CROSS-REFERENCE TO RELATED APPLICATIONS
- STATEMENT REGARDING FEDERALLY SPONSORED RESEARCH OR DEVELOPMENT
- TECHNICAL FIELD
- BACKGROUND OF THE INVENTION
This invention relates generally to gaming and more particularly to live and machine gaming in which an award in an amount less than the amount of the wager can be paid.
Gaming machines such as electronic video poker, video keno and video spinning reel games are in widespread use. Existing games of this type make use of pay schedules that provide an award for a win based on the outcome that is achieved and the amount wagered. The award is a multiple of the wager amount, and the multiple has been greater than or equal to one in conventional play. The multiple is typically a whole number except when the award is capped due to regulatory limitations.
Spinning reel games award amounts that are a multiple of the total wager or the wager per line played, with the multiple being one or greater in conventional games. In machines where multiple games can be played at the same time, such as multi-hand video poker, multi-card keno or multi-line spinning reel games, the award can at times be less than the total amount wagered. However, the award in these games is a multiple of the wager per hand in card games, per keno card in keno-type games, or per line in spinning reel games, and the multiple in each instance is greater than or equal to one.
- SUMMARY OF THE INVENTION
Because the awards in conventional games are equal to or greater than the wager, the number of winning outcomes is limited due to the need for the game sponsor to maintain a statistical edge. As a result, winning outcomes are relatively rare, and the appeal to players is limited accordingly. If the win frequency were increased, the players would receive at least some payback more frequently, and they would find the game to be more exciting and appealing to the benefit of both the player and the game sponsor.
The present invention is directed to a gaming method and apparatus in which the win frequency is increased compared to conventional games. This may be accomplished while still maintaining a statistical advantage for the game sponsor by providing awards that are less than the amount that is wagered.
Although a player ends up with a net loss if he or she wagers more on a round of the game than he or she wins, the player still has the satisfaction of receiving some amount back on the wager that was made. Consequently, the player is better off both financially and psychologically than if the return were zero, and playing such a game is generally more enjoyable for the player.
The invention can be practiced in a variety of ways and in a variety of different types of games. For example, in poker games and other card games, hands that conventionally earn a zero return can be assigned a small win amount, such as ⅕ of the amount wagered. Alternatively, a selected number of cards can be designated as special cards that return a small amount if they appear during a hand. Different special cards can be assigned different multiples of the wager amount if desired (such as ⅕ of the wager for one special card and ⅖ of the wager for a different special card). The win options can be increased even more by assigning a multiplier to the normal award for a winning hand if multiple special cards are dealt during the course of a hand, or during the course of several hands in multi-game play. Other options are possible as well.
In a keno-type game, outcomes that normally return nothing can be assigned a fractional multiplier such as ¼ of the bet. Thus, hitting three out of ten spots in a keno game normally earns the player no award, but it can in the present invention provide an award of ¼ of the player's wager or some other fractional multiple. Another option in a keno-type game is to provide secondary active spots that, if hit, return a small multiple of the total wager, such as ⅕, ⅖ or ⅗. These and other alternatives that can be implemented increase the frequency of payments awarded to players, and the appeal of the game is enhanced accordingly.
The invention can also be implemented in a spinning reel-type game. One example is in a three reel-three line game where players earn a small payment for an outcome that normally results in no payment. Thus, an outcome of two particular numbers or symbols that match could be assigned a payback of ⅕ of the wager per line. Alternatively or additionally, special symbols can be used that pay a fractional amount of the wager when they appear alone or in combination with other special symbols. Again, the frequency of awards to players is increased to increase the players' expectancy and overall enjoyment.
BRIEF DESCRIPTION OF THE SEVERAL VIEWS OF THE DRAWINGS
Other and further objects of the invention, together with the features of novelty appurtenant thereto, will appear in the course of the following description.
In the accompanying drawings which form a part of the specification and are to be read in conjunction therewith and in which like reference numerals are used to indicate like parts in the various views:
FIG. 1 a is a diagrammatic view of a screen display for a video poker-type game implemented in accordance with one embodiment of the present invention;
FIG. 1 b is a diagrammatic view of a screen display for a poker-type game implemented in accordance with the present invention in a manner similar to FIG. 1 a;
FIG. 2 a is a diagrammatic view of a screen display of another poker-type game implemented in accordance with another embodiment of the invention;
FIG. 2 b is a diagrammatic view of a screen display for a poker-type game implemented in accordance with the invention in a manner similar to FIG. 2 a;
FIG. 3 is a diagrammatic view of a screen display for a keno-type game implemented in accordance with another embodiment of the invention, with the display showing conditions prior to the start of the game;
FIG. 4 is a diagrammatic view of a screen display for a keno-type game implemented in accordance with still another embodiment of the invention, wherein secondary active spots are utilized;
FIG. 5 is a diagrammatic view of a screen display for a spinning reel-type game implemented according to another embodiment of the invention;
FIG. 6 is a diagrammatic view of a screen display for another spinning reel-type game implemented according to yet another embodiment of the invention; and
DETAILED DESCRIPTION OF THE PREFERRED EMBODIMENTS
FIG. 7 is a flow diagram for a game implemented in accordance with one method that may be used in accordance with the invention.
- Version No. 1
The present invention is directed to a variety of games, including electronic video poker-type games or other card games, video keno-type games, and video spinning reel-type games, as well as to versions of such games that may be played live. The invention will be described in its preferred embodiments as implemented on electronic video games, but it is to be understood that implementation as live games is also contemplated by the invention. When implemented as an electronic game, a video screen is provided for displaying the game to the player. Additionally, the game includes a means by which the player can make wagers on the game in amounts selected by the player. When the game is played, the amount or number of credits awarded to the player based on the outcome of the game and the applicable pay schedule is displayed. In accordance with the preferred embodiments of the present invention, there is at least one award available to the player that is a multiple of the total wager, the wager per hand, the wager per card, or the wager per line, with the multiple being a fraction that is less than one and greater than zero.
With initial reference to FIG. 1 a, the first version of the invention is implemented as a poker game having one hand containing five cards displayed in a horizontal row 10 on the video screen. The video poker machine also includes a finger pad 12 or other mechanism for allowing the player to select the amount he or she wants to wager, and a display 14 showing the total amount bet. There is also a display 16 which contains an award schedule indicating to the player the amount the player will be awarded (based on the wager amount) if the various possible winning outcomes are achieved. The machine also includes a deal button 18 that can be activated to initiate the dealing of a hand and a display 20 that informs the player of the amount won for the particular hand that is achieved.
In the embodiment of the invention shown in FIG. 1 a, the poker game is conventional, except that a conventional game (“jacks or better”) awards nothing for a hand valued at less than a pair of jacks, whereas the game shown in FIG. 1 a provides an award for hands in the range of a pair of sevens to a pair of tens, as indicated in the line on the award schedule identified by numeral 22. In a conventional poker game of this type, a pair of jacks earns an award of one times the bet, and all other awards are whole number multiples of the amount of the wager, as indicated by the “win” column on the display 16. The embodiment of the invention shown in FIG. 1 a thus differs from conventional games in that an award less than the amount wagered is available, namely when a hand having a value of a pair of sevens to a pair of tens is achieved. In that case, the player achieves an award of ⅕ of the amount wagered, or $0.05 in the case illustrated. Although the award for a hand valued between a pair of sevens and a pair of tens is illustrated as achieving an award of ⅕ of the amount bet, other fractional multipliers can be used while still maintaining an edge for the sponsor of the game or the “house.”
- Version No. 2
FIG. 1 b illustrates another version of a poker game that can be implemented in accordance with the present invention and which is similar to FIG. 1 a in most respects. The basic difference is that the embodiment of FIG. 1 b allows the wager to be made in numbers of credits rather than in monetary amounts, and the awards are similarly made in numbers of credits rather than in monetary amounts. The embodiment of FIG. 1 b contains an additional display 24 which shows the player the value of each credit, $0.25 in this case. In the embodiment of FIG. 1 b, a hand valued between a pair of sevens and a pair of tens achieves an award of 0.2 (⅕) of a credit.
FIG. 2 a illustrates another embodiment of the invention that can be implemented in a poker game. A five card poker hand is displayed on the screen with the cards in a horizontal row 30. A finger pad 32 allows the player to select a wager, in this case based on the number of credits that are bet as shown on a “credits bet” display 34. The value of each credit is illustrated on a display 35 on the screen, with each credit in this case being equal to one dollar. Another display 36 contains a conventional award schedule for a five card video poker game. A button 38 may be used to initiate dealing of the game and thereafter to initiate a “draw” in which cards that are not held are replaced by new cards. A display 40 informs the player of the number of credits won on the deal, as will be explained.
In the embodiment shown in FIG. 2 a, three cards in a 52 card deck may be randomly or otherwise selected and are designated with special symbols such as a “circle” symbol or a “triangle” symbol. By way of example, two of the cards can be designated with a circle symbol, and one of the cards can be designated with a triangle symbol. Cards specially marked with the circle symbol, when appearing on a hand as dealt, are assigned a value of 0.2 (⅕) of the wager made by the player. One card may be specially marked with a triangle symbol, and this card, if it appears on the deal, is assigned a value of 0.4 (⅖) of the wager amount. Additionally, if any two of the specially marked cards appear on the hand as dealt, the award is increased by two times the amount that would otherwise be awarded. If all three of the specially marked cards appear on a hand as dealt, the award for the specially marked cards is multiplied by ten times the value that would otherwise be achieved.
As shown in FIG. 2 a, the screen of the game is provided with a display 44 that informs the player of the award schedule for the specially marked cards, displayed as credits.
In the deal shown in FIG. 2 a, the five card hand that is dealt to a player includes one card that bears the circle symbol (the jack of clubs) and the card that bears the triangle symbol (the eight of spades). Thus, on the deal, the player is provided with an award of 0.2 credits for the circle card and 0.4 credits for the triangle card, or 0.6 credits. Because two of the specially marked cards appear on the deal, the award is doubled to 1.2 credits, as indicated on the display 40.
The player is awarded credits for the specially marked cards whether they are held or not held. For example, FIG. 2 a depicts a situation in which the player holds the specially marked jack of clubs card but does not elect to hold the specially marked eight of spades card. Nevertheless, the player achieves an award for the eight of spades card. Depending upon the draw, the player may achieve an additional award based on the award schedule indicated on display 36.
FIG. 2 b depicts an embodiment of the invention which is essentially the same as that of FIG. 2 a, except that the awards in FIG. 2 b are displayed in monetary terms rather than in terms of the number of credits. Thus, a display 46 is provided indicating the amount won for the specially marked cards in monetary terms (here $0.60). An award schedule display 48 sets forth the award schedule for specially marked cards in monetary terms (based on the amount of the total bet). A finger pad 50 allows the player to increment or decrement the bet in monetary increments (here in $0.05 increments). A display 52 indicates the amount wagered in monetary terms (here $0.50).
In addition to the specific embodiments described for Version Nos. 1 and 2 of the invention, a variety of additional embodiments can be implemented in poker-type games and in other card games. For example, different card decks can be used, including decks containing “wild” cards. The hand that is dealt can contain more or less than five cards, and the final hand can likewise contain more or less than five cards. Both draw poker and stud poker can be implemented in accordance with the invention, as can blackjack (“21”) and other card games. Multi-hand poker games and other games can be played where the award is multiplied by the player's wager on any particular hand, with the multiple being less than one and greater than zero for certain outcomes of the game.
Additionally, when an award is earned for a value less than the smallest available wager, the awarding of the amount that is due can be delayed by a variety of methods. For example, if the smallest permitted wager on a particular game is $0.25, and a player has earned a fractional award that is less than the minimum bet of $0.25, the award that is earned is placed (electronically or otherwise) in a pool that accumulates such awards until the accumulated value in the pool is at least equal to the smallest available wager. Any excess in the amount that is not evenly divisible by the smallest available wager is retained in the pool.
Thus, when a player who is playing a game where the minimum available wager is $0.25 wins five fractional awards of $0.05 each, the accumulated value in the pool is $0.25 which equals the minimum available bet. The player is then awarded the $0.25 value of the pool. If, in a game where the minimum available wager is $0.25, a player wins four consecutive fractional awards of $0.05 each and then wins a fractional award of $0.10, the value accumulated in the pool at that time is $0.30. Because this exceeds the amount of the minimum available wager, the player is awarded the amount of the minimum available wager ($0.25) from the $0.30 in the pool, and the $0.05 excess amount is retained in the pool and accumulates along with all future fractional awards that are less than the minimum available bet. Any variety of methods can be used to delay the awarding of any value less than the minimum available wager.
- Version No. 3
It is also contemplated that any fractional awards less than the minimum available bet may accumulate in a “reserve pool” and any fractional awards evenly divisible by the minimum available bet may accumulate in the “player's pool.” When the accumulated amount in the “reserve pool” meets or exceeds the minimum available bet, any amount that is evenly divisible by the minimum available bet is transferred to the “player's pool” and any remainder remains in the “reserve pool.” The “player's pool” continues to accumulate until the player elects to “take” the pool at which point any amount in the “player's pool” is awarded and any amount in the “reserve pool” is retained and accumulates with future fractional awards. Accordingly, when a player who is playing a game where the minimum available wager is $0.05 wins four consecutive fractional awards of $0.01 each and then wins a fractional award of $0.03, on each of the first four awards $0.01 will be added to the “reserve pool” and on the fifth win the “reserve pool” will reach $0.07 at which point $0.05 is transferred to the “player's pool” and $0.02 is retained in the “reserve pool.” The player may then “take” the $0.05 in the “player's pool” or let it continue to accumulate and “take” it later.
A third embodiment of the invention is illustrated in FIG. 3 and is directed to a keno-type game having a keno card 60 displayed on the screen and including rows and columns of numbers (here the numbers 1-80). A finger pad 62 is provided on the screen allowing the player to select a wager and to increment and decrement the wager amount by a selected value (here $1.00). A total bet display 64 is provided to display the amount wagered. A display 66 contains an award schedule that displays the awards that are provided to the player for the various winning outcomes that are available (here with the player selecting ten active player marks). The ten active player marks that are selected are indicated on the keno card 60 by a “cross” designation and are displayed at 67 in a column. A draw button 68 is provided allowing the player to initiate the drawing of numbers to determine which of the drawn numbers are matched by active player marks as the game is played.
In a conventional keno game, a player who selects ten active player marks earns an award only if four or more of the active player marks are hit by numbers that are drawn. The present invention differs in that an award is also earned if fewer than four spots are hit. For example, as indicated at 72 on the award schedule display 66, if three active player marks are hit, the player is awarded a fractional multiple of his or her bet, here ¼ of the $2.00 wager or $0.50.
- Version No. 4
Typically, a keno game allows the player to select from two to ten numbers that are active player marks. In cases where two to nine active player marks are selected, the present invention provides fractional multiples of the wager for outcomes that normally earn no reward. The fractional multiple is less than one for each of the additional pay categories and may be ¼ as indicated in FIG. 3 or a different fractional multiple.
FIG. 4 depicts another version of the invention involving a keno game that provides a keno card 80 on the display screen. A finger pad 82 allows the player to select the total amount of his or her wager, and the total amount of the bet is presented on a display 84. An award schedule display 86 is provided to inform the player of the awards that are available from the various winning outcomes that can occur. Here, the player has selected six active player marks which are indicated on the card 80 by “cross” symbols and also displayed in a column at 87. A draw button 88 allows the player to initiate the drawing of numbers on the keno card 80.
The embodiment of the invention shown in FIG. 4 involves the inclusion of secondary active spots (here there are three secondary active spots) which may be selected either by the player or randomly by the gaming machine prior to the initiation of the draw. The secondary active spots may be assigned the same or different fractional multiples of the total bet made by the player. In the example shown in FIG. 4, one of the secondary active spots is assigned a value of ⅕ of the total bet amount (here $0.09 for number 45 on the keno card), another secondary active spot is assigned a value of ⅖ of the total wager amount (here $0.18 for number 60 on the keno card), and the third secondary active spot is assigned a value of ⅗ of the total wager (here $0.27 for number 31 on the keno card). A display 94 contains an award schedule for the secondary active spots. For example, if one or two of the secondary active spots are hit during the draw, the award is in the amount of the value for the spots that have been hit. Thus, if spot 31 is hit, the award is $0.27 or ⅗ of the total wager amount. If both numbers 45 and 60 are hit on the draw, the total award for the secondary active spots is $0.09 for number 45 and $0.18 for number 60, or $0.27 which amounts to ⅗ of the wager amount. An added feature indicated on the award schedule display 94 is that if all three secondary active spots are hit, the game awards five times the value that would otherwise be attained. If all three of the secondary active spots are hit in the game shown in FIG. 4, the total award for secondary active spots would be five times $0.54 or $2.70. The player also may achieve the awards listed on the award schedule 86 for winning outcomes for the active player marks during play of the game.
- Version No. 5
Keno or bingo type games can include other variations involving the availability of awards that are a fractional multiple of the total wager amount. For example, the keno card can have a different number of spots, there can be a different number of permitted active player marks, or multi-card keno games can be played where the award for secondary active spots is a multiple of the wager on any particular one of the keno cards, with the multiple being less than one. As in the case of card games, the awarding of any value less than the smallest available wager can be delayed, and a variety of methods can be employed for delaying such award, including the technique of accumulating small awards in a pool and aggregating the pool amounts until the minimum available wager amount is reached in the pool.
FIG. 5 depicts an embodiment of the invention that may take the form of a spinning reel-type video game. The screen of the video game includes a reel display 100 for a three reel-three line game having reels 100 a, 100 b and 100 c and pay lines 100 d, 100 e and 100 f. A finger pad 102 allows the player to select the amount of his or her wager, here in increments of $1.00. A display 104 presents the amount of the total bet, while another display 105 presents the amount bet per line. An award schedule display 106 on the screen of the machine indicates the amount that can be won by various outcomes achieved in accordance with the present invention. An additional award schedule display (not shown) may display the additional amounts that can be won under conventional rules and pay scheduling. A spin button 108 is provided to initiate spinning of the reel or reels of the game. The amount that is won on a particular spin is presented on a display 110 on the screen of the machine.
The machine of FIG. 5 differs from conventional spinning reel-type games in that pay categories are added in accordance with the award schedule listed on the display 106. In the game shown, two sevens on any one of the lines 100 d, 100 e or 100 f results in an award equal to ⅗ of the amount wagered per line, here $0.60 because of the $1.00 per line wager amount. Additionally or alternatively, scatter symbols such as those indicated by numeral 112 and 113 can be added and assigned an award value of a fractional multiple of the total wager when they appear. In the example shown, the appearance of any two scatter symbols anywhere on the three reels 100 a, 100 b, and 100 c provides an award equal to ⅖ of the total amount of the wager displayed on the display 104. Here, the appearance of any two scatters results in an award of $1.20 as indicated at 114 on display 106.
- Version No. 6
In the example shown in FIG. 5, the spin results in an award to the player of $1.80 as indicated on display 110. Because there are two sevens on line 100 e, the player receives an award of $0.60. The appearance of the two scatter symbols 112 and 113 results in an additional award of $1.20, resulting in a total award of $1.80. Fractional multiples other than those specified can be used, and other techniques can be used to provide players with an award that is a fractional multiple of the amount bet per line or the total amount bet on all of the lines that are active.
FIG. 6 illustrates an additional version of the invention that can be embodied in a spinning reel-type game having a reel display 120 that may include five reels 120 a, 120 b, 120 c, 120 d, and 120 e and five pay lines 120 f, 120 g, 120 h, 120 i, and 120 j. A finger pad 122 may be provided to allow the player to select the amount of the wager per line and the total bet. The total amount bet is presented on a display 124, and the amount bet per line is presented on another display 125. A display 126 on the screen of the machine contains an award schedule that relates to the number five reel, reel 120 e. A conventional pay schedule may also be displayed (not shown). A spin button 128 is provided to initiate spinning of the reels. A display 130 informs the player of the amount won for each spin.
In play of the game shown in FIG. 6, reel 120 e (or any other reel or reels) may be provided with three special symbols out of 36 total stop positions on reel 120 e. One of the symbols may have a single star and may be assigned a value of ¼ of the total amount bet, here $1.25 based on a total bet of $5.00. Another of the special symbols may be a symbol bearing two stars which is assigned a value of ½ of the total bet amount, here $2.50. The final special symbol may contain three stars and may be assigned a value equal to ¾ of the total bet amount, here $3.75. In the example shown, the three star symbol 140 appears on reel 120 e, so the player earns an award equal to $3.75 as indicated on display 130. The player did not receive any additional award because there was no winning outcome on any of the pay lines 120 f-120 j in accordance with conventional five reel-five line spinning reel video games.
The spinning reel-type games can use any of a variety of methods for delaying the awarding of any value that is less than the minimum available wager, as indicated previously in connection with other versions of the invention.
Other embodiments of the invention making use of spinning reel-type games can include a different number of reels, a different number of stops on the reels, a different number of pay lines, and other variations that result in an award to the player that is a fractional multiple of the amount bet either totally or per line, while maintaining a statistical advantage for the sponsor of the game.
FIG. 7 is a flow chart for a method that may be used to carry out the present invention. The game starts in block 150, and the outcome is analyzed in block 152 to determine whether the player has achieved a winning outcome in the conventional aspect of the game, with payment made accordingly. In block 154, a determination is made as to whether the outcome is such that a fractional multiple of the wager amount is applicable. If it is not, the game is completed as indicated in block 156. If there is an outcome awarding a fractional multiple of the bet, a determination is made in block 158 as to whether the amount of the award is to be paid directly (whether it equals or exceeds the minimum available wager). If the award is to be paid directly, the player is paid in block 160 and the game is completed in block 156. If the amount is less than the minimum available wager, it is accumulated in a pool in block 162, and a determination is made in block 164 as to whether the cumulative total in the pool meets or exceeds the value of the minimum available bet. If the pool value is less than the minimum available bet, the cumulative amount is maintained in the pool and the game is completed in block 156. If the cumulative total in the pool meets or exceeds the amount of the minimum available bet, the player is paid the appropriate amount in block 166 and the game is then completed in block 156. It is contemplated that any part of the pool amount that is greater than the minimum available bet or any whole number multiple of the minimum available bet will be retained in the pool and taken into account when block 162 is entered during the next round of the game.
It is thus apparent that the method and apparatus of the present invention are applicable to card games including draw poker, stud poker and black jack (which could be played under a variety of rules providing for the possibility of an award equal to a fractional multiple of the wager amount), to numbers games including keno and bingo, and to spinning reel-type games. In each case, conventional methods of gaming are modified to provide for an award to the player that is less than the amount of the wager, while a statistical advantage is maintained for the game sponsor to insure a profit. By thus increasing the frequency of outcomes that result in awards to players, the expectations of the players are heightened and the enjoyment is enhanced to the benefit of both the players and the game sponsor.
From the foregoing it will be seen that this invention is one well adapted to attain all ends and objects hereinabove set forth together with the other advantages which are obvious and which are inherent to the structure.
It will be understood that certain features and subcombinations are of utility and may be employed without reference to other features and subcombinations. This is contemplated by and is within the scope of the claims.
Since many possible embodiments may be made of the invention without departing from the scope thereof, it is to be understood that all matter herein set forth or shown in the accompanying drawings is to be interpreted as illustrative, and not in a limiting sense.