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Publication numberUS20070090599 A1
Publication typeApplication
Application numberUS 11/275,252
Publication dateApr 26, 2007
Filing dateDec 20, 2005
Priority dateOct 21, 2005
Also published asUS20080032799, WO2007050119A2, WO2007050119A3
Publication number11275252, 275252, US 2007/0090599 A1, US 2007/090599 A1, US 20070090599 A1, US 20070090599A1, US 2007090599 A1, US 2007090599A1, US-A1-20070090599, US-A1-2007090599, US2007/0090599A1, US2007/090599A1, US20070090599 A1, US20070090599A1, US2007090599 A1, US2007090599A1
InventorsRussell Hamilton
Original AssigneeRussell Hamilton
Export CitationBiBTeX, EndNote, RefMan
External Links: USPTO, USPTO Assignment, Espacenet
Method and apparatus for a card game tournament
US 20070090599 A1
Abstract
A method and apparatus for a card tournament with elimination hands is presented. The method and apparatus of the present invention provides for a multi-round blackjack tournament with periodic hands wherein players with the lowest chip or point total are eliminated from the game. A home/portable edition implementation is also provided for, allowing players to conduct a card game tournament in venues outside of the traditional casino environment.
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Claims(77)
1. A method of conducting a card game tournament played in accordance with predetermined game rules by a plurality of players playing a predetermined number of hands in a predetermined number of rounds of the card game tournament, the method comprising:
designating at least one said hand in each said round as an elimination hand in which:
for each said player, a chip total is derived from:
each said player's cards; and
each said player's chip wagers; and
eliminating from the card game tournament the player having the lowest said derived chip total.
2. The method as defined in claim 1, wherein said predetermined number of rounds is one round.
3. The method as defined in claim 1, further comprising establishing an initial chip total for each said player.
4. The method as defined in claim 3, wherein said initial chip total is a predetermined monetary value.
5. The method as defined in claim 1, further comprising determining a player seating order.
6. The method as defined in claim 5, wherein determining a player seating order further comprises each of said players drawing a card from a deck or shoe, and determining seating order according to the rank of the cards chosen by each of said players.
7. The method as defined in claim 1, further comprising:
(a) determining a player wager and play order;
(b) placing bets by the plurality of players in order of said wager and play order;
(c) dealing a plurality of cards to the one or more players in order of said wager and play order;
(d) making play decisions, by the players;
(e) resolving, according to the predetermined game rules, whether said play decisions result in said players forfeiting their bets or receiving payouts; and,
(f) accumulating new player chip totals as a result of step (e).
8. The method as defined in claim 7, wherein step (a) further comprises:
placing a play order indicia before a player that has been designated as a first player for a particular hand; and,
beginning play and betting with said first player.
9. The method as defined in claim 8, wherein at the beginning of said round said play order indicia is placed before the player seated at a table location designated as seat 1.
10. The method as defined in claim 8, further comprising:
after completion of one of said hands, moving said play order indicia to a next ranked player in said seating order.
11. The method as defined in claim 8, further comprising:
after completion of one of said hands, moving said play order indicia to a player seating position located clockwise from a current position occupied by said play order indicia.
12. The method as defined in claim 7, wherein step (b) further comprises a time limit for placing said bets, and if said bets are not placed within said time limit, a player failing to place said bet within said time limit will be compelled to place a mandatory minimum bet.
13. The method as defined in claim 12, wherein said time limit is established at one value for a non-elimination hand, and a second value for an elimination hand.
14. The method as defined in claim 7, wherein step (d) further comprises a time limit for making play decisions, and if a player fails to make one of said play decisions within said time limit, a said player being compelled to stand with dealt cards.
15. The method as defined in claim 14, wherein said time limit is established at one value for a non-elimination hand, and a second value for an elimination hand.
16. The method as defined in claim 7, wherein the predetermined game rules comprise the rules of a blackjack game.
17. The method as defined in claim 7, wherein step (b) further comprises eliminating players who are unable to place at least a mandatory minimum bet.
18. The method as defined in claim 7, wherein step (b) further comprises eliminating players who have a chip total less than said mandatory minimum bet.
19. The method as defined in claim 7, wherein at least one of said bets in step (b) is a secret bet.
20. The method as defined in claim 1, wherein the predetermined number of rounds in the card game tournament is 5.
21. The method as defined in claim 1 wherein the predetermined number of hands to be played in each predetermined number of rounds is selected from the group consisting of 30 hands and in the range of 10 to 60 hands.
22. The method as defined in claim 1, wherein the designating one or more hands as elimination hands step further comprises designating hand numbers 8, 16, and 25 as elimination hands.
23. The method as defined in claim 1, further comprising, when two or more players are tied for said lowest derived chip total, holding a playoff between the tied players.
24. The method as defined in claim 23, wherein the playoff further comprises:
setting a number of playoff hands equal to the number of tied players in the playoff;
establishing a number of playoff chips for each tied player equal to the number of chips belonging to each of said tied players at the beginning of the playoff;
playing, by the tied players, the number of playoff hands;
ranking the tied players based on the number of playoff chips remaining for each of said tied players; and,
designating the tied player with the lowest rank as a player to be eliminated.
25. A method for wagering in a hand of cards, the method comprising:
before cards are dealt, a player rendering an indicia of a hidden bet, the indicia indicating a first monetary value of the hidden bet; and,
after cards are dealt, said player modifying the indicia to a second monetary value of the hidden bet.
26. The method as defined in claim 25, further comprising: establishing a predetermined time limit for rendering said hidden bet.
27. The method as defined in claim 25, further comprising compelling said player to wager a mandatory minimum bet if said player failed to render said indicia within a specified time limit.
28. The method as defined in claim 25, wherein said second monetary value of the hidden bet represents a wager for doubling down.
29. The method as defined in claim 25, wherein said second monetary value of the hidden bet represents a wager for taking insurance.
30. The method as defined in claim 25, wherein said second monetary value of the hidden bet represents a wager for a split hand.
31. The method as defined in claim 25, wherein said second monetary value of the hidden bet represents a wager for a side bet.
32. The method as defined in claim 25, further comprising:
eliminating said player from a tournament if said player possesses a chip total representing an amount less than the sum of said first monetary value and second monetary value.
33. The method as defined in claim 25, further comprising:
revealing said hidden bet; and
reconciling said first amount of monetary value and said second amount of monetary value as if said first amount and second amount had been placed as non-confidential wagers.
34. The method as defined in claim 25, further comprising:
placing one or more tokens upon a surface to indicate the player's intent to place a secret bet.
35. A method of conducting a card game tournament played in accordance with predetermined game rules by a plurality of players, the card game tournament having a predetermined number of rounds and a predetermined number of hands to be played in each of the predetermined number of rounds, the method comprising:
designating one or more of said hands to be played as an elimination hand;
before cards are dealt, one or more said players rendering an indicia of a hidden bet, the indicia indicating a first monetary value of the hidden bet;
dealing cards to said plurality of players;
after cards are dealt:
said one or more said players modifying the indicia to a second monetary value of the hidden bet;
adjusting an individual chip total for each of said players;
ranking the players in order of their individual chip totals; and
when said hand being played is an elimination hand, removing from the tournament the player that was ranked lowest in said ranking step.
36. The method as defined in claim 35, further comprising removing from the tournament any of said players that have a chip total below a mandatory minimum bet amount.
37. The method as defined in claim 36, wherein said mandatory minimum bet amount is less than one tenth of an initial chip total given to said players at the beginning of a round.
38. The method as defined in claim 35, wherein said adjusting an individual chip total for each of said players further comprises:
revealing the hidden bet;
reconciling the player's card play according to said predetermined game rules;
grading the first monetary value and second monetary value as if said first monetary value and second monetary values had been placed as bets with chips;
awarding to said player an amount of chips, if required by said predetermined game rules; and,
decrementing said player's chip total if required by said predetermined game rules.
39. A method for wagering in a hand of cards, the method comprising:
before cards are dealt, rendering an indicia of a hidden bet of a player;
indicating a monetary value of the hidden bet of the player before a camera; and,
revealing said monetary value of the hidden bet to at least one person not participating in said hand of cards.
40. The method as defined in claim 39, wherein said camera is situated at a location not visible to a second player participating in said hand of cards, and said one person not participating in said hand of cards views an image produced by said camera.
41. The method as defined in claim 40, wherein said location is within an at least partially enclosed booth.
42. The method as defined in claim 39, wherein said camera produces a video feed.
43. The method as defined in claim 42, wherein said video feed is recorded for broadcast.
44. The method as defined in claim 42, wherein said video feed is transmitted by radio frequency broadcast.
45. The method as defined in claim 42, wherein said video feed is provided to a cable television network.
46. The method as defined in claim 42, wherein said video feed is distributed to subscribers of a cable television service.
47. The method as defined in claim 42, wherein said video feed from said camera is displayed to an audience.
48. The method as defined in claim 47, wherein said audience is viewing said hand of cards live.
49. The method as defined in claim 47, wherein said audience is located at a pari-mutuel betting facility.
50. The method as defined in claim 42, further comprising:
delaying said video feed from said camera by a predetermined period of time; and
broadcasting the delayed video feed.
51. The method as defined in claim 42, wherein said video feed is simultaneously displayed to an audience in attendance at said hand of cards and recorded for broadcast.
52. The method as defined in claim 42, wherein said video feed is simultaneously displayed to an audience in attendance at said hand of cards and broadcast live.
53. A game set to be used with playing cards and wager chips in accordance with card game rules, the set comprising a plurality of game tokens bearing indicia that include:
a first indicator of a hand selected from a predetermined number of total hands; and
a second indicator that enacts a provision of the rules whereby one player of the card game is to be eliminated after completion of the hand on a basis of a value of that player's remaining wager chips.
54. The game set as defined in claim 53, wherein the card game rules further comprise rules for a blackjack game.
55. The game set as defined in claim 53, wherein said basis of a value is a determination that a value of said one player's remaining wager chips is less than any other player's remaining wager chips.
56. The game set as defined in claim 53, wherein said card game rules further comprise a provision whereby one of said game tokens is placed in a location that indicates an order that is selected from the group consisting of a betting order and a play order.
57. The game set as defined in claim 53, further comprising one or more secret bet cards for recording a confidential monetary value of a secret bet.
58. The game set as defined in claim 53, further comprising one or more action cards used for performing a function selected from the group consisting of concealing a bet, making a play decision, keeping the amount of a double-down bet concealed, keeping the amount of a surrender bet concealed, and concealing a decision to stand.
59. The game set as defined in claim 53, further comprising a timer for measuring available time for placing bets and executing play choices.
60. The game set as defined in claim 53, further comprising one or more decks of playing cards for playing said card game.
61. The game set as defined in claim 53, further comprising a portable surface upon which a blackjack game is played.
62. The game set as defined in claim 61, wherein said surface further comprises a felt surface bearing indicia utilized in a game of blackjack.
63. A method of playing a hand of blackjack comprising:
before each player is dealt at least two cards, each said player optionally placing:
a secret bet token on the blackjack table; and
a secret bet card indicating a secret wager under the secret bet token;
after each player is dealt at least two cards, each said player optionally placing an additional wager; and
after a result is determined for each player's hand:
revealing each secret wager; and
summing, for each said player, the secret and additional wagers.
64. The method as defined in claim 63, where said additional wager comprises a secret bet.
65. The method as defined in claim 63, wherein said player optionally placing an additional wager further comprises:
removing the secret bet card from under the secret bet token;
modifying the secret bet card to include a second bet amount; and,
placing the secret back card underneath the secret bet token.
66. The method as defined in claim 63, where said additional wager represents a wager for doubling down.
67. The method as defined in claim 63 where said additional wager represents a wager for taking insurance.
68. The method as defined in claim 63 where said additional wager represents a wager for a split.
69. The method as defined in claim 63, further comprising eliminating a secret betting player having game chips less than sum of said secret betting player's secret and additional wagers.
70. The method as defined in claim 1, wherein the elimination hands are designated at a plurality of times during the card game tournament.
71. The method as defined in claim 1, wherein the elimination hands are designated at certain intervals corresponding to a plurality of times during the card game tournament.
72. The method as defined in claim 1, wherein at the occurrence of each of a plurality of particular times, the at least one said hand in each said round is designated.
73. The method as defined in claim 1, wherein the eliminating occurs at particular times during the card game tournament.
74. The method as defined in claim 1, wherein the player having the lowest said derived chip total is eliminated at particular times during the card game tournament.
75. The method as defined in claim 1, wherein said eliminating from the card game tournament the player having the lowest said derived chip total comprises eliminating the player having the lowest said derived chip total at a plurality of times during the card game tournament.
76. A blackjack tournament played by a plurality of players with a player elimination method comprising:
at each of a plurality of particular times:
deriving, for each said player, a chip total from:
the player's cards; and
the player's chip wagers;
eliminating from the blackjack tournament the player having the lowest said derived chip total.
77. The player elimination method as defined in claim 76, wherein:
the blackjack tournament has one or more rounds each having:
a predetermined number of hands; and
at least one said particular time;
the player elimination method further comprises:
before each player is dealt at least two cards, each said player optionally placing a secret chip wager;
after each player is dealt at least two cards, each said player optionally placing an additional chip wager; and
after a result is determined for each player's hand, summing, for each said player, the player's chip wagers to include the player's secret and additional chip wagers.
Description
CROSS REFERENCES TO RELATED APPLICATIONS

This application claims the full benefit and priority of U.S. Provisional Application Ser. No. 60/729,190, filed on Oct. 21, 2005, titled “Card Game Tournament Method,” the disclosure of which is fully incorporated by reference herein for all purposes.

BACKGROUND

1. Field of the Invention

The present invention relates to method and apparatus for a card game tournament. More specifically, the present invention provides for a method for a card game tournament for card games such as blackjack, with elimination rounds and secret bets to further increase the entertainment value for players and spectators alike. Also provided for is an apparatus for conducting the disclosed card game tournament in venues such as a person's home.

2. Description of the Related Art

Over the last few years, the popularity of poker tournaments has grown substantially, owing in part to the rapidly growing number of poker players and interested observers. Television cable channels now routinely broadcast poker tournaments, and games such as those featuring celebrities receive particularly good ratings. To the uninitiated, observing a game of poker can at times lack entertainment value because of the slow pace, and some viewers may fail to appreciate subtle but important nuances of poker strategy. However, as the popularity of the game of poker grows, viewers are often attracted not just for the pure entertainment value, but for the chance to learn from “the masters” and gain insight into the less apparent aspects of poker strategy and tactics.

Also gaining in popularity is the card game “blackjack”, which was already well known and has been played for many years. In its present conventional or electronic form, this game is played in almost every major casino in the United States. Blackjack shares a fast-paced play environment with other table games such as roulette and craps, yet offers the opportunity for players to utilize some level of skill to increase game winnings. Blackjack further owes its popularity to an uncomplicated rule set, as well as the publicity that arises from news stories of high-skill players that have received substantial winnings. Further, unlike poker, blackjack players play against the house rather than other players.

The simplicity of the blackjack game along with its rapid play provides the potential for high observational interest, yet blackjack tournaments have failed to be as commercially successful as poker tournaments, especially in the television broadcast realm. The lagging effect of blackjack tournament popularity may be attributable to the absence of factors that can increase the playing tension between the players and provide for more opportunities for strategic betting decisions.

What is needed, therefore, is a method for conducting a blackjack tournament that increases viewer interest. What is additionally needed is a blackjack tournament method that provides new play opportunities to increase competition between players and that supports the use of an overall game strategy to increase likelihood of player success. What is further needed is a method of conducting a tournament that spurs user excitement by allowing for elimination of players at particular times during the tournament. What is also needed is a blackjack tournament method that allows the live viewer or television audience to see cards or bets not within view of other players. What is also needed is a method and apparatus to allow payers to conduct their own blackjack tournaments, as disclosed herein, yet outside of a casino environment such as in the comfort of their own homes.

SUMMARY

A method is provided for conducting a card game tournament in one or more rounds, with the possibility of elimination at several points within a round. In each round, comprised of a predetermined number of hands, at certain intervals, “elimination hands” may be declared, wherein after the hand is played, the player with the lowest score, point count, or chip total will be eliminated, therefore expediting play of the tournament and heightening viewer suspense as the player to be eliminated is determined. Further, such elimination hands cause players to adjust their play style, since for elimination hands, the players are competing more directly against one another to avoid the penalty of elimination. At the end of a round, the player with the highest player total (in tokens, chips, point value, or dollars, for instance) will advance to the next round. After the final round is completed (e.g., the championship round), the player with the highest score, point count, or chip total is winner of the tournament. If two players are tied for the highest point total, a playoff will be held to determine which player advances.

It is another object of the invention to provide for a betting technique to further increase viewer interest and excitement of the tournament. Once or more per tournament, another implementation of the present invention provides for a “secret bet,” where players may place a bet in confidence, with the amount not known to other players until the end of the hand when bets are resolved. However, the present invention provides for a means to reveal the bet to a viewing audience, a broadcast audience, or both, at the time the bet is placed (or thereafter). One such means for revealing a secret bet may be accomplished by displaying a video feed on a visual display that is viewable only by members of an intended live or remote audience In this way, viewers have knowledge of potential game outcomes that players may not, and therefore viewers become more drawn into observing game play. Further, the secret bet aspect of the present invention allows for players to exercise gaming strategy more akin to the game of poker, where “bluffing” plays a key role in adding an element of the unknown. In one implementation of the present invention, since player cards are visible to other players, the secret bet has the effect of allowing a player to exercise confidential strategy and force other players to adjust play technique accordingly.

It is another object of the invention to provide for an apparatus and method to conduct a blackjack tournament in a venue outside of a casino or studio environment. With viewer interest likely increasing in response to the broadcast of tournaments conducted in accordance with the present invention, viewers may become motivated to play in such tournament themselves, host their own tournaments, or conduct tournaments at a public forum such as for fundraising. In these situations, the method and apparatus of the present invention provide for game components and rules to support the implementation of a blackjack tournament at a venue outside of a typical casino or studio environment.

BRIEF DESCRIPTION OF THE DRAWINGS

FIG. 1 depicts a flow chart portraying one method of the present invention, wherein a card game tournament is conducted; and

FIG. 2 illustrates a flow chart for one embodiment of playing a hand of cards in accordance with the present invention.

The same numbers are used throughout the disclosure and figures to reference like components and features.

DETAILED DESCRIPTION

An implementation of the present invention provides for a card game tournament conducted in one or more rounds, each round comprising one or more hands of cards. In one implementation, a round of the tournament comprises 30 hands played, or in some situations, may comprise 10 to 60 hands played. A round may end before the predetermined number of hands is played, and may continue longer to break ties. A sufficient number of rounds is played to eliminate players and determine an ultimate champion. One implementation further provides for a card game tournament utilizing the game of blackjack.

Turning to FIG. 1, a flowchart of an implementation of the present invention is presented. At the beginning of the tournament, certain game play parameters are established, (100) such as the minimum and maximum allowable bet/wager, the number of rounds in the tournament, the time limits to place bets and to act upon dealt cards, and the number and cardinality of elimination hands (discussed more fully below). In one implementation, hand numbers 8, 16, and 25 are designated as elimination hands, where players may be eliminated under certain conditions. Further, while in one implementation elimination hands are announced before the tournament begins, in an alternate implementation to further increase the spontaneity and enjoyment of the game, elimination hands may be declared at the beginning of a round, at the beginning of an elimination hand, or after an elimination hand of cards had been played without a player's knowledge that such hand was an elimination hand.

At the beginning of each round of the tournament (103), players are seated in the game and an initial play/seating order is determined, such as through a random draw. Those of skill in the art understand that since the order of play typically proceeds sequentially from one player to the next in the seating order, the terms “play order” and “seating order” are interchangeable, and are to be considered interchangeable herein. It is understood that in some implementations, such as in a computer-implemented tournament, not all players must necessarily physically reside at the same location. It is further understood that the number of players in each game or table may vary due to the number of entrants in the tournament. In one implementation, a physical or virtual marker is placed proximal to the player that is first in the bet/play order, and such marker is rotated to a next player after completion of play of each hand of cards. In an alternate implementation, such marker also provides an indicia of which hand number is being played within a round and/or whether such hand comprises an elimination hand During this phase (103), players receive an initial allocation of tournament chips or a monetary indicia of value ($25,000 worth, in one implementation or in a home edition implementation, players each receive $100,000 in chips). If the round being played is a final, or championship round, players optionally receive a different allocation of chips or monetary value ($100,000, for instance). With the exception of the final round, players may vary their bets within predetermined limits, for instance from $500 to $25,000 in increments of $100. In the final championship round, or in a home version of the present invention players may vary their bets in a second range, for instance from $1,000 to $100,000 in increments of $100. It is understood by those of skill in the art that bet limits may be adjusted responsive to the length of the tournament, the number of rounds to be conducted, the nature of players involved, or the venue of the tournament. In one implementation, once bets are placed in the player's betting square, the bets may not be changed.

The hands of each round are played (105) with rules determined by the nature of the card game tournament being conducted. In one implementation, the rules of the card game are substantially similar to established casino blackjack rules. One implementation of playing a hand in accordance with an implementation of the present invention will be discussed more fully below in relation to FIG. 2, below. At the completion the playing of a hand of cards (105), each player's point, chip, or monetary value indicia totals will be adjusted based on their respective success or failure in that hand of cards.

If a hand played was designated as an elimination hand (107), players' point/chip/value totals are accrued and compared (109). If two or more players tie for lowest total (111), then a playoff is conducted (113) to determine a player with the lowest chip total. After the optional playoff (113), the player that has the lowest remaining total is eliminated (115).

In one implementation, a playoff (113) may be conducted as follows. First, a the number of hands in the playoff is determined and may be set equal to the number of players tied at the beginning of the playoff. The first bettor in a playoff, in one implementation, is the player who is naturally positioned to bet next following the preceding hand. At the beginning of the playoff, in one implementation, the tied players start with the same value of chips or monetary indicia that they had at the conclusion of the hand (105), and will play substantially in accordance with the rules of a non-playoff hand. In an alternate implementation, prior to beginning the playoff, special playoff chips may be issued to the tied players to avoid intermixing chips with each player's pre-playoff chip total, and optionally, a predetermined amount of chips or value indicia could be issued to each tied player irrespective of their pre-playoff bankroll. At the end of the playoff, the player with the lowest total is determined, and will therefore be eliminated (115). The player(s) surviving the playoff (113) will begin the next hand with the same total value of chips that each had at the conclusion of the hand that preceded the playoff.

After an optional player elimination, the play of a round continues with determining whether a hand was the last hand in a round (117). If not, in one implementation, more than two players must remain (119) for the round to continue, otherwise the round will be concluded. If more than two players remain, and if it is not the last hand in the round, the marker or indicia that identifies the initial player/bettor in a hand of cards is advanced to the next surviving player in sequence (121) and play of a new hand begins (105). Otherwise, at the end of a round, the surviving player's chip totals, scores, or monetary value indicia are compared (123), and if there is a tie between two or more players for highest value, a playoff is conducted (125) in a manner similar to the method described above in relation to the elimination playoff (113), except that it is sought to be determined which of the tied players obtains highest point value in the playoff.

To conclude the round, the player with the highest point total will be determined (127) and designated the round winner if the tournament has not concluded (129). In such a case, round winners may be selected to play against each other in new tournament rounds (105). If the round being played was the final, or championship round in the tournament, the n the player with the highest total is declared the tournament winner (131) and the tournament concludes.

While an implementation of the present invention provides for a card game tournament utilizing the card game of blackjack, it will be appreciated by those of skill in the art that other card games such as Baccarat, Pai Gow, and Carribean Stud could be utilized. One implementation of blackjack play rules as follows: the deck may be dealt from a six deck shoe with approximately one deck of cards cut out of play, and the decks are combined and thoroughly shuffled. The dealer deals both initial cards face-up to the players and one card up and one down to himself. The dealer hits all hands of 16 or less and also hits soft 17. Players are paid 3 to 2 for “naturals” or “blackjacks” (a two-card hand consisting of an ace plus face card or a 10). Players may split any two-card hand which contains cards of equal value up to three times for a total of 4 hands. Split aces may be dealt only one card on each ace, and these cards are dealt down; if the down cards in ace splits are face cards or “10” cards, such split hands are not “naturals” or “blackjacks” but are treated as having a value of 21. The player may double down on any two cards, for any amount from the table minimum up to and including the amount of their original wager, and including after splitting, with the exception of split aces which are governed by the one card per ace rules above. All double down cards are dealt face down. Late surrender is allowed for one half of the player's original wager.

Turning to FIG. 2, to begin play of a hand (200), a player that is designated as the initial player/bettor, will place a bet/wager (203) and each surviving player in turn places bets. In one implementation, if a player is unable to place at least a predetermined minimum bet as announced with the tournament rules (205), then that player is eliminated (207).

In any hand during a tournament round of their choice, each player has the option (207) of placing a “secret bet.” In one implementation, players may be limited to placing a limited number of secret bets per round or per tournament, and for example but not by way of limitation, players may be restricted to placing no more than one secret bet per tournament round. At the time it is their turn to place a bet, a player using the secret bet option renders an indicia of a secret bet (209), such as by placing a designated “secret bet” chip in a betting square when it is the player's turn. At that point, the player placing the bet takes steps to record (209) the value of the secret bet being placed, such as by stepping away from the table to write the amount of the bet on a secret bet card or typing the value into a touchpad, keypad, or keyboard The amount recorded on the secret bet card is held at least partially in confidence, and in one implementation no other players may observe the value of the recorded secret bet until the placing player's wager is resolved at the end of the hand. Further, in one implementation before writing down the value of the secret bet or otherwise rendering an indicia of its value, the secret betting player enters a booth that has an interior that is at least partially enclosed or concealed from other players. The player then records the amount of the secret bet in the booth, and optionally, reveals the amount of the bet to a camera that is installed in a manner so as to see the player within the booth. In one implementation the camera produces a video feed that may be broadcast, recorded, or displayed to an audience but not to other players that are currently engaged in the game. Those of skill in the art appreciate that such video feeds may be incorporated into an entertainment program that is recorded for later broadcast, or is transmitted live to a broadcast audience, a television audience, subscribers of a cable service, patrons of a casino, or bettors at a pari-mutuel betting facility. Such video feed may also be purposely time delayed to give program directors or editors time to remove uttered profanity or any other content that could be offensive to a viewing audience. Also, such video feed may be combined with or incorporated into other video feeds showing players not making secret bets.

After the amount of the secret bet has been rendered, in one implementation the secret bet card will be placed on the table under the secret bet token in the player's bet box, and play proceeds as usual. The amount of the bet is not revealed until the hand is over, and the hand is typically graded after the dealer has finished their hand. Additional wagers of either insurance or doubling down on the player's hand that contain the secret bet will be written in their appropriate space(s) on the secret bet card with the same provision that allows the player to walk away from the table when writing such secret bet information. In one implementation, the player must have enough chips in the player's chip total to take insurance. No even money betting will be allowed.

If the secret betting player wishes to take insurance, double down, or split during the secret-bet hand, the player may similarly render the amount of the bet in confidence, such as by stepping away from the table and indicating such additional bets in the appropriate spaces on a secret-bet card. Such rendering of additional bet amounts may be conducted in a confidential booth area as discussed above, and optionally, may be visible to a camera for display to an audience, viewers or other designated attendees. At the end of the hand, after the dealer has completed play, the amount of the secret bet and any subsequent bets will be revealed. In one implementation, if it is discovered that the player does not have sufficient chips to cover the secret bet, the bet will be considered to be the total amount of chips the player has remaining and the player will win, lose, or push that amount.

Splitting poses additional considerations for the secret bet process. If a player that has placed a secret bet has two cards of equal value and would like to split, the player should have enough chips remaining to do so before splitting the hand. Therefore, in an implementation of the present invention, a split bet that occurs by the secret bet option that cannot be covered by the player's current chip or monetary total may be considered to be a foul and the player will forfeit the entire original wager and split amount, further resulting in being eliminated from the tournament.

If a player wishes to double down on a secret bet, the player may do so, in one implementation, by writing down the amount of the double down bet on a secret-bet card in the appropriate space, or in an alternate implementation, by typing or otherwise rendering the value of the secret bet in an electronic medium. When the wager is graded, if the player had enough chips to place the double down bet, then both bets have full action and are considered valid bets. If the player had insufficient chips or monetary value to make the full secret double down wager, then the wager will only be graded for the amount of chips or value that the player had at their disposal to wager, that is, the amount of the player's remaining chips or monetary value.

In one implementation, once it becomes a player's turn to place a bet, the player must do so within a time limit specified at the beginning of the tournament. Those of skill in the art appreciate that in a virtual or distributed tournament, bets/wagers may also be placed by rendering an indicia of monetary value either into a keypad or though a computer interface. In one implementation of timing rules, players have 20 seconds to place a bet on each hand and 20 seconds for each strategy decision on a hand. These time limits may be extended to one minute on each elimination hand and two minutes on the final hand in each tournament round, including the final round. Likewise, since placing a secret bet often takes more time than placing a normal bet, a different time limit such as two minutes may be imposed upon players to place secret bets after announcing they are placing such bets. Referring to FIG. 2, if a player does not place a bet within the allotted time (211), that player's bet may automatically be set to the mandatory minimum bet (213).

Betting continues in a predetermined betting order until all bets have been placed (215), whereupon cards are dealt (217) starting with the initial bettor, and one at a time, players are presented with the obligation to specify play decisions (219). Since in the game of blackjack additional bets are required to split hands, double down, or take insurance, players that have placed secret bets may exercise the process described above to render a secret bet at least in partial confidence (221, 223). If a player does provide play decisions or otherwise act on the hand within the allotted time (225), the player will be considered to automatically stand (227). Play continues with each successive player (229) until the last player has conduced playing. The dealer then uncovers the dealer down card and plays the dealer's hand (231) in accordance with the tournament rules discussed above. Based on the dealer's hand, one at a time player bets are resolved (233), which may include revealing to all players the amount of any recorded secret bets. Since a new hand may be beginning the initial player marker is advanced to the next player in turn, and the hand is considered completed.

Portable/Home Tournament Edition and Apparatus

Since it may be desired to provide for a version of the present invention that lends itself to play outside of a large-scale tournament venue, a method and apparatus for a home or portable edition of the tournament is presented. For example, but not by way of limitation, included in the game apparatus are a portable surface with indicia substantially similar to surface of a blackjack casino table, six decks of cards, a dealing shoe, a cut card, a dealer button, chips, hand-count chips, position-draw cards, secret-bet cards, and action cards. In one implementation, the portable surface with indicia comprises a foldable felt cloth with printed indicia. In another implementation, such indicia could be silk-screened onto the felt cloth. A timer device may also be included to ensure play progresses at the desired pace, and, for example, may measure betting and play execution times, such times being variable depending on the particular hand number being played

Play begins substantially as above, with players receiving an initial amount of tournament chips. To keep track of the hand being played, the apparatus provides for hand-count chips designating the number of the hand that is being played. In one implementation, hand-count chips are numbered 1-30 with hands 8, 16, and 25 designated as Elimination Hands. On these designated Elimination Hands, the player with the lowest chip count at the end of the hand is eliminated from the game. If one or more players have fewer than the mandatory minimum bet in tournament chips at the end of the Elimination Hand, including when that amount is zero, those players are eliminated. Even if one or more players is eliminated before an Elimination Hand is played, at least one player may still be eliminated on the Elimination Hand.

In one home version implementation, hand number 30 is the final hand of the tournament. After hand 30, all chips are counted and the player with the highest total is declared the champion. The tournament can end sooner than hand 30 if only one player is remaining. If more than one player has less than the mandatory minimum bet left, the finishing order is determined by the count of all remaining chips.

Further, in a home version implementation, a rotating button determines where the betting and playing action begins on each hand. The button begins in seat one on hand one. Players positions at the table may be determined by dealing out or drawing from the position-draw cards. Players will be positioned or seated in order, based on their card-draw result, with the ace or 1 designating that player to occupy the first seat and so on through the 7 card which will be designated as the last or seventh seat. The player in seat 1 makes the first bet, and betting continues in a direction, such as clockwise, until all players have bet in the hand. The cards are then dealt out in accordance with standard blackjack rules. Playing decisions are also made in order, beginning with the button player and continuing clockwise around the table. At the conclusion of hand #1, the #2 button will be placed in front of the next player in a clockwise rotation and that person shall bet first. In this manner, the button not only indicates the hand number but also the initial bettor/player in a hand. Betting and playing decisions on all hands begin with the button position until the tournament is completed.

In a home edition implementation in case of a tie on any Elimination or final hand, the tied players will be given a predetermined amount of chips separate from the chips they have left and they will enter into a playoff that comprises two hands if two players are tied, three hands if three players are tied, and so on. The initial bettor/player button will start with the person to the left of where the button was at the end of the tied hand and will move to the next person in the playoff on the second and subsequent hands, if any, in the playoff. If the playoff results in another tie, the playoff is repeated in the manner just specified. After the playoff is completed, the person with the lowest chip count becomes the eliminated player. The remaining players, including the playoff survivor(s), will continue playing the tournament with the chips they had at the time the playoff began. Play continues after a player is eliminated with the button moving to the first surviving player to the left of the player who had the button on the hand that necessitated the playoff. If the playoff occurs on a final hand, the tournament will be completed and the winner of the playoff will be the champion.

In a home edition implementation, one secret bet per player per tournament round is permitted. Players are allowed to step away from the playing area to record their secret bet, and similarly to other embodiments discussed herein, multiple bets may be recorded on the secret bet cards, and other betting options such as surrender, insurance, double down, or split may be accommodated on the secret bet card in addition to an initial wager.

Use of a secret bet also entitles the player to use cards called “action cards” for the play of the secret-bet hand. Action cards allow players to record one or more desired play actions to be taken on the table, so that the desired play action is not be known to the other players until the end of that hand. An action card may be used for example, to keep the amount of a double-down or surrender bet concealed, or to conceal a decision to stand. Players are allowed to step away from the playing area to mark their action card. An action card may be used even if a secret bet was not made on the hand, and in one implementation, doing so will count as the player's one-time per-tournament round use of the secret-bet or action option. In one implementation, secret-bet or action cards are opened after the hand has been completed by all players and the dealer to determine how much the players bet, and/or what playing actions were desired to be taken. Bets will be paid or collected according to the outcome of the hand.

One implementation of a home edition of the present invention provides play rules as follows: Normal blackjack rules will be in force, with the dealer having to hit all soft 17s (A-6, A-3-3, etc.) or any hard hand of 16 or less until a hard 17 or better is reached, at which point the dealer will stand. Players may double on any two cards, including on two-card hands after a split. Players may double for less than their original wager as long as it is not for less than the table minimum. Players may split pairs of equal-value cards, including mixed face cards, such as queen/king or ten/jack, up to three times to make a total of 4 hands. Aces, however, may be split only once with one card dealt to each ace. Late surrender is allowed on the player's first two cards. Surrendering a hand forfeits half of the amount bet. Early surrender (surrendering vs. a dealer ten or ace before the hand is checked for a natural) is not allowed. A player may take insurance if the dealer has an ace showing. A player must have enough chips to take insurance, and players may not take insurance by verbally saying “even money.” Insurance is allowed for any amount from half the mandatory minimum bet to half of the original wager. If the dealer does not have a natural or “blackjack,” the player's insurance wager is collected. If the dealer does have a natural, the insurance wager is paid at a rate of 2-1.

Further, in a home edition implementation, a countdown of all players' chips will take place after designated hand numbers, such as hand numbers 8, 16, and 25. In one embodiment, a countdown also occurs before the final hand in a round (for example, before hand 30). If only two players remain in the game before the start of the Elimination Hand, the round will end at that point, and if no additional rounds or players remain, the tournament ends as well. In one implementation, to assist in fair game play, players must keep all chips stacked in the same denomination, in piles that do not exceed 15 chips.

Although the invention has been described in language specific to structural features and/or methodological acts, it is to be understood that the invention defined in the appended claims is not necessarily limited to the specific features or acts described. Rather, the specific features and acts are disclosed as exemplary forms of implementing the claimed invention.

Referenced by
Citing PatentFiling datePublication dateApplicantTitle
US7591470 *Feb 27, 2007Sep 22, 2009Game Show Network, LlcModified blackjack game
US7979145 *Apr 24, 2007Jul 12, 2011Beck Keith EMethod of script selection
US8641515 *May 7, 2008Feb 4, 2014IgtGaming system and method for providing automated casino-style table tournaments
US20090280904 *May 7, 2008Nov 12, 2009IgtGaming system and method for providing automated casino-style table tournaments
Classifications
U.S. Classification273/292
International ClassificationA63F1/00
Cooperative ClassificationA63F1/00
European ClassificationA63F1/00
Legal Events
DateCodeEventDescription
Feb 17, 2009ASAssignment
Owner name: CENTAURUS GAMES, LLC, CALIFORNIA
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Effective date: 20090217
Feb 6, 2009ASAssignment
Owner name: INSOLVENCY SERVICES GROUP, INC., CALIFORNIA
Free format text: ASSIGNMENT OF ASSIGNORS INTEREST;ASSIGNOR:ULTIMATE BLACKJACK TOUR, LLC;REEL/FRAME:022219/0781
Effective date: 20080916
Dec 20, 2005ASAssignment
Owner name: ULTIMATE BLACKJACK TOUR, LLC, CALIFORNIA
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Effective date: 20051220