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Publication numberUS20060084506 A1
Publication typeApplication
Application numberUS 11/294,302
Publication dateApr 20, 2006
Filing dateDec 5, 2005
Priority dateJul 22, 1994
Publication number11294302, 294302, US 2006/0084506 A1, US 2006/084506 A1, US 20060084506 A1, US 20060084506A1, US 2006084506 A1, US 2006084506A1, US-A1-20060084506, US-A1-2006084506, US2006/0084506A1, US2006/084506A1, US20060084506 A1, US20060084506A1, US2006084506 A1, US2006084506A1
InventorsMark Yoseloff, R. Dunn, Roger Snow
Original AssigneeShuffle Master, Inc.
Export CitationBiBTeX, EndNote, RefMan
External Links: USPTO, USPTO Assignment, Espacenet
Multi-player platforms for three card poker and variants thereof
US 20060084506 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, 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 in one embodiment the game comprises the steps of placing a first wager to participate in a first poker-type game; placing a second wager to participate in a second poker-type game played against a pay table; providing at least a partial hand for the first poker-type game consisting of multiple cards to each player who placed a first wager, the at least a partial hand for the first poker-type game being a complete hand for the second poker-type game; and resolving each player's first wager according to the rules of the first poker-type game and resolving the second poker-type game according to a predetermined hierarchy of poker hands in a pay table.
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Claims(24)
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:
placing a first wager to participate in a first poker-type game;
placing a second wager to participate in a second poker-type game played against a pay table;
providing at least a partial hand for the first poker-type game consisting of multiple cards to each player who placed a first wager, the at least a partial hand for the first poker-type game being a complete hand for the second poker-type game; and
resolving each player's first wager according to the rules of the first poker-type game and resolving the second wager according to a predetermined hierarchy of poker hands in a pay table.
2. The multi-player platform of claim 1, wherein a payout is made to the player on the second wager in the second poker-type game for one of a plurality of predetermined winning outcomes.
3. The multi-player platform of claim 1, wherein the partial hand comprises three cards, and a complete hand in the first poker-type game is three cards.
4. The multi-player platform of claim 1, wherein the partial hand of a player is completed with at least one community card.
5. The multi-player platform of claim 1, wherein the pay table for resolving the second wager is as follows:
Straight Flush 40 to 1  Three of a Kind 30 to 1  Straight 6 to 1 Flush 4 to 1 Pair  1 to 1.
6. The multi-player platform of claim 1, wherein the game further comprises the step of placing a third wager upon the player reviewing the at least a partial hand.
7. The multi-player platform of claim 6, wherein the player forfeits the first wager if the third wager is not placed.
8. 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:
receiving an ante wager that a player's three-card hand will exceed a dealer's three card hand;
providing three cards each to the player and to the dealer;
receiving an optional play wager from the player, wherein if the play wager is not received, the player forfeits the ante wager;
determining whether the dealer's three-card hand is at least a predetermined qualifying rank if the play wager is received;
comparing the dealer's three-card hand with the player's three-card hand if the dealer's three-card hand is at least the predetermined qualifying rank;
awarding the player an amount based on both the first and third wagers if the player's three-card hand is of a higher rank than the dealer's three-card hand and the dealer's three-card hand is at least the predetermined qualifying rank; and
awarding the player an amount based on the first wager and returning the third wager if the dealer's three-card hand is of a rank which is less than the predetermined qualifying rank.
9. The multi-player platform of claim 8, wherein the player forfeits the ante and the play wagers if the player's three-card hand is of a lower rank than the dealer's three-card hand.
10. The multi-player platform of claim 8, further comprising:
receiving an optional side bet wager that said player's three-card hand will be at least a predetermined side bet rank; and
awarding the player an amount based on the side bet wager if the side bet wager is received and the player's three-card hand is at least the predetermined side bet rank.
11. The multi-player platform of claim 10, wherein the side bet wager is a wager that the player will receive a hand of at least a pair.
12. The multi-player platform of claim 10, wherein the predetermined side bet rank includes a plurality of winning hand ranks with a pair as the lowest ranked winning hand.
13. The multi-player platform of claim 8, wherein at least some of the indicia of the cards which form said dealer's three-card hand are initially concealed and wherein the player decides whether to place the play wager after viewing the player's card indicia, but before viewing the dealer's concealed card indicia.
14. The multi-player platform of claim 8, wherein the predetermined qualifying rank comprises a high card hand containing a Queen or better.
15. The multi-player platform of claim 8, wherein the hands are ranked according to a scale, wherein A=Ace, K=King, Q=Queen, J=Jack and numbers 10 to 2 designate the other cards:
Highest: Straight Flush: Three of one suit in sequence AKQ highest KQJ next highest QJ10 next highest, and so on, until 32A lowest Three of a Kind: Three of one rank AAA highest KKK next highest, and so on, until 222 lowest Straight: Three of mixed suits in sequence AKQ highest KQJ next highest, and so on, until 32A lowest Flush: Three of one suit AKJ highest AK10 next highest, and so on, until 532 lowest Pair: Two of same rank AAK highest AAQ next highest, and so on, until 223 lowest Lowest: High card: A hand comprising none of the above AKJ highest AK10 next highest, and so on, until 532 lowest
16. The multi-player platform of claim 10, wherein the amount awarded on the side bet wager is made in accordance with a predetermined scale based on the rank of the player's hand.
17. The multi-player platform of claim 16, wherein the predetermined scale is as follows:
Straight Flush 40 to 1  Three of a Kind 30 to 1  Straight 6 to 1 Flush 4 to 1 Pair  1 to 1.
17. The multi-player platform of claim 10, wherein the player is awarded an additional bonus payout amount if the ante and the side bet wagers are received, the amount of the bonus payout being in accordance with a predetermined scale based on the rank of the player's hand.
18. The multi-player platform of claim 17, wherein the scale is as follows:
Straight Flush 5 to 1 Three of a Kind 4 to 1 Straight  1 to 1.
19. The multi-player platform of claim 10, further comprising the step of awarding a fixed payout amount when the player's hand exceeds the predetermined side bet rank.
20. The multi-player platform of claim 8, wherein the player is awarded a payout of one to one on the ante and play wagers when the player's hand is of a rank which exceeds the rank of the dealer's hand.
21. A system for playing a wagering game comprising:
a) a database for storing game data relating to rules of a poker-type game, a first predetermined hierarchy of poker hands and a pay table relating thereto, a second predetermined hierarchy of poker hands and a pay table relating thereto;
b) a processor for:
i) receiving a first wager that a player's three-card hand will exceed a dealer's three card hand;
ii) receiving an optional second wager that said player's three-card hand will be at least a first predetermined rank based on the first predetermined hierarchy of poker hands stored in the database;
ii) providing three cards each to the player and to the dealer;
iv) receiving an optional third wager from the player, wherein if the third wager is not received, the player forfeits at least the first wager;
v) determining whether the dealer's three-card hand is at least a second predetermined rank based on the second predetermined hierarchy of poker hands stored in the database;
vi) comparing the dealer's three-card hand with the player's three-card hand if the dealer's three-card hand is at least the second predetermined rank;
vii) awarding the player an amount based on both the first and third wagers if the player's three-card hand is of a higher rank than the dealer's three-card hand;
viii) awarding the player an amount based on the second wager if the second wager is received and the player's three-card hand is at least the first predetermined rank; and
c) a user interface for receiving wagers, communicating game activity and distributing awards payouts to the player.
22. The system of claim 22, 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.
23. 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 first poker-type game;
ii) storing rules of a second poker-type game;
iii) storing a predetermined hierarchy of poker hands in a pay table relating to the second poker-type game;
b) a code segment for,
i) receiving a first wager that a player's three-card hand will exceed a dealer's three card hand;
ii) receiving an optional second wager that said player's three-card hand will be at least a first predetermined rank;
ii) providing three cards each to the player and to the dealer;
iv) receiving an optional third wager from the player, wherein if the third wager is not received, the player forfeits at least the first wager;
v) determining whether the dealer's three-card hand is at least a second predetermined rank;
vi) comparing the dealer's three-card hand with the player's three-card hand if the dealer's three-card hand is at least the second predetermined rank;
vii) awarding the player an amount based on both the first and third wagers if the player's three-card hand is of a higher rank than the dealer's three-card hand; and
viii) awarding the player an amount based on the second wager if the second wager is received and the player's three-card hand is at least the first predetermined rank.
Description
CROSS REFERENCE TO RELATED APPLICATIONS

This application is a continuation-in-part of pending U.S. patent application Ser. No. 10/658,863, filed Sep. 9, 1993, which in turn is a continuation-in-part of U.S. patent application Ser. No. 10/016,436, filed Nov. 1, 2001, now U.S. Pat. No. 6,698,759, which is a continuation-in-part of U.S. patent application Ser. No. 09/249,118, filed Feb. 12, 1999, now U.S. Pat. No. 6,345,823, which is a continuation-in-part of U.S. patent application Ser. No. 09/170,092 filed Oct. 13, 1998, now U.S. Pat. No. 6,237,916, which is a continuation-in-part of U.S. patent application Ser. No. 08/889,919, filed Jul. 10, 1997, now U.S. Pat. No. 6,056,641, which is a division of U.S. patent application Ser. No. 08/504,023 filed Jul. 19, 1995, now U.S. Pat. No. 5,685,774, which claims priority of GB 94/26324, filed Dec. 29, 1994 and GB 94/14822, filed Jul. 22, 1994, all of which are incorporated herein by reference.

This application is also related to co-pending U.S. patent application Ser. No. 10/947,506 filed Oct. 27, 2004, Ser. No. 10/938,483 filed Sep. 10, 2004, Ser. No. 10/864,051 filed Jun. 8, 2004 and Ser. No. 10/152,325 filed May 20, 2002, all of which are also incorporated herein by reference.

BACKGROUND OF THE INVENTION

1. Field of the Invention

The present invention relates to games, and more particularly to platforms for automated gaming, and even more particularly to a multi-player platform for automated gaming which simulates the casino environment to enhance the gaming experience.

2. Background of the Art

Casinos and leisure establishments continually require new games to offer their clientele. Such games are generally required to enable each player to play against a banker (who usually also acts as dealer) provided by the casino, rather than against other players. Alternatively, in a “card room” game each player may have the option to act as banker, while the establishment runs the game on behalf of the banker and takes fees from the players.

Players typically enjoy games which can be played rapidly and which offer players a plurality of choices. A plurality of choices heightens player interest in games. It would therefore be desirable to provide card games comprising a plurality of new wagering options.

LET IT RIDE BONUS® Poker, as disclosed in Breeding, U.S. Pat. No. 6,334,614, entitled MULTI-TIERED WAGERING METHOD AND GAME, the content of which is hereby incorporated by reference, and the more basic play of LET IT RIDE® casino table poker game as described in U.S. Pat. Nos. 6,273,424 and 5,288,081 disclose a card game in which the player plays a 5 card poker game. In the base game, a player makes a three-part wager on the occurrence of one of a number of predetermined winning hands. Each player is dealt three cards, and the dealer is also dealt three cards. One dealer card is discarded, and the other two cards are placed face down on the table and serve as common cards. The player may withdraw a first portion of his bet after he has examined his partial three-card hand. The community cards are used by each player to form a five-card hand. After the dealer turns the first community card face up, the player is given the opportunity to withdraw a second portion of his bet. The third bet must remain at risk.

Standard poker rankings are used to determine the hierarchy of payouts. The hands that pay (highest to lowest) in a typical LET IT RIDE® basic game are: royal flush, straight flush, four of a kind, full house, flush, straight, three of a kind, two pair, and a pair. Each winning hand pays odds, and all winning outcomes and corresponding payout odds are listed in a pay table. Optionally, the player can place a side bet on the occurrence of certain high ranking hands within the predetermined winning outcomes in the base game. Both the player cards and the dealer's common cards are used to define the player's hand and corresponding hand ranking in the side bet game. Players are required to make a multiple part bet, and can optionally withdraw part of the bet upon viewing some of the cards.

There are many wagering games used for gambling. Such games should be exciting to arouse players' interest and uncomplicated so they can be understood easily by a large number of players. Ideally, the games should include more than one wagering opportunity during the course of the game, yet be able to be played rapidly to a wager resolving outcome. Exciting play, the opportunity to make more than one wager and rapid wager resolution enhance players' interest and enjoyment because the frequency of betting opportunities and bet resolutions is increased.

Wagering games, particularly those intended primarily for play in casinos, should provide players with a sense of participation and control, the opportunity to make decisions, and reasonable odds of winning, even though the odds favor the casino, house, dealer or banker. The game must also meet the requirements of regulatory agencies. Wagering games, including wagering games for casino play, with multiple wagering opportunities are known. U.S. Pat. Nos. 4,861,041 and 5,087,405 (both to Jones et al.) disclose methods and apparatus for progressive jackpot gaming, respectively. The former patent discloses that a player may make an additional wager at the beginning of a hand, the outcome of the additional wager being determined by a predetermined arrangement of cards in the player's hand. U.S. Pat. No. 4,836,553 (to Suttle and Jones) discloses a modified version of a five card stud poker game.

Live table games have various limitations and disadvantages that have long plagued the casino industry, some of which are of general concern and apply to all or most live table games, while others relate to specific games and the use of playing cards and/or live dealers therein. Some of the principal concerns and problems are discussed below.

For example, the use of playing cards at live table games typically involves several operational requirements that are time-consuming and not considered as enhancing the play or entertainment value of the game. These operations include collecting, shuffling, dealing and reading of the cards. In many card games there is also a step of cutting the deck after it has been shuffled. In the collecting operation, a live dealer typically collects the cards just played at the end of a hand of play. This is done in preparation for playing the next hand of cards. When electronic monitoring systems are used, the cards must sometimes be collected in the specific order in which they had appeared in the play of the game and must also be collected in a specific orientation, such as all cards being in a facedown or face-up condition. The cards also are typically straightened into a stack with the long sides and short sides aligned.

These manipulations of the cards involve a break in the action of the table game and consume a significant amount of time, thus reducing the rate at which the game is played. Since the casino averages a certain percentage of wins based on the amount of hands played, any operations that reduce the amount of games that can be played over time also reduces the casino's potential earnings. As should be readily apparent, the casino industry has a keen interest in implementing devices and methods that can increase the rate at which the games are played.

The use of high quality shuffling machines, such as those produced by Shuffle Master, Inc. (Las Vegas, Nev.) and disclosed in U.S. Pat. Nos. 6,655,684; 6,651,982; 6,588,751; 6,658,750; 6,568,678; 6,325,373; 6,254,096; 6,149,154; 6,139,014; 6,068,258; and 5,695,189, among others, has greatly improved card handling operations. By automating the most time-consuming portion of the card handling operations, casinos that use these patented shuffling machines can significantly increase their revenue earning capability. However, there is still room for advancement, despite the important benefits offered by Shuffle Master's shuffling machines. In particular, there still exists the need for human operators and dealers, as well as playing cards.

The expense associated with the purchasing, handling and disposing of paper and plastic playing cards can be significant. Casinos pay relatively favorable prices for card decks, but the decks roughly cost about $1 per deck at this time. There are also significant costs associated with handling and storing the new and worn playing cards. Sizable rooms located in the casino complexes are needed just to store the cards as they are coming and going. The cost of maintaining such facilities further exacerbates the expenses associated with paper and plastic playing cards. Furthermore, each casino uses decks for a very limited period of time, typically only one shift, and almost always less than one day. After this relatively brief life in the limelight, the decks are disposed of in a suitable manner. In some cases they are marked to show that they have been decommissioned from a casino and sold as souvenirs. In other cases the playing cards are simply destroyed or recycled to eliminate this last risk. In any case, the cost of playing cards for a casino can easily run in the hundreds of thousands of dollars per year.

One of the other significant expenditures for the casinos relates to personnel costs. Attempts have been made to reduce time requirements for not only the dealers, relief dealers, but also for the supervisors, managers, security and the other staff that are directly or indirectly involved in the operation or maintenance of the games. However, as long as there are live table games be played in the casino, there is no avoiding the need to assign a suitable amount of casino employees to attend thereto.

The human factor involved in live table games also requires that casinos devote a significant amount of resources to maintaining the security and integrity of the games. Attempts to cheat may be made by players, dealers, or more significantly by dealers and players in collusion. The amount of cheating in card games is significant to the casino industry and constitutes a major security problem that has large associated losses. Accordingly, the costs of efforts to deter or prevent cheating are very large. Many of the attempts to cheat in the play of live table card games involve some aspect of dealer or player manipulation of cards during collection, shuffling, cutting or dealing of cards.

Another notable problem associated with live table games is the intimidation which many novice or less experienced players feel when playing such games. Surveys have indicated that many people that are new or less experienced at gambling are inclined to play slot machines and virtual card games because they feel uncomfortable at making what they perceive as quick decisions in the presence of the dealer and other possibly more experienced players. This intimidation factor reduces participation in table games.

For reasons such as those cited above, casinos have a compelling interest in reducing the amount of live table games, and more particularly, decreasing the amount of games which rely on physical cards and live dealers which would reduce personnel costs and the potential for fraud. Thus, casinos have a need for replacing these live table games with new games that have features that prohibit cheating. reduce personnel costs, appeal to players of all experience levels at least as much as the live table games and generate greater revenue for the casinos. Accordingly, the present invention is directed to a game that meets these needs.

SUMMARY OF THE INVENTION

The present invention meets the aforementioned needs, among other things, by providing an interactive system which is both configured for simulating a casino game, such as those games which up to now have been traditionally played as a live table game, and adapted to facilitate the typical features of game play, including receiving wagers from one or more live players, providing players with game hands, delivering outcomes of the game, without involving physical playing cards or live casino personnel.

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 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 first wager to participate in a first poker-type game; placing a second wager to participate in a second poker-type game played against a pay table; providing at least a partial hand for the first poker-type game consisting of multiple cards to each player who placed a first wager, the at least a partial hand for the first poker-type game being a complete hand for the second poker-type game; and resolving each player's first wager according to the rules of the first poker-type game and resolving the second wager according to a predetermined hierarchy of poker hands in a pay table.

According to another embodiment of the present invention, the aforementioned game and platform are configured and adapted so that a payout made to the player on the second wager in the second poker-type game for one of a plurality of predetermined winning outcomes.

According to yet another embodiment of the present invention, the aforementioned game and platform are configured and adapted so that the partial hand comprises three cards, and a complete hand in the first poker-type game is five cards.

According to yet another embodiment of the present invention, the aforementioned game and platform are configured and adapted so that the partial hand of a player is completed with at least one community card.

According to yet another embodiment of the present invention, the aforementioned game and platform are configured and adapted so that the pay table for resolving the second wager is as follows:

Straight Flush 40 to 1 
Three of a Kind 30 to 1 
Straight 6 to 1
Flush 4 to 1
Pair  1 to 1.

According to yet another embodiment of the present invention, the aforementioned game and platform are configured and adapted so that the game further comprises the step of placing a third wager upon the player reviewing the partial hand.

According to yet another embodiment of the present invention, the aforementioned game and platform are configured and adapted so that the player forfeits the first wager if the third wager is not placed.

According to yet another embodiment of the present invention, the aforementioned game and platform are configured and adapted so that the game further comprises the step of providing community cards.

In another embodiment, the aforementioned platform is configured and adapted to provide a game comprising the steps of: receiving an ante wager that a player's three-card hand will exceed a dealer's three card hand; providing three cards each to the player and to the dealer; receiving an optional play wager from the player, wherein if the play wager is not received, the player forfeits the ante wager; determining whether the dealer's three-card hand is at least a predetermined qualifying rank if the play wager is received; comparing the dealer's three-card hand with the player's three-card hand if the dealer's three-card hand is at least the predetermined qualifying rank; awarding the player an amount based on both the first and third wagers if the player's three-card hand is of a higher rank than the dealer's three-card hand and the dealer's three-card hand is at least the predetermined qualifying rank; and awarding the player an amount based on the first wager and returning the third wager if the dealer's three-card hand is of a rank which is less than the predetermined qualifying rank.

According to another embodiment of the present invention, the aforementioned game and platform are configured and adapted so that the player forfeits the ante and the play wagers if the player's three-card hand is of a lower rank than the dealer's three-card hand.

According to yet another embodiment of the present invention, the aforementioned game and platform are configured and adapted so that the game further comprises the steps of receiving an optional side bet wager that said player's three-card hand will be at least a predetermined side bet rank; and awarding the player an amount based on the side bet wager if the side bet wager is received and the player's three-card hand is at least the predetermined side bet rank.

According to yet another embodiment of the present invention, the aforementioned game and platform are configured and adapted so that the side bet wager is a wager that the player will receive a hand of at least a pair.

According to yet another embodiment of the present invention, the aforementioned game and platform are configured and adapted so that the predetermined side bet rank includes a plurality of winning hand ranks with a pair as the lowest ranked winning hand.

According to yet another embodiment of the present invention, the aforementioned game and platform are configured and adapted so that at least some of the indicia of the cards which form said dealer's three-card hand are initially concealed and wherein the player decides whether to place the play wager after viewing the player's card indicia, but before viewing the dealer's concealed card indicia.

According to yet another embodiment of the present invention, the aforementioned game and platform are configured and adapted so that the predetermined qualifying rank comprises a high card hand containing a Queen or better.

According to yet another embodiment of the present invention, the aforementioned game and platform are configured and adapted so that the hands are ranked according to a scale, wherein A=Ace, K=King, Q=Queen, J=Jack and numbers 10 to 2 designate the other cards:

Highest: Straight Flush: Three of one suit in sequence
AKQ highest
KQJ next highest
QJ10 next highest,
and so on, until
32A lowest
Three of a Kind: Three of one rank
AAA highest
KKK next highest,
and so on, until
222 lowest
Straight: Three of mixed suits in sequence
AKQ highest
KQJ next highest,
and so on, until
32A lowest
Flush: Three of one suit
AKJ highest
AK10 next highest,
and so on, until
532 lowest
Pair: Two of same rank
AAK highest
AAQ next highest,
and so on, until
223 lowest
Lowest: High card: A hand comprising none of the above
AKJ highest
AK10 next highest,
and so on, until
532 lowest

According to yet another embodiment of the present invention, the aforementioned game and platform are configured and adapted so that the amount awarded on the side bet wager is made in accordance with a predetermined scale based on the rank of the player's hand.

According to yet another embodiment of the present invention, the aforementioned game and platform are configured and adapted so that the predetermined scale is as follows:

Straight Flush 40 to 1 
Three of a Kind 30 to 1 
Straight 6 to 1
Flush 4 to 1
Pair  1 to 1.

According to yet another embodiment of the present invention, the aforementioned game and platform are configured and adapted so that the player is awarded an additional bonus payout amount if the ante and the side bet wagers are received, the amount of the bonus payout being in accordance with a predetermined scale based on the rank of the player's hand.

According to yet another embodiment of the present invention, the aforementioned game and platform are configured and adapted so that the scale is as follows:

Straight Flush 5 to 1
Three of a Kind 4 to 1
Straight 1 to 1.

According to yet another embodiment of the present invention, the aforementioned game and platform are configured and adapted so that the game further comprises the step of awarding a fixed payout amount when the player's hand exceeds the predetermined side bet rank.

According to yet another embodiment of the present invention, the aforementioned game and platform are configured and adapted so that the player is awarded a payout of one to one on the ante and play wagers when the player's hand is of a rank which exceeds the rank of the dealer's hand.

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 preferably is configured and adapted for storing game data relating to rules of a poker-type game, a first predetermined hierarchy of poker hands and a pay table relating thereto, a second predetermined hierarchy of poker hands and a pay table relating thereto. The processor is preferably configured and adapted for receiving a first wager that a player's three-card hand will exceed a dealer's three card hand; receiving an optional second wager that said player's three-card hand will be at least a first predetermined rank based on the first predetermined hierarchy of poker hands stored in the database; providing three cards each to the player and to the dealer; receiving an optional third wager from the player, wherein if the third wager is not received, the player forfeits at least the first wager; determining whether the dealer's three-card hand is at least a second predetermined rank based on the second predetermined hierarchy of poker hands stored in the database; comparing the dealer's three-card hand with the player's three-card hand if the dealer's three-card hand is at least the second predetermined rank; awarding the player an amount based on both the first and third wagers if the player's three-card hand is of a higher rank than the dealer's three-card hand; and awarding the player an amount based on the second wager if the second wager is received and the player's three-card hand is at least the first predetermined rank. The user interface is preferably configured and adapted for receiving wagers, communicating game activity and distributing awards payouts to the player.

According to one embodiment of the present invention, 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.

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 first poker-type game; storing rules of a second poker-type game; and storing a predetermined hierarchy of poker hands in a pay table relating to the second poker-type game. The one or more code segments are preferably configured and adapted for receiving a first wager that a player's three-card hand will exceed a dealer's three card hand; receiving an optional second wager that said player's three-card hand will be at least a first predetermined rank; providing three cards each to the player and to the dealer; receiving an optional third wager from the player, wherein if the third wager is not received, the player forfeits at least the first wager; determining whether the dealer's three-card hand is at least a second predetermined rank; comparing the dealer's three-card hand with the player's three-card hand if the dealer's three-card hand is at least the second predetermined rank; awarding the player an amount based on both the first and third wagers if the player's three-card hand is of a higher rank than the dealer's three-card hand; and awarding the player an amount based on the second wager if the second wager is received and the player's three-card hand is at least the first predetermined 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.

BRIEF 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 shows a playing surface for use in playing a card game of one embodiment of 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

The following description is provided to illustrate various embodiments of the invention, but the description is not intended to limit the scope of the invention.

In accordance with the present invention, a system configured for simulating a live table game typically played in a casino and 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, physical wagering chips or currency or live casino personnel such as dealers. Systems of the present invention, such as a multi-player platform, can be constructed, modified, or retrofitted in accordance with the present invention.

The present invention provides a method for simulating a live table game and providing 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 method may be incorporated in a platform configured to accommodate one or more players.

For the purposes of this disclosure, “game elements” or “gaming elements” means information used by a player or dealer to participate in the game such as the face value of cards, dice, the face value of a die or dice, slot symbols, angular positions on a wheel or reel game, cards (e.g., from a standard or non-standard playing deck), tiles or the like. A preferred medium of play is with a single, typical (standard) fifty-two card poker deck (with or without jokers, or with cards removed as with Spanish Twenty-One™ where tens are removed from the deck and other rules are instituted) and a specific preferred game broadly involves the generally well recognized and accepted set of rules, procedures and wager-resolving outcomes of five card poker. The game method comprises each player placing an initial wager to participate in the game. The game is initiated such as with dice being rolled (some or all of the dice in a bar game, for example) or cards are dealt by a dealer.

One aspect of the invention is a method of playing a wagering game, comprising the steps of: a) placing a first single part wager to participate in a casino three-card poker-type game; b) each player optionally placing a side bet wager against a pay table on attaining a predetermined rank in the first cards dealt to each player, c) a dealer dealing a hand consisting of three cards to each player who placed a first wager; d) resolving the side bet wager either before or after play of the underlying game, and e) resolving each player's hand according to a predetermined hierarchy of poker-type game outcomes with respect to the underlying game. Payouts are preferably made on the side bet wager when the player obtains a predetermined winning outcome. In one form of the game, all payouts on both the side bet wager and the underlying game pay odds (and/or a jackpot or progressive jackpot value). That is, all payouts are made in proportion to the amount wagered, with the higher ranking poker hands paying a higher payout multiple than the lower ranking hands. Payouts are made to the player on the side bet wager for one of a plurality of predetermined winning Three Card Poker game outcomes. Preferably, all payouts are made in proportion to the first amount wagered.

Payout odds typically are printed on the playing surface and are referred to as a “pay table”. An exemplary pay table for a three card poker game of the present invention is outlined below:

Hand Payout Odds
Straight Flush 40:1 
Three of a Kind 30:1 
Straight 6:1
Flush 4:1
Pair 1:1

The standard poker rankings in five card poker type games are presented in the following descending order: Royal flush, straight flush, four of a kind, full house, flush, straight, three of a kind, two pair and a pair. According to a preferred form of the invention, four of a kind, full house and two pair are not included in the three card poker pay table as those outcomes require more than three cards. A royal flush beats a straight flush in Five Card Poker. In three card poker, the order of certain hands (flush, straight and three of a kind) is inverted. The change in ranking is dictated by the frequency of occurrence of those hands. Although the minimum winning card combination in this example is a pair, the invention contemplates other minimum hands, such as a single face card or a high ranking pair, such as a pair of 10's or better.

Payout methods may include fixed amounts (regardless of the amount wagered), odds payouts (payment of the amount wagered times the pay table multiple), or a percentage of a jackpot or a jackpot amount. The pay table may contain one or a combination of different payout methods, according to the invention.

Predetermined winning poker outcomes have proportional payout odds. “Odds” in this context means payouts that are proportional to the player's wagers (that is, multiples of the wagers), not progressive payouts, fixed payout amounts or payouts that are part of or an entire pot.

According to an example of the present invention, the above-identified step defines some, but not necessarily all of the entire game play method. Additional steps and wagers may be added, such as progressive jackpot wagers, and wagers against the table (e.g., player banked wagers for one-on-one player versus player competitions) and automatic odds bonus payouts, for example.

The dealer may also act as banker. The player's cards may be dealt unseen or seen. The cards preferably form a standard 52-card deck, although one or more wild cards (such as a joker(s)) may be used. The hand preferably consists of three cards, but in some instances, it might be desirable to deal the players one or more additional cards, and allow the player a discard to arrive at the best three card hand, with appropriately lower pay table odds provided. In another example of the invention, players receive three cards, but have the option to discard one or more cards and have them replaced with additional cards, forming a three card “draw” hand. An additional wager to pay for the draw card may be required.

In the case of one preferred three card version of the side bet game, hands are preferably ranked as follows, where A=ace, K=king, Q=queen, J=jack and numbers 10 to 2 designate the other cards:

Highest:
STRAIGHT FLUSH: Three cards of one suit in sequence
AKQ highest ranking brag
KQJ next highest ranking brag
QJ10 next highest ranking brag, and so on
until
32A lowest ranking brag
TRIPS: Three cards of one Rank
AAA highest
KKK next highest ranking trips, and so on,
until
222 lowest ranking trips
RUN: Three cards of mixed suits in sequence
AKQ highest ranking
KQJ next highest ranking, and so on,
until
32A lowest ranking
FLUSH: Three cards of One Suit
AKJ highest ranking
AK10 next highest, and so on, until
532 lowest ranking
PAIR: Two cards of the Same Rank
AAK highest ranking
AAQ next highest ranking, and so on,
until
223 lowest ranking
Lowest:
HIGH CARD (a hand comprising none of the above combinations)
AKJ highest ranking
AK10 next highest ranking, and so on,
until
532 lowest ranking
Ace is high, but can be low in 3-2-A Sequence.

Those skilled in the art will appreciate that various other names may be used for the hands in the illustrative hierarchy set forth herein. Other hierarchy's are contemplated. For example, TRIPS may also be known as three of a kind or PRILE; and a RUN may also be known as a STRAIGHT.

The payout may be made in accordance with a predetermined scale. For example, one possible payout scheme is as follows:

Straight Flush 40 to 1  (Range of 25 to 100 to 1)
Three-of-a-kind 30 to 1  (Range of 10 to 50 to 1)
Straight 6 to 1 (Range of 4 to 12 to 1)
Flush 4 to 1 (Range of 3 to 12 to 1)
Pair 1 to 1 (Range of 1 to 3 to 1)
High Card Rank 0.5 to 1   (Range of 0.2 to 1 to 1)

The payouts may be at different rates that are proportional to the original wager, but not necessarily whole number multipliers, such as 2 to 1 or 14 to 5 for a pair. Those skilled in the art will appreciate that the payouts may be varied without departing from the scope of the present invention. In other forms of the invention, at least some of the payouts are fixed in amount regardless of the amount wagered, are a percentage of a jackpot or progressive jackpot amount. Payouts with multipliers that are not whole integers are better suited for video game formats, where payouts are automatically calculated and dispensed.

The method may further comprise the step of permitting or requiring a player to place a wager on a fixed or variable extra bonus jackpot, but this is a less preferred embodiment in some instances. For example, when a game is offered in a California card room, players bank the game. In order for players to feel they can afford to bank a particular game, the payout odds must be kept low enough to prevent players from avoiding their turn banking the game. The bonus payouts are therefore preferably eliminated in player-banked versions of the invention. Higher payout odds are acceptable in a more traditional Las Vegas style casino where the house banks the game.

Another embodiment of the present invention comprises the steps of: designating at least one playing card indicia as a wild indicia; placing a single part wager to participate in a casino three-card poker-type game; a dealer dealing a hand consisting of three cards to each player who placed a wager; and playing a three-card poker-type hand wherein said wild indicia is used where present in any of said hands; resolving each player's hand according to predetermined poker rules, wherein at least some payouts proportional to the single part wager are made for obtaining a predetermined winning hand.

In an embodiment of the present invention, each player receives two standard playing cards plus a wild card that the player combines with the standard cards to make a best three-card hand. The payout scale and predetermined ranks may be chosen or modified to reflect the increased probability of a high ranking hand being produced. A common wild card or a common card may also be used, again with pay tables modified to reflect the increased potential or at least changed potential for higher ranked hands.

Such wild cards serve to add excitement and create higher hand values. Wild cards could also be designed to be retained permanently by players and if decorated appropriately by an issuing casino or the like would serve the dual purpose of a playing card and a promotional item. Wild cards may be used in this way in conjunction with other forms of card games. Alternatively, the wild card can be printed on the player area of the layout.

In one form of the invention, when the player participates in a three card poker game against the dealer, he is required to place an additional third “play” wager to stay in the game. This third wager may be smaller, larger or equal to the amount wagered against the dealer, but is equal to the ante in one example of the invention. Preferably, the player is permitted to view his three card hand prior to deciding whether to make the third play wager or fold. In another form of the game, the player is optionally permitted to make the third wager after viewing his cards, but is not required to fold if he elects not to make the third wager.

An optional feature of the invention is paying an automatic bonus payout on either the ante bet, or the ante bet and additional play bet (both against the dealer's hand) if the player's hand is one of a predetermined number of high-ranking winning hands. For purposes of this disclosure an “automatic bonus” is defined as an extra bonus payout that does not require a separate wager. For example, the player may receive an automatic bonus payout when he has a straight flush. Preferably, no additional bet is required to collect on the bonus bet. In other examples of the invention, a bonus bet is required, and the bonus pays odds according to a pay table of winning outcomes and corresponding payout multiples.

Although odds payouts (with or without making a bonus bet) on the bonus is a preferred form of the invention, certain high ranking hands may pay a fixed payout, a random payout, a proportion of a pot or a progressive payout.

It might be necessary to distribute more than three cards to the dealer, or players and allow the dealer and/or players to use the extra card to make the best three card hand. This dealing modification might be necessary to improve or reduce the house's odds, depending on the other game rules selected. The second bet and bonus bets may be required or optional, depending on house rules.

The present invention is also a method of playing a wagering game, comprising: a player placing at least one wager to participate in the game, wherein the player optionally places a first single part wager (pair plus) that his hand will contain one of a plurality of predetermined winning card combinations, a player optionally placing a second ante wager that his hand will contain a card combination higher in rank than a rank of a dealer hand; dealing at least three cards to the player; dealing at least three cards to the dealer; and resolving the hands according to a predetermined hierarchy of poker hands. According to one aspect of the invention, the player may optionally play the game against the dealer, the game against a pay table or both during each round of play. In other examples of the invention, additional different games are combined with one or more of the game segments (against the dealer and/or against a pay table). For example, the game rules could allow the player to place an additional bet on the occurrence of a five card hand against a pay table, where the dealer deals the player two additional cards after the three card hand against the dealer and/or against the pay table is complete. Although the specific type of additional game and the number of cards needed is unimportant to the invention, the use of the original three cards with or without adding more cards to play an additional game is contemplated by the invention.

In yet another alternative three-card embodiment of the present invention, the dealer is required to have a qualifying hand to continue the normal game play. This qualification requirement may represent a minimum ranking, or a maximum ranking, or both. For example, the rules might require the dealer to have at least a minimum of a single queen (queen high) in order to qualify to play against the player. In one example of the invention, the second ante and third (play) bets of the multiple part wager are a push when the dealer does not qualify. In another example of the invention, the second bet pays 1:1 and the third bet is returned when the dealer does not qualify. In yet another form of the invention, the play bet is paid odds as a bonus payout if the hand is a predetermined winning hand regardless of whether or not the dealer qualifies. In yet another example of the invention, the dealer is required to reveal at least one card to the players, and the players are also permitted to view their own three card hand prior to deciding whether to place the third bet.

When the player wins the game against the dealer, the dealer or banker typically pays 1:1 odds on the second (ante) and third (play) bets. In other examples of the invention, higher or lower payouts are made on either the second bet or the third bet, or a combination of the bets.

According to the invention, an additional bonus payout is made when the player's hand against the dealer is one of a predetermined high ranking arrangements of cards. No additional bet is required, and the bonus payout may be paid against the second or third bet or both bets. An exemplary pay table that pays odds on the second and third bets for certain bonus hands is shown below:

Hand Payout Odds
Straight Flush 5:1
Three of a Kind 3:1
Straight 1:1

In yet another form of the invention, the dealer and player hands may be combined to form the best three, four, five or six card bonus hand. In one example of the invention, a bonus amount is paid for the best five card hand made from the dealer's and player's three cards each.

The invention also provides game apparatus for use in playing the card-type games of the present invention. For example, the games of the present invention may be played on a live gaming table. For example, one aspect of the present invention comprises an apparatus for playing a card-type game comprising: display element (e.g., board, screen, table cards, play sheet, etc.) for informing at least one player of a hierarchy of a plurality of possible hands and a predetermined plurality of winning card combinations and corresponding payout odds; an area or position for receiving at least one wager selection from a plurality of wagering options by at least one player, wherein the wagering comprises whether a player's hand attains at least one of said predetermined plurality of winning combinations; and a surface or display area for displaying a plurality of indicia of playing cards to form at least one player's three-card hand.

The apparatus may also incorporate a chip tray to receive playing chips, the chip tray being placed in a position adjacent to or otherwise convenient to the dealer. The apparatus may incorporate an area or receptacle for cards not in play and a shuffler and card shoe. The apparatus may comprise a rigid playing surface of board, plastic or other suitable material or may comprise a cloth or other flexible material defining a playing surface. A cloth playing surface is commonly referred to in the industry as a layout.

In a preferred form, as shown in FIG. 1A, the surface is of generally semi-circular form, the dealer's playing area being located proximate the straight edge of the playing surface or centrally thereof and the players' playing areas being disposed side-by-side in arcuate array adjacent the curved edge of the playing surface.

The various embodiments of the present invention are directed to three-card poker-type games wherein indicia of playing cards are displayed to at least one or more players.

As used herein, the phrase “indicia of playing cards” is meant to include actual playing cards, as well as images of playing cards displayed either mechanically, electro-mechanically, electronically or otherwise. For example, it is well within the scope of the present invention to display indicia of playing cards on an actual board game, on a mechanical slot machine, on an electronic gaming device, on another video screen, on video displays at individual player positions (with cards generated by a random selection device, such as a random number generator associated with a set of visual data of card elements) or utilizing another form of image generation such as holography. Similarly, the phrase “indicia of wild cards” as used herein may include jokers from a standard deck of playing cards but may also comprise other indicia that, according to rules of the game, may be used for at least one other value.

FIG. 1A illustrates a playing surface or table layout 210 on which one embodiment of the present invention may be played. Layout 210 may be marked or placed on any suitable surface such as a gaming table. For example, the layout may be in the form of a layout cloth supported on a supporting surface. In general, the invention can be practiced on existing casino tables, thus providing casino operators with additional revenue generating features without requiring extra casino tables, space, or game surveillance.

Layout 210 provides a playing area 212 for a plurality of players, for example seven players, and a separate area 214 for a banker who also preferably acts as a dealer. Each playing area 212 has a number of marked sections or zones 216, 218, and 220 for the player to place various wagers as will be described hereinafter. Layout 210 also displays various payout schedules 222, 224, and 226. Other wager areas and/or information can be displayed on layout 210, such as the “Three Card Poker” promotional markings illustrated in FIG. 1A.

Each player takes a place at one of the areas 212. The game is played in a number of rounds as will be described. In each round, each player plays against the dealer and optionally wagers on the rank of his hand. The game can be played with a standard 52-card deck or a modified deck as described herein.

At the commencement of a game, each player who decides to play a particular round of the game must wager on the value of that player's hand against that of the dealer (Ante wager) and may place an optional wager (Pair Plus wager). Each player makes an Ante wager by placing an appropriate wager, such as a toke (or chip), in section 218 of his playing area 212. The gaming chips may be of any conventional kind and available in a number of denominations such as are well known within the art. If the player wishes to make the optional Pair Plus wager based on the value of his hand, he places an appropriate toke (or chip) in section 216 of his playing area 212. In an alternative variation of the game, the Pair Plus wager can only be placed if the Ante wager is also placed. This variation is illustrated in the Figure beneath the “Three-Card Poker” promotional marking, providing “TO BET Pair Plus ALSO BET Ante.” In the present example, the rules of the game provide that payouts will be made according to displayed payout schedules 222 (Pair Plus payouts starting at a Pair or better) and 224 (Ante payouts).

In a three-card version of the game, hands are preferably ranked according to the following hierarchy, wherein A=Ace, K=King, Q=Queen, J=Jack, and numbers 10 to 2 designate the other cards:

Highest: Straight Flush: Three of one suit in sequence
AKQ highest
KQJ next highest
QJ10 next highest,
and so on, until
32A lowest
Three of a Kind: Three of one rank
AAA highest
KKK next highest,
and so on, until
222 lowest
Straight: Three of mixed suits in sequence
AKQ highest
KQJ next highest,
and so on, until
32A lowest
Flush: Three of one suit
AKJ highest
AK10 next highest,
and so on, until
532 lowest
Pair: Two of same rank
AAK highest
AAQ next highest,
and so on, until
223 lowest
Lowest: High card: A hand comprising none of the above
AKJ highest
AK10 next highest,
and so on, until
532 lowest

Ace is high, but can be low in 3-2-A sequence

As would be apparent to one skilled in the art other rankings can be practiced with the invention.

Additionally, for hands other than three cards, rankings would be suitably changed as would predetermined ranks and payouts. One skilled in the art will appreciate that other rankings can be practiced with the invention and that various other names may be used for the hands in the illustrative hierarchy set forth herein. For example, Straight Flush may also be known as a Brag or Bouncer, Three of a Kind may also be known as Trips or Prile; and a Straight may also be known as a Run.

The payout schedule may be varied in accordance with rules of the game and/or by the casino. For example, as illustrated in FIG. 1A (schedule 22), the payout schedule of this embodiment is as follows:

Straight Flush 35 to 1 
Three of a Kind 33 to 1 
Straight 6 to 1
Flush 4 to 1
Pair  1 to 1.

Alternatively, in a gaming establishment or jurisdiction where high odds payouts are not favored, a wager can be made that the value of the hand will be a Pair or greater, and the payout may be, for example, 14 to 5. One skilled in the art would appreciate that payouts may be varied without departing from the scope of the invention.

The payout schedules are preferably displayed in a convenient manner and location. The details of payouts and any other payouts (e.g., extra bonus) may be marked on each player's playing area 212 as illustrated in FIG. 1A. However, alternative arrangements can be used with the invention.

According to a preferred embodiment of the present invention, the two wagering options are independent, so that a player may wager unequal amounts on the Ante and Pair Plus options. In an alternative variation of the game, the Ante and Pair bets have a prescribed relationship. For example, as illustrated under the “Three-Card Poker” promotional marking in the Figure, the maximum Pair Plus wager is double the Ante wager.

After the above wagers are placed, the dealer preferably shuffles the cards (manually or otherwise) and then deals a three-card hand to each player and to himself. The cards may initially be dealt to the players face-up or face-down depending upon casino policy. All the dealer's cards are dealt face-down in this preferred embodiment.

After the cards have been dealt, the player inspects his hand and determines whether he wishes either to forfeit his Ante wager and not to play the hand, or to continue. If he wishes to continue, according to this illustrated embodiment, he must place a Play wager, which must be of proportionate value to and is preferably the same as the Ante wager. The Play wager is made by placing an appropriate toke (or chip) in section 220 of his playing area 212. After making the Play wager, the player places his cards in the area below section 220.

If a player has only made an Ante wager and decides not to make a Play wager, he forfeits his Ante wager, which is taken by the banker and the player's cards are discarded before the game proceeds. If the player has also placed a Pair Plus wager, that wager is not affected, but the player must make a Play wager if he has a winning Pair Plus wager.

At this point, the dealer then reveals his cards and arranges the cards to show the value of his hand. The dealer then in turn reveals each other player's hand (if not already visible) and resolves each player's wager(s).

All players with Ante and Play wagers are automatically winners if the dealer does not have a Queen high hand or better. This rank may be varied in accordance with rules of the game or of the casino. As is illustrated in FIG. 1A (schedule 224), players are preferably paid even money (one to one) on their Ante wager and their Play wager is returned (a Push).

If the dealer has a Queen high hand or better, each player's hand is compared with that of the dealer. If the player's hand is higher (i.e., the rank of the player's hand exceeds that of the dealer's hand), the player is paid even money on both Ante and Play wagers (schedule 224). If the player's hand is lower, the player forfeits his Ante and Play wagers. If the dealer and player have the same hand, the player may either withdraw his wager or leave or amend it for the next round.

Preferably an additional extra bonus payout (e.g., Ante Bonus) is made by the banker to any player who is in play against the dealer (i.e., who has made the Ante and Play wagers) and who has a hand of a high rank. The ranks to which such extra bonus payouts are made may be predetermined by rules of the game and/or the casino. For example, as illustrated in FIG. 1A (schedule 226), the extra bonus payout schedule of this embodiment is as follows:

Flush 6 to 1
Three of a Kind 5 to 1
Straight 1 to 1.

Alternatively, the extra bonus payout may be 7 to 5 for a Straight or higher ranking hand. The extra bonus payout is preferably based on the Ante wager.

Players who have also wagered on the value of the hand (i.e., Pair Plus wagers) win if the hand is at least a Pair, and are paid by the banker according to the posted scale (e.g., schedule 222 of FIG. 1A). These payouts are independent of the results of the game against the dealer.

This procedure completes a single round of the game. Play then continues in another round, with players commencing by making Ante and optional Pair Plus wagers.

In another embodiment of the game, a round is played and described below. Each player takes a place at one of the player areas 212. The game is played as a round as will be described below. In an example of the invention that includes the player placing a bet against a pay table, each player wagers that the rank of his hand will exceed a minimum predetermined value. On one example, the minimum value is a pair. The game can be played with a standard 52-card deck, or a modified deck, such as a deck with the lower ranking cards (2's, 3's, 4's and 5's) stripped out, for example. At the commencement of the game, each player decides whether to play the particular round by wagering against the “PAIR PLUS” (the first) wager. “PAIR PLUS” is a designation meaning that the poker ranking of the hand must include a pair or better. The gaming chips used in the Pair Plus wager may be of any conventional kind and are available in a number of denominations such as are well known within the art. If the player wishes (alternatively or in addition) to make a wager based on the value of his hand, he places an appropriate token or chip on PAIR PLUS area 216 of his playing area 212. In the present example, the rules of the game provide that payouts will be made according to a displayed payout schedule with “PAIR PLUS” payouts starting at a pair or better. In a preferred three-card version of the side bet game, hands are preferably ranked according to the following hierarchy, though other rankings may be used:

Highest:
BRAG: Three of one suit in sequence
AKQ highest ranking brag
KQJ next highest ranking brag
QJ10 next highest ranking brag, and so on
until
32A lowest ranking brag
TRIPS: Three of One Rank
AAA highest
KKK next highest ranking trips, and so on
until
222 lowest ranking trips
RUN: Three of mixed suits in sequence
AKQ highest ranking,
KQJ next highest ranking, and so on,
until
32A lowest ranking
FLUSH: Three of One Suit
AKJ highest ranking
AK10 next highest, and so on, until
532 lowest ranking
PAIR: Two of Same Rank
AAK highest ranking
AAQ next highest ranking, and so on,
until
223 lowest ranking
Lowest:
HIGH CARD (a hand comprising none of the above)
AKJ highest ranking
AK10 next highest ranking, and so on,
until
532 lowest ranking
ACE is high, but can be low in 3-2-A Sequence.

The payout schedule may be varied in accordance with rules of the game and/or by the casino. For example, one preferred PAIR PLUS payout schedule is as follows:

Straight Flush 40 to 1 
Three-of-a-kind 30 to 1 
Straight 6 to 1
Flush 4 to 1
Pair 1 to 1

Alternatively, in a gaming establishment or jurisdiction where high odds payouts are not favored, a wager can be made solely that the value of the hand will be a pair or greater, King high or greater, Queen high or greater, and the like, and the payout may be, for example, 14 to 5, or whatever other payout is found to be appropriate or desirable.

The display area may include a PAIR PLUS pay table and other pay tables associated with the base game, if the rules of the game require pay tables. Pay tables 226 may appear on the playing surface, on a “how to play” card (also known as a “rack card”), or on a plaquard within the view of the players. It is also desirable to position the pay tables proximate the dealer to assist the dealer in resolving the hands. In an alternative arrangement, details of payouts and any extra bonus payouts may be marked on separate displays, such as vertical or supported signs on the table top.

When the above wagers are in place on area 216 and 218, the dealer preferably shuffles the cards (manually or with an automated shuffling apparatus) and then deals a three-card hand to each player position. The side bet wager on Three Card Poker bonus event is placed by each player in position 216.

The novel methods of the present invention may be played utilizing playing cards as illustrated above, or on an electrical or electromechanical device such as a single or multiple player gaming machine. Those skilled in the art will appreciate that suitable controls can be provided for receiving the necessary input and therefore will not be described in detail herein. While the gaming device is intended for play by a single player against the playing device, it is also within the scope of the present invention to provide a multi-unit video format wherein a plurality of players may play against each other and/or against a dealer. Similarly, from the present description, those skilled in the art will appreciate that the novel games of the present invention are readily adaptable for play either within a gaming establishment or at a remote location, such as on a terminal provided in a commercial aircraft, in a hotel room within a casino, or on the internet, for example. Furthermore, the game is readily adaptable to a scratch card format.

From the present description, those skilled in the art will appreciate that various modifications may be made without department from the scope of the present invention. For example, the naming of the wagers, the naming and/or ranking of any hand, the payout schedule and predetermined winning or losing ranks may be varied in accordance with the requirements of the casino. The table layout may be varied from that described and shown. The rules may be varied, or additional rules imposed, within the scope of the invention.

In particular, there may be introduced a further option of a player wagering on an additional high odds payout wager or on a fixed or variable jackpot which is paid out in accordance with rules of the casino on a premium hand. The odds available could be 5000 to 1 or more against a royal flush—ace, king, queen suited or up to 250,000 to 1 or more against consecutive straight flushes, for example.

If the game incorporates a jackpot or a numerical hand value wager, separate designated wagering areas may be provided for these wagers. These may be incorporated at any convenient position on the players' playing areas. The display stand, the wild and promotional card may also be modified or omitted as desired. Whilst the game is described particularly for play in a gaming establishment, it is not limited in this respect and may also be played for example in a domestic environment or in the format of a video game, slot machine, parlor game, lottery-style game or the like.

Although one preferred format of the present invention permits the play of a three-card side bet game, other formats are possible. For example, if the base game is a four-card poker game and the players are dealt three cards each, the “PAIRS PLUS” side bet game would be played with the first three of four cards in the base game. The fourth card is an extra player card, a common card or a wild card. Alternatively, a four card base game might require the players to receive two cards each, and in this case the “PAIRS PLUS” game would be played with two cards, or the player's two cards plus one dealer card, community card or other designated card. When the number of cards in the “PAIRS PLUS” hand is changed, the winning payouts and winning card combinations must be modified as is well known by those skilled in the art.

The base game may alternatively utilize one or more “common” cards. A “PAIR PLUS” game with two to five cards, preferably two to three cards, can be combined with any poker-type game that initially deals out partial hands. If, for example, the base was a modified form of five-card stud poker, and the rules required the dealing of two to three player cards prior to a round of betting, the “PAIR PLUS” game could be resolved before additional cards are dealt. The additional cards could be player cards or common cards.

The game of the present invention can 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 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 forumulas 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 hereby 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 a 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 those 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 the Figures 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. 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. 1B 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. Patent 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 processors 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, dealer's cards 108, player cards 109, bets wagered (not shown) and also includes touch screen with or without electromechanical player input functions. 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 invention. 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 Intelligent 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 7 A 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 @ 7 A 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, 463/13
International ClassificationA63F9/24
Cooperative ClassificationG07F17/32
European ClassificationG07F17/32
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