of a bank back hand and a bank front hand. After the hands are formed, the wager is resolved.

U.S. Pat. No. 5,863,041 (Boylan) describes a method of playing a Pai Gow poker wagering game in which an Ante bet is initially wagered and a Bonus bet is also wagered by at least one player. Seven cards are then dealt to each player and the dealer, and arranged into a two-card low hand and a five-card high hand. The ante bet of each player is then paid off to in the usual manner for Pai Gow poker. Thereafter, a best five out of seven card poker hand is arranged by the dealer for each player from the seven cards initially dealt to the player, and the bonus bet is paid off if the best poker hand has a poker rank equal to or better than a first predetermined rank (e.g., a straight) but less than a second predetermined rank (e.g., a royal flush or five-of-a-kind in a wild card game). Next, the dealer determines whether the best poker hand of each player has a poker rank better than or equal to the second predetermined rank so that an auxiliary game of chance, such as rolling three dice, is then played to determine whether the bonus bet is paid off at a first payoff rate where the player is a loser or at a second payoff higher than the first payoff rate when the player is a winner in an auxiliary game. In addition, the dealer then determines whether each player has made a bonus bet of a predetermined minimum, (exceeding the betting minimum) which is then paid off if any other player has a best poker hand equal to or better than a third predetermined rank (four of a kind) in an event called an “envy” bet.

U.S. Pat. No. 6,270,078 (Leone et al.) describes version of the game of Pai Gow Poker that allows a player to bet against the house and/or to bet against the other players. In addition to the conventional betting spot for placing an optional bet against the banker and/or other players, an additional betting spot is located in front of each of the players that allows the player to optionally bet against the house. This can be done whether or not the house is the banker. Thus, even if a fellow player has been designated as the banker, each other player can still choose to play against only the house. Each player can, of course, play against his or her fellow player/banker but is not required to do so. Each player can play against the house, against his or her fellow player/banker, against neither or against both.

U.S. Pat. No. 5,584,486 describes a method of playing a game of Pai Gow poker comprising: a player placing a first wager; a player placing a jackpot bet; and a dealer dealing seven cards to himself and to said player. Each player arranges his/her cards into a low hand including two of said seven cards and a high hand including five of said seven cards. Each player evaluates the cards and determines whether the cards comprise a predetermined jackpot card holding of a low hand pair and a high hand of one of (i) four aces and the joker, (ii) a royal flush, (iii) a straight flush, (iv) four of a kind, (v) full house, (vi) flush or (vii) straight. Players are paid a jackpot amount if the player has a jackpot holding. The winner of the first wager is determined by comparing a low hand of said dealer to said low hand of said player and a high hand of said dealer to said high hand of said player.

U.S. Pat. No. 5,580,081 describes a method of eliminating a push in a game of Pai Gow Poker where a player and a banker are each dealt seven cards from a standard deck of 52 playing cards plus a Joker, the player and the banker each forming a High Hand and a Low hand from the dealt cards. The method describes the steps of: assigning a numerical value to each card; comparing a card in a player's hand to a corresponding card in a banker's hand; and designating a winner based upon whether or not the corresponding cards have total numerical values that are either both odd or both even.

U.S. Pat. No. 6,422,564 describes a two card poker game against a dealer in which a two-card dealer hand used in play is created from discarded cards from player hands. Players are initially dealt five cards each, and are required to discard the highest card. The pool of discarded high cards is used to form the dealer's two-card poker hand. The game is played with a lower numerical ranking portion of a deck comprising the card ranks of Two through Eight of a typical fifty-two card Poker deck. The game method includes the steps of each player placing an initial wager to participate in the game. If player positions are not occupied, the dealer retrieves the highest numerical ranking card from hands dealt to unoccupied positions and places those cards into the designated high card area in front of that unoccupied player position. Next, players decide which two cards of their remaining four cards they wish to hold and use to build their mandatory two card hand. Players must place the two cards into an appropriate depicted hold card area in front of that player position. Players must then discard the remaining two cards into an appropriate depicted discard area in front of that player position. Each player then has the benefit of a two card hand. The dealer chooses the house's two card hand from the pool of high cards discarded by the players and placed in the designated area. The dealer indicates the choices by placing an indicator apparatus onto each of the two cards chosen. The dealer informs the players of the houses two card hand. Finally all cards in each occupied player positions are shown, and the payouts to the winning hands and the collections of the losing hands wagers are resolved. The players are playing against the dealer and not against each other.

U.S. Pat. Nos. 6,481,719 and 6,012,719 describe a card game that combines the play of Blackjack (“21”) with a 3-card Poker wager or side bet (“21+3”). Each player places a basic Blackjack wager and an optional three-card poker wager before the cards are dealt. Each player is then dealt a card with the dealer receiving a face-up card. Each player is then dealt a second card. At this point, the outcome of each three-card poker hand is determined, where a three-card poker hand consists of the two-card hand dealt to that player and the dealer's face-up card. After settling the Poker wagers, the game of Blackjack continues in a typical fashion. The invention advantageously retains all the features and advantages of Blackjack as well as provides an additional opportunity to wager on a hand of three-card poker, without interfering with the card dealing sequence, for enhanced player anticipation and enjoyment.

Another known modification of the Pai Gow poker game has been played at “Harvey's Resort and Casino” in Tahoe, Nevada. In this modified game, a bonus bet is made (in addition to the ante bet in the usual game for the five-card hand and two-card hand ranks to be compared with those of the dealer). This bonus bet is won at odds if the player has any five cards (best five-card poker hand of the seven cards dealt) which together rank above a straight (with the odds increasing for increasingly ranked hands). In addition, if a player makes a bonus bet above $5 (5× the minimum), that player can additionally win a predetermined payoff if any other player has any best five-card hand forms a poker rank above four of a kind (with the payoff increasing for increasingly ranked hands). This type of payout is referred to in the industry as an “envy bonus”. Envy bonuses are typically won on another player's hand, not on one's own hand.

Although Pai Gow poker has achieved a level of success where it is present in most card rooms, it is desirable to provide additional features to the game that can make it even more attractive and successful.

SUMMARY OF THE INVENTION

A side bet and corresponding bonus event is combined with the traditional game of Pai Gow poker. The bonus event does not in any way alter the strategy of play of the underlying Pai Gow poker game. The Bonus event requires no additional cards, and adds interest to the game. Each player may make a first side bet wager to enter the bonus game, and is automatically entered into an envy bonus event. The bonus game may be played and resolved before play of the Pai Gow game or after play of the Pai Gow game, but is preferably done after the play of the underlying Pai Gow game. The first side bet wager is made against a pay table, rather then against direct competitive rank play against other players and/or the house. The wager is made on whether the player's hand will exceed a minimum rank and will be paid according to the relative level of the rank achieved in a best five of seven card poker hand. The players place the bonus bet or side bet in a designated area. After the basic game of Pai Gow is resolved, the dealer forms a best five of seven card hand for each player, and payouts are made on the basis of those seven card hands having at least a minimum poker rank. After the seven card ranks are identified (and possibly after being paid), the dealer's hand is reviewed with respect to the highest seven-card hand in the dealer's seven cards. If the dealer's best-of-seven card hand rank is less, equal to, or less than a predetermined rank, e.g., an Ace-High Pai Gow (no hand of a at least a rank of a pair), player's having made the first side bet wager will have any bonus payout for a ranked hand multiplied or otherwise increased. If a player's side bet wager amount meets or exceeds a minimum threshold amount, then an envy wager event will be played. In an envy event, the appearance in any player's hand of a seven card hand of at least one of a second series of predetermined ranks will provide a basis for a special bonus to envy bet players, except for the player who obtains the envy bonus hand of the at least second predetermined rank.

The present invention is also directed to a multi-player platform that provides multiple player positions for live players to engage in an interactive wagering game with a virtual dealer and virtual cards comprising at least two player positions that enable live players to place wagers on the same game, a display system for showing a virtual dealer, a display system for showing the virtual cards used in play of the game, and a database that contains the rules of the wagering game, the processor enabling play for each player according to the rules in the database.

In one embodiment, the multi-player platform is configured and adapted to provide a game comprising the steps of: placing a wager on a Pai Gow game using Pai Gow hands of seven cards; dealing seven cards to the dealer and each player; providing the player in the Pai Gow game with the opportunity to place a side bet wager wherein the outcome of the side bet wager depends on achieving at least a predetermined minimum poker hand rank using the seven cards in the Pai Gow hand; the players setting a five card high hand and a two card low hand with the cards; resolving the Pai Gow game according to the rules of Pai Gow poker; determining the highest ranking poker hand possible using each of the seven cards in the player's Pai Gow hand if the player placed the side bet wager; comparing the highest ranking poker hand with the predetermined minimum seven-card poker hand rank if the player placed the side bet wager; and providing an award to the player if the highest ranking poker hand is of equal or greater rank than the predetermined minimum poker hand rank. The players then play the game of Pai Gow poker by setting high and low hands and comparing the high and low hands with the dealer high and low hands. The player must hold a higher ranking high and low card hand than the dealer to win.

According to an aspect of the invention, the device awards automatic payouts to players whose side bet wager meets of exceeds a minimum threshold value, and another player obtains a seven-card hand that is a predetermined winning envy bonus hand.

According to an embodiment of the present invention, the aforementioned game and platform are configured and adapted so that the outcome of the side bet wager is a multiple of the amount wagered. The multiple may be a variable and depend at least partially on the poker hand rank achieved, at least partially on the amount of the side bet wager, or at least partially on the highest poker hand rank possible using the cards in the dealer's Pai Gow hand, or some combination thereof.

The side bet wager may be required or optional in order to play the underlying Pai Gow game. An additional side bet to participate in the envy bonus may or may not be required.

According to yet another embodiment of the present invention, the aforementioned game and platform are configured and adapted so that the virtual cards comprise a standard fifty-two card deck and at least one joker card. The joker may serve as a special wild card able to act as an Ace or a card to complete a straight, a flush or a straight flush, or a completely wild card in that it can be any card desired.

According to yet another embodiment of the present invention, the aforementioned game and platform are configured and adapted so that any player having placed a side bet wager loses the wager if the highest poker hand rank possible using the cards in the player's Pai Gow hand is less than the predetermined minimum poker hand rank.

According to an embodiment of the present invention, the aforementioned game and platform are configured and adapted so that the poker hand rank associated with the side bet wager is determined based on the highest seven card poker hand formed from all of the player's cards. Alternatively, the game and platform may be configured and adapted so that the poker hand rank associated with the side bet wager is determined based on the highest two, three, four or five card poker hand possible using the cards in the player's Pai Gow hand.

According to yet another embodiment of the present invention, the aforementioned game and platform are configured and adapted so that the predetermined minimum winning poker hand rank is three-of-a-kind. Alternatively, the predetermined minimum poker hand rank may be a straight.

According to yet another embodiment of the present invention, the aforementioned game and platform are configured and adapted to include an automatic Envy bonus payout, wherein the outcome of the Envy bonus is determined by the highest ranking poker hand for the player having placed the side bet wager including a poker hand rank of equal or greater rank than a predetermined minimum Envy bonus poker hand rank. The Envy bonus is paid to all players placing the side bet except for the player with the winning envy bonus hand.

According to yet another embodiment of the present invention, the aforementioned game and platform are configured and adapted so that a separate Envy bonus wager is manually or automatically placed by any player placing the side bet wager. Alternatively, the Envy bonus wager may be automatically placed by any player placing a side bet wager of at least a preset amount, or be a separate wager that may be placed by any player in the Pai Gow game. Automatic placement of a wager for purposes of this disclosure includes registering a separate bet and decreasing an amount on a credit meter by the same amount. Automatic bet placement can also mean splitting the side bet wager amount between the side bet and Envy bet.

The aforementioned game and platform may be configured and adapted so that the Envy bonus wager cannot be won by the player having the winning Envy bonus poker hand rank.

In one embodiment, all Envy bonus payouts are fixed amounts regardless of the wager amount. According to yet another embodiment of the present invention, the aforementioned game and platform are configured and adapted so that the outcome of the Envy bonus wager is a multiple of the side bet amount wagered. The multiple may be a variable and depend at least partially on the highest possible poker hand rank achieved, at least partially on the amount of the Envy bonus wager, at least partially on the amount of the side bet wager, or at least partially on the highest poker hand rank possible using the cards in the dealer's Pai Gow hand, or some combination thereof.

The aforementioned game and platform in one form of the invention are configured and adapted so that the poker hand rank associated with the Envy bonus wager is determined based on the highest seven card poker hand possible using all of the cards in the player's Pai Gow hand. Alternatively, the game and platform may be configured and adapted so that the poker hand rank associated with the Envy bonus wager is determined based on the highest two, three, four, five or six card poker hand possible using the cards in the player's Pai Gow hand.

According to yet another embodiment of the present invention, the aforementioned game and platform are configured and adapted so that the predetermined minimum Envy bonus poker hand rank is four of a kind.

Another aspect of the invention is that the bonus awards are enhanced when the dealer's hand is particularly low, such as an Ace-high or less. One enhancement is to double the payouts on the side bet.

The present invention is also directed to a system for playing a wagering game comprising a database, a processor and a user interface. The database is preferably configured and adapted for storing game data relating to rules of Pai Gow, rules of a poker-type game, player and dealer hand information, and a predetermined hierarchy of poker hands in a pay table relating to the poker-type game. The processor is preferably configured and adapted for receiving a wager from a player relating to a Pai Gow game using seven-card Pai Gow hands; receiving a side bet wager wherein the outcome of the side bet wager depends on achieving a predetermined minimum poker hand rank using the seven cards in the Pai Gow hand; communicating the identity of cards in the player's and a dealer's Pai Gow hands, respectively; resolving the Pai Gow game according to the rules of Pai Gow poker contained in the database; determining the highest ranking poker hand possible using the cards in the player's Pai Gow hand; comparing the player's highest ranking poker hand with the predetermined minimum poker hand rank; and providing an award to the player if the player's highest ranking poker hand is of equal or greater rank than the predetermined minimum poker hand rank. The user interface is preferably configured and adapted for receiving wagers and communicating game activity, such as setting high and low hands and arranging a best seven card poker hand.

According to yet another embodiment of the present invention, the aforementioned user interface is configured to operate over the world wide web to provide the player with access to the game using the world wide web.

The present invention is also directed to a machine readable media for facilitating a method of playing a wagering game comprising one or more data segments and one or more code segments. The one or more data segments are preferably configured and adapted for storing game data relating to rules of a Pai Gow game; storing game data relating to rules of a poker-type game; storing player and dealer information; and storing a predetermined hierarchy of poker hands in a pay table relating to the poker-type game. The one or more code segments are preferably configured and adapted for receiving a wager from a player relating to a Pai Gow game using a high and a low card Pai Gow hand; receiving a side bet wager wherein the outcome of the side bet wager depends on achieving a predetermined minimum poker hand rank using the seven cards in the Pai Gow hand; communicating the identity of cards in the player's and a dealer's Pai Gow hands, respectively; resolving the Pai Gow game according to the rules of Pai Gow poker contained in the database; determining the highest ranking poker hand possible using the cards in the player's Pai Gow hand; comparing the player's highest ranking poker hand with the predetermined minimum poker hand rank; and providing a side bet award to the player if the player's highest ranking poker hand is of equal or greater rank than the predetermined minimum poker hand rank.

These and other aspects of the system and method of the present invention will become more readily apparent to those having ordinary skill in the art from the following detailed description of the invention taken in conjunction with the drawings.

DESCRIPTION OF THE DRAWINGS

So that those having ordinary skill in the art to which the present invention pertains will more readily understand how to make and use the method and system of the present disclosure, preferred and exemplary embodiments thereof will be described in detail herein below with reference to the drawings, wherein:

FIG. 1A is a top plan view of an exemplary embodiment of a playing surface suitable for facilitating the play of a game described herein in conjunction with a platform constructed in accordance with the present invention;

FIG. 1B shows a perspective view of a prior art format for an automated gaming system;

FIG. 2 shows a top plan view of a prior art format for an automated gaming system;

FIG. 3 shows a side elevational view of a prior art format for an automated gaming system;

FIG. 4 shows a block schematic diagram of the electronic configuration of a prior art automated gaming system;

FIG. 5 shows a perspective view of a format for an automated gaming system according to the present invention;

FIG. 6 shows a schematic diagram of a gaming engine useful in the practice of the present invention;

FIG. 7 shows a schematic diagram of a player station useful in the practice of the present invention; and

FIG. 8 shows a schematic diagram of a game display useful in the practice of the present invention.

DETAILED DESCRIPTION OF THE INVENTION

Among some of the features that can contribute to the unique play of the game of the present invention include one or more of at least the following elements:

    • 1) The underlying game is a table version of PAI GOW poker game.
    • 2) A mandatory Ante wager is placed to play in an underlying PAI GOW poker game against the dealer's hands.
    • 3) An optional or mandatory side bet is placed at any time prior to the players viewing one or more cards to engage in a separately paying, side-bet wagering game against a pay table. The game is usually played with a standard deck without any jokers or a 53-card standard playing card deck with a single joker. as is the conventional PAI GOW game. Winnings are determined in the separate side bet game by resolution of seven-card poker hands contained in a pay table.
    • 4) The separately paying game does not interfere with any underlying strategy in the play of the underlying PAI GOW game.
    • 5) Before, after or during play of the game against the pay table, a best seven card hand is established for the dealer. The player, dealer or gaming platform can arrange the hand.
    • 6) The separate side bet game is preferably played out after resolution of the underlying PAI GOW poker game. When the dealer's best seven card poker hand has a low rank beneath or at a predetermined threshold, awards provided by the pay table on the side bet separate game are enhanced, as by additive amounts, a multiplier effect, or a combination of additive amount and/or multiplier effect.

The PAI GOW game is played to its normal conclusion, the separate game having no possible influence on the PAI GOW game. The side bet wager game against the pay table is played out (including the dealer hand evaluation in the bonus event), and when at least one player has made a qualifying or additional wager in an envy bet event, envy bet events are resolved.

The present game may be more generally described as follows. An underlying game of Pai Gow is played (with the side bets not being considered in this underlying game). That underlying game of Pai Gow is generally played in a manner similar to the following steps.

Ante wagers are made by each player in the underlying Pai Gow game. The wagers are between the player and the dealer. The outcome of the game is determined by randomly ordered playing cards having various ranks and suits. Seven cards are dealt to each player and seven cards are dealt to the dealer. The seven cards dealt to each player are arranged or “set” by that player into a two-card low hand and a five-card high hand (and the player may in some instances actually seek advice from the dealer in arranging legally proper hands). The platform may also automatically arrange the player hands or at the request of the player arrange the hands. The seven cards dealt to the dealer are set by the dealer into a two-card low hand and a five-card high hand, usually according to House rules as to how hands must be arranged. The respective five-card hands and two-card hands of each player and the dealer are then compared. The ante bet of each player is paid off according to the rules of play of Pai Gow poker, with payouts being made to the respective player or players if both the two-card hand and the five-card hand of the player have a higher poker rank than the respective two-card hand and five-card hand of the dealer. The bet is taken by the house if both the two-card hand and the five-card hand of the player have a lower poker rank than the respective two-card hand and five-card hand of the dealer. Bets are a push when only one of the two-card hand and five-card hand of the player has a higher poker rank than the respective two-card hand and five-card hand of the dealer (the hand is a push). This is the basic manner in which the underlying game of Pai Gow is played. Other considerations in this play include the fact that the house will require a payment from each player that wins in the underlying game with the house take typically based upon the size of the wager made by the player in the underlying game.

In the modified Pai Gow poker game of the present invention, there are additional, but simple steps that are performed. At the beginning of the underlying Pai Gow poker game, the players have one or more optional, mandatory or a combination thereof, bonus game side bet wagers that can be made in addition to the normal Pai Gow wager. The amount of the side bet wager may be independent of the underlying wager in the Pai Gow poker game. For example, the side bet wager may require a minimum of a $1.00 wager whether in a $5.00, $10.00, or $25.00 minimum bet Pai Gow poker game. The amount of this minimum wager may be varied according to the design of the game, the target house hold, and variations in the game that may be made by the house, among other things.

Considering only an embodiment wherein the side bet bonus wager is a pay table based game at this time, the modified Pai Gow poker game of the invention may proceed as follows. After placing the Ante and side bet, and after the play of the underlying Pai Gow poker game and the resolution of the game bets, the players (alone or with the assistance of the dealer) would then examine their seven cards and create a best seven-card poker hand. This best seven-card poker hand might actually be different from the five-card hand played during the Pai Gow poker game, because of strategy considerations. For example, it is a common strategy to split a Full House in Pai Gow poker to form a three-of-a-kind High Hand and a pair for the Low Hand to increase the likelihood of a win. If the best seven-card hand exceeds a minimum rank (e.g., at least a straight), the player holding that seven-card hand which meets or exceeds the minimum rank would be entitled to a bonus according to a predetermined pay table. This bonus payout is in addition to the win in the underlying Pai Gow poker game. An example of a pay table for the bonus win, as well as the Envy bonus on the side bet could be:

Best 7-card Hand Payout Times Ante Wager Envy Bonus
7 Card Straight Flush 5000:1 $2500
5 Card Royal Flush with 2000:1 $1000
Royal Match ™ (i.e.,
King and Queen of the
same suit)
7 Card Straight Flush 1000:1 $500
with a Joker (or other
wild card)
5 Aces (with a Joker or  500:1 $250
other wild card)
Royal Flush  100:1 $50
Straight Flush (No Joker  50:1 $25
or other wild card)
Straight Flush (with  30:1 $10
Joker or other wild card)
Four-of-a-Kind  25:1 $5
Full House   6:1 NA
Flush   3:1 NA
Straight & Three of a   2:1 NA
Kind

At this time (that is, after the players have organized their best seven-card poker hands and compared them to the pay table) or earlier in the play of the game, but after resolution of the underlying Pai Gow poker wager, the dealer arranges the dealer's seven cards into a seven-card poker hand. Where the dealer's best seven-card poker hand falls at or under a threshold of a rank hand, that is, has a rank equal to or less than a predetermined minimum rank, an enhanced bonus consideration or payout may be made in the side bet wager game. For example, if the dealer has an Ace-high or lower the odds payout is doubled.

A “Pai Gow” hand for purposes of this disclosure is defined as a hand in which no pairs or higher can be made from all seven cards in the hand. If the threshold for this additional bonus consideration is set at the Pai Gow hand level (as opposed to a pair of deuces or lower, a pair of 3's or lower, a pair of 4's or lower, or a King-High Pai Gow (i.e., there are no pairs or higher available and the highest card in the dealer's hand is a King, excluding and Ace-High Pai Gow hand), or a Queen-High Pai Gow, or a Jack-High Pai Gow, or a 10-High Pai Gow hand, etc.), the dealer's hand is reviewed for its best seven-card rank. If the dealer's hand falls below or meets this threshold, an enhanced or additional bonus is available to all players that have their own bonus hand. For example, if the threshold dealer hand for the additional bonus is a King-High Pai Gow hand, and the dealer's hand has no flush and consists of Jack, 10, 9, 7, 5, 4, 2, the threshold has been met and the player with a ranked bonus hand will have the bonus hand pay out increased. For further illustration, if the player had a high and low hand of a straight and a pair and had made an initial $10.00 Pai Gow wager and a $1.00 side bet wager, in this circumstance the player would be paid $10.00 (even money) less house commission (e.g., $0.50) on the Pai Gow poker game wager (assuming a win), would be entitled to $2.00 bonus for having the straight, and because of the dealer's low threshold hand, the $2.00 bonus would be multiplied to $40.00 (assuming 2× for the additional bonus effect for the dealer having a low hand). The player would therefore receive back his initial $10.00 wager and $10.00 even money less house commission, plus $4.00 while losing the $1.00 side bet wager that is always collected by the house.

This play offers some significant benefits to the player and the house while increasing the potential for enjoyment by the players. First, there are no additional implements needed to add a bonus feature to Pai Gow poker, such as dice or a roulette-type wheel. The game does not allow for any change in strategy in the play of the underlying game. The bonus events may be quickly and easily determined.

Many variations are allowed within the play of the bonus event game. For example, the additional bonus for the dealer having a low threshold hand can be variable. For example, the multiplier can be 1× the player's bonus hand award for any Pai Gow hand (or other determined threshold) in addition to the payout for the bonus hand (e.g., the 1:1 shown above for a straight). The multiplier could be IX for a Queen-High, King-High or Ace-High Pai Gow and 2× for a Jack-High or lower Pai Gow dealer hand. The multiplier could be 1× for a King-High or Ace-High Pai Gow and 2× for a Queen-High, Jack-High, and 3× (or more) for a 10-High or lower Nine-High or lower Pai Gow dealer hand. An award of 10× for a perfect Pai Gow low hand, (9-8-7-5-4-3-2 or 9-8-7-6-4-3-2 out of suit) could pay 10×. It is also possible for absolute payout amounts to be made, rather than or in addition to multipliers of the bonus hand pay table awards. For example, on a $1.00 bonus side bet wager, the player may be given $50.00 if the dealer has an 10-High Pai Gow hand or lower. This absolute payout amount may be given whether or not the player has a bonus ranked hand, but optionally does require the side bet wager to be placed. As the size of the side bet wager increases (in addition to potential effects on an envy wager, which is discussed in further detail herein below), it is also possible for the threshold level to change. The change may be for an individual player or for the table. For example, with a $1.00 side bet wager, the threshold for the bonus may be a dealer's 10-High Pai Gow or lower. With a $2.00 wager, the threshold for the bonus may be a dealer's Jack-High Pai Gow or lower. For a $3.00 side bet wager, the threshold for the bonus may be a dealer's Queen-High Pai Gow or lower. For a $5.00 wager, the threshold for the bonus may be a dealer's Ace-High Pai Gow or lower, or even a pair of 2's or 3's and lower.

It is desirable that all bonus ranked hands (e.g., all hands of a straight or better, including the Royal Flush and five-of-a-kind in a wild card variation or Joker used as a fifth Ace) be paid from the bonus pay table, although that is not required. The use of the additional bonus effect based upon the analysis of the dealer's best 5-Card hand and the low rank of the dealer's hand is in itself a unique attribute and adds significant interest to the play of the game. One of the clear benefits of this game is that players already root for the dealer to have a low rank hand, so that they can win the underlying Pai Gow game. Now there is greater incentive and greater value in finding low rank hands for the dealer. This keeps the objectives and interests of players focused on the same events and evaluations. In other embodiments, players are required to play the bonus with their existing five card high hand, or other combination of dealer and/or player cards.

Another optional, but preferred element of the game is the envy bet. This is similar to the envy event found in the play of prior art games such as the Pai Gow poker game played at “Harvey's Resort and Casino” in Tahoe, Nev. and disclosed in U.S. Pat. No. 5,863,041, incorporated herein by reference and described in greater detail above. The envy poker game may be entered automatically (i.e., with no additional wager) by a separate (e.g., a second side bet wager of, for example, $1.00 $2.00, $3.00, $4.00 or $5.00) wager or by having a larger first side bet or wager bet (e.g., at least $4.00, $5.00, or more or less). It is preferred to have the envy bet entered automatically, with no additional wagers. For example, a $1.00 side bet wager may enter the player in only the pay table bonus event (with or without the dealer hand bonus), a $2.00 side bet wager may enter the player in the pay table bonus and the dealer low hand bonus event, and a $5.00 wager may enter the player into the pay table event, the dealer low hand bonus event and the envy poker game event. In one preferred form of the invention, only the pay table and dealer low hand bonus events are provided in the same game.

The envy event is resolved, for example, as follows. After all best 7-Card poker hands have been displayed for all of the players (not just the players making the qualifying envy bet), the hands are viewed to see if any player has a hand rank that is sufficiently high enough to trigger the envy hand feature. If one or more players has a triggering hand, only the highest of the triggering hands is usually considered. For example, if an envy bet triggering hand is at least a full house, and one player has a full house and another player has four-of-a-kind, the four-of-a-kind hand is preferably used for the envy hand event. For all players that have made the envy bet (except for the player who has the high envy hand qualifying or triggering hand), there is an additional bonus feature with those players being paid an additional bonus amount (based on their underlying game wager and/or on their envy hand event qualifying wager) in accordance with a separate pay table for envy hand events. In one example of the invention all Envy bonus payouts are fixed amounts. In another example, envy bonus payouts are odds payouts or a combination of fixed and odds payouts.

For example, if a first player is the only player to make the qualifying envy event wager and that player has a losing Pai Gow hand and no bonus event best seven-card hand, that player would be paid from a pay table if a second player at the table (who may or may not have made a qualifying envy bet wager) has an envy event triggering hand, such as four-of-a-kind. It is therefore possible for a player to ride on the hands of other players good cards, which is especially attractive if there are more players at a table, and the probability of a triggering hand at a table increasing because of the larger number of player hands at the table. This envy hand game event can be described as determining whether each player has made an bonus bet of a predetermined minimum which thus qualifies as an envy bet; and paying off of any envy bet by each player if any other player has a best poker hand equal to or better than a triggering predetermined poker rank. Although in a preferred form of the invention only certain high ranking hands pay an envy bonus, the game could be structured so that all winning bonus hands also pay an envy bonus payout.

EXAMPLES

An example of a round of play of the Pai Gow poker game with side bet according to the invention is as follows. To simplify the description, only four players are at the table, Players 1, 2, 3 and 4. The table surface 210 is shown in FIG. 1. Players are located at player positions 212, 214, 216 and 218, although six player hands and a dealer hand are dealt, with four residual cards.

Players 1, 2, 3 and 4 place $5 wagers on betting circle 224 a-d, in the underlying Pai Gow game. Players 1 and 2 place wagers of $1, Player 3 places a wager of $5, and Player 4 places no wager, respectively, on areas 226 a, 226 b, 226 c and 226 d, the side bet game. Player positions 212, 214, 216, 218, 220 and 222, and the dealer's position 228 are dealt seven cards each from a starting deck of 53 cards, the standard 52-card playing deck and a joker. Player hand position 220 is designated as a Dragon hand, which each player declines to buy. Each player and the dealer set their high and low hands and place them in the appropriate hand areas 234 a-f and 236.

The normal play of Pai Gow poker is undertaken, and the events of that play are immaterial to the play of the side bet wager. The hands are left on the table. At the conclusion of the Pai Gow game, the dealer reviews or arranges the players seven cards to identify a best seven-card poker hand. The dealer may also arrange the dealer cards into a best seven-card hand at this time, or wait to arrange the dealer's hand. This is an insignificant choice, as the dealer's hand is already fully exposed. The dealer examines the best five-card hands of all players to determine if any player entered into the side bet wager game against the pay table has a qualifying hand, that is a hand of at least a straight in the example of this game. The dealer's best five-card hand cards are displayed by the dealer at a central position 236 (e.g., where the dealer's hand had been previously located).

It is assumed in this example that the Pai Gow game has been resolved and the best seven-card hands are Player 1—3-of-a-kind; Player 2—straight; Player 3—four of a kind; and Player 4—Full House. In this situation, Player 1 who entered the side bet pay table game, 2:1 on the side bet or $2.00. Player 2 has a guaranteed bonus payout of 2:1 on the original Pai Gow wager because of the straight, or $2.00. Player 3 who entered the side bet pay table game, is paid 25:1 or $75. Player 4 gets no bonus for the Full House, because no side bet wager against the pay table was made by Player 4. No players win the Envy bonus because the only player placing a qualifying bonus bet (player 3) is the only player with a qualifying hand. As previously mentioned, an Envy bonus is not paid to the player whose hand is of a qualifying rank.

As stated previously, the winning envy bonus hands may be the same hands that pay a bonus, a subset of those hands, or even different hands.

The invention has been described in terms of specific examples to assist in understanding the practice of the invention, but alternative rules and materials can be used in the play of the game. For example, a smart automatic card shuffling system such as the MD-2 Card Shuffler with card reading capability from Shuffle Master Gaming could be used to provide a random order of rank and suit of cards delivered to the game. This device is disclosed in co-pending U.S. patent application Ser. No. 10/623,223 filed Jul. 17, 2003, entitled “Card Shuffler With Card Rank and Value Reading Capability” assigned to Shuffle Master, Inc. The disclosure of this patent application is incorporated herein by reference. This shuffler can be programmed to provide a data stream representing a random order of cards displayed on a video screen on the multi-player platform. The shuffler is capable of reading the cards as they are being fed into the shuffler. A special display could be provided that would show the four cards in the residual hand that are fed into the shuffler. The cards could be displayed using the card revelation system of U.S. Pat. No. 6,386,973, or a traditional display panel showing the deal position of each hand as described in U.S. Pat. No. 5,275,411 could be expanded to show the hand read from the residual cards and announce the amount of the bonus in alphanumerics. U.S. Pat. No. 6,386,973 and U.S. Pat. No. 5,275,411 are incorporated herein by reference.

Other options in the play of the game are also possible. For example, by requiring a mandatory minimum bonus wager to qualify for the envy bonus wager or merely by having a separate envy qualifying wager, the normal house commission in the underlying Pai Gow game can be eliminated for players making that wager, at least up to a maximum amount of the Pai Gow wager. The return for the side bet wager could balance out that return to the house. As Pai Gow wagers tend to be more restricted in size, the maximum withdrawal by the house tends to be low, such as $0.50 to $5.00. By requiring a $5.00 mandatory wager for the pay table event and the envy hand event, the house withdrawal can be reduced or eliminated.

One aspect of a game according to the present invention may be described a method of playing a Pai Gow poker wagering card game. This aspect of the method of play may comprise:

    • a) Players wagering an Ante bet on a Pai Gow game, as described above and as generally known in the art;
    • b) Players placing a wager (which may be optional or mandatory) against a pay table on a separate poker-type game that uses a best seven-card hand from each player's hand;
    • c) dealing seven-card hands from a set of cards to six player positions and one dealer position, as is done in the standard play of Pai Gow poker;
    • d) resolving the game of Pai Gow poker against the standard rules of Pai Gow poker as described above, players' hands of two-card low hands and five-card high hands competing against dealer's two-card low hand and dealer's five-card high hand;
    • e) after resolution of the underlying Pai Gow poker game, forming best seven-card poker hands for at least each player having placed the wager against the pay table (of winning card combinations and corresponding pay out odds), and alternatively for every player at the table, whether or not each player has placed the wager against the poker table;
    • f) resolving wagers with players who have placed the wager against the pay table, making an award to that player when that player's best seven-card poker hand equals or exceeds a predetermined rank;
    • g) providing an additional award to players who have placed the wager against the pay table i) when that player's best seven-card poker hand equals or exceeds a predetermined rank and ii) when a best five-card hand for the dealer is equal to or less than a predetermined rank; and
    • h) Enhancing the bonus payout when the dealer's hand is at or below a minimum threshold value.

The method is preferably played with a set of cards comprising or consisting of a standard fifty-two card deck with at least one joker. Entry into an envy hand poker game, as the game is known in the art and as described herein may be made in a number of ways. The envy hand poker game may be an automatic part of the Pai Gow game, without an additional wager; the envy hand poker game may be entered solely by making the wager against the pay table for the five-card poker game; or the envy hand poker game may require a separate qualifying wager specific for that game or an elevated (more expensive) wager against the pay table to enable entry into both the wager against the pay table and the envy hand poker game. For example, a wager against the pay table of $1.00 may enter the player against only the pay table, while a wager of $5.00 against the pay table may enter the player into both the wager against the pay table and entry into the envy hand poker game. Thus, the wager against a pay table may or may not enter the player into an envy hand wagering event. Also, the first level of the wager against a pay table may enter the player into the wagering event against the pay table and a second and higher level of wager against the pay table may also enter the player into the wagering event against the pay table and an envy hand poker gaming event. The wager against the pay table may be mandatory or optional. The pay table for the best seven-card hand for a player may require a rank of at least a ranked three-of-a-kind, at least a straight, or at least a flush for payment for a ranked hand in the table.

Another way of describing a variant Pai Gow poker game of the invention is as a method of playing a Pai Gow poker wagering card game comprising:

    • i) Players wagering on a Pai Gow game;
    • j) Players placing a wager (optional or mandatory) on a separate poker-type game that uses all seven-cards from player cards;
    • k) dealing seven-card hands to multiple player positions (e.g., usually six positions, but fewer positions can be dealt to without altering the game) and one dealer position;
    • l) resolving the game of Pai Gow poker according to the standard rules of Pai Gow poker or any special house rules;
    • m) comparing each best seven-card poker hand made from the seven player cards against a pay table for predetermined hand ranks;
    • n) paying players who have both placed the additional wager and displayed poker hands of at least the predetermined rank according to the pay table and rules of the separate poker-type game played with best seven-card hands of the players; and
    • o) if a best seven-card hand for the dealer from the dealer's Pai Gow cards is equal to or less than a predetermined rank, increasing the amount of payment to players from step m).

As with the other description of a Pai Gow poker variant game according to the invention, an envy hand poker game may be included by similar steps and methods as described above. A jackpot event or progressive jackpot event may also be included by various methods in these games. A separate wager may be placed, a portion of the wager against the pay table may be added to the jackpot, or some or all of the house withdrawal from winning Pai Gow hands may be added to the jackpot. In this way, a fee may be charged by the dealer for a favorable resolution of the Pai Gow wager when the wager against the pay table is made and yet players will appreciate that a jackpot is accumulating at least in part from this fee.

The play of the game may be completed manually on a non-electronic game table, with the dealer using a physical deck(s) of cards, visually identifying the amounts and positions of wagers, manually collecting and paying out wagers, etc. It is possible to incorporate some degree or nearly an entire electronic system into the game table or into the play of the game. Such partial or complete electronic systems may perform such tasks as identifying the existence of a wager (e.g., U.S. Pat. Nos. 6,229,534; 5,337,973; and 5,377,994), or may provide virtual cards from an electronically stored deck of cards (e.g., U.S. Pat. Nos. 5,255,915; and 5,897,436). The capabilities of technology are constantly expanding, and the improvements in technology should not be considered to avoid the underlying invention of the play of this game. For example, player monitoring systems, security systems, integrated systems where shufflers identify the number of cards and/or identify the specific cards and their positions in the play of the game are contemplated in the practice of the present invention.

The game of the present invention can also be in the form of an executable program played on a computerized apparatus or system which may be integrated with one or more multimedia transceiving terminals. It should be readily apparent to those skilled in the art that a system in accordance with the present invention can include various computer and network related software and hardware, such as computer language programs, operating systems, memory storage devices, input/output devices, data processors, servers with links to data communication systems, wireless or otherwise, such as those which take the form of a local or wide area distributed computing network, and a plurality of data transceiving terminals within the network, such as personal computers or otherwise. It should be understood that the system of the present invention may also include multiple, redundant or backup devices of those described herein. Those skilled in the art will further appreciate that, so long as its users are provided with access to a system and the ability to play the game according to the present invention, the type of network, software or hardware is not vital to its full implementation.

In an exemplary embodiment, the core functional components of a game system of the present invention include a database, processor, and one or more graphical user interfaces. One exemplary system can be configured to function as a free standing terminal but may also be configured provide the game of the present invention to a plurality of players via the world wide web.

The system provides game play to players through graphical user interfaces which preferably include data entry terminals and monitors that provide visual depictions of the game as play ensues. The data entry terminals are preferably adjacent the monitor and can include buttons, touch screens, voice responsive actuators or any other device for indicating a preference.

The data storage device, which contains the programming, game rules, predefined criteria, wagering and payment information, among other data relating to operation of the game in accordance with the present invention, is operatively associated with one or more analytical processors by a control program. Programs in the system of the present invention may contain an instruction set written in a conventional computing language such as HTML, C++ or Java, for coordinating the interactive relationship between the data storage device, processor and graphical user interface.

The game play on the system of the present invention is preferably initiated by the player placing one or more wagers. The wagers can be placed by the player inserting money into a specially configured receiving slot in the data terminal or electronically from a credit card or ticket inserted into a corresponding reader or by inputting credit information into the system of the present invention via user interface. The wager amount is temporarily stored in the data storage device. The system accesses the game rules from the data storage device and game play continues according to the game rules.

During the game, the system may provide options to the player, receive selections, and compare existing circumstances in the game with any predefined criteria set in storage, such as a pay table with mathematical formulas or other such relations for prescribing payment on an optional side bet, to determine if any such criteria are satisfied. The game play continues until the final outcome is reached. Any winning hands are paid and the system restarts or otherwise readies itself to receive wagers for a new game.

Games according to the present invention may be implemented as live table games, television or cable game show game, video poker gaming machine platforms, hand-held games for play, multiple player interactive wagering platform games (with kiosk formats, single player screens, community screens, and/or banks of seats for players with a common dealer screen), cell phone games, games downloadable from the internet, parlor games, games executed on personal computers, palm pilots, play stations and the like. Each of the above game formats, among others, is contemplated by the present invention.

In another embodiment, a game in accordance with the present invention is provided in a multi-player platform configured to simulate a live table game. The platform of the present invention is adapted to provide interactive game play, including receiving real-time wagers from one or more live game players and presenting representative game hands without involving physical playing cards or live casino personnel such as dealers. The multi-player platform, can be constructed, modified, or retrofitted in accordance with the present invention. Examples of known multiple player platforms are described in U.S. Pat. No. 6,607,443 and in U.S. application Ser. No. 10/764,827, filed Jan. 26, 2004 and published as U.S. Publication No. 2005/0164759. The content of these disclosures are incorporated herein by reference.

Preferably, a multi-player gaming system that can be used to practice the method of the present invention comprises a table and an upright dealer “virtual” video display system positioned for view by players seated at the table. The table may seat at least two players up to the amount of players that can be configured about the table and have a view of the dealer video display system. Typically each gaming system will have at least four player available positions, with space determinations considered as to whether there would be 4, 5, 6 or 7 player positions. It is possible to have a completely circular dealer display (e.g., holographic display in a cylindrical centerpiece) and have players distributed around the entire periphery, but this is too dissimilar to standard play arrangements and could slow the game down, as play should approximate that of a live game, with players playing in sequence. A surface of the table will include a display surface for showing all player hands, community cards, dealer hands and any other cards used to play the game for any purpose, and, chips or other wagering designations. Alternatively, player hands can be displayed on separate player station screens. The table surface may include push button and or touch screen player controls, with our without other display features specific to the individual player. For example, the individual player screen may show a running history of wins/losses, credits available, credits bet and other play options. A majority of the table surface comprises a video monitor in one example of the invention. A separate player screen with touch screen controls or separate player control panels may be provided at each player station near the continuous display surface.

The use of a large or continuous display surface offers some significant advantages in simulating or recreating a standard card table surface. Cards may be readily viewed by other players at a table, which is standard in table games and adds to player enjoyment. Individual monitors, especially where slanted towards the individual players make such table-wide card reading difficult. The use of the full screen (continuous) display also allows for better animation to be provided, such as displaying virtual images of cards moving to the player and “virtual” chips being placed on the table when wagers are indicated. For purposes of this disclosure, the term “virtual” means a graphical video representation of a real object or person, such as a dealer, cards and chips, for example.

The individual player positions preferably have a separate intelligence at each player position that accepts player input and communicates directly with a game engine (main game computer or processor). The intelligence is preferably an intelligent board that can process information. For purposes of this disclosure the term “intelligent” refers to the ability to execute code, either provided in the form of software or hardware or a combination of software and hardware circuits. Such processing may at least comprise some of signal converting (e.g., signals from player card readers, credit deposit, currency readers, coin readers, touch screen signals, ticket readers/printers and control panel signals) into a signal that can be included in an information packet and interpreted by the main game computer when the signal is sent. Communication between the intelligence at each player position is direct to the main game computer and may be by self-initiated signal sending, sequenced polling by the main game computer (e.g., each position communicates directly to the main game computer in turn), timed communication, or any other order of communication that is direct between the intelligence and the main game computer.

One preferred form of communication between the main game computer and player station computers is by means of self-initiated signal sending. There is essentially a single main game computer that contains video display controls and programs for both the dealer display and the table top display, audio controls and programs, game rules (including storage of multiple games if intended to be available on the machine), random number generator, graphic images, game sequence controls, security systems, wager accounting programs, external signaling and audit functions, and the like. In other forms of the invention, the above functions are divided between a main processor and one or more additional processors. The intelligence at each player position speeds up the performance of all aspects of the game by being able to communicate directly with the main game computer and being able to process information at the player position rather than merely forwarding the information in raw form to the main game computer. Processing player information at player positions frees up resources for use by the main processor or processors.

A card game system may also include a suitable data and control processing subsystem that is largely contained within a main control module supported beneath the tabletop. The control and data processing subsystem includes a suitable power supply for converting alternating current from the power main as controlled by a main power switch. The power supply transforms the alternating line current to a suitable voltage and to a direct current supply. Power is supplied to a power distribution and sensor/activity electronics control circuit. Commercially available power switching and control circuits may be provided in the form of a circuit board which is detachable, and plugs into a board receptacle of a computer mother board or an expansion slot board receptacle. A main game controller motherboard may include a central microprocessor and related components well-known in the industry as computers using Intel brand Pentium® microprocessors and related memory or intelligence from any other manufacturing source. A variety of different configurations and types of memory devices can be connected to the motherboard as is well known in the art. Of particular interest is the inclusion of two flat panel video display control boards connected in expansion slots of the motherboard. Display control boards are each capable of controlling the images displayed for the dealer video display and for the common display area. More specifically, the display control boards are connected to player bet interface circuits for the player stations. This arrangement allows the display control boards to provide necessary image display data to the display electronic drive circuits associated with the dealing event program displays and the dealer display.

The motherboard and/or the individual player intelligent boards also include a serial port that allows stored data to be downloaded from the motherboard to a central casino computer or other additional storage device. In one example, each player board communicates directly with the casino computer system. This allows card game action data to be analyzed in various ways using added detail, or by providing integration with data from multiple tables so that cheating schemes can be identified and eliminated, and player tracking can be maintained. Player performance and/or skill can be tracked at one table or as a compilation from gaming at multiple tables, as by using Bloodhound™ security software marketed by Shuffle Master, Inc., which may be incorporated into this automated gaming system. Additionally, player hand analysis can be performed. The motherboard and/or individual player intelligent boards may also have a keyboard connection port that can be used to connect a larger format keyboard to the system to facilitate programming and servicing of the system.

Although the preferred system shown does not require features illustrated for receiving automated player identification information, such features can alternatively be provided. Card or ticket readers such as used with credit cards, play tracking tickets, player cards or other identification code reading devices can be added in the system to allow or require player identification in connection with play of the card game and associated recording of game action by one of the processors. Such a user identification interface, for example a card reader located at each player station, can be implemented in the form of a variety of magnetic card readers commercially available for reading user-specific identification information. The user-specific information can be provided on specially constructed magnetic cards issued by a casino, or magnetically coded credit cards or debit cards frequently used with national credit organizations such as VISA™, MASTERCARD™, AMERICAN EXPRESS™, casino player card registry, banks and other institutions. The information could also be provided on other writable media, such as an RFID chip or card with writable memory, or bar coding, as just a few examples.

Alternatively, it is possible to use so-called smart cards to provide added processing or data storage functions in addition to mere identification data. For example, the user identification could include coding for available credit amounts purchased from a casino. As further example, the identification card or other user-specific instrument may include specially coded data indicating security information such as would allow accessing or identifying stored security information which must be confirmed by the user after scanning the user identification card through a card reader. Such security information might include such things as file access numbers which allow the central processor to access a stored security clearance code which the user must indicate using input options provided on displays using touch screen displays. A still further possibility is to have participant identification using a fingerprint image, eye blood vessel image reader, or other suitable biological information to confirm identity of the user that can be built into the table. Still further it is possible to provide such participant identification information by having the pit personnel manually code in the information in response to the player indicating his or her code name or real name. Such additional identification could also be used to confirm credit use of a smart card or transponder. All or part of the functions dedicated to a particular player station are controlled by the player station intelligence in one form of the invention. Additionally, each player station intelligence may be in communication with a casino accounting system.

It should also be understood that the player display screens can alternatively be provided with suitable display cowlings or covers that can be used to shield display of card images from viewing by anyone other than the player in games where that is desirable. This shielding can also be effected by having light-orientation elements in the panel, and some of these light-orientation elements are electronically controllable. This type of shielding could also be used in controlling visual access to the main game play screen. In this manner, the processor can allow general viewing of cards in games where that is desirable or tolerated, and then alter the screen where desired. These types of features can be provided by nanometer, micrometer or other small particulate or flake elements within a panel on the viewing area that are reoriented by signals from the processor. Alternatively, liquid crystal or photo chromatic displays can be used to create a screening effect that would allow only viewers at specific angles of view from the screen area to view the images of cards. Such an alternative construction may be desired in systems designed for card games different from blackjack, where some or all of the player or dealer cards are not presented for viewing by other participants or onlookers. Such display covers or cowlings can be in various shapes and configurations as needed to prevent viewing access. It may alternatively be acceptable to use a player-controlled switch that allows the display to be momentarily viewed and then turned off. The display can be shielded using a cover or merely by using the player's hands. Still further it is possible to use a touch screen display that would be controlled by touch to turn on and turn off. Similar shielding can be used to prevent others from viewing the display.

A review of FIGS. 1B-8 will assist in a further understanding of the invention.

FIG. 1B shows a fully automated gaming table 1 of the prior art, as disclosed in U.S. Patent Application 2003/0199316 assigned to Kabushiki Kaisha Sega Enterprises. The system 1 comprises a vertical upright display cabinet 2 and a player bank or station cluster arrangement 3. The vertical display cabinet 2 has a viewing screen 7 on which images of the virtual dealer are displayed. The top 8 of the player bank arrangement 3 has individual monitor screens 10 for each player position, as well and tabletop inserted coin acceptors 11, and player controls 12 and 13. There is a separate and larger game play screen 9 on which dealer and player cards are displayed in a format large enough for all players to view. Additionally, wager areas and/or virtual chips representing wagers are also displayed in this area. Speakers 16 a and 16 b are provided for sound transmission and decorative lights 14 are provided.

FIG. 2 shows a top plan view of the same prior art automated gaming system 1 with the viewing screen 7 shown more clearly as a CRT monitor. It can also be seen that each player position has to form an arc cut into the semicircular player seating area 18. FIG. 3 shows a side elevational view of the same prior art automated gaming system of FIGS. 1 and 2 where the orientation of the three different types of CRT monitors 7, 9 and 10 are shown.

FIG. 4 shows the schematic circuitry of a prior art automated system as disclosed in U.S. Publication No. 2003/0199316. FIG. 4 is a block diagram of processing circuitry in the game device of FIG. 1B. The game device housing comprises a CPU block 20 for controlling the whole device, a picture block 21 for controlling the game screen display, a sound block for producing effect sounds and the like, and a subsystem for reading out CD-ROM.

The CPU block 20 comprises an SCU (System Control Unit) 22, a main CPU 24, RAM 26, RAM 28, a sub-CPU 30, and a CPU bus 32. The main CPU 24 contains a math function similar to a DSP (Digital Signal Processing) so that application software can be executed rapidly.

The RAM 26 is used as the work area for the main CPU 24. The RAM 28 stores the initialization program used for the initialization process. The SCU 22 controls the busses 32, 34 and 36 so that data can be exchanged smoothly among the VDPs 38 and 40, the DSP 42, and other components.

The SCU 22 contains a DMA controller, allowing data (polygon data) for character(s) in the game to be transferred to the VRAM in the video picture block 21. This allows the game machine or other application software to be executed rapidly. The sub-CPU 30 is termed an SMPC (System Manager & Peripheral Control). Its functions include collecting sound recognition signals from the sound recognition circuit 44 or image recognition signals from the image recognition circuit 46 in response to requests from the main CPU 24. On the basis of sound recognition signals or image recognition signals provided by the sub-CPU 30, the main CPU 24 controls changes in the expression of the character(s) appearing on the game screen, or performs image control pertaining to game development, for example. The picture video block 21 comprises a first VPD (Video Display Processor) 38 for rendering TV game polygon data characters and polygon screens overlaid on the background image, and a second VDP 40 for rendering scrolling background screens, performing image synthesis of polygon image data and scrolling image data based on priority (image priority order), performing clipping, and the like. The first VPD 38 houses a system register 48, and is connected to the VRAM (DRAM) 52 and to two frame buffers 54 and 56. Data for rendering the polygons used to represent TV game characters and the like is sent to the first VPD 38 through the main CPU 24, and the rendering data written to the VRAM 52 is rendered in the form of 16- or 8-bit pixels to the rendering frame buffer 54 (or 56). The data in the rendered frame buffer 54 (or 56) is sent to the second VDP 40 during the display mode. In this way, buffers 54 and 56 are used as frame buffers, providing a double buffer design for switching between rendering and display for each individual frame. Regarding information for controlling rendering, the first VPD 38 controls rendering and display in accordance with the instructions established in the system register 48 of the first VPD 38 by the main CPU 24 via the SCU 22.

The second VDP 40 houses a register 50 and color RAM 58, and is connected to the VRAM 60. The second VDP 40 is connected via the bus 36 to the first VPD 38 and the SCU 22 and is connected to picture output terminals Voa through Vog through memories 62 a-d and encoders 64 a-d. The picture output terminals Voa through Vog are connected through cables to the main game displays 66, 68 and the satellite displays 70. Scrolling screen data for the second VDP 40 is defined in the VRAM 60 and the color RAM 58 by the CPU 24 through the SCU 22. Information for-controlling image display is similarly defined in the second VDP 40. Data defined in the VRAM 60 is read out in accordance with the contents established in the register 50 by the second VDP 40, and serves as image data for the scrolling screens that portray the background for the character(s). Image data for each scrolling screen and image data of texture-mapped polygon data sent from the first VPD 38 is assigned display priority (priority) in accordance with the settings in the register 48, and the final image screen data is synthesized.

Where the display image data is in palette format, the second VDP 40 reads out the color data defined in the color RAM 58 in accordance with the values thereof, and produces the display color data. Color data is produced for each display 66 and 68 and for each satellite display 70. Where display image data is in RGB format, the display image data is used as-is as display color data. The display color data is temporarily stored in memories 62 a-d and is then output to the encoders 64 a-d. The encoders 64 a-d produce picture signals by adding synchronizing signals to the image data, which is then sent via the picture output terminals Voa through Vog to the display 66, 68 and the satellite displays 70. In this way, the images required to conduct an interactive game are displayed on the screens of the display 66, 68 and the satellite displays 70.

The sound block 72 comprises a DSP 42 for performing sound synthesis using PCM format or FM format, and a CPU 74 for controlling the DSP 42. Sound data generated by the DSP 42 is converted into 2-channel sound signals by a D/A converter 76 and is then presented to audio output terminals Ao via an interface (not shown). These audio output terminals Ao are connected to the input terminals of an audio amplification circuit (not shown). Thus, the sound signals presented to the audio output terminals Ao are input to the audio amplification circuit (not shown). Sound signals amplified by the audio amplification circuit drive the speakers 16 a and 16 b.

The subsystem 78 comprises a CD-ROM drive 80, a CD-I/F 82, and CPU 84, an MPEG-AUDIO section 86, and an MPEG-PICTURE section 88. The subsystem 78 has the function of reading application software provided in the form of a CD-ROM and reproducing the animation. The CD-ROM drive 80 reads out data from CD-ROM. The CPU 84 controls the CD-ROM drive 80 and performs error correction on the data read out by it. Data read from the CD-ROM is sent via the CD-I/F 82, bus 34, and SCU 22 to the main CPU 24 that uses it as the application software. The MPEG-AUDIO section 86 and the MPEG-VIDEO section 88 are used to expand data that has been compressed in MPEG (Motion Picture Expert Group) format. By using the MPEG-AUDIO section 86 and the MPEG-VIDEO section 88 to expand data that has been compressed in MPEG format, it is possible to reproduce motion picture. It should be noted herein that there are distinct processor for the CPU block, video block, sound block, CD-ROM drive and Memory with their independent CPU's. This requires significant computing power and still has dumb (no intelligence) player input components.

FIG. 5 shows another example of an automated table system 101 useful to practice the game play methods of the present invention. The system 101 has an upright dealer display cabinet 102 with a top 104 and the dealer viewing screen 107 which may be any form of display screen such as a CRT, plasma screen, liquid crystal screen, LED screen or the like. The dealer screen 107 displays a virtual dealer, the dealer responding to instructions from the players. The player bank arrangement 103 has a continuous display screen 109 on which images of cards being dealt 105, an exemplary location for illustrating the dealer's cards 108, exemplary locations for illustrating player cards 113, bets wagered (not shown) and also includes touch screen and/or electromechanical player input functions 110. The display 110 at each player station can also display information such as the composition of the player's hand, the credits wagered, historical win/loss information, pay tables and the like. Other player input functions may be provided on a panel 106 which might accept currency, coins, tokens, identification cards, player tracking cards, ticket in/ticket out acceptance, and the like.

FIG. 6 shows an electronic/processor schematic for a MultiPlayer Platform (MPP) gaming system according to the presently described. The MPP Game engine (dealer) comprises a Heber Pluto 5 casino game board 120 (Motorola 68340 board) operating off the PC Platform Pentium® 4 MPP Game Display processor 122. The game display processor operates on a Windows XP platform. The respective subcomponents on the Pentium 4 processor are labeled to show the apportionment of activity on the motherboard and the component parts added to the board. As is shown, the game engine has an Uninterruptible Power Supply 124. The game display processor directs activity on the Speakers, directs activities onto the MPP Game Service panel, and the Plasma Monitor Card Table display. It is important to note that all communications are direct from the game display processor, freeing up resources available to the game engine processor.

FIG. 7 shows the electronic/processing schematics 126 of the MPP Player Station Intelligence board 128 (Heber Pluto 5 Casino, Motorola 68340), each of which player stations (one for each player position) is in direct connection to the MPP Game Engine 130 (Dealer), which is in turn directly connected to the PC Platform. (not shown in this Figure). Each Intelligence board receives information for all player input systems 132 a-f specific to that player station, such as the shown Coin Acceptor, Coin Hopper, Bill validator, Ticket Printer, Touch Screen and/or Display Button Panel, Dual Wire Ticket-in-Ticket-Out Printing and SAS System (SAS is one exemplary standard communications protocol used by a number of casinos central computer systems.) A significant benefit resides in the use of the independent Intelligence boards 128 at each player position being in direct communication with the MPP Game Engine 130, as opposed to each individual player position button panel being dead or inactive until authorized by the main game processor, as previous automated gaming systems were constructed.

The above-described architecture is also an improvement in providing a system with not only the intelligence at each player position, but also in redistributing processing capability for functions among various processing components within the gaming system. In one architectural format, all functions of the gaming engine, except for the player localized intelligence functions, are consolidated into a single PC (e.g., the Pentium 4 shown in the Figures). This would include all game functions, player video functions, dealer video functions, dealer audio functions, security, central reporting (to a casino's central computer, for example), currency and debit functions, alarm functions, lighting functions, and all other peripherals on the system, except for the localized player functions. Alternatively, all functions requiring communication with the casino's main computer system are located on the player station intelligent boards. In this system, the main game processor would talk directly with the player intelligent boards, preferably in the same novel communication format described below.

An alternative system is shown in FIG. 8, where there is a dealer engine processor 132 intermediate the main game PC 134 and the Player intelligent boards (not shown). Both systems are a distinct improvement over the prior art, but with the higher power available for PC's, and with the ease of programming a PC as opposed to an embedded system, the consolidation of the game functions and the ability of the main game engine to communicate with each of the player positions is enabled. As shown in FIG. 8, the Game display processor 134 is preferably a Pentium® 4 PC and is separate from the main processor 132. With the player intelligent boards, the main game PC can receive packets of information from each player station as events occur rather than having to poll each player position on a regular basis 100 times to gain the specific information for each player input that may be made.

A description of the Heber Board, (an exemplary board that can be used as a player station processor and/or game engine processor 132) a commercially available intelligent processing board is as follows. The Heber Board is known for its reliability and flexibility, especially for the Pluto 5 family of gaming products. The Pluto 5 is the controller of choice for the global gaming industry. Flexibility comes from a set of features built into the Pluto 5 (Casino) controller, and from the choice of optional add-on boards that can be used to adapt the Pluto family to best suit individual applications. In the area of interfacing, there are three distinct boards, each of which serves a particular function in helping the Pluto 5 to connect with the world outside:

RS485 Board

RS485 is an industrial-grade board for linking multiple systems in unforgiving circumstances for centralized information gathering. The Heber RS485 board is fully optically-isolated to provide complete circuit safety when used within ‘electrically noisy’ environments. The RS485 board uses a single RS232 connection to the Pluto 5 board and all necessary power is also derived through this link. Two header connectors may be provided for the RS485 channel to allow daisy chain connections between multiple systems.

HII/ccTalk Board

This board specializes in communicating with industry standard note/coin acceptors and payout hoppers. Equipped with dual communication channels, each port is configurable to use either the HII format to connect with Mars® coin/note acceptors or the ccTalk format for Money Controls® hoppers. Both channels are controlled via a single RS232 connection to the Pluto 5 board and all necessary power is also derived through this link. The Heber FastTrack™ package contains modular library functions for passing information via these channels.

Four Channel Relay Board

The relay board allows control of medium- to high-level loads such as solenoids, without risk of damage or interference to the Pluto 5 circuitry. Four power-switching channels are available with absolute isolation from the Pluto 5 control signals. Each relay is capable of switching direct or alternating currents of up to 7A at a maximum voltage of 250V.

Like the Pluto 5 board itself, its modular options have been used extensively so that their designs are fully developed and entirely stable. The options that are specified are consistently provided in mass quantities. As with all Pluto products, programming for the modular options is straightforward. This is enhanced with the use of the Pluto 5 Enhanced Development Kit and also the FastTrack™ package. Between them, these kits contain all of the low level and high level programming tools and library functions needed for gaming applications. These systems can be provided through a Pluto 5 Enhanced Development Kit datasheet 80-15353-7 (Heber Limited, Belvedere Mill, Chalford, Stroud, Gloucestershire, GL6 8NT, UK Tel: +44 (0) 1453 886000 Fax: +44 (0) 1453 885013; www.heber.co.uk). Specifications for the various boards are identified below.

RS485 Interface

Host Interface

    • RS232 connection to Pluto 5/Pluto 5 Casino
    • All power provided via RS232 link from host system
      Communication Port
    • Dual four-way Molex 0.1″ KK headers for daisy chaining purposes
      Dimensions
    • 80×61 mm (3.14×2.4″)
      Part Number
    • Opto-isolated RS485 board
      01-14536-2
      HII/ccTalk interface
      Host Interface
    • RS232 connection to Pluto 5/Pluto 5 Casino
    • All power provided via RS232 link from host system
      Communication Port
    • Single or dual 10 way header connectors
      Dimensions
    • 101.6×69.85 mm (4×2.8″)
      Part Number
    • Dual channel HII/ccTalk board
      01-16171-2
      Four Channel Relay Board
      Host Interface
    • Connection to Pluto 5/Pluto 5 Casino via ribbon cable using four standard output lines
    • All power provided via ribbon cable link from host system
      Switching Capabilities
    • Up to 250V AC or DC @ 7A maximum per channel
      Dimensions
    • 80×61 mm (3.14×2.4″)
      Part Number
    • Four channel relay board
      01-15275-1
      80-16949-1

One proposed hardware configuration uses a “satellite” intelligent processor at each player position. The player station satellite processor is substantially the same as the primary game engine processor, a Heber Pluto 5 Casino board. The satellite processors receive instruction from the primary game engine but then handle the communications with player station peripherals independently. Each satellite processor communicates with only the peripherals at the same player station. Thus each player station has a dedicated satellite processor communicating with only the peripherals at the same player station and with the casino's central computer system. The peripherals are, but not limited to: Slot accounting Systems, Bill Validator, Ticket Printer, Coin Acceptor, Coin Hopper, Meters, Button panel or LCD touch screen and various doors and keys.

The satellite processors run proprietary software to enable functionality. The player station software is comprised of two modules, the first being an OS similar to the game engine Operating System and the second being station software that handles peripheral communications. The software may be installed on EPROMs for each satellite processor. The primary method of communication between the satellite processors and the primary game engine is via serial connectivity and the previously described protocol. In one example, information packets are prepared by the satellite processors and are sent to the game engine processor on the happening of an event.

The proposed game engine provides communication to the player stations to set the game state, activate buttons and receive button and meter information for each player station. Communication is via a serial connection to each of the stations. The new protocol for communication between the game engine, game display and player stations is an event driven packet-for-packet bi-directional protocol with Cyclic Redundancy Check (CRC) verification. This is distinguished from the Sega system that used continuous polling. This communication method frees up resources in the same engine processor because the processor no longer needs to poll the satellites continuously or periodically.

The new protocol uses embedded acknowledgement and sequence checking. The packet-for-packet protocol uses a Command Packet, Response Packet and a Synchronization Packet as illustrated below. The protocol uses standard ASCII characters to send data and a proprietary verification method.

Format of Command Packet
STX SEQ DATA LENGTH DATA CRC-16 ETX
1 1 3 3-999 5 1
Format of Response Packet
STX SEQ DSP PRV ETX
1 1 1 1 1
Format of Synchronization Response Packet
STX MTS MRS ETX
1 1 1 1

Legend For Figures

STX Start of Packet Character

SEQ Sequence # (Cycles from ‘0’ thru ‘9’)

LEN Length of Data Area (‘003’ thru ‘999’)

DATA ASCII Data Fields Separated with ‘|’ Character

CRC CRC-16 Value (‘0000’ thru ‘65535’) Cyclic Redundancy Check

ETX End of Packet Character

DSP Disposition Code (‘A’ ACK, ‘N’ NAK, or ‘I’ Invalid Sequence)

PRV Sequence Number of Last ACK'ed Packet (0 thru 9)

MTS Main's Current Transmit Sequence Number

MRS Main's Current Receive Sequence Number

The Command Packet and Response Packet are used during primary game communications. The protocol uses redundant acknowledgement. For example: The packet is initially acknowledged when first received by the recipient. The same recipient will resend anther acknowledgement in the next communication. This second acknowledgement is the ‘PRV’ data in the response packet.

The communications between the Game Engine and the Player Station intelligence is preferably a transaction-based protocol. Either device can start a transaction, which is why it is essential that there be an intelligent board at each player position. All packets of information may be sent in any acceptable format, with ASCII format preferred as a matter of designer choice. All command packets usually contain a sequence number that is incremented after each successful packet exchange. The Game Engine and the Player Station intelligence use sequence numbers that are independent of each other. The sequence number keeps the communications in synchronization. This synchronization method is described later.

The command packet is used to send various commands such as Inputs, Lamps, Doors, Errors, Chirp, Game Results, player input, coin acceptance, player identification, credit acceptance, wagers, etc. . . . The command packet format may be, by ay of a non-limiting example:

  • <STX><Sequence number><Data Length><Data><CRC-16><ETX>

The data format with in the command packet may be:

  • <Address><Command><Field 1>|<Field 2>|<Field n>|
    The response packet format may be:
    • <STX><Sequence number><Disposition><Previous ACK><ETX>
      The sync request packet format may be:
    • <SYN>
      The sync response packet format may be:
      <STX><Mains Current Transmission Sequence><Mains Current Receive Sequence><ETX>

A major strength of the protocol is its resilience of the Game Protocol and its ability to free up resources within the game engine. Those resources can in turn be used to provide more intricate games, and multi-media affects.

Synchronization Method:

The satellite and host must become synchronized in order to provide for reliable communications using packet numbers. To facilitate this, a novel protocol synchronization method that is used. Upon applying power to the satellite, or after a communications failure, the satellite automatically enters into synchronization mode. In the synchronization mode the satellite sends out the ASCII SYN (0×16) character about every second. It is expecting a special response packet containing transmit and receive packet sequence numbers to be used from that point on. After receiving the special response packet, the sequence numbers are used as-is, and not incremented until a successful packet exchange is completed. After communications is synchronized, the sequence numbers are incremented after each packet is successfully sent or received.

As was noted before, the main game processor may contain information, data, programming and other necessary functions to enable the play of multiple games off the same machine. For example, the main game engine may have rules and commands that will enable play of the games of the present invention and other card games. The system may be controlled so that different games may be played at different times on command of the casino or players.

All of the apparatus, devices and methods disclosed and claimed herein can be made and executed without undue experimentation in light of the present disclosure. While the apparatus, devices and methods of this invention have been described in terms of both generic descriptions and preferred embodiments, it will be apparent to those skilled in the art that variations may be applied to the apparatus, devices and methods described herein without departing from the concept and scope of the invention. More specifically, it will be apparent that certain elements, components, steps, and sequences that are functionally related to the preferred embodiments may be substituted for the elements, components, steps, and sequences described and/or claimed herein while the same of similar results would be achieved. All such similar substitutions and modifications apparent to those skilled in the art are deemed to be within the scope and concept of the invention as defined by the appended claims.

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Classifications
U.S. Classification463/42
International ClassificationA63F9/24
Cooperative ClassificationG07F17/3211, G07F17/32, G07F17/3202, G07F17/3293
European ClassificationG07F17/32, G07F17/32P6, G07F17/32C, G07F17/32C2F
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