Search Images Maps Play YouTube News Gmail Drive More »
Sign in
Screen reader users: click this link for accessible mode. Accessible mode has the same essential features but works better with your reader.

Patents

  1. Advanced Patent Search
Publication numberUS20060157934 A1
Publication typeApplication
Application numberUS 11/041,897
Publication dateJul 20, 2006
Filing dateJan 20, 2005
Priority dateJan 20, 2005
Publication number041897, 11041897, US 2006/0157934 A1, US 2006/157934 A1, US 20060157934 A1, US 20060157934A1, US 2006157934 A1, US 2006157934A1, US-A1-20060157934, US-A1-2006157934, US2006/0157934A1, US2006/157934A1, US20060157934 A1, US20060157934A1, US2006157934 A1, US2006157934A1
InventorsMark Yoseloff, Russell Dunn
Original AssigneeShuffle Master, Inc.
Export CitationBiBTeX, EndNote, RefMan
External Links: USPTO, USPTO Assignment, Espacenet
Multiple site poker tournament
US 20060157934 A1
Abstract
A tournament for a poker-type card game is played at multiple sites to determine players in a final tournament. Each multiple site location plays at least a first round of a qualifying event, and an at least second round of advancing players may be used top further narrow the number of players. After playing a predetermined number of hands of the poker-type card game in the first round, at least some players that will advance to an at least second round are determined by the total nominal value or number of chips or tokens accumulated by each player after play of the round. At least one round at a site will determine which players are invited to attend a separate continuing tournament. At least some players are randomly selected for invitation to the separate continuing tournament to complete a field of players, competing in a series of rounds of play to narrow the field to an eventual winner, and awarding a prize to at least the winner.
Images(3)
Previous page
Next page
Claims(20)
1. A method of playing a multiple-phase, poker style, card game tournament, comprising:
A plurality of players at a plurality of tables competing in a series of rounds of poker style card games of chance, the selected game of chance having an inherent house advantage;
Playing a first phase by playing a predetermined number of X rounds of a poker style game using non-negotiable chips, wherein at least one player holding greater nominal values of chips at the conclusion X rounds qualifying the at least one player as an advancing player to participate in a second phase of the tournament, without direct regard as to how the at least one player performed relative to other players at the at least one player's table;
Each advancing player participating in the second phase of the tournament, the second phase comprising Y rounds of play using non-negotiable chips;
Identifying at least one winner of the tournament based on a number of chips held by each player at a conclusion of Y rounds of play; and
Paying the at least one winner a prize.
2. The method of claim 1 wherein at least some players pay an entry fee to compete in a first phase of the tournament.
3. The method of claim 1 wherein each player pays an entry fee to compete in the first phase of the tournament.
4. The method of claim 1 wherein the poker style game comprises dealing of a complete hand of cards to each player and a complete hand of cards to the dealer, and the player electing a wager play from the group consisting of placing a wager on a hand-to-hand competition against the dealer, placing a wager against a pay table, and placing a first wager on a hand-to-hand competition against the dealer and a second wager against a pay table.
5. The method of claim 4 wherein the player makes a third wager in support of a wager made on the hand-to-hand competition against the dealer.
6. The method of claim 4 wherein the game of chance is Three Card Poker® game.
7. The method of claim 1 wherein X and Y are equal.
8. The method of claim 1 wherein the poker style game of chance is played against at least one of a dealer and a pay table.
9. The method of claim 2 wherein a portion of the entry fee paid in the first phase is used to fund prizes awarded in the second phase.
10. The method of claim 1 further comprising an additional phase of play prior to the second phase so that players can qualify for the second phase.
11. The method of claim 1 wherein at least 18 winners, based on an absolute nominal value or number of chips won during each first phase are allowed to advance to a next advanced phase of the tournament.
12. The method of claim 1 wherein at least two winners from at least one qualifying phase prior to the second phase are selected randomly from a pool of eliminated players to advance to another round of play.
13. The method of claim 1 where all of the non-negotiable chips have equal value in determining a final chip count.
14. The method of claim 1 wherein the non-negotiable chips are non-denominational chips supplied by a casino host, and the non-denominational chips cannot be cashed in for currency at the end of play.
15. The method of claim 1 wherein the selected game of chance is selected from the group consisting of: Three Card Poker® game, Two Card Poker, Four Card Poker® game, High Five Poker® game, Caribbean Stud® Poker game, Pai Gow Poker, Fortune Pai GOW™ Poker game, Casino War™ game and Royal Match 21™ game.
16. The method of claim 1 wherein at least one phase is televised.
17. The method of claim 1 wherein at least one phase is sponsored by a business entity.
18. A method of providing a tournament for a poker-type card game at multiple sites to determine players in a final tournament event for the same poker-type card game at a single site comprising:
providing multiple site locations for playing at least a first round of a qualifying event;
providing multiple gaming tables for multiple players in the first round of the qualifying event;
providing an equal number or equal nominal value of chips or tokens to each player in the first round;
playing a predetermined number of hands of the poker-type card game in the first round;
determining at least a majority of players that will advance to an at least second round from the first round by the total nominal value or number of chips or tokens accumulated by each player after play of the predetermined number of hands in the first round;
advancing players to the at least second round and positioning players at at least one table to be used in the second round of play;
providing an equal number or equal nominal value of chips or tokens to each player in the second round;
playing a predetermined number of hands of the poker-type card game in the second round;
determining at least a majority of players that will advance to an at least third round from the second round by the total nominal value or number of chips or tokens accumulated by each player after play of the predetermined number of hands in the second round;
players advancing from the second round to the at least third round playing a predetermined number of hands of the poker-type card game in the third round; and
determining at least a majority of players that will advance to an at least fourth round from the third round or determining at least one winner by determining the total nominal value or number of chips or tokens accumulated by each player after play of the predetermined number of hands in the third round.
19. The method of claim 18 wherein at least some players advancing to a fourth round attend the fourth round at a later date at a different location than a one of the multiple sites at which the at least some players' first and second rounds were played.
20. The method of claim 19 wherein the winners are invited to attend a separate continuing tournament for play of the poker-type card game, and at least some players that were not winners are randomly selected for invitation to the separate continuing tournament to complete a field of players, and at least some invited players begin a tournament having a series of rounds of play to narrow the field to an eventual winner, and awarding a prize to at least the winner.
Description
BACKGROUND OF THE ART

Card games have always been popular, in private or party situations as well as in gambling or gaming environments, such as casinos. The popularity of card games seems to vary cyclically, and there is often a popular event or a popular individual that is the stimulus for an upswing in the cycles. In the early 2000's, televised poker tournaments became popular fare, and many of the competitors became celebrities. In particular, the traditional casino table game of Texas Hold 'Em became an internationally favored game. There are televised competitions (taped and then played at the conclusion of the games) from casinos all over the world.

Blackjack tournaments have also been a popular way of attracting and maintaining customers in the casino environment. The various types of tournaments are played according to differing formats and with different rules, so it is advisable to understand the different formats and the limitations on the formats of play based upon the requirements of the games.

Blackjack tournaments typically have very similar formats. Players buy into a game and are given a fixed denomination of chips. The chips may either be standard casino chips (least preferred, as chips could be smuggled from the casino into the game), special casino chips having negotiable value (second least preferred), or special casino chips having a nominal value (the term “nominal value” is defined for purposes of this disclosure as a chips with assigned denominations but no cash or monetary value) (the most preferred). The players play a first (e.g., qualifying) round at separate tables (e.g., X tables), each player at each table playing against the dealer at that table. The player with the greatest value in chips (real or nominal) remaining at the end of a predetermined number of hands (e.g., twenty hands played against the dealer, in which every player must usually play in each hand, making at least a minimum ante) advances to the next round of play. The next round of play (e.g., second round, quarter final, semifinal, etc.) will involve fewer than X tables, with significant numbers of players having been eliminated. The winners from the next round of play are determined in the same manner as in the first round of play. There also may be a consolation first round, in which players that did not qualify in the first round to advance may enter the consolation round and attempt again to move on to the second or next competitive round of play.

After all of the first rounds (including any optional consolation rounds) have been concluded, players advance to the next round according to predetermined rules of play. Typically, advancement is primarily based upon positions of finishing at each table. That is, the player with the largest value of chips at each table at the conclusion of the predetermined number of rounds of play (20 will be used as the exemplary number of rounds) will be a player that advances to the next round of play. This player position advancement is based upon the fact that players should not be excessively punished by the quality of hands that a dealer at a particular table may receive over the finite event of twenty hands. It would likely take a player of greater skill to break even (in the final value of chips at the end of twenty hands) at one table than it might be for a player at another table to double the value of chips, where the dealer tended to receive large incidences of displayed bust cards and then proceed to bust on each first hit. The award of advancement based on player position attempts to identify skill at a table under random conditions, rather than awarding all players that happened to be present during a fortuitous run of poor cards for the dealer at the table.

After the first place player at each table advances (where there is a tie, there might be a playoff between players tying for first place, or both would advance), any remaining player positions in the next round would be selected by awarding advancement to those highest ranking (the greatest value of chips) second place players at each table. A typical formula for advancement would be twenty initial tables in a first round, and four tables (with seven players at each table) in a next round. There would be at least twenty first place players from the first round of play (the twenty first place finishers at each table, including any ties, if allowed to advance without a playoff), and then eight (or fewer) best second place finishers. More or fewer tables (typically fewer tables) may be used in the next round, depending upon the number of initial players and initial tables in the first round.

The players in the second round then engage in a round of play (e.g., again an exemplary twenty hands), and the first place finisher at each table may advance to the next round (which in this example would be the final round), allowing at least four first place finishers (and any first place tie players) to advance, and then allowing the three highest value chip retaining second place players to advance to the next round. The final round would also be played in a similar manner to the first and second rounds, with the final ranking of the players in the tournament determined by the final total value (nominal or real) at the conclusion of the predetermined number of hands played. The chip value in each round may vary according to house rules. In some tournaments, especially when the chips have real negotiable value, the amount of chips in the possession of the player at the conclusion of the round are carried forward into the next round of play. This tends to award players previously at a favorable table, but those are the rules of that format. An alternative to carrying forward the value of chips remaining for each player is to start each player in each round with the same nominal value of chips. There is only a single entry fee in the first round, and players continue play when they advance without having to pay any additional fees as they move from round to round.

Poker tournaments typically are played with a different format. Poker tournaments are played in a survival mode format, with play continuing each day of the tournament until a target number of players have been eliminated. The number of players is limited only by the available space, and players are sometimes admitted to the game after play has begun if other players are quickly eliminated. Players at a table (e.g., in Texas Hold 'Em, with a dealer and eight or nine players) are dealt their hands according to the rules of the game, and each player begins with an identical nominal value (usually never a negotiable value) of chips. Players continue play of the game until all of their chips are eliminated. Players must ante the same number of times as do other players (by advancing the relative position of the deal so that players are required to ante fairly significant amounts in the regular course of the game. The game is played each day until a target number of players are eliminated or until a target number of players remain. When the target number is reached, the session ends. There are no fixed and predetermined numbers of hands played at a table. Each table may play fewer or more hands than other tables. Players retain the nominal value of their chips and use them in the next session. This is compatible with poker play (player versus player) where the relative skill of play is against other players and not against the house dealer.

Numerous sessions are played, with potentially unlimited time periods involved, until the target number of players is reached to end a session. Poker tournaments can therefore become physically taxing events. When a single table is achieved in the final session, the players compete against each other, being eliminated one-at-a-time, until a single player remains standing. If there are nine players at the final table, they may begin with nominal chip totals ranging from $1 to millions of dollars when beginning the final session. The first player eliminated (by losing all of their chips) would be the ninth place finisher (with nine players beginning the final table session). The second player eliminated would be the eighth place finisher, etc. This would continue until only a single player, the winner, remained. Typically, different awards are given to each place of finish, even to a limited number of players not making the final table (e.g., the 10th through 18th place finishers). The finish is based upon the time of elimination, and not the value of chips at the time of elimination.

A specific format of tournament play for poker games that varies somewhat from this standard format of poker tournament play is described in U.S. Pat. No. 5,544,892 (Breeding). The format is played with the game of Let It Ride® stud poker. The format may comprise a method for playing a series of casino card games between a casino and a plurality of players. There is a super jackpot awarded. The play comprises: a) each player placing a first wager to become a participant in the casino card game; b) each player placing a combined second wager and entry fee to become eligible to win a bonus payout and the super jackpot; c) a hand of cards is dealt to each player; d) each player's first wager is resolved based on the hand. If a player's hand comprises a predetermined arrangement of cards, that player wins a preselected amount from the casino during that resolution of the hand; e) each player's second wager is resolved based on the hand, and again where a player's hand comprises a subset of the predetermined arrangement of cards, that player wins a preselected bonus pay-off from the casino; f) each player's entry fee is resolved based on each hand wherein if a player's hand comprises a narrower subset of the predetermined arrangement of cards, that player becomes a finalist eligible to win the super jackpot; and g) a second game is played to select a winner of the super jackpot from the finalists. This tournament style for the poker game allows advancement only when hands of particular rank happen to be awarded to players, and advancement is not based upon a nominal total of chips for a player or the relative number of chips versus other players, either during a time period among many tables or among players at a single table.

U.S. Pat. No. 6,817,948 (Pascal) describes a dynamic remote tournament gaming method and system, including the provision of a plurality of gaming terminals selectively interlinked together with a host terminal so that current players of the terminals desiring to participate in group tournament play can be notified of the opportunity and provided with the choice to play or not. If a current player chooses to play, he so signifies, enters his entry fee into the terminal, and awaits start of the event. Upon start of the tournament by the host terminal, the player will play the tournament game over and over as fast as possible to accumulate as many points as possible during a particular pre-announced tournament period. The host terminal will continuously monitor the terminals of all play participants, dynamically record play status, and control termination of the game period. It will also conduct an accounting of the results, issue win results notification, and perhaps provide remote pay-out of game winnings.

U.S. Pat. No. 6,039,348 (Guinn) describes an apparatus and method for an automated tournament gaming system (10) comprising a central server computer (20) operatively coupled to, inter alia, a plurality of gaming machine G1, G2 . . . GN for automatically harnessing any of the gaming machines for automatically inciting and running a tournament where a group of players are participating for a period after which prizes are awarded to the winning tournament play participants. In addition, the system (10) includes a host site computer (200) operatively coupled to a plurality of the central servers (20) at a variety of remote gaming sites C1, C2 . . . CN for providing a multi-site progressive automated tournament gaming system (210). The multi-site system (210) is integrated into the system (10) to increase the winnings, progressive amounts and the total buy-ins.

SUMMARY OF THE INVENTION

A tournament format for card wagering games is provided in which players at numerous tables compete against a dealer (on each hand) and/or a pay table and are ranked against other players for collective totals of nominal value in chips in a fixed number of hands during rounds of play of the card game. The same type of card game is played at each table (with the tables possibly being dispersed over geographic areas, in other States in the U.S. or in countries through the world). Winners (as determined by the tournament rules) receive a cash value prize and are eligible to play in a separate round or phase of play, referred to as a Finals Tournament, at a single location, so that winners will compete head-to-head at tables at a single location, or even at associated locations in a live format.

BRIEF DESCRIPTION OF THE FIGURES

FIG. 1 shows an example of a playing surface for a game of Three-card Poker® games.

FIG. 2 is a flow diagram of events in a poker tournament according to one embodiment of the present disclosure.

DETAILED DESCRIPTION OF THE INVENTION

A format of card game tournament play is provided that includes players playing in a card game tournament with all players in each round playing a same game with a single set of game play rules. One example of a tournament play format includes the rules of a poker game, such as Three Card Poker®, as described in U.S. Pat. No. 5,685,774, the content of which hereby is incorporated by reference in its entirety. The first phase of the game (hereinafter referred to as the preliminary round) may be played at distal locations, such as in different countries, different States in the U.S., at multiple different casino locations in the same city, in the same country, or combinations of the different locations. It would be desirable to have the various locations play the games at approximately the same time, but this can be difficult to disadvantageously impossible with 12 hour time differences possible. Where there are significant time differences between play at different locations, it might be desirable to keep event results from earlier playing locations secret from players at later playing locations so as to not provide them with a potential advantage, such as by giving the later players target chip amount totals that they know they would have to exceed.

In one form of tournament play, multiple properties across the U.S. host the preliminary round, and by the process of elimination set forth below, each property advances one or multiple players to a semi-final or final round. The final round would typically be hosted by a large, well-known casino such as the MGM Grand, in Las Vegas, Nev., for example.

Each player at every location in the preliminary round should have the same entry fee, but at a minimum, each player at every location shall begin the play of a first round in a tournament with an identical nominal value (or real value) of playing tokens or chips. For example, each player might receive $2,000 in chips at the beginning of the preliminary round. The players shall be at individual tables, and where there are enough players, with multiple players, although a table may have even a single player with a dealer under a preferred method of advancement format. The players shall each play a predetermined number of hands of the poker-type game in the first round. That number of hands may be selected by the tournament director or manager, and may vary, by way of non-limiting example, from 2 hands to 1,000 hands. A preferred range of the number of hands would be between 10 and 100, between 10 and 50, or between 10 and 30. The game shall be discussed in a non-limiting fashion for 20 hands, although other numbers of hands may be used by those skilled in the art. Players may be required to play (place at least an ante) in every hand at their table, may be required to place an ante only when they are in a specific location relative to a dealing or banking position at the table (this dealing or banking position moving sequentially or randomly), or may elect to never place an ante (hoping for disastrous results for other players). The first round may be the only (complete multi-jurisdiction) qualifying round before the Final Tournament event, or may be a first local qualifying round with at least one additional intermediate rounds being played prior to the Final Tournament event. There may even be additional intermediate qualifying rounds for the Final Tournament play, which may be local or multi-jurisdictional qualifying events. It is preferred that players play against local dealers (dealers at the same physical table where they are themselves physically playing), although the scope of entry may be broadened by allowing broadcasting of hands to players at distal locations through live broadcasting techniques. For example, a patron located overseas may be connected through a live hook-up to a specific player position at an accommodating location. Wagers may be electronically directed and local card reading capability can display player cards to the distal player. It is preferred to have live-only players at tables, however.

In a first analysis, a simplified tournament play will be described in which there are only a first round, a second round, and a Final Tournament event. The second round could be eliminated, and additional third, fourth, fifth, etc. rounds could be provided before the Final Tournament event using an extension of the described play. The game of Three-Card Poker® gamewill be used in the example because of its simplicity and international appeal. This game is described, by way of example, in U.S. Pat. Nos. 6,698,759; 6,345,823; 6,237,916; 6,056,641; and 5,685,774. These patents are herein incorporated by reference in their entirety for explaining play of games and particularly variations of poker, including Three-Card Poker® games.

To begin the preliminary round, each player is given an equal number of chips. Each player at a table will place at least one wager to enter the game (or, if allowed, place no wager and merely retain all of his initial tokens or chips). The required wagers or minimum wagers would be at least one of the Ante Wager or the Pair Plus wager, as they are understood in the play of Three-Card Poker® games. Upon placing the minimum wager, each player having placed a wager (and possibly even to a player not having placed a wager, but being positioned at a seat at the table, for reasons later explained) will receive the cards dealt in the play of the game, in this case of Three-card Poker® games, three cards. The cards may be dealt face down (which is typical in the play of the game), face up, or a mixture of face down and face up cards. The dealer is also dealt a three-card hand, usually all cards face down.

The players having made an Ante wager examine their cards, and determine if they wish to place a Bet wager to increase the wager in the Three-Card Poker® game in the competitive play against the dealer's three-card hand. In conventional play of Three-Card Poker® game, the player must place the Bet wager to remain in competition with the dealer for best hand. In tournament play, however, the Bet wager may be made optional with the player remaining in the game in both events. This could offer a sense of greater strategy in the game, and as the chips are nominal chips. If a player had not placed an Ante wager, but had placed a Pair Plus wager, no Bet wager may be placed. Play of the hand is limited to play of the Pair Plus wager. If a player had placed both an Ante and a Pair Plus wager, the player may elect to either place a Bet wager, or fold (by not placing a Bet wager, or if the rules permit, playing only the Ante wager and the Pair Plus wager.

The players at each and every location are given the opportunity to play the same predetermined number of hands in the round of the tournament game (e.g., here nominally identified as 20 hands). When a player exhausts or loses all of his chips, he is technically out of the game, and cannot advance. It may be a format of play to always deal cards to each player position (especially in the event where a player is allowed to not place a wager), so that other players will not be under the impression that one player is attempting to alter the distribution of hands and thus impact hands received by other players. This format is often used in standard Pai Gow poker, but is also amenable to tournament play for the reasons provided. At the conclusion of the predetermined number of hands, the total value of chips for each player is counted. Advancement to next rounds of play are preferably determined by absolute totals of chips for each player (in comparison to all players participating in the preliminary round), regardless of table position, rather than merely comparing chips at each table to determine a winner. For example, if there were twenty initial tables with seven players at each table, the seven highest total chips could theoretically come from the same table. Even where there is international play for qualifying events (especially when qualifying for the Final Tournament event), seven of the qualifiers could theoretically come from a single table in a single country, or a single table at a single casino.

In the example given here, it will be assumed that there are twenty countries involved, with twenty tables of seven players at each of the tables. The first qualifying round may be strictly local, with twenty-one players (for example) advancing to three (for example) semifinal local tables. The players would advance by the twenty-one players with the highest chip total advancing to the semifinal round after play of the predetermined number of hands. The players may be distributed to the three semifinal tables randomly or may be seeded according to their chip totals, as with the first (of three) tables having the 1st, 4th, 7th, 10th, 13th, 16th, and 19th highest total players, and the other tables seeded accordingly or in another manner, such as 1st, 21st, 18th, 15th, 12th, 9th and 6th, giving a theoretical seeding advantage of the 1st player. In the second round of play, all players will begin play with an again equal nominal value of chips. For example, each player in the second round will start with a nominal value of $1,000, $2,000, etc. Currency names need not be used, and the chips may be identified as 1000 points, 2000 units, or the like. Whatever the nomenclature, each player competing against all other players for the next round of advancement, would start with the same number of chips. It is possible, but less preferred to have the player carry over the nominal value of chips from a previous round.

In this example, the first round of play was local (i.e., all players within a single defined location, as within a single casino). In competing for advancement to the Final Tournament event (in this two-stage qualifying event format), the competition may now be multi-jurisdictional, with players competing among all players in all jurisdictions for advancement to the Final Tournament event. This will require some communication ability among the jurisdictions, as by electronic messaging, live camera feed, or even voice communication. The desirability of local security precautions to assure compliance with rules and the avoidance of fraud or cheating by players or even dealers or casinos is apparent.

At the conclusion of the second round of play (here a semifinal to the Final Tournament event), the players will total their chips at the conclusion of the predetermined number of hands. The individual player chip totals, and not their success at a particular table, will determine advancement to the Final Tournament event. Another unique aspect is that at the local tournament locations, cash awards can be provided to the winning players (in local relativity or multi-jurisdictional relativity) to enable them to travel to the Final Tournament event. Players finishing near the top of the chip total may be placed into an alternative pool in the event that a winning player does not wish to travel to the Final Tournament event. It is an attractive element to provide the player with a sufficient winning amount to enable the player to travel to the Final Tournament event (e.g., $500 to $5,000) and enter a contest where there is a potential to multiply the initial winning amount significantly (e.g., a top prize of 1 Million dollars or more). Awarding an initial prize of too large an amount (e.g., $50,000) with too small a potential win might dissuade players from traveling to the Final Tournament event.

It is alternatively possible in the play of the qualifying events for all qualifying competition to be local only. That is, a certain number of players from each local jurisdiction may qualify for the Final Tournament, without comparison to chip totals in other jurisdictions. This can occur both in the first round and in any intermediate rounds, through the qualifying round for the Final Tournament event. It is also possible for all qualifying events, even first round qualifying events to be multi-jurisdictional, although maintaining at least the initial qualifying events local is preferred, and the qualifying event for the Final Tournament event may be local or multi-jurisdictional, as described above.

In addition to qualifying for advancement by having one of a plurality of highest numbers of chips held, other players may advance by random selection. This feature is a wild card feature and is helpful in keeping players that have been eliminated in the casino for the entire tournament.

As indicated above, other tournament format poker-type games may be provided. A non-limiting, non-exclusive list of such games would include Casino War (U.S. Pat. No. 5,324,041), Fortune Pai Gow Poker (U.S. Pat. No. 5,863,041) and Caribbean Stud™ poker (U.S. Pat. No. 4,861,041). Other games such as Four-Card™ poker, Six-Card™ poker, Caribbean Stud Poker® game and other variants of poker, especially where wagering is both against a dealer and against a paytable are advantageously used in the play of this format of tournament-style poker competition.

The play of the tournament may be more generically described in terms of its structural organization than has been heretofore presented. A tournament organizer (which may be a game owner or distributor, such as Shuffle Master, Inc. the assignee of patents throughout the world relating to Three-Card Poker® games) first signs up multiple facilities, such as multiple casinos to participate in a two or more tiered tournament. In one embodiment, one corporate casino company with multiple properties will provide the sites, or else multiple individual properties will participate. For example, all of the MGM casinos could provide a location for distal provision of preliminary tournament sites in various States. Each participating site would pay a site fee into a tournament operating fund. The site fee funds the cost of televising the event (if televised or otherwise broadcast), providing communication between sites, and can also be used for funding prize awards, either locally or in the Final Tournament event. Preferably the site fee pays the cost of televising the production. Sponsors can be retained to reduce the cost of producing a show from the first-tier event location in exchange for advertising.

There are preferably no player qualifications, except possibly an entry fee to participate. Alternately, only players with casino club cards, casino group cards, special memberships or a player rating can participate. The tournament participants could also be by invitation only, using any criteria the casino wishes to use. In that event, for example, player entry fees could be waived, for some or all invited players. In one form of the invention, in order to enter the tournament, each player should pay an entry fee. For example, a player might be required to pay a flat fee of $200, or may have the option of just paying the entry fee or buying a package, including the entry fee, hotel rooms, meal tickets, etc. Different packages will possibly be offered.

According to the described technology, the game that is played is a game that is house banked, and has an inherent house advantage. Players should not play their cards directly against each other but rather should play against the house (a dealer's hand, a paytable, or both a dealer's hand and a paytable). There is no possibility of a “freeze-out” (that is, where one person wins all of the other players' money and all of the remaining players are out). It is possible, however, that one or more players could wager and lose all of their initial wagering value (chips). The rules are structured so that there should be multiple winners at each site. The preferred method is to issue non-value chips having an artificial denomination (e.g., where the value may be expressed in terms of currency, but are not refundable at the Cashier for the face amount, or indicated as numerical quantities of points or units) upon receipt of the entry fee. The rules also should require the players to play a sum certain predetermined number of rounds in competition, as described herein. The top X number of players within a jurisdiction or multiple jurisdictions advance to the next phase of play. Preferably, each site (e.g., each casino) will advance a specific number of players, or a proportional number of players based on the initial total number of players entering the first stage of the tournament. One preferred form of the invention requires each casino to advance 20-30 players from a first round of play to the next phase of play. Where, for example, 21 players are to advance (three tables with seven players at each table), the top 18 players holding the most chips automatically advance to the next round. Three additional players may preferably randomly selected from those who were eliminated, or selected on the basis of some selected criteria, such as the third player to lose all of their chips, or the players that did not win a single hand during play, etc. The other 18 players are the top 18 after X number of hands of play in the first qualifying round of the tournament. As more thoroughly described above, each player starts with the same number of non-denomination chips.

If the game were strictly a pay table game, eventually the house would win all of the money. If the game is strictly a game against other players, then there would be only one winner if the game were run to conclusion. It is therefore a desirable element in the format of play preferred in the description herein that the game be structured so that there should be multiple winners in all phases of play leading up to the final round.

The Let it Ride® poker the Tournament concept requires players to place a $1.00 side wager to participate in the tournament or in each hand of the tournament, as described in U.S. Pat. No. 5,544,892, the content which hereby is incorporated by reference in its entirety. Qualifying hands of a very high rank, such as a Royal Flush, etc. qualify the player to be invited to a separate playoff event at a host casino. In the first phase of play, the players use their own money to play. In the final round, the players play with non-denomination (nominal value) chips.

Standard poker tournaments generally require the players to pay an entry fee or have won an entry event, and non-negotiable chips are used. The final player holding all of the chips wins. If there are preliminary qualifying events, the preliminary events play out until there is only one winner at each site.

According to the presently described technology, the amounts collected from the player entry fees are preferably are divided between the hosting casino, the organizer (e.g., game owner), and prize money. Part of the prize money pays the winning player's entry fee and/or possibly travel expenses into the next phase of play (for example, $1,000), and part is awarded as prize money for that round of play. Organizer revenue is at least in part dependent on the number of entry fees paid.

A reasonable goal is to have approximately 25,000 initial participants nation-wide, and to then bring 1,000 of them to Las Vegas for a playoff event, the Final Tournament event. If there are more than 25,000 participants, there may be regional play-off events to reduce the number of finalists to approximately 1,000, 1,200, 1,500, 2,000 or whatever number of players the facilities can handle. The players preferably will use their prize earnings to pay their way to Las Vegas. Tournament sponsors such as an airline or casino might provide free airfare and/or rooms and food.

In the final phase of the competition, a fraction of the entry fees from the previous round can be used to fund the final prize pool. The top winner will preferably earn at least $1,000,000, and there will be a number of runners'-up prizes, extending as far down as the organizer, host, and financial ability allows. For example, additional prizes to 25 places would be reasonable. The final determination of a winner is based on the number value of chips remaining at the conclusion of X number of rounds of play, with Y number of hands in each round at the Final Tournament event. For example, the players could play 20 rounds in each phase of play. This number can be adjusted upwards or downwards, depending on how fast most players lose their non-negotiable chips.

The basic format of play of Three-Card poker may be described as follows. The game is initiated by a) placing a single part first wager (e.g., the Ante wager) to participate in a casino three-card poker-type game; b) a dealer dealing a hand consisting of three cards to each player who placed a first wager (or as possibly allowable in the rules, to a player seated at a position at the table) and a three-card hand to the dealer; and c) resolving each player's hand according to a predetermined hierarchy of poker-type game outcomes in competition against the dealer's hand. Payouts are preferably made on the wager when the player obtains a predetermined winning outcome. In one form of the game, all payouts pay odds according to a paytable, whether or not the player is competing against a dealer's hand. 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. In another form of the invention, all payouts pay 1:1. Payouts are made to the player on the first wager for one of a plurality of predetermined winning outcomes. Preferably, all payouts on the Ante wager and/or the back up Bet wager (later discussed) 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”. One 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 rules of poker rank hands 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 as those outcomes require more than three cards. A royal flush beats a straight flush. In three card picker, the order of certain hands (flush, straight and three of a kind) is inverted to descending order of Three-of-a-kind, Straight and Flush. 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. Proportional payouts are typically between 1:1 and 100:1 against the first single part wager, although other payout schemes are contemplated.

In another form of the game, at least one but fewer than all payouts are proportional to the single part wager. Payout methods may include fixed amounts (regardless of the amount wagered), odds payouts (payment of the amount wagered times the pay table multiple), 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.

One method of the invention comprises the player having an option or a requirement of placing a second wager (the Bet wager) to participate in the game against the dealer, wherein the dealer also receives a hand of at least three cards. It might be necessary to adjust house odds, depending upon the specific game rules selected. This can be easily accomplished by dealing one or more extra cards to the dealer, and allowing the dealer to use his or her best three-card combination in an attempt to beat the player hands. The second wager may be optional or mandatory. In fact, the first wager may also be optional, or both the first wager and the second wager may be mandatory.

According to the possibilities in the play of the game, the game may be house banked or player banked, although in tournament play, the game should be house banked.

In one form of the game, when the player participates in a three card poker game against the dealer, if he has made the Ante wager (and irrespective of his having placed the Pair Plus wager discussed later as a second initial wager), the player may be required to place an additional third wager (the Bet wager) to stay in the game. This Bet wager, as previously indicated, is often mandatory for the player to maintain the Ante wager in play against the dealer, but may also be optional. This third wager (the Bet wager) may be smaller, larger or equal to the amount wagered against the dealer, and may be fixed (that is, only a specific wager relative to the Ante wager may be allowed) or variable (that is, a range of Bet wagers may be placed such as 0×, 1×, 2×X, 3×, 4×, 5×, etc. the original Ante wager). Preferably, the player is permitted to view his three card hand prior to deciding whether to make the third 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.

When the player plays a three-card poker game against the dealer, it is sometimes preferable to require the dealer to have a qualifying hand. For example, the rules might require the dealer to have at least a single queen (queen high) in order to qualify to play against the player. In one example of the game, the second (the Pair Plus wager) and third (the Bet wager) bets are a push when the dealer does not qualify. In another example of the invention, the third bet pays 1:1 and the second bet is returned to the player when the dealer does not qualify.

In yet another example of the game, 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. In other examples of the game, higher or lower payouts are made on the Pair Plus second bet. In another form of the game, an additional bonus payout is made on the third wager (the Bet wager) 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 third bet (the Bet wager) is shown below:

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

In another form of the game, 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 game, a bonus amount is paid for the best five-card hand made from the dealer's and player's three cards each.

Alternatively, an aspect of the play of the game itself may be described as a casino wagering game comprising 1) a player seated at a player position in the tournament round placing no wager or at least a single first wager selected from the group consisting of an Ante wager and a Pair Plus wager to participate in the game (with the option of placing both the Ante wager and the Pair Plus wager, or other bonus wager); 2) a dealer dealing a hand of three cards to each player seated at the table or only to those players who placed an at least one wager; 3) dealing a three-card hand to the dealer; 4) the player inspecting the player's three-card hand and either i) placing no third wager (the Bet wager) and folding at least the Ante wager (and likely the Pair Plus wager), ii) placing no third wager (the Bet wager) and remaining in the game with at least the Ante wager (if placed), iii) placing a third wager (e.g., the Bet wager); 4) resolving the player hands against the dealer's hand with respect to the Ante wager and any Bet wagers, optionally also resolving the Ante wager and/or the Bet wager against a pay table; 5) resolving the Pair Plus wager (if any) against a pay table. The pay table provides payouts for predetermined ranks of Three-Card Poker® game poker-type hands. At least some payouts are proportional to some of the wagers in resolving hands for obtaining a predetermined rank of hand. Predetermined winning poker outcomes that have proportional payouts pay 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 are an entire pot. It is possible to have some hands identified with fixed amount payouts on Pair Plus wagers, irrespective of the size of the pair Plus wager if desired, such as a $1,000 award for a Straight Flush. This bonus may be in place of or in addition to proportional odds paid on the Pair Plus wager.

Another aspect of the play of the game includes a method of playing a casino card game utilizing a standard deck of cards, comprising the steps of: placing a wager to participate in a three card poker game against a dealer; dealing three cards to each player who placed a wager; dealing at least three cards to the dealer; and resolving the hands according to a predetermined hierarchy of three-card poker hands. This game play sequence can be played as a stand-alone game, in combination with a three-card hand against a pay table and/or other poker-style games. Preferably, the dealer also deals himself three cards. The players hand must outrank the dealer's hand in order to win the bet. Preferably, the dealer's hand must meet a minimum predetermined rank in order to qualify to play against the player. For example, the dealer must hold a Queen or better. Otherwise the bet is a push.

According to one format of play of this Three-Card Poker® game, the player is permitted to view his cards before considering the Bet wager. He optionally may or must then place an additional bet that his hand will beat the dealer hand or he must fold. The game contemplates allowing the player to stay in the game if he opts not to make the additional bet. In one format, the player views his own three card hand and at least one dealer card before making the decision on whether or not to place the additional bet.

An optional feature is paying a bonus payout on either the Ante wager, or the Bet wager if the player's hand is one of a predetermined number or rank of winning hands. For example, the player may receive a bonus payout on the Ante and/or the Bet wager when he has a straight flush. There are of course bonus awards on the Pair Plus wager as previously described.

Although odds payouts on the bonus bet (e.g., the Pair Plus bet or other named or constructed bonus bet) is a preferred form of the invention, certain high ranking hands may pay a fixed payout, a proportion of a pot or a progressive payout that is created during tournament play.

It might be necessary to distribute more than three cards to the dealer, and allow the dealer to use the extra card to make the best three-card hand against the players. This dealing modification might be necessary to improve the house's odds, alter player betting strategies, and the like, depending on the other game rules selected. The second bet (the Bet wager) and optional bonus bets (e.g., the Pair Plus wager or other bonus wagers) may be required or optional, depending on house rules. The game may therefore comprise a player placing at least one wager to participate in the game, wherein the player optionally places a first single part wager (e.g., the Ante wager) that his hand will contain a card combination higher in rank than a rank of a dealer hand; a player optionally placing a second wager that his hand will contain one of a plurality of predetermined winning card combinations (the Pair Plus wager for example); dealing three cards to the player; dealing at least three cards to the dealer; providing the player with an option of placing an additional wager in competition of hand ranks with the dealer (e.g., the Bet wager); and resolving the hands according to a predetermined hierarchy of poker hands. According to one aspect of play, 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, additional 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 tournament, the use of the original three cards with or without adding more cards to play an additional game is contemplated as the preferred embodiment.

When the three-card game against the dealer is played, it is preferable that the dealer's hand meets a minimum value to qualify to play against the players. For example, the rules may require that the dealer hold a Queen or better to qualify. If the dealer's hand does not qualify, the third bet is returned to the player, and the second bet is paid 1:1. Alternatively, all bets made against the dealer are a push.

When the rules require the player to place a third wager to stay in the game against the dealer, the player is typically permitted to view his three card hand prior to 30 making the third betting decision. In one example, the dealer turns one or more cards up prior to the player making the third betting decision. The third bet may be mandatory to stay in the game, or may be optional.

The dealer generally acts in the capacity of a 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 either the players or the dealer one or more additional cards, and allow the player and/or dealer to discard to arrive at the best three card hand. 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.

A bonus payout may be awarded on the hand against the dealer, with or without requiring an additional bonus wager for certain predetermined poker hands. The bonus payouts may pay a fixed amount, odds, a, percentage of a pot or a progressive jackpot amount. Preferably, bonus amounts are paid without requiring a separate bonus wager according to an odds pay table.

In the case of one preferred three card version of the 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:

    • BRAG or 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 (although this may be considered a highest or higher straight according to rule options)
    • TRIPS: Three cards of one Rank
      • AAA highest
      • KKK next highest ranking trips, and so on, until
      • 222 lowest ranking trips
    • RUN or Straight: 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
      • AK10 next highest, and so on, until
      • 532 lowest ranking ‘PAIR: Two cards 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 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, BRAG may also be known as a royal flush (for AKQ), straight flush or bouncer; 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:

Hand Payout Odds Range
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.

Another embodiment 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 alternative three-card embodiment of the present tournament play, each player receives two standard playing cards plus a wild card that the player combines with the standard cards to make a 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. Game rules must, of course, bet standard at all playing sites during the qualification rounds of the tournament.

According to a further aspect of the play of the game, there is provided apparatus for use in playing a card game in which all possible hands of cards are ranked according to predetermined poker-type rules, the apparatus comprising at least one player's playing area, each player's playing area comprising zones for placement of each of the available wagers, and a position for receiving cards for the players and the dealer. 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 also incorporate an area or receptacle for cards not in play and a shuffler and/or 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.

In a preferred form, 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 screen (e.g., LED or plasma, or touch screen), 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. 1 shows a playing surface or table layout 10 on which one or more embodiments of the present invention may be played. Either the game against the dealer alone, a game against the pay table alone or both (either with both segments optional or mandatory) may be played on the exemplary layout. The layout 10 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. The layout provides a playing area 12 for a plurality of players, for example seven players, and a separate area 14 for the dealer. Each playing area 12 has a marked section or zones 16 for the placing of the first wager by a player as will be described hereinafter.

Each player takes a place at one of the areas 12. 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 section 16 of his playing area 12. 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 game, hands are preferably ranked according to the following hierarchy, though other rankings may be used:

Highest: Straight Flush: Three of one suit in sequence

TRIPS: Three of One Rank

RUN or STRAIGHT: Three of mixed suits in sequence

FLUSH: Three of One Suit

PAIR: Two of Same Rank

Lowest: High Card

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

The display area 22 may include a pay table that appears on the playing surface 12, on a “how to play” card (also known as a “rack card”), or on a placard 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 wager is in place on area 16, the dealer preferably shuffles the cards (manually or with an automated shuffling apparatus) 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.

“PAIR PLUS” wagers are not affected by player inspection. A player playing “PAIR PLUS” only, places his cards in the playing area. If the player reveals a pair or greater to the dealer, with either the dealer or the player exposing the player's cards, the player will be paid appropriately for the wager. Players who have 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. These payouts are independent of any other potential play with the cards or continued play with additional cards. This procedure completes a single round of the game, when only the PAIR PLUS bet is played. Play then continues in another round, with players commencing by making additional PAIR PLUS wagers.

According to another aspect of play, when the player wishes to make a bet against the dealer, either with or without making the PAIR PLUS bet, he places a wager in the “ANTE” area 18. In the following example, the player is playing only the ANTE bet, and is not participating in the PAIR PLUS game. The player places the ANTE, and then receives three cards. The dealer also deals himself three cards. The player is permitted to view his cards prior to determining whether to make an additional “PLAY” bet in area 20, or fold. In another example of the invention, the player can opt not to make the PLAY wager and remain in the game. In yet another example, the dealer reveals one or more cards to the player, and this information in combination with the knowledge of the player's hand is used to determine whether the PLAY bet should be made.

In a preferred form, the dealer's hand must meet a minimum ranking in order to qualify to play against the players. In one example, the dealer must have a hand of a Queen or better, otherwise the play wager is returned, and the ante is paid 1:1. In another example, when the dealer does not qualify, both the ANTE and PLAY bets are returned to the player. When the dealer's hand qualifies, the player's hand must beat the dealer's hand in order to win the Ante and Play bets. In a preferred form of the invention, the ante and play bets are paid 1:1 when the player's hand outranks the dealer's hand.

In the examples outlined above, only the PAIR PLUS or the ANTE/PLAY (or ANTE) betting options are permitted from round to round. In other words, the game can be played in a PAIR PLUS only format or in an ANTE/PLAY or ANTE only format. In another example, both betting options are permitted within the same game, and the player has the option of playing one, or the other, or both on any given round. Alternatively, both the PAIR PLUS and ANTE/PLAY (or ANTE) may be required in each round of play. In yet other examples, the PAIR PLUS and ANTE/PLAY or ANTE can be individually or together, in combination with additional games that utilize the three card poker hand to play additional games. For example, the player might make the PAIR PLUS bet and additional bet on a five card stud game. At the conclusion of the PAIR PLUS three card game, the dealer gives the player two more cards to play a hand of five card poker. The number of cards and the specific subsequent game are unimportant to the invention. What is important is that the cards originally dealt be used in a subsequent segment of play. The player can also make an ANTE/BET wager and a five card stud wager, or both the ANTE/BET and PAIR PLUS wager and five card stud wager. As with the example of the invention described above that describes the ANTE/BET wagering embodiment, a bonus payout as shown in pay table 26 may also be provided for awarding the player for a predetermined high ranking poker hand against the dealer.

FIG. 2 shows a flow diagram for one embodiment of play in a tournament as described herein.

The first step of an “Organizer arranging for multiple sites for tournament” has been described above in significant enabling detail. The next step of “Individual sites arranging for multiple tables with multiple players at at least some tables” would also include collection of entry fees, as needed for tournament play. In the third step of “Individual sites playing a single format of a casino card game with optional play,” it is important to note that a single format of play, such as a specialty poker style game should be played at each site. In the absence of this control, different locations would have different game play and strategy. It is possible to have the different sites use different local rules where all advancement is based upon local site success. For example, some sites might use Three-Card Poker® games with required Bet wagers to remain in the game, and other locations might have an optional Bet wager. Where only local winners advance, these minor variations would be acceptable.

The fourth step requires “Providing each player with an equal nominal amount of playing chips.” Again, the equal amount must at least be locally equal when only local winners are advanced. For example, it would not matter if players in Atlantic City were all initially given $10,000 while players in Fargo, N. Dak. were each given $25,000 nominal value in chips. As players are competing against local players for advancement, it does not matter what the local nominal value is that is equally provided to players. It is preferred that the same nominal amount be used at each site, but it is not essential.

The next step of “Playing a predetermined number of hands of the card game at each table at each site” again may be the same or different at each local site, but using the same number of hands at each local site is a convenience.

In the next step, “Determining at least some winners at each site based upon a final nominal value of playing chips controlled by each player,” a first qualifying round is played as described above. There may be a single qualifying round prior to the Final Tournament event, but there could also be a series of at least two qualifying rounds, as described above. The players advance as winners by “Advancing winning players at each site to a subsequent round of play of the same card game.” The subsequent round of play is termed (for convenience) as an “advanced competition round.”

When players are in the advanced competition round, the tournament proceeds according to the next step by “Playing a predetermined number of hands of the card game in an advanced competition round of play at a table at each site.” This is done, preferably, under the same rules of play as the first qualifying round. It is possible to adjust rules during play of the rounds, such as by changing the nature of the Bet wager between mandatory and optional, although this might be confusing to players.

The next step is “Determining players advancing to a final competition at each site based upon a final nominal value of playing chips controlled by each player.” Again, the winners are preferably chosen only upon a local basis.

Each of the local winner that is to advance to the Final Competition may be persuaded to go to the final event by “Providing winners in the advanced competition at each site with an award of value and an invitation to a Final Tournament event to be held at a single location.” This and options in the award of value have been discussed above.

The Final Tournament event is preferably sited at a highly desirable and attractive location, such as a major casino in Las Vegas. The Final Tournament event could comprise “At least some winners from the advanced competition playing a predetermined number of hands of the poker style game at each table at the single site in a procedure to eventually determine a winner among the winners of the advanced competition in a Final Tournament event.” As described above, the Final Tournament event would be played to conclusion, culminating in “Awarding winners in the Final Tournament event.”

The play of the tournament may be alternatively described as follows. The tournament comprises playing a multiple-phase poker style card game tournament played with a plurality of players competing in a series of poker style card games of chance, usually at a number of different sites, the selected game of chance having an inherent house advantage. Each player should pay or earn an entry fee to compete in a first phase of the tournament. A first phase is performed by playing a predetermined number of X rounds of a poker style game using non-negotiable or even non-denominational chips. That is, the chips have no currency value, but may or may not bear a denomination such as 5 units or $5.00, for example. Although the chip has a nominal value of 5 units, it has no equivalent monetary value. At least one player holding greater or the greatest nominal values of chips at the conclusion of X rounds qualifies the at least one player as an advancing player to participate in a second phase of the tournament. The second phase may be a local event further qualifying the player for a Final Tournament event or a further qualifying event. This qualifying event should be done without regard as to how the at least one player performed relative to other players at the at least one player's table. That is, advancement of at least some players should be based upon their total nominal value of chips in comparison to all players at the site of play, and not only with respect to players at a particular table. This is described above, such that even though at least one winner at a table is assured to advance (as at least one table winner must be the highest chip count winner at the site), winning at a table is not in and of itself sufficient to assure advancement, except as noted that at least one table winner will advance as that at least one table winner will be the highest chip accumulator at the site. Each advancing player participates in a second phase of the tournament, the second phase comprising Y rounds of play, again using non-denominational chips and/or non-negotiable chips. At least one winner of the second phase or second round or final round of the tournament is identified based on a number of chips held by each player at a conclusion of Y rounds of play. The highest chip accumulator is then paid a prize as the at least one winner. The amount of the prize is independent of the number of chips accumulated.

In the tournament, X and Y may be different or equal. A preferred play uses a poker style game of chance that is played against at least one of a dealer and a pay table, and preferably both a dealer on one wager and a pay table with a separate wager. In the tournament, a portion of the entry fee paid in the first phase may be used to fund prizes awarded in the second phase. The tournament may be played with numerous (more than one) preliminary rounds in advance of a Final Tournament event, including further comprising one or more additional phases of play prior after the first phase and before the second phase, which may be a local phase or the Final Tournament event. As described above, a good target play for a second phase is for at least 18 winners from each first phase to advance to the second phase of the tournament. The tournament may allow at least one or two winners from all phases prior to the second phase to be selected randomly from a pool of eliminated players to advance to another round of play.

In the tournament play, all of the non-negotiable chips may have equal or unequal value in determining a final chip count. For example, the non-negotiable chips may be non-denominational chips supplied by a casino host, and cannot be cashed in for currency at the end of play, and may not even have a value associated therewith. That is, all players may be provided with identical chips of the same or different colors, having no values (even nominal values) associated therewith. The tournament preferably uses as the selected game of chance a game of: Three Card Poker® game, Two Card Poker, Four Card Poker® game, High Five Poker® game, Caribbean Stud® Poker game, Fortune Pai Gow™ Poker game, Casino War™ game or Royal Match 21™ game.

Certain elements of the tournament play have not been emphasized above, but are desirable elements in the play of the tournament. Local tournaments can be televised, either live or by taped play (preferably). Local casinos could promote the games by advertising and by the televising of the tournament play, for example, with highlights only being shown.

The above descriptions have been provided as a generic teaching of tournament play for casino table and poker style wagering games. The description is not intended to be limited by any specific description provided. Rather, any specific description should be considered as an example of a generic concept.

Referenced by
Citing PatentFiling datePublication dateApplicantTitle
US7325806 *Aug 6, 2004Feb 5, 2008New Vision Gaming & Development, Inc.Method of playing a bonus wager
US7451987 *Jul 12, 2007Nov 18, 2008New Vision Gaming & Development, Inc.Method of playing a bonus wager
US7704144 *Jan 20, 2006Apr 27, 2010IgtPlayer ranking for tournament play
US8128472Apr 15, 2011Mar 6, 2012Charles Clarence Darcy LyonsPoker tournament system and method
US8360868Aug 16, 2006Jan 29, 2013Playtech Software LimitedMethod for progressive card game tournament
US8480089Aug 6, 2010Jul 9, 2013Peerless Media Ltd.Multi-stage poker game
US8540577May 27, 2009Sep 24, 2013Playtech Software LimitedSystem for computerized multiplayer tournament gaming and a method thereof
US20100304818 *Aug 3, 2010Dec 2, 2010Bryan David BlakeNon-wagering Option-driven Card Game
WO2008020346A2 *May 2, 2007Feb 21, 2008Playtech Software LtdMethod for progressive card game tournament
WO2008109988A1 *Mar 7, 2008Sep 18, 2008Peter A GuterresPoker video game terminal
WO2008135808A2 *May 6, 2007Nov 13, 2008Avi LiorA method of attracting clients to preferentially participate in a computerized game
WO2010137010A1Dec 10, 2009Dec 2, 2010Playtech Software LimitedA system for computerized multiplayer tournament gaming and a method thereof
Classifications
U.S. Classification273/292
International ClassificationA63F1/00
Cooperative ClassificationA63F1/18, G07F17/32, G07F17/3293
European ClassificationG07F17/32, G07F17/32P6, A63F1/18
Legal Events
DateCodeEventDescription
Mar 11, 2011ASAssignment
Owner name: SHUFFLE MASTER, INC., NEVADA
Effective date: 20110302
Free format text: RELEASE BY SECURED PARTY;ASSIGNOR:DEUTSCHE BANK TRUST COMPANY AMERICAS, AS COLLATERAL AGENT;REEL/FRAME:025941/0313
May 25, 2007ASAssignment
Owner name: SHUFFLE MASTER, INC., NEVADA
Free format text: ASSIGNMENT OF ASSIGNORS INTEREST;ASSIGNORS:YOSELOFF, MARK L.;DUNN, RUSSELL BROOKE;REEL/FRAME:019349/0711
Effective date: 20050517