US 20070060240 A1
In commercial and recreational gaming environments, the inventions provide variations on video poker games that encourage longer play and higher wagers while decreasing the adverse selection of gaming devices with preferred odds by experienced players. The inventions describe the use of pot builders to increase the number of betting propositions for a single play and offer a range of payable events and their probabilities. The inventions also describe the use of randomly distributed, randomly occurring multipliers which are applied to the pay tables for the pot builders to increase the number of opportunities for the occurrence of low probability high value payable events.
1. A software implemented method for the play of a poker type game on an electronic device comprising:
a wagering step that requires a player to select and wager on a plurality of pot builders, each of said pot builders having a pay table;
a multiplying step that selectively multiplies the odds of a pay table by a factor greater than or equal to 1; and
a factor assignment step wherein the most probable value for said factor is 1.
2. The method of
3. The method of
4. The method of
5. The method of
a first distribution of two cards per player;
following said distribution, a display of five community cards; and
wherein the winning player is determined by identifying the best five card poker hand obtainable from the combination of each of said player's cards with said community cards.
The inventions described herein relate to software enabled devices and methods for playing variations of poker and similar card based games in commercial and recreational gaming environments. The inventions generally provide, among other things, alternative means for a gaming vendor to control the return percentage of a given device and to customize the gaming experience of each player to encourage longer play and higher wagers.
In various forms, poker has been adapted for play on stand alone electronic devices which are then installed in gaming establishments as an alternative to multi-player table games with a live dealer and live opponents. Video poker machines generally simulate familiar versions of poker that can be played individually against an electronic dealer or other opponent. More recently similar opportunities to electronically play poker have become available through the Internet. The play of electronic poker games is not necessarily identical to common poker card games, but instead retains a general feel and method of play that would be familiar to casual poker players. Existing variations are abundant and include forms of draw poker, stud poker, Pai Gow poker, Omaha, Caribbean, Texas Hold 'Em and many others as are known in the art.
Typically a gaming establishment will deploy a series of identical video poker machines to satisfy the anticipated demand. For each machine, the gaming establishment may determine a return percentage (sometimes also referred to as the “hold”) that reflects the portion of the amount wagered that would be returned to the gambler as an average over time if the gambler played with perfect strategy. It is common for gaming establishments to use varying return percentages in adjacent game installations as part of a strategy to retain customer interest without reducing the overall revenue expected from the full deployment of video poker machines.
As required by law, each machine must identify the “pay table” or the amount paid out for each different winning combination as a multiple of the amount wagered. In the video poker machines of the prior art, the pay table can be examined by a skilled player and readily converted into the return percentage set by the gaming establishment. The skilled player (the customer most likely to play with perfect strategy) can then preferentially isolate the video poker machine with the return that most favors the player. As a result, the overall expected revenue for the “house” from an installation of video poker machines is disadvantageously affected. Therefore there is a need in the field for new electronic poker devices and methods that prevent the ready determination of the return percentage from the pay table for a given device, while still complying with applicable gaming rules and regulations.
The prior art devices have additional shortcomings related to the manner in which the method of play affects customer interest. Existing electronic poker based games typically suffer from low win rates (the frequency of payouts to the customer), particularly for the high value combinations like four of a kind, straight flush or royal flush. In these games, customers often get behind quickly and face long and discouraging odds to recover the lost wagers. The low probability of high payouts tends to reduce the amount of time a player spends at a given wagering location and results in a lost opportunity for additional revenue to the gaming establishment. Therefore there is a need in the field for methods to increase the win rate and increase the frequency of high value payouts to gaming customers without reducing the return percentage set by the gaming establishment.
These and other related needs are addressed by the inventions described in more detail below.
The inventions described below are implemented in an electronic environment that includes logic processors and circuitry such as are found in computers, hand held devices, kiosks, network terminals, interactive video systems, cell phones, Internet appliances and similar products.
Generally, the inventions offer the customer the opportunity to select payout conditions for each wager. At the start of each hand, the customer can choose a number of “pot builders” (or “pot raisers”) that pay on the occurrence of events during a hand. In a Texas Hold 'Em game, for example, the player may choose to wager on different pot builders based on the cards shown on the deal, the flop, the turn, the river, the opponent's hand or the best five card hand. Each pot builder may have a different pay table. The customer must still have the winning hand in order to receive a payout, but the size of the pot paid to the winning customer increases in this example depending on the content of each pot builder wagered. One pot builder may pay 3 to 1 for a straight occurring on the best five card hand, but a second pot builder may pay 8 to 1 for a three card straight appearing on the flop in the same hand. Each pot builder requires a separate wager. When multiple pot builders are bet, it becomes substantially more difficult to mathematically combine the separate pay tables and determine the device's return percentage.
Combining pot builders and pay tables prevents the adverse selection of favorable devices by offering favorable odds on various pot builders for each device. Preferably the pot builders are organized to require a player to place a series of wagers before being able to place a wager on the pay table with the best return percentage. Thus it is a feature and an advantage of the subject inventions to employ a pot builder based method of play for a poker type game that results in compound pay tables that reduce the customer's ability to isolate the most favorable return percentage for a particular device.
Employing a pot builder based technique also allows the device operator greater flexibility in determining the frequency and the size of the payouts for a given device. Since multiple bets are played on the same hand, play may conclude with multiple outcomes. The pot building options may be arranged to encourage the player to bet on multiple pot builders in order to obtain the most favorable odds. In common practice, the device may pay out on a winning hand in an amount that is less than the total wager for all pot builders. The player may correctly perceive the result as a win because at least one pot builder proposition has been met and a payout has been made by the device. The win also results in revenue to the gaming establishment as a positive net of all bets made by the player on the hand. Using this technique, the apparent win rate can be substantially higher than conventional video poker machines. Also, by choosing various pot builders the player has some control over either the payout odds or the payout frequency, dictated by each player's personal preferences.
A device of this type may be given additional customer appeal by offering the possibility of a multiplier randomly applied to the pay table of one or more pot builders during the play of one hand. Through appropriate software (including firmware or middleware), the house assigns a probability distribution for the occurrence of a multiplier. The primary function of the multiplier is to change the odds for a randomly selected pay table, preferably after a wager has been made and preferably for the duration of one hand of play. The multiplier may be any value and typically would be a range of values rising from 1 (creating no change in the pay table) to 2 (doubling the pay table for a single hand) to any upper limit desired by the house. In a normal implementation, the most probable outcome sets the multiplier at 1 with higher values occurring with progressively diminishing frequency. The operation of randomly occurring multipliers on randomly selected pot builders creates variations on the return percentage for each hand played and each pot builder wagered. Thus it becomes impossible for a skilled player to determine the return percentage prior to making a wager. The multiplier technique also increases the number of possible high value payouts by episodically raising the odds for more common outcomes like two pair, three of a kind or a flush. Still, by setting the entire combination of pot builders and multipliers, the house retains control over the return percentage of the device as an average over time.
Although many alternative structural forms are contemplated for the devices of the inventions described herein, a preferable form houses the electronic elements in a kiosk type enclosure. The kiosk is generally mobile allowing the system to be placed in a preferred location. A mobile system provides flexibility to the gaming operator, permitting the deployment of multiple devices in the places most likely to appeal to its customers. It is also within the understanding of the invention for implementation to be accomplished within a virtual structure as would normally happen in a virtual casino operated through a network such as the Internet.
Set forth below is a description of what is currently believed to be the preferred embodiments or best examples of the claimed inventions. Future and present alternatives and modifications to the preferred embodiments are contemplated. Any alternatives or modifications which make insubstantial changes in function, in purpose, in structure or in result are intended to be covered by the claims of this patent.
It is recognized that every software programmer adopts his or her own style in authoring software directed to the accomplishment of a defined task, choosing programming languages and tools that best fit the programmer's style in light of the task presented. The inventions described herein do not depend on the application of any particular programming language or programming style. As an aid to understanding one programmer's approach to creating software that accomplishes the objectives of an embodiment of the invention, a non-limiting example of source code written in the Visual Basic programming language is referenced.
While the invention is understood to be applicable to any variation of poker and any number of players, the following example approximates the play of Texas Hold 'Em in a heads up (two player) situation. In this embodiment, the player establishes a credit value on the device by any of the known methods such as inserting currency, inserting tokens, entering an access code, identifying a pre-existing account (for example, by entering a login and password combination), swiping a debit card, credit card or any other stored value card. The player is then presented with a wagering screen where pot builders 20 can be selected prior to the opening deal 11.
In one embodiment, the player may choose from five pot builders 20. First, the player may wager on the value of the opponent's best five card hand made from the opponent's initial two cards plus the five card board. Second, the player may also wager on the next three cards revealed during the flop step 14. If the player has chosen both the first and second pot builders 20, the player may also wager on the value of the first four cards revealed during the initial deal 11. A fourth pot builder 20 allows the player to wager on the value of the complete five card face up board (the flop, plus the turn, plus the river). Finally, a fifth pot builder 20 allows the player to wager on the value of the best five card hand the player can assemble from the player's initial two cards plus the five cards on the board. Each pot builder 20 may be assigned a different pay table 21. Typically, pay conditions follow the rules of poker and pay out in descending order for a royal flush, straight flush, four of a kind, full house, flush, straight, three of a kind, two pair, one pair and high card. In certain pot builders 20, some poker hands may not be possible or may be more probable than in the outcome of standard poker play. In these cases, the pay conditions are adjusted accordingly. Example pay tables 21 for each of the five pot builders 20 are shown in
In this embodiment, it is preferred that the pot builders 20 are set to be serially conditional. A player cannot wager on the second pot builder 20 unless a wager has been placed on the first pot builder 20. A player cannot wager on the third pot builder 20 unless a wager has been placed on both the first and second pot builder 20. The rule also applies to the fourth and fifth pot builders 20 in the same fashion. Preferably the return percentage increases with each pot builder 20 in a series, thus requiring the player to make a maximum bet to obtain the most favorable odds. It is recognized that within the invention other wagering conditions may be applied to the pot builders 20, other pot builders 20 may be defined and fewer or more pot builders 20 may be employed. Further, it is recognized that the pay conditions within the invention may include deviations from the standard pay conditions such as in progressive poker games that require a minimum pair value before paying.
After the pot is set, the player selects two cards from the four face up cards as the player's held cards. The two cards not selected by the player are assigned to the player's opponent. After the first four cards are assigned, a second deal 11 results in the display of an additional three cards face up via a flop step 14. From the flop step 14, the device determines the value of the three face up cards from the flop and compares the value to the available pot builders 20. If a pay table condition is met, the device adds the pay table value (based on the amount wagered and the stated odds) to the pot in a second pay table step 13.
Since this embodiment does not require further player decisions after the flop step 14, the device proceeds to complete the five card face up board common to Texas Hold 'Em in a second reveal step 12. From the second reveal step 12, the device determines the value of the five face up cards and compares the value to the available pot builders 20. If a pay table condition is met, the device adds the pay table value (based on the amount wagered and the stated odds) to the pot in a third pay table step 13.
After updating the pot based on the pay table value for the board, the device determines the value of the opponent's hand and compares the value to the available pot builders 20. If a pay table condition is met, the device adds the pay table value (based on the amount wagered and the stated odds) to the pot in a fourth pay table step 13.
After updating the pot based on the pay table value for the opponent's hand, the device determines the value of the player's hand and compares the value to the available pot builders 20. If a pay table condition is met, the device adds the pay table value (based on the amount wagered and the stated odds) to the pot in a fifth pay table step 13. The completion of the fifth pay table step fixes the size of the pot that is available to be paid out on a winning hand.
After the pot is fixed, a compare step 15 checks the value of the player's hand against the value of the opponent's hand to determine whether to pay the player. If the value for the player's hand is higher than the value for the opponent's hand, the player is paid the value of the pot. If the value for the player's hand is equal to the value for the opponent's hand, the player is paid one half the value of the pot. If the value for the player's hand is less than the value for the opponent's hand, no payment is made to the player. After the compare step 15 is completed, the game resets to wagering step 10.
In another preferred embodiment of the invention, the same general method of play described in the prior embodiment is followed with the same number of pot builders 20 and the same payout conditions. However, the play is enhanced by the inclusion of a randomly generated multiplier which is applied to the pay table 21 for each pot builder 20. Preferably after the player makes a wager and selects which of the pot builders 20 are live for the hand, the device executes a subroutine for generating and applying multipliers to the pay tables 21. One example of such a subroutine is shown below:
In this embodiment, the multiplier result is displayed only for the active pot builders 20. However, it is also within the invention for the multipliers to be displayed to the player for every pot builder 20 whether it was bet by the player or not. Randomly occurring multipliers on the pay tables 21 for the pot builders 20 increase the number of ways in which a high value payout may be earned by the player, thus encouraging longer play and larger wagers per play. For example, a 10× multiplier on the pot builder 20 for the player's best hand makes the payout on three of a kind the same as if the player held four of a kind in a game with no multiplier.
As an added advantage to the house, the multipliers substantially increase the difficulty of identifying the return percentage set by the house for each device. If the multiplier is not displayed until after the player's wager, it becomes impossible to determine the return percentage prior to betting. The house may also set the probability distribution for the multipliers differently for each device, further reducing the adverse selection of the most favorable device by the experienced player. Since the size of the multiplier and the probability distribution remains within the control of the house, the return percentage remains selectable for each device by methods that are known in the field of the inventions. Each device also may include administrative functions as are known in the field for tracking usage and editing the return percentage and other conditions of play such as have been described above.
It is recognized that within the invention additional wagering steps and pay outs may be added such as bonus rounds, super bets, wild cards, options to raise or fold and other features as are known in the field of the invention. It is further recognized that the display to the player may be presented in a variety of ways as are known in the field including multiple screens, multiple windows within a screen, supplemental lights, sirens, sounds and other visceral indicia.
A series of representative screens displayed to the player during standard operation for one embodiment of the invention are shown in
An initial screen displays the general layout of a virtual gaming table (see
The screen also includes three status fields 23 that indicate the value assigned to each credit, the number of credits available to wager and the number of credits won in any given hand. Preferably credit value is set by the house for each machine, although it is within the invention to offer the player a selectable range of choices for credit value.
An intermediate display screen (see
The intermediate screen also indicates to the player the number of pot builders 20 selected and the amount wagered on each pot builder 20. Active pot builders 20 are preferably indicated by a change in background color or intensity. Also, if a payable event 32 has occurred, the intermediate display highlights the payable condition and indicates the size of the pot to the player. In the example of
A result screen displays the flop, the turn and the river to the player (see
Also shown on the result screen is a win flag 33 indicating that the player holds the winning hand. The status fields 23 for credits won and credits available are updated to show that the player won 60 credits for the hand, and the 60 credits have been added to the player's total. The player can immediately repeat the same bet and have a new hand dealt by selecting the deal button. Alternatively, the player can change the amount wagered or the number of pot builders 20 selected by operating the other wagering controls 22 before selecting the deal button.
In an embodiment using a pay table multiplier, an intermediate screen (see
In another embodiment of the invention, a start screen (see
The inventions described above are not dependent on any specific structural form and may even be virtual structures rather than physical structures when operated within a virtual gaming environment. For illustrative purposes, this section describes one non-limiting structure that is considered compatible with a preferred embodiment of the invention.
The structure supporting the invention is preferably a kiosk type structure.
The display device 42 may comprise a video screen, a monitor, a liquid crystal display (LCD), a cathode ray tube (CRT), a projection screen, or any other device suitable to provide a display function. The input interface 43 may comprise, either alone or in combination, a keyboard, touchpad, touchscreen, mouse, trackball, stylus, light pen, voice recognition device, puck, tablet or other device suitable to provide an input function. The power supply may comprise, either alone or in combination, an AC outlet connection, one or more batteries, an uninterruptible power supply (UPS) or other means suitable to provide power to the system. If included, the communications link can include any of several technologies, including a telephone link, satellite link, radio-frequency link, infra-red link, Internet link, facsimile link, fiber-optic link, coaxial cable link and television link.
The software elements of the invention are preferably stored and executed on the computer 45, either within the kiosk 40 or in remote communication with it. For efficient maintenance and operation, the kiosk 40 also includes an access interface for the device manager preferably including a file transfer device such as a CD drive, zip drive, diskette drive or similar device.
The above description is not intended to limit the meaning of the words used in the following claims that define the invention. Rather, it is contemplated that future modifications in structure, function or result will exist that are not substantial changes and that all such unsubstantial changes in what is claimed are intended to be covered by the claims.