|Publication number||US20070072682 A1|
|Application number||US 11/534,492|
|Publication date||Mar 29, 2007|
|Filing date||Sep 22, 2006|
|Priority date||Sep 29, 2005|
|Also published as||WO2007041163A2, WO2007041163A3|
|Publication number||11534492, 534492, US 2007/0072682 A1, US 2007/072682 A1, US 20070072682 A1, US 20070072682A1, US 2007072682 A1, US 2007072682A1, US-A1-20070072682, US-A1-2007072682, US2007/0072682A1, US2007/072682A1, US20070072682 A1, US20070072682A1, US2007072682 A1, US2007072682A1|
|Inventors||James Crawford, Gehrig White, Lyle Berman, Daniel Byrd, Jonathan Lester, Michael Stanford|
|Original Assignee||Crawford James T Iii, White Gehrig H, Berman Lyle A, Byrd Daniel V, Lester Jonathan T, Stanford Michael S|
|Export Citation||BiBTeX, EndNote, RefMan|
|Referenced by (24), Classifications (10), Legal Events (1)|
|External Links: USPTO, USPTO Assignment, Espacenet|
The present application claims priority to U.S. Provisional Patent Application Ser. No. 60/722,019, filed Sep. 29, 2005, U.S. Provisional Patent Application Ser. No. 60/822,428, filed Aug. 15, 2006, and U.S. Provisional Patent Application Ser. No. 60/743,436, filed Mar. 8, 2006, all of which are hereby incorporated by reference.
The present invention relates generally to a poker game assembly, and more particularly, to an electronic head-to-head poker game assembly and method of operating the same.
Gaming is an increasingly popular form of entertainment. Games, particularly, games of chance and skill in which one or more players play and place wagers on the outcome thereof may be played in a variety of ways, including at a casino or on the Internet. Of the various forms of games which are available for play, many are played with playing cards. Of these, poker is arguably the most popular.
Traditionally, poker is played at a table with several players wagering paper, coin money or chips on a series of playing cards dealt from a deck of fifty-two cards. This deck is comprised of four suits at thirteen cards per suit. This form of poker requires a human dealer to coordinate the game, including dealing, wagering, folding, etc. One of the problems with traditional poker is that it suffers from the possibility of human/dealer error. In “social” card games, especially poker, the players take turns acting as the dealer, but in licensed commercial gaming establishments, such as casinos, the dealer is typically a non-playing employee. Thus, another problem associated with traditional poker games in this context is the training and retention of dealers.
Video games often seen in bar and restaurant environments are also known to incorporate limited aspects of poker. Such poker-like video games, however, typically challenge a single player only and thus the game is not a true form of poker and lacks the enjoyment of the human element. That is, many people prefer to play poker against other players, due in part to the drama associated with “live” gaming. Undoubtedly, an elevated level of competition exists when humans compete directly against one another. Experienced players are trying to hone strategy and read other players' intentions through their movements and style of play to be more competitive.
More recent developments and disclosed in U.S. patent application Ser. No. 11/073,774, “Electronic Card Table Having a Display Device for Implementing Electronic Play Interaction Areas,” filed Mar. 7, 2005 and assigned to the same assignee as the present invention and incorporated herein by reference in it's entirety, is a casino based electronic poker table system. This system alleviates any possibility of dealer errors and is manageable in a casino based environment. Such electronic tables are designed to seat typically up to ten players with a focus of no less than three or four players due in-part to player orientation and gaming rules such as house collections. Unfortunately, these tables are complex and generally not stand-alone. They typically require computer-based servers for continuous interaction with the casino establishment, the casino's floor management, and some form of credit management for the distribution of credit, house rakes and jackpot winnings. They are thus expensive and not practical for use in social environments and establishments such as bars and restaurants.
Moreover, the known electronic poker tables generally for use in casinos do not necessarily cater to the preferences of, for instance, restaurant patrons. Arguably, the typical bar or restaurant patron prefers the feel of an “arcade” type game having any variety of mechanics, such as mechanical buttons and trackballs to further the excitement of the game. Known casino-based electronic poker tables are generally video based having touch interaction screens for use by the players. In fact, at a true “casino” poker table, the mechanical operation of an arcade game could be considered a distraction by many players.
The present invention is aimed at one or more of the problems set forth above.
An electronic poker game assembly preferably provides a head-to-head poker game for two players. The assembly has a housing that is preferably a table and contains at least a portion of a computer system that generates and shuffles a virtual poker card deck, deals the cards, administers virtual chips, determines a winner from among the players, awards a pot to the winner at the end of the hand, and performs other tasks typically associated with a dealer. The housing supports an electronic player interaction area (EPIA) for each player and a common display area. Dealt virtual hole cards are displayed on screens of each EPIA and virtual common cards are preferably displayed on a screen of the common display area. Mechanical actuators for each EPIA are operated by the players when playing poker, sending electric signals to the computer system for play of the game.
Preferably, the table has a table top and the screens of the EPIA are generally recessed below the table top. Each table has a credit mechanism for accepting payment from the players to play the game for a set period of time, a pre-established number of virtual chips, or a set number of hands. Each EPIA may also have a bluff detector for enhancing one's determination of whether their opponents are bluffing. The mechanical actuators preferably have a trackball for adjusting betting amounts, a commit button for committing a bet, a fold button for folding a hand and a view button for discrete viewing of respective hole cards.
A method of operation of the assembly includes a first step where first and second players position themselves in front of respective EPIA. A second step entails dealing of a virtual hand by the computer system from the virtual card deck. When dealt, electronic screens of each EPIA display virtual hole cards face down. Each player can then manual move respective mechanical actuators to discretely view their hole cards. Preferably, betting can them be conducted by the players via manual actuation of the trackball.
In one aspect of the present invention, the assembly is arcade-like and generally self contained. Because money does not exchange hands between players, the arcade-like assembly can be used in establishments such as restaurants that do not having gambling licenses. The computer system of the arcade-like assembly has a computer preferably contained in the table that controls the common display area, the EPIA and the dealer functions. Preferably, the computer system has a server that may be remotely located for approval of credit cards swiped in the credit mechanism. Game history may be downloaded from the computer and to the server for future viewing of the players preferably over the internet.
In another aspect of the present invention, the assembly is casino-like and may conduct actual wagering where money does exchange hands between players. The credit mechanism may include or be substituted for a virtual pin pad for player access to pre-established accounts. The server of the computer system for the casino-like assembly may generally control the game for all the tables.
Benefits and advantages of the present invention include an automated electronic gaming system that is relatively inexpensive and generally self-contained thus being ideal for establishments such as restaurants not traditionally in the gaming industry. Other advantages include a relatively compact design, accentuated bluffing aspects, and a horizontal table top for the dual purpose of beverage and food service and play of the game.
Other advantages of the present invention will be readily appreciated as the same becomes better understood by reference to the following detailed description when considered in connection with the accompanying drawings wherein:
With reference to the drawings and in operation, the present invention relates generally to a head-to-head electronic poker game assembly 10 and method of operating the same. With reference to
The housing 18 may be a table having a substantially horizontal glass or clear table top 30 having a substantially horizontal surface 32 for viewing of the central display area 26 orientated preferably below. One such table that is ideal for two person play is a cocktail table. Preferably, the table top 30 spans across the entire table 18 or a sizeable central portion 34 and may be used for setting of beverages and food by patrons of the establishment. The tempered glass that preferably carries the horizontal surface 32 also functions to protect the electronic components of the assembly 10 positioned below from spilt beverages and food while being easy to clean or wipe-down. The table top 30 also has opposite wings 36, 38 that are cantilevered in substantially opposite directions and outward from the central portion 34. The wings 36, 38 support respective EPIA's 22, 24 in-part beneath the table top 30. A table base 40 projects upward from the floor and to the central portion 34 for supporting the table top 30 and preferably housing the computer 16 and other components in a tamper proof encasement.
Preferably, the first and second wings 36, 38 slope slightly downward as they project outward from the central portion 34. This slight angle, such as that of a keyboard, adds comfort for the respective player 12, 14 while hindering the ability of one player to view the other player's virtual hold cards 17 displayed via respective EPIA's 22, 24. Preferably, the wings 36, 38 are at a sufficient height from the floor so that the players 12, 14 can comfortably sit in respective chairs with knees located beneath the wings 36, 38 and facing one-another thus generally being head-to-head. Preferably, nothing projects above the table top 30 which would block the view of the opposing player. General full view of the opposing player, as in traditional poker, is advantageous for a player's determination of whether the opposing player is bluffing through interpretation of facial expressions, body language or body movement.
Each wing 36, 38 may further be a box-like structure for encasing the respective EPIA's 22, 24 for tamper-proof protection while including a lockable door or access panel beneath (not shown) for ease of maintenance of the EPIA's. One skilled in the art, however, would now know that the housing 18 can be any variety of structures including a pedestal table with the players standing, a portion of a bar with the players generally sitting side-by-side, or some form of a modular arrangement capable of being placed on any pre-existing surface of the establishment. Moreover, one skilled in the art would now know that the assembly 10 may not be limited to two players and could be arranged for play of two or more players.
The head-to-head electronic poker game assembly 10 may generally entail a self-contained arcade-like embodiment or a casino-type embodiment. For simplicity of explanation, the arcade-like applications such as that used in establishments not licensed to conduct gambling where money exchanges hands between players is described first. Although the computer 16 of the arcade-like assembly 10 can be remotely located, it is preferably located in the table base 40, and includes a processor capable of running an operating system, such as Windows XP or Windows CE, both available from Microsoft Corporation of Redmond, Wash. The computer 16 is coupled to and preferably controls, operates and runs the central display area 26 and the EPIA's 22, 24. However, more than one computer may be designed into the computer system 15. For instance, each EPIA may actually be controlled via their own computer that then communicates with the computer 16. Each central display area 26 may also include a dedicated computer for all or isolated functions such as the control and display of visual advertisement.
In one embodiment, the individual EPIA's 22, 24 are used to convey game information directly to the respectively assigned players 12, 14 and to implement a mechanical set of actuators 50 of each EPIA 22, 24 to effectuate interaction or input from the players to the computer 16 (see
The screens 52 of the EPIA's 22, 24 and the central display area 26 may be set apart from the rest of the table top 30 by virtual borders. The areas of the display around the EPIA's 22, 24 and the central display area 26 may be used to simulate the table surface of a standard poker table, e.g., an image of material, such as green felt, may be displayed. Furthermore, logos, game information, promotional information, advertisements, announcements, pictures, videos, or other information may be displayed, rotated, cycled, or displayed for a limited period of time on display area 26 directly beneath the clear table top 30. These videos can be played by a video device 49 such as a DVD-ROM integrated into the computer 16 or in the alternative, the server 42 of the computer system 15.
The assembly 10 may include a virtual pin pad or keyboard 66 displayed discretely on the screen 52 of each EPIA 22, 24 preferably prior to game play. Such a pin pad 66 can be operated via use of the trackball 54 for selection, and the commit button 58 for committing the selection. The pin pad 66 can be used for registration of a player, thus allowing the player to review their history of play at a later date preferably over the internet, and for identifying and for recognition and congratulations of a game winner. This recognition may include extended publication displayed on the display area 26 for extended periods of time for the viewing of all patrons of the establishment.
The mechanical set of actuators 50 of the EPIA's 22, 24 allow the player to take an appropriate action, such as bet, fold, or call, during their turn. Unlike screen 52, the mechanical set of actuators 50 protrude through the table top 30. Each set of actuators 50 may have a trackball 54, a fold button 56, a commit or action button 58, and a show-cards button 60. Each of the mechanical actuators 50 are selectively activated by the computer 16 and when mechanically actuated, the respective actuator sends an electrical signal to the computer 16 for processing.
When a player desires to make a bet, the trackball 54 may be rotated to generally select the bet amount. This bet amount is preferably committed when the player depresses the commit button 58. Alternatively, when the mechanical fold button 56 is depressed by any one player the respective player's hand is folded. When the show-cards button 60 is depressed by the player, the face down hole cards 17 displayed on screen 52 are discretely revealed to the player. Another system and method for controllably displaying/obscuring the player's virtual hole card(s) is disclosed in U.S. patent application Ser. No. 10/939,772, filed Sep. 13, 2004, assigned to the same assignee as the present invention, and is hereby incorporated by reference in its entirety.
During any round of betting, any player can fold by depressing the fold button 56 of the mechanical set of actuators 50. Otherwise, the player may select a wager amount using the trackball 54. The smallest bet amount, often referred to as the check/call, is the base or origin position of the trackball 54. The player increases the amount by rotating or rolling in-place the trackball along a predetermined path, e.g., the vertical axis. The bet amount increases relative to how far the trackball 54 is turned, and will preferably reach its maximum when all virtual chips 48 are in. Bet amounts will increase at predefined increments relative to the big blind (e.g. 2×, 3×, 4×, 5×, etc. . . . ). The trackball 54 can be spun rapidly to progress the betting amount to the desired number of virtual chips. Once the desired amount of chips is reached, the player commits the amount by pressing the commit button 58. In one embodiment, the rate of increase in the bet amount may be a function of the rate or speed of the trackball 54. Additionally, the bet amount may automatically be increased to a maximum bet amount as a function of the speed of the trackball 54, e.g., when the speed equals or exceeds a predetermined value. The bet amount, as it increases or decreases may be shown numerically and/or visually as stack(s) of chip(s).
In one embodiment, the computer 16 through the respective EPIA 22, 24 selectively activates specific ones of the set of actuators 50 that are appropriate, given the rules of the game being played, during the current turn. For example, if the maximum number of raises for a particular game have already been made, then the trackball 54 may be inactive. Additionally, trackball 54 and buttons 56, 58, 60 may be inactive when it is not the player's turn. One skilled in the art would now know that a single push button and/or trackball may perform multiple functions as effectuated by the computer 16, and that the trackball 54 and/or buttons could be replaced with any variety of mechanical devices included that of a pivoting joy stick or wheel.
The assembly 10 provides player excitement in-part by having the two players 12, 14 face one-another for the determination of player bluffing through evaluation of facial expressions and body language. This excitement is preferably further accentuated by a bluff detector 62 of each EPIA 22, 24. The bluff detector 62 is preferably a two-contact heart rate monitor having a contact pad 63 exposed through the table top 30 at each wing 36, 38. Heart rate measurement data is generated when the players place two fingers upon the pad 63. The data may be displayed on the central display area 26 in real time and can be stored in the computer 16 or server 42 for future reference should a player 12, 14 wish to review prior game play and factors that affect bluffing.
In one aspect of the present invention, the assembly 10 includes a sound generation device (not shown) that is used to generate sounds audible to the players 12, 14. The sound generation device may be implemented as an earpiece or headphones or one or more speakers. Generated sounds may be categorized as system sound or player sounds. System sounds include sounds that are intended or suitable to be heard by everyone, including other players and non-players. Player sounds include sounds that are intended to be heard, but not necessarily only, by the player. Example, system sounds may include sounds imitating the shuffling of virtual cards, the dealing of cards, chips thrown into the pot, or sounds related to the winning of the jackpot. Player sounds may include a reminder or indication of a player's turn or if the game is timed, an indication of the time remaining or that time is running out. Player exclusive sounds are sounds that can or should only be heard by the player and may indicate an audible signal indicating the player's hole cards or the highest hand of the player or a winning percentage associated with the player's hand.
The assembly 10 has a payment mechanism 64 mounted to the housing 18 and preferably at the base 40. The mechanism 64 may be any variety of devices with any variety of revenue collecting methods including the acceptance of cash or the swiping of a credit card. The credit card information can then be sent by the modem 44 to the server 42 for approval. Preferably, patrons of the establishment or restaurant who want to play a game of poker may insert cash into the mechanism 64 that communicates directly with the computer 16. The amount of money inserted may determine the number of virtual starting chips 48. For instance, a deposit of three dollars may get a predetermined number of value in virtual chips and a deposit of five dollars may get a greater number or value of virtual chips. The number of chips may increase linearly with the deposit given, or in the alternative, a player may be encouraged to maximize the deposit by providing a greater number of chips than a linear relationship would otherwise dictate. The number of chips indirectly affects the length of play time. That is, for a five dollar deposit and assuming 75-90 hands per hour, the tournament play should be about fifteen minutes. In another aspect of the present invention, via a deposit, the player may be directly purchasing a number of hands as oppose to chips.
Alternatively, the deposit may cause the computer 16 to provide a time duration of play with or without additional options revealed on the central display area 26. For instance, a first option may be that the computer 16 provides the virtual chips 48 thus actual cash winnings never exchange hands between players 12, 14 and any award is simply game winner recognition. A second option may be that the players 12, 14 utilize actual chips transferred between players above the table top 30. This option would generally cause the computer 16 to deactivate some of the features of the mechanical actuators 50.
Screen Images and Virtual Components
Each electronic playing card of the virtual card deck 20 has a front side and a back side. The back side of each card has an identical pattern or image such that the cards cannot be individually identified or told-apart when viewing the back side. The virtual card deck may be a standard deck of fifty-two cards, each card having a value. The value being two components: the first component being one of a “two” through “ACE” and the second component being one of four suits (hearts, diamonds, clubs, spades). The value of each virtual card is indicated on the front side of each playing card.
The image displayed on the back side of the playing cards may be a logo, a random image (chosen from a set of predetermined images), or may be advertising directed at the players 12, 14. The image may include a video. In one embodiment, the image displayed on the back side of the playing cards may be cycled through a set of predetermined images. The image may be selectable by a user, who may be the players 12, 14, an employee of the establishment, or by a third party through the server 42 for purposes of indirectly collecting advertisement revenue.
Prior to game play and during game registration, the keyboard and or pin pad 66 is displayed discretely on the screens 52 of the EPIA's 22, 24. During game play, the screen 52 of the EPIA's 22, 24 preferably displays only the virtual hole card(s) 17 and in the face down position to simulate traditional poker play. Each player 12, 14 can discretely view their hole cards 17 by depressing the show-cards button 60.
Rankings of the game statistics 82 may be based on previous play. Preferably, a tiered system of player skill is also instituted wherein the player can progress to new levels as their experience increases. For instance, progressive skill levels could be termed: fish, homne gamer, amateur, semi-pro, pro, shark, and the like. These skill levels are preferably displayed in the information field 76.
In another aspect of the present invention, the central display area 26 may provide an indication of whose turn it is to act. In one embodiment, the central display area 26 may provide an appropriate signal, such an icon, e.g., an arrow or other symbol, a sound such as a beep or musical tones, and/or a voice message. This indication of a player's turn may be in addition to an indication on the EPIA's 22, 24.
Software and Hardware
With particular reference to
Preferably the computer system 15 of the assembly 10 can boot from read-only media such as a DVD-ROM, so that the media can simply be replaced for upgrade. A persistent media, such as a flash drive, may be incorporated so that game data, cash-in, and the like can be saved and retrieved.
The website 94 may have a community area 96 for players to share experience or create their own blog. They may also choose to share replays of past tournaments with the community to invite analysis and critique that of other players. Through the website 94 players can view their global ranking and personal statistics across all sites and see how they compare against other competitors. The website 94 may also be used for encouraging participation in organized leagues and viewing of locations and dates of special events.
Assembly Operation and Game Play
After the deposit of cash or credit card, each player 12, 14 preferably sets up or logs into a pre-existing account 104 by entering their username/PIN using the trackball 54 to navigate the keyboard and/or pin pad 66 and commit selections via the commit button 58. If the player does not yet have a user account, the player can skip this registration portion and set an account up after the tournament or play completes. Such an account can also later be established over a website via the server 42.
The game ideally suited for the assembly 10 is a version of poker commonly known as Texas Hold'em, but may also be other versions of poker such as Omaha Poker. For Texas Hold'em, the computer system 15 first randomly assigns 106 a player to a dealer position as indicated by dealer icon 70. If by chance player 12 is designated as the dealer, the dealer icon 70 appears on the screen 26 near EPIA 22. The computer system 15 then automatically takes a small blind from the virtual chips of player 14 and a big blind 108 from the virtual chips of player (dealer) 12. The small and big blinds are compulsory bets wherein the big blind is typically twice that of the small blind.
The game engine 46 of the computer system 15 then generates a virtual poker card deck and deals 112 each player 12, 14 two virtual hole cards 17 (the pre-flop), displayed face down on screens 52 of the EPIA's 22, 24. After the hole cards 17 are dealt, each player 12, 14 can discretely view their cards by pressing 114 the respective show-cards button 60 of the mechanical actuator 50 which sends an electrical signal to the computer system 15 causing the system to reveal 116 the cards. Because the big blind was previously placed by player 12, player 14 now has the action to call, call and raise, or fold as is generally common in traditional Texas Hold'em poker.
After the hole cards are dealt, the game engine 46 administers a first betting round and the computer system 15 will indicate 118 which player 12, 14 has the turn to act. This indication will preferably appear on the EPIA's 22, 24. In this case, player 14 will know it's his/her turn to act by an appropriate signal, such as an icon, either next to their name or anywhere on the EPIA 24, a sound such as a beep or musical tones, and/or a voice message.
At this juncture of play, player 14 may not check because the big blind placed by player 12 plays as a bet. If player 14 calls, player 14 need not rotate the trackball 54 because the computer 16 has already designated the minimum bet amount. That is, if the big blind is twice that of the small blind, the minimum and only bet amount in this instance is equal to the small blind amount. To call, player 14 only needs to depress the commit button 58 and the computer 16 transfers the correct amount of virtual chips 48 from the bet staging 72 and into the pot 68. If player 14 desires to call and raise 120, then player 14 must rotate the trackball 54 generally vertically upward. The raise amount will be indicated 122 as the bet staging 72 and may generally be in increments that represent multiples of the big blind amount. If player 14 overshoots his desired raise or the facial expression or the recorded heart rate 124 of player 12 should cause player 14 to change his/her mind, then player 14 can reverse or rotate the trackball generally downward to reduce the raise. Once the raise amount is determined, player 14 presses 126 the commit button 58 and the virtual chips from bet staging 72 are transferred to the pot 68. If player 14 decides to fold 128 instead of call or raise, then player 14 presses the fold button 56 and the pot 68 is awarded 130 to player 12 via the computer system 15.
Similarly, and after player 14 calls and/or raises the bet, player 12 by utilizing EPIA 22, has the options to check if player 14 had only called which would end the betting round, raise the call of player 14 which would continue the betting round, call the raise of player 14 which ends the betting round, or raise the raise of player 14 which would continue the betting round. Betting in this way continues between players until one player folds or calls without raising. Computer system 15 recognizes all betting options in advance. For instance, for player 12 to check his/her bet after player 14 has called, player 12 only needs to press the commit button 58 because the computer has programmed the trackball 54 with a minimum bid of zero in this instance.
Once the initial betting round ends, the computer 16 then deals 134 the flop, which is preferably three virtual cards of the common cards 28 face-up in the central display area 26. Because player 12 remains the represented dealer, player 14 begins the second round 136 of betting. Player 14 has the option to check or bet and such is conducted as described above. If player 14 checks, player 12 has the option to check which would end the betting round. If player 14 bets, player 12 has the option to fold and the pot goes to player 14, the option to call and the second betting round is ended, and the option to raise the raise and the betting round continues.
When the second betting round ends, the computer 16 deals a turn card or the fourth common card 28 face-up, and which is imaged in the central display area. This begins the third betting round starting again with player 14. If neither player has folded, the computer 16 deals a river card or the fifth common card 28 face-up and a fourth betting round is conducted. After the fourth betting round, if neither player has folded then a showdown begins. The computer 16 automatically conducts the showdown by revealing both player's hole card 17. This is done by flipping the duplicate displays 74 on the central display area 26. Although the winner can then be determined by the players, the computer system will automatically announce the winner and award 138 the pot.
For the next hand, the computer system 15 will assign player 14 as the represented dealer and play begins accordingly. The poker game continues by alternating 140 represented dealer designation between players and from one hand to the next until one of the players 12, 14 has won all of the virtual chips 48. The computer system 15 determines and awards 142 the winning player.
During play, should a player receive a “bad beat,” bonus chips may be awarded giving the player further incentive to play risky draws, and allowing them to stay in the game instead of walking out over a bad beat. Extra chips may be awarded to the losing hand based on their specific hand. For instance, pocket aces of a losing hand could be awards two times the big blind amount of chips, a flush may be awarded five time the big blind amount of chips, and a full house may be awarded ten times the big blind amount of chips. Moreover, a showdown odds feature may be included wherein if a player is all-in before all the common cards are dealt, the odds of either player's hand winning as the remaining common cards are dealt is dealt preferably with some degree of graphical drama.
Upon completion of a poker game, the computer 16 preferably uploads the game history to the server 42. Either player can then view 146 their game history preferably over the internet 45.
Modified Casino-Like Assembly
Assembly 10′ is not necessarily self-contained in that the common server 42′ of the computer system 15′ associated with all the tables 18′ may have and generally control the game engine 46′, the table server 84′, the table client 86′, the player client 88′, the table manager 90′, and the cage manager 92′ as generally described previously for the arcade-like assembly 10. Each table 18′ of the computer system 15′ may have a dedicated computer 16′ for general control of game play not controlled by the common server 42′. The close proximity of the tables 18′ to one another is particularly advantageous and adds excitement to, for instance, tournament type play of poker. One skilled in the art however, would now know that the tables 18′ need not be localized for tournament play and can be scattered about various establishments yet linked by the common server 42′. Moreover, the computer 16′ or computer system 15′ may be the server 42′, which may be networked to the multiple electronic poker tables 18′.
In one aspect of the present invention, the poker tables 18′ in the casino-like assembly 10′ are networked and connected to one or more servers 42′. The server 42′ may be used to implement and facilitate, player tracking, ticket in ticket out (cashless) wagering, assigning player's to a seat at a particular table, tournament play, table set-up (including turning the tables on and off and modifying table parameters), and progressive jackpots. Each table 18′ may have one or more EPIAs 22′. In addition, other devices may be connected to the server 42′ for providing additional features and/or functions. For example, a queuing system may be provided (see below). This system may be implemented using a separate computer which implements this function. The separate computer may also implement other features or functions of the system. It should be noted, however, that in some systems, these additional features or function could be provided, at least in part, by the server(s) 42′.
In one aspect of the present invention, the server 42′ runs the games. In other words, the server 42′ electronically “shuffles” the playing cards, deals the cards, controls the players' turns, receives the player's inputs and acts accordingly, tracks, manages, and awards the pot, tracks the rake, etc. Game data is stored in a database. Each input, wager, play, etc. is stored in the database.
For tournament poker play facilitated by the casino-like assembly 10′, a predetermined number of head-to-head tables 18′ are designated through the server 42′. A buy-in, e.g., $100 is required. Typically, after a player loses all of their money, they are eliminated from the tournament. Under predetermined rules, players may register for a tournament and be assigned to seats at the head-to-head tables 18′. During play, under predetermined rules, tables may be broken down and the players distributed to other tables. The assembly 10′ facilitates the tournament by providing one or more of the following features:
Preferably, the tournament poker games will be played to completion and blinds will preferably double about every three to five hands to ensure that the game does not continue for an excessive amount of time. The games will progress through the tournament levels until a winner is determined.
In one aspect of assembly 10′ the poker games are timed, i.e., the player's have a predetermined time period in which to complete each turn. For example, the player's have a set period of one minute to complete each turn. Alternatively, the period of time may vary based, e.g., the first turn may have a period of completion of one minute, while the second turn may have a shorter or longer period of completion. Alternatively, each player may have a bank of time. The time used to complete each turn may be deducted from their time bank.
With regards to revenue collection by the casino, assembly 10′ may collect revenue similar to assembly 10. Yet further, each player may purchase virtual chips through previously established accounts, and the casino establishment may collect revenue through a “rake” method. The rake may be defined as a portion or percentage of each pot that goes to the house or casino establishment for running the poker game. The virtual pin pad or keyboard 66′ displayed discretely on the screen 52′ of each EPIA 22′, 24′ may allow each player to access pre-funded accounts (see
In another aspect of the present invention, a table 18, 18‘may have a plurality of EPIA’s 22, 22′ greater than 2, e.g., six, eight, or ten. The EPIA's 22, 22′ may be divided into sub-groups, where each group may be playing amongst themselves. For example, if there are ten players at a table, then the players may be divided into 5 groups of two players each playing head-to-head poker, 2 groups of five players each playing in a group of 5, or any combination of players. In one embodiment, where the EPIA's are divided into groups of two EPIA's 22, 22′ to each group, each pair of EPIA's 22, 22′ may operate as a single head-to-head table 18, 18′ as described above.
While the forms of the invention herein disclosed constitute presently preferred embodiments many others are possible. It is not intended herein to mention all of the possible equivalent forms or ramifications of the invention. It is further understood that the terms used herein are merely descriptive rather than limiting, in that various changes may be made without departing from the spirit and scope of this invention as defined by the following claims.
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|Cooperative Classification||G07F17/3293, G07F17/322, G07F17/3276, G07F17/32|
|European Classification||G07F17/32C4D, G07F17/32P6, G07F17/32M8D, G07F17/32|
|Oct 20, 2006||AS||Assignment|
Owner name: POKERTEK, INC., NORTH CAROLINA
Free format text: ASSIGNMENT OF ASSIGNORS INTEREST;ASSIGNORS:CRAWFORD, JAMES T., III;WHITE, GEHRIG HENDERSON;BERMAN, LYLE ARNOLD;AND OTHERS;REEL/FRAME:018417/0831;SIGNING DATES FROM 20060921 TO 20060923