BACKGROUND OF THE INVENTION
1. Field of the Invention
The present invention relates to the filed of gaming systems, intelligent gaming systems, and intelligent gaming systems provided on casino tables and especially casino table card games with physical cards to implement play and wagering at the table or within a casino.
2. Background of the Art
Casino wagering has always provided a basis for attempts at fraud. Interpreting the location and amounts of wagers can cause confusion, and cheaters take full advantage of the confusion. The majority of table games still use a wagering format that is hundreds of years old, with players placing wagers on their respective hands directly in front of themselves. The wagers have traditionally been placed by hand, sometimes on a marked area to better define a specific location for placing the wagers.
When wagers other than the basic game wager on a player's hand are made, additional marked areas may be provided on the table. The different markings may be a region for the special wager (such as the arcuate space on a blackjack table for the Insurance wager) or specific marked areas for placement or acceptance of wagers as in Let It RideŽ poker, Three-Card PokerŽ games, Four Card™ poker, and Crazy Four™ poker. In some games, special receivers or acceptors are provided on the table to specifically identify bonus or jackpot wagers, as in Let It RideŽ poker and Caribbean StudŽ poker. In these formats, the location of the positions for placement of the wagers is still relatively directly in front of the player making the wagers on that player's respective card hand.
Numerous formats for implementing electronic wagering at gaming tables have been implemented. U.S. Pat. No. 4,856,787 (Itkis) describes a distributed game network comprising a master game device and a number of slave game devices. The slave game device is capable of playing concurrently and in real-time, a number of menu selectable electronic card and chance games, such as poker, bingo, blackjack, and keno. The slave game device receives commands and random data, such as bingo patterns and called bingo and keno numbers, from the master game device and sends the local game status and accounting information to the master game device.
The slave game device is equipped with a touch screen display and a smart game card interface. The smart game card associated with the slave game device is read/write and has an imbedded microprocessor keeping track of wagers and outcomes of the game. The touch screen display exhibits the status of the games being played in display windows and accepts player's commands including menu selections and bingo and keno card marks.
The status of all the games being played with the help of a slave game device is presented on a touch screen display in individual windows dedicated to specific games. The display also shows the accounting data pertinent to all the games, such as wagers, prizes, and balances. Being a touch screen device, the display facilitates the selection of the games, the modes of playing the selected games, and the values of bets. In addition, the touch screen provides an opportunity to manually mark bingo and keno matches on the screen. The smart game card associated with the slave game device is equipped with an imbedded microprocessor keeping track of bets and outcomes of the games. In addition, the smart game card stores in encoded form the information identifying the content of the game card images presented on the display, e.g. bingo card contents.
U.S. Pat. No. 4,467,424 (Hedges et al.) describes a remote gaming system for use with a wagering or gambling establishment such as a casino to enable a player's participation in a selected one of a plurality of wagering games from a remote location. The system includes a croupier station, a credit station and a player station remotely located from the croupier station and the credit station. The player station includes a live game display for displaying a selected one of a plurality of games being played at the croupier station, such as craps, roulette or keno. The player station includes a changeable playboard for displaying a selected one of a plurality of wagering possibilities corresponding to a selected one of the plurality of games being played and for displaying the results of the game played at the croupier station. The player station also includes a microprocessor for controlling the operation of the live game display and the changeable playboard. A remote gaming terminal is provided which includes a live game display for displaying a selected one of a plurality of games being played such as craps, roulette or keno. The terminal also includes a playboard for displaying a selected one of a plurality of wagering possibilities corresponding to a selected one of a plurality of games being played. The playboard also displays the results of the game played upon completion. The playboard includes means for changing the display to enable participation in any of the games being played. Processor means are included for controlling the operation of the terminal.
U.S. Pat. No. 5,324,035 describes a gaming system is provided including a central game processor, a plurality of master processing units and a plurality of slave terminals operable by players to play the game. The central game processor communicates with the master processing units and supplies the various games available in the system. The master processing units store and administer the games as they are played on the slave terminals connected to each respective master processing unit. A preferred game includes a fixed pool of game plays and a predetermined number of winning plays within each pool. Each player, through his or her slave terminal, can purchase plays in each fixed pool stored in the master processing unit to which that terminal is coupled. When a particular pool is exhausted, for example, through the purchase of all plays, the central game processor provides another fixed pool of plays to that master processing unit to enable continuous play. The gaming system 10 includes a central game processor 12, which controls and administers operation of the gaming system 10. Preferably, remotely located from the central game processor 12 are multiple master processing units 14. In one embodiment of the invention, the master processing units 14 are connected to the central game processor 12 employing a telephone link. In this embodiment, up to sixteen telephone lines 18 are used to connect between modems 22 provided with each master processing unit 14 and the multiple-line modems 24 provided in the central game processor 12. A plurality of slave terminals 16 are in turn connected to each master processing unit 14. According to the preferred embodiment, up to twenty slave terminals 16 can be configured to each master processing unit 14. In this embodiment, the slave terminals 16 are interconnected through a local area network (LAN) 20. The local area network 20 also couples the slave terminals 16 to their respective master processing unit 14.
U.S. Pat. No. 4,636,951 (Harlick) describes a system for controlling the operation of electronically linked gaming machines which enables information to be transferred between machines and from each machine to a control unit. In particular, credits on a machine can be transferred to another machine and the credit state of each machine can be interrogated and adjusted from the central control unit.
Published U.S. patent application 2004/0248651 (Gagner) describes a method and a system of using a gaming network having a server in communication with a plurality of gaming terminals to share gaming applications directly between selected gaming terminals using a peer-to-peer type communications architecture. The method and system are a combination of hardware and software, that controls the initiation of a shared game, determines the gaming terminals eligible to participate in the game, accepts or rejects their participation, and subsequently establishes virtual communication network directly between participating gaming terminals. The virtual communication network is established allow a gaming terminal to act as a server of the shared application to all other participating gaming terminals. Once the application has been run to completion, the server terminates the session and returns each gaming terminal back to its normal operating mode. The Gagner invention provides a gaming system and method for allowing multiple gaming terminals to participate in shared game play occurring at another terminal. The shared game experience may be competitive or collaborative. Participation in the game may be passive, such as placing a side bet. Participation may also be active, such as direct competition with other players, or collaborative team play.
Published U.S. patent application No. 2004/0162144 (Loose et al.) describes a system and method for allowing players at gaming terminals to communicate with each other. The gaming terminals are used to conduct wagering games. One of the gaming terminals generates a personal message in response to input of a player at the one of the gaming terminals. A least one other of the gaming terminals presents the personal message. The personal message may include text, audio, or video content and may be generated via such messaging technologies as electronic mail, instant messaging, a chat room, network telephony, conferencing, and an electronic message center.
U.S. Pat. No. 6,929,264 (Huard et al.) describes a method and system for playing an auxiliary casino game managed by a casino house comprising: selecting at least one player of an underlying casino game on which to place a bet; identifying at least one event related to at least one play of the underlying game for which to place the bet; making a bet that at least one event will occur in association with a player during at least one play of the underlying game; determining an occurrence of the event in the underlying game in association with the player; if the event occurred in association with the at least one player, determining a payout to be paid. The system offers players the possibility to bet on an event received by another player in conjunction with or independently of participating in the underlying game. Indeed, certain players, feeling unlucky or inexperienced at the game may prefer to bet only on a particular event to be received by at least one player during the course of the play of the underlying game. This way, they can participate and have the chance to win, and at the same time, become more knowledgeable of the game rules and strategies. Players who feel lucky can participate in the underlying game, and furthermore can take advantage of lucky or unlucky periods of other players, including the dealer, by making bets that these players will obtain certain event. For example, a player who feels lucky may want to maximize his earnings during this lucky period, he will then bet on his own hand but might also enjoy betting on the other players' hands. The patent is prophetic in stating that apparatus or equipment must be developed to enable wagering on other players' hands.
U.S. Pat. No. 5,868,392 (Kraft) describes a method and apparatus for playing a poker game with a unique betting format. According to the invention, a method and apparatus for playing a poker game with a unique betting format is disclosed. A card game played according to a preferred embodiment of the present invention is somewhat similar in spirit to traditional poker. However, individual players can place a multitude of different types of bets that aren't normally associated with traditional poker. For instance, individual players can choose to bet on which hand will win, players can bet on which group of adjacent players' stations will contain the winning hand, players can bet on which combination of cards will win, and, finally, players can bet on certain specialty bets, such as betting that the winning hand will be at least three-of-a-kind comprising jacks or better.
U.S. Pat. No. 5,573,249 (Johnson) describes a method for playing a card game comprising the steps of providing at least one player with an opportunity to place a wager, displaying a first plurality of playing card indicia to form a plurality of partial card hands, allowing the player to assign the wager to one of the plurality of partial card hands, and subsequently completing the card hands by displaying an additional plurality of card indicia. When the hands have been completed, a winning payout is provided to any and all players who successfully assigned their wagers to the partial card hand which resulted in the complete hand having a particular value, e.g. the highest poker ranking.
U.S. Pat. No. 5,486,005 (Neal) describes a method and apparatus for playing a poker-like game with a deck of fifty-two playing cards wherein each player plays against the dealer. After each player makes a wager, the dealer deals four initial cards of the deck face up to seven separate hands, places odds on each hand according to predetermined guidelines, and selects two of the seven hands as a combination field position. Each player then selects either one of the hands, the field position, or a no-hand winning position which requires that none of the seven hands, after all cards are dealt, have two pairs or better. After each player selects a hand or a position, the dealer deals three more cards of the deck face up to each of the seven separate hands. The dealer then determines the winning hand or position and pays each player who selected the winning hand or position according to the odds and their wager or collects each player's wager who did not select the winning hand or position. Additionally, a jackpot wheel may be included to permit an added possibility of winning a larger payout.
U.S. Pat. No. 6,846,238 (Wells) describes a disclosed gaming machine provides methods and apparatus for operating a wireless game player that presents a game of chance executed on a gaming machine in communication with the wireless game player. In one embodiment, the wireless game player is a hand-held mobile device, electronically linked to a licensed gaming machine via a wireless connection. All random number generation (RNG) events, game outcomes, meter information, game related information, and all cash transactions are maintained in the licensed (controlled) gaming machine and not the wireless game player. The wireless game player may be used anywhere within the legal areas of the casino and it has the capability of identifying who is using it. For example, a biometric input device, such as a finger print reader may be used on the wireless game player to identify the player. Thus, the issue of under-age or excluded players is addressed.
U.S. Pat. No. 5,851,149 (Xidos et al.) describes a Distributed Gaming System that provides a user with remote location gaming, for example from within a hotel room. Using the room's television and a remote control, the user, such as a hotel guest, is able to play games similar to those available on a Video Lottery Terminal. The games are displayed on a TV through the use of a TV set-top box. The set top box connects the TV to a network of computer systems through which the Gaming System is distributed and managed. Game access is obtained using a payment swipe device. A special feature of system is the progressive jackpots that are available to game players; these jackpots are at the hotel, jurisdiction, and global levels.
U.S. Pat. No. 5,586,937 (Menashe) describes a gaming system that includes a host computer, a plurality of general purpose terminal computers forming player stations remote from the host, means for providing communication between each of the terminals and the host. Each terminal has a program for generating screen graphics and sound locally in response to control data packets generated by and received from the host. The host generates random numbers for a game being played on a connected terminal within preset criteria for that game in response to data packets received from the terminal. The data packets are of variable length between 1 and 80 bytes. The host sequentially stores the minimum significant information for replaying a game, auditing and security, such as accounting data of each player at the start of each game, random numbers generated by the host, responses received from a player, and whether a game was completed. Play is substantially real-time, because only minimal data is transmitted with functions requiring large amounts of data, such as screen graphics being generated locally. The statuses of host and terminal are restored automatically on re-establishing communication following an interruption to ensure fairness to players and prevent them defeating the outcome of a game.
U.S. Pat. No. 6,755,741 (Rafaeli) describes a gambling game system comprising a central station including a plurality of betting-type game devices, and an electronic camera for providing images of each game device. A plurality of player stations are remotely located with respect to the central stations, each one including a monitor for displaying a selected game device at the central station, and input means for selecting a game device and for placing a bet by a player at the player's station relating to an action involving an element of change to occur at the selected game device. Data processing means are provided for: (a) establishing communication between the central station and each of the player stations; (b) enabling a player at each player station via the input means at the player station to select a game device at the central station, to see via the monitor at the player station what occurs at the selected game device, and to place a bet via the input means at the player station relating to the action involving an element of chance to occur at the selected game device; (c) displaying in the monitor at the player's station the action involving an element of chance as the action occurs at the selected game device; (d) determining whether the action, after it occurs, resulted in a “win” or “loss” of the placed bet; and (e) maintaining a current account for the player in which each win is registered as a credit, and each loss is registered as a debit, according to the rates of the selected game device. Such a system preferably utilizes an actual casino as the central station and displays the actual game device to the remotely-located player during the actual playing of the game. Thus, the system in effect moves the player to the casino, or the casino to the player. This increases the feeling and excitement in the remotely-located players of being present in a real gambling casino. It also increases the confidence of the players in the integrity of the system against the possibility of electronic manipulation. According to further preferred features, the casino also includes a microphone at each game device; and each of the players stations also include a speaker; enabling a player at each player station to hear, as well as to see, what occurs at the selected game device as it occurs at the casino. These features add to the transfer of the gambling casino atmosphere to the remotely-located player's station, and to the confidence of the players in the integrity of the system against the possibility of manipulation.
U.S. Pat. No. 6,676,522 (Rowe et al.) describes a gaming system including hand-held, portable gaming devices. In one embodiment, the gaming system is arranged to present at least one game to a player and includes a portable gaming device or interface having a display for displaying game and other information to a player. The portable gaming device is capable of receiving and sending information to a remote device/location. A game server generates game data, and transmits the game data to the portable gaming device and receives information, such as player input, from the portable gaming device. A payment transaction server validates payment and establishes entitlement of a player to play a game via the portable gaming device as provided by the game server. In one or more embodiments, the gaming system includes one or more stationary gaming machines capable of printing tickets having a value associated therewith. The portable gaming device includes a ticket reader for reading ticket information for use by the payment transaction server in verifying the associated value for establishing entitlement of a player to play the game. Preferably, communication to and from the portable gaming device is via a wireless communication channel.
U.S. Pat. Nos. 5,673,917 and 6,607,195 (Vancura) describe a method for playing a base and bonus live card games with side betting. A video board is used for bonus game play if a predetermined arrangement of cards is dealt in the base game. When a player gets the predetermined arrangement the player can play the bonus game. The other players who made side bets, in one embodiment, are also awarded when the bonus game player wins the bonus game and, under another embodiment, when the bonus game player loses the bonus game. In other embodiments, side bets are not needed for the other players to be awarded based upon the bonus game being won or lost.
U.S. Pat. No. 5,863,041(Boylan et al.) describe a side wager to Pai Gow poker in which an “envy bet” is taught. The “envy bet” is a side wager of a minimum amount and allows the player to also be paid, should another player receive a hand of predetermined rank.
U.S. Pat. Nos. 5,615,888 and 5,806,846 (Lofink) The game of Spanish 21 modifies Blackjack and includes a bonus on the main wager. There is an opportunity of several players winning if someone gets special predetermined cards. In Spanish 21, the player receiving the predetermined cards wins in addition to all other players.
U.S. Pat. Nos. 5,390,934 and 5,494,296 (Grassa) This reference teaches the game of Rainbow Blackjack wherein the rules of play are the same but each player is assigned a color and players are allowed to wager on each other's colors, where others can wager with a particular player.
U.S. Pat. No. 6,368,218 (Angell, Jr.) describes a method and system for gaming in which a plurality of players each connect to a host which enables players to participate jointly in the same games of chance. According to one embodiment, a computerized method of gaming is provided that includes connecting a plurality of players to a host remotely located from the plurality of players. Each player jointly participates in a turn-based game of chance. FIG. 1 shows a computerized gaming system according to one embodiment of the present invention. The system includes a plurality of clients 1, for example, personal computers, coupled to a host server 3. Connection 5 can be a via a local or wide area network, a point to point network provided by telephone services, or other communication network. According to one embodiment, the clients (hereinafter “players”) are users of home personal computers coupled to host server 3 via an internet connection 5. Thus, the foregoing system enables a player to connect to server 3 remotely (for example, from the player's home) to play games of chance supported on the server.
All of the patents and patent applications referenced herein are incorporated by reference for their disclosure of technology, apparatus, hardware, processes and systems, many of which can be incorporated into the practice of the technology described and claimed herein.
- SUMMARY OF THE INVENTION
The traditional physical wagering format would be unduly cumbersome if casinos allowed players to make live wagers on other players' live hands. It would be difficult and worrisome to provide multiple wagering areas in front of each player so that a passive player could select a position to wager on and place a wager on a specific position. The casino would have significant concerns about such wagers being physically moved or intermixed with active player wagers during the progression of the game. The capability of players might wish to bet on other or multiple positions at a gaming table is frustrated by these physical limitations.
BRIEF DESCRIPTION OF THE FIGURES
Individual player input systems (IPIS) are provided enabling players to place passive wagers on various different player positions at a live gaming table, particularly casino table cards games with physical cards and gaming systems that collect card, wager and other gaming data. The IPIS may be used to communicate with a gaming processor or central processor that registers combinations of some of wagers, the position of the wager, the position/account of the wager, the amount of the wagers, and the resolution of the wagers. These passive wagers may be part of an account based system that is independent of the physical wagering system ongoing on a table, or may be supplemental to a credit-based wagering system at the table for the traditional wagers by players on their own hands. The IPIS may be mounted on the table or may be provided in the form of hand-held portable units that have wireless communication through a wireless connection to tables or to local wireless networking systems.
FIG. 1 shows a schematic of the location of elements within a casino table wagering system using Individual Player Input Systems.
FIG. 2 shows a flow diagram of a process of receiving and accounting for wagers and resolution of wagers made by players on other players' positions.
FIG. 3 shows a flow diagram of a second alternative format for resolution and debiting of wagers in an accounting system.
FIG. 4 shows an IPIS screen with potential input controls in alphanumeric format.
FIG. 5 shows an IPIS screen with table location identification shown thereon.
DETAILED DESCRIPTION OF THE INVENTION
FIG. 6 shows an IPIS screen with specific wagering input available.
A casino table is provided for use by players in a casino. Standard wagering procedures are followed for any available game played between players or preferably with players against the house (such as, without limit, Blackjack, Blackjack variants, Three-Card PokerŽ games, Four-Card Poker™ games, Crazy Four Poker™ games, Let It RideŽ poker, Caribbean StudŽ poker, Pai Gow poker, 3-5-7 poker, and the like). The standard format of wagering and play of these casino table card games is minimally impacted by the practice of the technology. The underlying wagering by the active players at the table are done in a standard manner according to the format at the table. This includes physical placement of chips, player wager systems (touch pads, touch screens, buttons, key pad, token or coin inserts, proximity detectors, personal data entry systems, hardwired systems, wireless systems, and the like). Active players are those players playing the live game at the gaming table, while passive players place wagers on the IPIS and have no impact on the game play. An active player can play passively at the same time by placing wagers on other player hands via the IPIS.
The present technology allows for individual players or even passersby with appropriate technology to place wagers on one or more players other than themselves by communication with a processor based wagering system. The processor based wagering system may be the sole wagering basis on the table or may be a supplement to a physical wagering system. An advantage of the supplemental format to a physical wagering system is that the wagers by passive players tend to be less observable by others. The wager entry system for the passive players may be wireless, hardwired or attached (for security, without a line connection) at player positions, or may be personal devices leased, loaned, purchased or otherwise lawfully in the possession of the user.
As the passive wagering on the individual player input systems (IPIS) must be account-based in at least some format, it is desirable that the IPIS have some level of security and allow wagering only by authorized persons up to the authorized limit on the account of that individual and the IPIS. As will be shown, this technology may be played on a wide array of electrical and electromechanical formats, including live player tables with fixed electronic player (and/or non-player) wager entry capability, live player tables with wireless electronic player (and/or non-player) wager entry capability and live players playing on tables equipped with highly automated casino table game data acquisition devices. An important element of the play of any of the systems of the presently described technology is the ability to make the wager on another player's hand without additional chips being placed on the table for the wager, without the wagering altering the odds, jackpots, bonuses or payouts of the player (whose hand is being wagered upon), preferably the system operating without the active player realizing that others passive wagers are being placed on that player's hand, and with all passive wagers being handled by an account-based credit and debit system, without payment in currency or chips at the gaming table.
One exemplary data acquisition system is referred as the Intelligent Table System™. Components of this system are distributed by Shuffle Master, Inc., IGT and Mikohn Gaming, Inc. Intelligent Table System™ gaming system products comprise automated or partially automated systems that include some or most of such devices as automatic card shuffling machines, automatic card shuffling with card reading and information (e.g., card suit, rank and order) transmission capability, card discard trays with card reading and information (e.g., card suit, rank and order) transmission capability, wager sensing systems (for at least the presence of wagers or the actual amount of wagers and the specific events upon which wagers have been placed, such as an Ante wager, play bet wager, bonus wager, jackpot wager, progressive jackpot wager, envy bet wager, side bet wager and the like), imaging systems and RFID (radio frequency identification) sensing reading systems (for cards and/or for chips), round counting elements and systems, and the like. The components are available from Shuffle Master, Inc., and are disclosed in such patents and patent Applications such as U.S. Pat. Nos. 6,655,684; 6,651,982; 6,651,981; 6,588,751; 6,588,750; 6,568,678; 6,325,373; 6,254,096; 6,149,154; 6,139,014; 6,068,258; Published U.S. patent application 2005/0206077; 2005/0146093; 2005/0113166; 2005/0140090; 2005/0104290; 2005/0104289; 2005/0093231; 2005/0093230; 2005/0082750; 2005/0062229; 2005/0062228; 2005/0062227; 2005/0062226; 2005/0051956; 2005/0026682; 2005/0026681; 2005/0023752; 2005/0012269; 2004/0245720; 2004/0224777; 2004/0169332; 2004/0108654; 2004/0067789; 2003/0094756; 2003/0090059; 2003/0075865; 2003/0073498; 2003/0067112; 2003/0064798; 2003/0052450; 2000052449; 2003/0042673; 2002/0163125; 2002/0070499; and 2002/0063389. Each of these patents and patent applications and all other patents and patent applications referenced in this disclosure are incorporated herein by reference for their entire disclosure.
The technology and systems described herein may include a minimum of a casino table game (preferably a casino table card game, but they are also applicable to roulette, Casino War™ game, wheel games, and craps), player positions and wagering positions for players, an electronic communication systems, a game processing system in data communication with the electronic communication system, an individual player accounting system in data communication with the game processing system, game outcome input in communication with the game processing system, and at least one individual input device that can input wagers on more than one player game outcome as determined by the game processing system. The terminology of “on more than one player game outcome” means that any individual or input system user with authorized access to the communication system associated with a gaming table may place a wager on any player position chosen by that individual or user. The input, unlike traditional devices, is not limited to making a wager entry from a single player position onto that single player position's game outcome. For example, in standard electronic input devices, a first player at a table has a first player input device that allows that first player to make a wager on the first player's game outcome. The term “on more than one player position” requires that the first player input device allows wagering on not only the first player position, but at least one player position other than the first player position (e.g., second player position, third player position, fourth player position, etc.). In fact, although the first player wager input system must allow input on the other player positions, and although it is desirable to allow the first player to make electronic (and hence hidden from others) additional wagers on the first player's outcome, it is not essential that the first player wagering input system allow additional wagers on the first player position outcome. Thus, the term “one more than one player position” actually means and includes wagering at a player position other than that controlled actively by the first player, or in the case of a passive player such as a non-player (at the table) can wager on any position at the table.
The communication system, as previously indicated may be supported on any available array of technology. The computer system may include a memory medium(s) on which one or more computer programs or software components enabling system intelligence and software may be stored. For example, there may be graphical programs stored on the memory medium of the personal IPIS intelligence enabling communication with a computer system. Also, a memory medium may store a graphical programming development environment application used to create the graphical program, as well as software operable to convert and/or deploy the graphical program on the portable computing device (IPIS). The various memory media on the IPIS, game processor, accounting processor, table processor, central processor, communication support processor and the like may also each store operating system software, as well as other software for operation of the communication, gaming and computer system.
The term “memory medium” is intended to include an installation medium, e.g., a CD-ROM, floppy disks, chip, ASIC, field programmable gated array (FPGA) or tape device; a computer system memory or random access memory such as DRAM, SRAM, EDO RAM, Rambus RAM, etc.; or a non-volatile memory such as a magnetic media, e.g., a hard drive, or optical storage. The memory medium may comprise other types of memory as well, or combinations thereof. In addition, the memory medium may be located in a first computer in which the programs are executed, or may be located in a second different computer which connects to the first computer over a network, such as the Internet. In the latter instance, a second computer may provide program instructions to the first computer for execution.
In the present technology, the term “graphical program” or “block diagram” is intended to include a program comprising graphical code, e.g., two or more nodes or icons interconnected in one or more of a data flow, control flow, or execution flow format, wherein the interconnected nodes or icons may visually indicate the functionality of the program. The nodes may be connected in one or more of a data flow, control flow, and/or execution flow format. The nodes may also be connected in a “signal flow” format, which is a subset of data flow. Thus the terms “graphical program” or “block diagram” are each intended to include a program comprising a plurality of interconnected nodes or icons which visually indicate the functionality of the program. For example, to enable and to simplify wager placement at a specific table, different formats of wagering entry (including graphical programs) may be available.
Wager entry through the system must be able to provide entry that specifies a table, a wager position, a player identity, a format of wager and the amount of wager. The amount of the wager applied is done after the IPIS user's individual account has been authorized for placement of the wager or if the IPIS (hereinafter referred to as a debit-IPIS) is provided with a purchased, prepaid balance (much like a debit card) that can be authorized for use within a casino or within any casino that has authorized use of that debit-IPIS. This element also constitutes a novel approach to account control and account security at casinos. The data entry may therefore be in the format of fill-in-the-blanks, as with an alphanumeric entry such as that shown below, with fewer or mare information entries needed as is designed into the program:
| || |
| || |
| ||State: ||Nevada |
| ||City: ||Las Vegas |
| ||Casino: ||Bellagio |
| ||User ID: ||Jean Q. Public |
| ||Password: ||I'm4Peace |
| ||Table Number: ||324 |
| ||Table Position: ||3 |
| ||Wager Type I: ||Ante |
| ||Wager Type II: ||Bonus Wager |
| ||Wager Type III: ||Play Wager |
| ||WT I Amount: ||$25.00 |
| ||WT II Amount: ||$5.00 |
| ||WT III Amount: ||$50.00 |
| || |
The first five entries may be made once and retained for later wagers, so that there is not a great deal of time wasted on data entry. Alternately, a player tracking card that accesses a system that stores a portion of this information can be used. Then only wager types, amounts, table position and table number must be entered. The other wagers may be made as the game progresses. This actually allows for a passive player (e.g., a first player making a wager on another player's hand) to exercise slightly different strategies without interfering with the play of the another player's hand. This is a unique capacity and is described as follows in the Three Card PokerŽ game:
In Three-Card PokerŽ games, the first player at a table makes an Ante wager or a Pair-Plus wager, or both, but at least one wager must be made. When the first player sees the dealt three-card hand, that player may fold or make a Play wager equal to the Ante wager. Theoretically, even with a fold, the first player's cards remain on the table. There is little dramatic strategy in the game, when the first player's hand is “good,” such as an Ace high or a King high, a player may elect to remain in the game with the placement of the Play wager, and with a pair in the first player's three-card hand, all players will make the Play wager. However, with a marginal qualifying hand (Queen high or King High), some players will fold and others will make the play wager. With a weak hand, players may consider whether the player is on a lucky streak, or the dealer is on a streak of qualifying hands or non-qualifying hands, and gamble with a play wager to protect the Ante wager. When a passive player makes such a wager, the play of the hand by the first player is not altered. The passive player makes the wager and the game continues as usual, whether the player folds or makes the Play wager. This type of wagering might require some dealer activity modification, making certain that cards are not collected from the table until after the dealer's hand has been revealed and after the relative win/loss occurrence between dealer's hand and the first player's hand has been resolved, but this is trivial, even in a physical sense. With regard to the Shuffle Master Intelligent Table System™, this is a less than trivial event.
Using the Intelligent Table System™, cards are read in the shuffler and/or a dealing shoe, and the value or rank of hands is known in advance. That is, as the cards and the order of cards is known in the shuffler or the shoe before the cards and the respective hands are known, as the number of players is known, as the rank of each player's hand and the rank of the dealer's hand are known, and as the rules of the game and relative rank of hands is known to the game processor, the entire gaming system knows in advance of each deal what the win/loss outcome will be before dealing. The system does not control win/loss events, but it recognizes them. Because of this Intelligent Table System™ capability, the system knows the outcome of the gaming events for each hand and the receipt of a distal wager through an IPIS platform does not change the play of the physical (or quasi-physical) game and wagers at the table. The system can record the wager and payout on the wager from the IPIS and reflect the resolution of the wager in an account balance.
Where the account balance is actually carried in the PDA (as in a prepaid balance), win resolutions may be effected, resolved and recorded in a number of different ways. The win may be added to the balance carried in the PDA or the win resolution may be transferred to a balance carried by the player in a dedicated player account. This latter format offers the player options of assuring that it is impossible for the player to exceed losses beyond the amount of the purchase cost of the prepaid wagering amount on the IPIS. The house may charge a marginal fee for the purchase of a prepaid IPIS account or may provide the service for free. This is a unique capability of a system to enable passive position wagering (as opposed to distal site wagering, where events are wagered on over the internet from distal locations, with or without live viewing of the event, as with track racing events, as in Simulcasting™ technology) on games without having direct physical interaction with the player and/or the player's money, but rather through an accounting system. The system also allows for passive players to exercise wagering decisions different from the actions of the player actually seated at the event (e.g., at the card table and receiving the physical cards or the simulated/virtual cards.
The ability of the passive player to vary strategy (essentially only wagering strategy as the distal player cannot alter the selection or discarding of cards) is even greater in other games that may be played at casinos such as Four-Card Poker™ games, Crazy Four™ poker, and the like, where the actual amount of the Play wagers may be varied with respect to the amount of the Ante wager (i.e., within a range of) times or 1×, or 2×, or 3×, or 4×, or 5× the amount of the Ante wager.
This variation in wagering strategy can even be effected in Blackjack where the number of cards in a play strategy can also be varied by the passive player. This can be exemplified in two ways. For example, if the live player wants a hit and the distal player wants to double down, the live player controls the actual activity on the table, yet the distal player may still place the double down wager. If the live player subsequently stands after the one hit, there is no need for special considerations in resolving the wager, as the live player will win or lose with the single hit and so will the distal player. However, as an example, if the live player takes a normal hit with a count of 11 and the distal player wants to double down, the IPIS system will enter a double down wager on behalf of the distal player and record such a wager. When the live player gets a 3 for the first hit, that live player may wish to continue hitting, which is inconsistent with the double down IPIS wager. The rules of the system may do the following and may allow modification of the wager by the distal player. The rules of the system, either imposed or elected by the distal player, may allow for:
- 1. the double down bet to be withdrawn;
- 2. may allow it to be converted to a regular wager; or
- 3. allow the automated reading system of the Intelligent Table™ system to read the prospectively determined results (as if the player had not taken a subsequent hit but remained with the first hit) and determine the outcome of the double down.
The Intelligent Table System™ is sufficiently sophisticated that it can read through the cards in the remaining hands and make a true determination of the results, as if the intervening events were not there. This is done by reading the cards and determining the predicted results. This is easiest when the live player selected is at Third Base (immediately in front of the dealer), but by applying rules, the effect can be implemented at any position. Hits may be assumed according to best methods selection or the like.
Non-limiting examples of graphical program development environments that may be used to create graphical programs on the IPIS system include LabVIEW™, DasyLab™, and DiaDem™ from National Instruments, VEE™ from Agilent, WiT™ from Coreco, Vision Program Manager™ from PPT Vision, SoftWIRE™ from Measurement Computing, Simulink™ from the MathWorks, Sanscript™ from Northwoods Software, Khoros™ from Khoral Research, SnapMaster™ from HEM Data, and VisSim™ from Visual Solutions, ObjectBench™ by SES (Scientific and Engineering Software), and VisiDAQ™ from Advantech, among others. In the preferred embodiment, the system uses the LabVIEW™ graphical programming system available from National Instruments. In the use of more graphical representations on the IPIS to supplement distal wagering with less, little or no alphanumeric component entering, the displayed options of the passive wagerer may be displayed in icons or written text on the display face, and the user merely presses a touch-sensitive panel (as on a Blackberry™ device) to enter the information. For example, there may even be a GPS (global positioning system) that supplements the database to assist the player and the system in indicating which table and position is being wagered upon and displaying such information on the screen. For example, the GPS information can be transmitted in the form of a simple map of local tables within a casino environment. A player may view alternative tables in a small area or even a single most proximal table, and enter play on the table by touch screen contact with the specific table desired.
FIG. 1 shows a schematic of the location of elements within a casino table wagering system 100 using Individual Player Input Systems 102. The system 100 is shown with four casino gaming card tables 104 a 104 b 104 c and 104 d within immediate communication range of an Individual Player Input System 102. The IPIS has virtual text 104 that can be accessed by the user to provide a signal of input by a passive player, as by a touch screen. The IPIS 102 has a wireless output component 106 that is shown in wireless communication 108 with a receiving device 110 that may be only a receiver/transmitter or may also contain processing capability. The information, which is described in greater detail herein relates to the placing of a wager at a player position at one of the tables 104 a 104 b 104 c and 104 d within immediate communication range, here particularly table 104 d and selecting one of the player positions a b c d or e for placing a particular wager. The receiving device 110 is unlikely to have the account function capability stored on the table 104 d and so the necessary information on account activity may be sent along communication path 112 which may be hardwired or wireless to either a local processing system 114 or then again to a central processing system 116 where the account balancing and transaction events are authorized and performed. It is possible that a node network or mesh network may be established among all transmission links, as described in U.S. patent application Ser. No. 11/223,341 filed Sep. 9, 2005, which application is incorporated herein in its entirety by reference. This type of system enables transmission of data across a network that is not limited to the table itself. For example, if the receiver 110 were blocked or out of order on table 104 d, the node network or mesh network would allow a receiver at a different table (e.g., 110 a at table 104 a) to receive the transmission, which has identified the table and position of the wager, through its own communication link or communication connection to the processing units 114 and 116. These IPIS systems may be installed at a table to allow players at one position (such as position a) to place a passive wager at another position (such as d) even while playing positions a cards. Alternatively, the IPIS 102 is carried by a casino patron who is not seated at a table, but has a desire to engage in the activity at the table by placing an independent wager. One element that should be considered is the possibility that a wager may be made through an IPIS on a progressive jackpot wager. The win by a player at the table must be for the entire amount of the jackpot and would not be shared with another passive player betting on the tabled player's hand. Splitting the jackpot would be an unsatisfactory result for the tabled player and would discourage play of that particular game. There is no such potential for frustration in winning a multiplier event or even fixed amount bonus, as that would not be split and the casino would not have to double what would tend to be the very large amount of a progressive jackpot.
FIG. 2 shows a flow diagram of a process of receiving and accounting for wagers and resolution of wagers made by players on other players' positions.
FIG. 3 similarly shows a flow diagram for an alternate process of accounting and wagering with a prepaid IPIS.
FIG. 4 shows an IPIS 400 with alphanumeric input potential. The IPIS 400 has a touch screen pointer 402 that is used to address a series of alphanumeric input buttons or pressure points 404 on the screen. The data from the input buttons 404 is directed to a series of required data entries 406. A cursor 408 or other visible means (e.g., highlighting, animation, animated object, bouncing ball effect, flashing lights, etc.) indicates the entry that is being made. As noted elsewhere, some of the data is used to fix a position of an IPIS player at a table and authorize that player, and the information may be retained on the system and need not be entered every time a related wager is made. The Clear entry will clear all previous entries or any highlighted entry upon user command and input.
FIG. 5 shows a PDA format IPIS device 500 having a manually held pointer 502 and eight tables 504 in the vicinity and identified with alphanumerics 506 on the patterns 508 identifying the tables 504. The alphanumerics assist the user in selecting the correct table as by indicating the game (BJ=blackjack, LIR=Let It RideŽ poker, 3CP=Three Card PokerŽ game, 4CP=Four Card Poker™ game and PGP=Pai Gow Poker). The table identifications such as Table 1 and Table 6 may be specific to the games (e.g., BJ Tables 1, 2, 3 and 4, or LIT Table 1) or to the location on the floor or the screen (PGP Table 8). When the screen of the IPIS device shows multiple tables initially, as in FIG. 5, contacting of a specific table 3CP Table 6 by the pointer 502 can shift the resolution of the screen to a larger display, as in FIG. 6.
FIG. 6 shows an enlarged, higher resolution wagering screen 602 on an IPIS device 600. A pointer 604 points to a specific wager position 606 on which wagers are to be placed. Five pressure points for steps or wagers are shown, which for a game of blackjack might include at least wager amount control point 610. FIG. 6 shows an IPIS device 600 having a screen area 602, with a pointer 604 that has selected player position P3 identified as 606. Having made this selection, the pointer 602 may select the wagering event desired. For example, touch-sensitive position 610 may determine the wager amount, 612 may indicate any side bet wager allowed, touch-sensitive frame 614 may be the wager amount for the side bet wager, touch-sensitive box 618 may indicate acceptance of a split wager or a double down wager, and touch-sensitive frame 618 may indicate a play election, such as indicated above, indicating a choice between two different formats for resolving a double down by the live player.
A graphical program may also comprise a graphical user interface or front panel. The graphical user interface may comprise any type of graphical user interface, e.g., depending on the computing platform. In one embodiment the graphical user interface may comprise one or more windows, such as those used in window-based user interface systems such as provided by the Macintosh Operating System, Microsoft Windows, the X Window System, etc. The graphical user interface may include a plurality of user interface elements or front panel objects, including indicators for displaying output of the graphical program and/or controls for specifying program input to the graphical program. Examples of user interface controls and indicators include charts, graphs, push buttons, knobs, numeric controls, text boxes, check boxes, list boxes, etc. The graphical user interface may also include any of various other types of user interface elements, such as menu bars, popup context menus, window close buttons, etc. The user interface elements may also include other icons which represent devices being controlled.
The user interface portion may be contained in the block diagram or may be contained in one or more separate panels, touchpads, keyboards or windows. The user interface or front panel may be comprised in a single window of user interface elements, or may comprise a plurality of individual windows each having one or more user interface elements, wherein the individual windows may optionally be tiled together. As another example, the user interface or front panel may comprise user interface or front panel objects, e.g., the GUI, embedded in the block diagram. The user interface of a graphical program may display only output, only input, or both input and output. Further, in some embodiments the user interface or front panel of a graphical program may enable the user to interactively control or manipulate the input being provided to the graphical program.
The display may also show the cards dealt and a display of winning hands and corresponding payout amounts.
A number of different aspects of the invention can be individually described. A first aspect may comprise a method of measuring wagering activity for active players on a gaming table, the method comprising: providing at least one perimeter antenna positioned to measure a first quantity or value of RF responsive gaming chips on a gaming table surface; providing at least one additional antenna sensitive to an RF responsive component within an area defined by the perimeter antenna; reading chips wagered within the perimeter antenna and reading fewer than all chips within the perimeter with the at least one additional antenna associated with a specific wagering position for a specific wager type; and determining an amount of at least one specific type of wager made as a specific wager type; reading chips within the perimeter antenna after payouts are made; and automatically determining total amounts paid out to the player based upon chips amounts read on the gaming table. A perimeter antenna is an antenna or series of antennae that surrounds a major area on the table, and even the entire area of the table, at least RF receptively covering all areas where chips are placed on the table, or at least all areas where wagers are placed on the table.
A casino table is provided with a matrix of sensors, in which some of the sensors form a field array covering the entire wagering surface. The total number of chips (not shown) placed on the wagering surface, whether being wagered or not, will be interrogated by the antennae/transponder/sensor system of components in the matrix and the presence of the chip. It must be remembered that RFID chips have essentially unique identification numbers. When more than one sensor reads a number, whether 1, 2, 4, 6 10 or more sensors, this merely confirms the presence of the specific chip with that number in the range or field of the sensors. By integrating the intensity of the strength of the signal received by each sensor or a number of sensors, the position of a specific wager can be determined. This is a simple mathematic process that can easily be programmed into a processor that receives the signals from the sensors that are emitted by the RFID chips. The chips can be read with respect to their precise position on the table.
A top surface of the table may have a total enclosed field of the sensors (such as only the ‘perimeter’ sensors) of a matrix system as described in pending U.S. patent application Ser. No. 11/223,341 filed Sep. 9, 2005 entitled Table Activity Matrix, the content hereby incorporated by reference, which is covers an area that is less than the entire top surface of the table. As the system here is not intending to read chips controlled by the dealer, only those portions of the table top where a player can control chips is monitored. However, in the particular structure of wagering positions, as with each active player position (only three positions described for convenience) has a set of three wagering positions. The set of wagering positions may comprise (by way of non-limiting examples) and Ante wager position, a Bonus wager position and a Play wager position. The matrix of sensors (not shown) underneath the table would be able to detect the specific position where chips are present on the table, and whether there is a single sensor under each wagering position (which would then register the strongest signal for a specific chip and therefore recognize the specification location and type of that specific chip wager) or whether the signals from surrounding wagers are mathematically treated (e.g., integrated, geometrically analyzed, averaged, vectored, etc.) to determine the location of the chip, the placing of a specific chip for a specific wagering purpose can be identified and stored/recognized by the processor ultimately receiving the information on the location of the chip.
A general scheme of one embodiment of a Data Acquisition Model that can be used with a Table Activity Matrix is described herein, wherein four data acquisition models (Table Activity Matrix, and three “future modules” such as biometric sensors, motion sensors, and optical chip sensors/readers) are present on the table, feeding signals and/or data to Middle Ware comprising a receiver and an ITS Data Pump. The Middle Ware sends the totality of the data as input to the Intelligent Table System (ITS) database where all game related and player related information is stored. The ITS database may then be mined (searched) with specific search parameters, as with a player game strategy analysis software (e.g., BloodhoundŽ gaming software) by a local client to evaluate a player's skill and determine (in blackjack) the likelihood of card-counting being in that player's strategy or capability.
The Data Pump
An example of new import and export features were introduced in Oracle Database 10g, called Oracle Data Pump, which represents a radical departure from the client/server approach to which database users have grown accustomed over the past several generations of Oracle Database. The server now runs export and import jobs. You can load or unload massive amounts of data quickly using parallelization, and you can adjust the degree of parallelism on the fly. Export and import jobs are now restartable, so a failure doesn't necessarily mean starting over. The API is exposed and easy to use; it's simple to create an import or export job from PL/SQL. And once started, such jobs run in the background, but you can check status and make modifications, from anywhere, using the client utilities.
The architecture before Oracle Database 10g, (Oracle7 through Oracle9i) the import and export utilities ran as clients and did the bulk of the work. Data being exported was read by the database instance, passed over the connection to the export client, and then written to disk. All the data was single-threaded through the one export process. Data volumes today are often magnitudes larger than when this architecture was first put in place, making that single export process a bottleneck because performance of an export job is limited by the throughput that the export utility can sustain.
With Oracle Database 10g and the new Data Pump architecture, all the work is now done by the database instance, which can parallelize the work in two ways: by creating multiple Data Pump worker-processes to read/write data being exported/imported, and by creating parallel I/O server processes to more quickly SELECT or INSERT that data. Gone is the single-process bottleneck.
Data Pump jobs are created, monitored, and adjusted using the new DBMS_DATAPUMP PL/SQL API. The new import and export utilities—impdp and expdp, respectively—are nothing more than command-line interfaces to the API. One can initiate a job—say, an export job—using the Data Pump export utility. One can then shut down the client, engage in distinct tasks, and all while the job is still running. Later the system can be reconnected to that same job, the status checked, and even the degree of parallelism can be increased to get more work done while other tasks are not on the system. AT another time, one can decrease the degree of parallelism, or even suspend the job, to free up resources for alternative users during the day.
The ability to restart jobs is an important feature of the Data Pump architecture. One can stop and restart a Data Pump job at any time, perhaps to free up resources for online users. One can also recover easily from file system space problems. If a 12-hour export fails for lack of disk space 11 hours into the job, one no longer needs to restart the job from scratch, repeating the first 11 hours of work. Instead, one can attach to the failed job, add one or more new dump files, restart from the point of failure, and the task will be done in an hour. This is a huge benefit when working with large amounts of data.
Having the server handle all file I/O is a great boon for DBAs performing exports and imports remotely. It's easy enough now on UNIX-like systems (such as Linux) to telnet or ssh into a server, get a command prompt, and initiate an export or import job that actually runs on the server. However, that's not so easily done on other operating systems, WindowsŽ OS being a notable example. Before Data Pump, to export a large amount of data from an Oracle database on Windows, one pretty much had to be sitting at the server console to issue the commands. The alternative of exporting over a TCP/IP connection is viable only for very small amounts of data. Data Pump changes all this, because even when initiating an export or import by running the new export and import utilities on a client, the job runs on the server; all the I/O happens on the server.
For security purposes, Data Pump requires specifying target directories, those containing dump files that you wish to create or to read, using Oracle directory objects. For example:
|CREATE DIRECTORY export dumps |
| AS ‘c:\a’; |
| GRANT read, write |
| ON DIRECTORY export dumps |
| TO [operator name]; |
| One starts an export using the new expdp utility. The parameters are not the |
|same as for the old exp utility, so familiarize the operator with the new parameters. One |
|can specify parameters on the command line, but for this discussion, parameter files are |
|used. To export an entire schema, use the following parameters: |
| UMPFILE=gnis%U.dmp |
| DIRECTORY=export_dumps |
| LOGFILE=gnis_export.log |
| JOB_NAME=gnis_export |
| DUMPFILE specifies the file to which to write exported data. The %U syntax |
|gives an incrementing counter, resulting in the filenames gnis01.dmp, gnis02.dmp, and so |
|forth. DIRECTORY specifies my target directory. |
| LOGFILE parameter gives a name to the log file that is created by default for |
|any export job. JOB_NAME gives a name to the job. Take care to specify job names that |
|don't conflict with schema object names in the login schema. Data Pump creates a table |
|known as the job's master table in the login schema with a name matching the job name. |
|This table tracks the status of the job and is ultimately written to the dump file as a record |
|of what that file contains. |
| Listing 1 shows an export job being started. One of the first things the job does |
|is to estimate the amount of disk space required. After that estimate displays, press ctrl-C |
|to get to an interactive export prompt, and then use the EXIT_CLIENT command to |
|return to the operating system command prompt. The export job is still running on the |
| Note that if a parallel export is desired and the operator wanted to spread I/O |
|across two disks, one could make the following changes to the DUMPFILE parameter |
|values and add the PARALLEL parameter and value as follows: |
| DUMPFILE=export_dumps01:gnis%U.dmp, |
| export_dumps02:gnis%U.dmp |
| PARALLEL=2 |
|Note that in this parallel export, the directory is specified as part of the filename. |
A specific example within the generic concept of the teachings herein of a specific Matrix is a configuration for collecting data on active play on a blackjack table. Three separate banks of serial sensor boards are in individual (board-by-board) direct connection to a system logic control. The system logic control need not be a processor or microprocessor or other processing capable element, but may be a field programmable gated array that acts as an interface between the sensor boards and a processor (CPU). An intelligent card handling device (e.g., an intelligent blackjack shoe, an intelligent shuffler, and/or intelligent discard rack) is in communication connectivity (e.g., TCP/IP) with the processor or control computer (CPU). The processor/CPU then is in communication with the ITS database, for example communicating by way of a TCP/IP connection. It is to be noted that Assignee's copending U.S. patent applications Nos. 20050062227; 20050062226; 20050051955; and 20050012270; and previously commonly assigned video games in 20050059459 contain FPGA intermediate circuitry. These applications are also incorporated herein by reference.
The configuration includes a family of sensor boards, system control logic (e.g., the FPGA or ASIC), a CPU and intelligent card handling system. The intelligent card handling system communicates (preferably via TCP/IP connections) to the CPU and the sensors communicate by the system control logic and serial interfaces. The sensor boards and the intelligent card handling systems perform a data acquisition function (as in FIG. 3). The collected data (which in this instance may be light data, RFID data, etc.) in the system control logic (e.g., FPGA, ASIC or other intermediary logic function) may be sent by serial interface to the CPU control processor. All data and/or signals eventually pass through or are collected in the CPU.
The sensor board matrix may be constructed of a plurality of sensor boards for use in at least providing RFID based information on gaming elements (such as cards, chips, tokens, etc.). A typical sensor board in this construction might comprise a plurality of phototransistors and multiplexers, a light correcting subsystem, an input control logic and one analog to digital signal converter. A typical, but only exemplary, basic connection diagram between the transistors, multiplexers, converter and control logic is one exemplary sensor board.
Each sensor board in this construction, where there is optical sensing (as opposed to audio sensing, RFID sensing, motion sensing, thermal sensing, etc,), contains an optical sensing element such as an array of phototransistors. These light sensitive phototransistors are able to detect changes in light intensity, and provide an indication of the presence or absence of objects covering the sensor. The transistors are preferably evenly distributed on the table's playing area to form a grid-like sensor matrix. The displacement of the optical sensors need not be uniform in pattern, and it is preferable that the grid forms a distribution such that when any expected size object (e.g., a wagering chip of playing card) is placed on the table, it must contact at least one, and preferably at least two sensors, not matter how the expected size object is oriented on the table. There need not be a grid on an area of the table where no game play objects are to be placed, such as the shuffling machine area, card discard rack area, dealer's tray area, etc.
The sensor board(s) is/are in two-way communication with the control computer in one embodiment, through the system control logic. Each sensor board has at least one input signal and one output signal. For example, the sensor input board may receive a signal indicating that a card has been withdrawn from the card handling apparatus (e.g., the dealing shoe), and in response to that signal, it is activated to sense to determine if a wager is present at its location. The input signal may also be generated by the CPU, sent to the sensor board input control logic through the system control logic. The output signal may be generated by the phototransistors. The signal may preferably contain information relating t light intensity that each phototransistor has collected at its collection or sensing area.
All of the phototransistors are preferably connected to multiplexers (MXU). There may be several levels of multiplexer hierarchy, in which only the first level is connected directly to the phototransistors. The first level MUX are then connected to a second level of MUX, and this progression may continue up through higher levels of the multiplexers. Finally, all of the phototransistors' data are converted (from one sensor board) into one signal. This signal is then fed into an A-D (analog to digital) converter, which preferably has a light correcting subsystem. The A-D converter with light correcting subsystem collects signals from each sensor board, converts signals to digital format, and sends the signal out through the sensor board output logic. All sensor board output signals are ultimately sent to the CPU through the system control logic.
The system control logic performs, for example, at least three major tasks. It calibrates sensors, reads data from sensors and creates the data (from signals or absence of signals) sent to the CPU. The system control logic associates the sensor signals with a location within the grid. The control computer is programmed to associate certain grid locations with an intended use, such as area for receiving player cards, dealer cards, primary wagers, side bet wagers, split cards wager, double down wagers or an insurance wager. To assist in eliminating the potential for reading errors due to uneven light distribution, the system control logic is programmed to calibrate each sensor at a predetermined rate using the light correcting system.
The system control logic reads the output signal sent from each sensor board. By reading all output signals, the system control logic can identify the coordinates of each sensor and its respective on/off (covered/not covered) condition. The collected sensor information generated by each sensor board is transmitted to the control logic, which is in turn transmitted to the control computer (CPU) in preferably a continuous manner, although it can be fed in batches periodically. When the data is sent continuously, to the CPU, it tends to not be date stamped. This may be provided at other locations (e.g., the CPU, or if not continuously, at the control logic). Based on the combination of the signals from the shoe, the sensor boards and the state of the game, the CPU determines when to use this data and when to send control commands or state signal information to the sensor(s).
The intelligent card handling system has been referenced elsewhere in this text, as in U.S. Published patent application Nos. 20050062227; 20050062226; 20050051955; and 20050012270. The card rank (and optionally suit for blackjack, where that tends to be superfluous, except for optional jackpot or bonus events) may be read by any reading system, generally referred to as a camera, although it need not be the traditional camera, but can be an area detector or the like that responds to radiation, visible or not, a bar code reader, an RFID reader, magnetic code reader, and the like. The card rank/suit information would probably be best sent directly to the CPU, although an intermediate system or element may be used. The presently preferred optical camera reads the cards as the leave the delivery area of the dealing shoe or the shuffler. In addition, the card handling device, as indicated above, may trigger the sensor boards to become active. When a card is read at the beginning of a hand, the first card or first series of cards may be used to activate or signal the sensor boards that would then respond by actively sensing for the presence of the object for which they are intended to sense. The shoe or shuffler may also be used to monitor the progression of the game and to reconstruct compositions of player hands and dealer hands, alone or in combination with an intelligent discard tray.
The control computer (CPU) combines the information collected from the table by all sources (e.g., at least the shoe/shuffler sensor and the table sensors) and is capable of identifying all cards dealt to each player position and the dealer position, and senses the wagers made at each player position and can discriminate among the various types of wagers ate various times in the play of the game. It can detect activities such as surrender, insurance, double downs, splitting hands, busts, blackjacks, and the like. An example of a commercial CPU that can be programmed according to the needs of such a Table Matrix system for blackjack is a GENE-6310, which features a 3.5 inch SubCompact Form factor, Onboard VIA Eden Series 400/667 MHz, C3 1 GHz EBGA mobile CPU; integrated AGP 2D/3D graphics accelerator; dual channel LVDS interface onboard; integrated AC97 2.0 SoundBlaster™ board-compatible legacy audio; 10/100 Base-T fast Ethernet; 2 or 4 COMs/1 parallel/4USBa/1 trDA; and capable of supporting CRT and 36 Bit TFT panels, NTSC/PAL TV output, and Type II compact flash memory.
In embodiments of the described technology, the communication services may be provided through the use of a wireless network interface system that is capable of interfacing between a signal providing component and a communication system with an ultimate signal destination. In some instances, such an interfacing capability is performed by elements of a “demarcation device,” and specific examples of how the demarcation capabilities arise in different embodiments of the network interface systems are discussed below. Merely by way of illustration, such demarcation capabilities may derive from elements comprised by the following examples of demarcation devices: a set-top box (e.g., table node), which may be used as an interface between a customer's (player's) signaling appliance and a casino's communication network; broadband modems, including any format of wireless modems, each of which may be used to provide any signal, including but not limited to digital signals, analog signals, state signals, sensed event signals, and/or data signals within a gaming environment premises; integrated access devices; and the like. One particular demarcation device whose elements may be used to provide demarcation capabilities includes a network interface device (“NID”), described in detail below. In some instances, a demarcation device may additionally include other capabilities, including, for example, the capability to separate received communication information into discrete sets; the capability to process certain of the separated sets independently from other sets; and/or the capability to transmit different of the separated sets to different locations, perhaps through the use of different interfaces. Integration of one or more microservers with the NID has significant advantages when compared with solutions in which microservers are separate from the NID. For instance, separate microservers may require access to a customer premises for services and may be moved around and removed from the customer locations. By integrating the microservers with the NID, they are easily accessible by a technician and may be integrated in a secure fashion as described below that makes them nonremovable by others.
In describing embodiments of the technology, references to “player locations” are intended to refer to physical locations or structures at which a player engages in gaming. Wireless sensor networks as described herein will drive the next phase of explosive growth in the use of more automated systems in the gaming industry. Technological improvements and cost reduction of low-data rate transceivers, low power microprocessors, MEMS (microelectromechanical system) sensors, and embedded programming languages will unleash the development of a new class of fully autonomous computing and communications devices in form factors smaller than a box of matches.
Wireless Mesh Sensor Networks
As the name implies, wireless mesh sensor networks may, by way of non-limiting examples, comprise wireless nodes. A node in this type of network may, by way of non-limiting example, comprise a sensor or an actuator that is connected to a bi-directional radio transceiver. Data and control signals are communicated wirelessly in this network and nodes can easily be battery operated. The nodes are arranged in a networking topology called “mesh.” Mesh networking is a type of network where each node in the network can communicate with more than one other node thus enabling better overall connectivity than in traditional hub-and-spoke or star topologies. State of the art mesh networks often have some of the following characteristics. Mesh networks tend to be self-forming. As nodes are powered on, they automatically enter the network. They are self-healing. As a node leaves the network, the remaining nodes automatically re-route their signals around the out-of-network node to ensure a more reliable communication path. The mesh networks support multi-hop routing. This means that data from a node can jump through multiple nodes before delivering its information to a host gateway or controller that may be monitoring the network.
The self-forming, self healing, and (optionally) battery operable attributes of a mesh sensor network make it ideal for gaming environment monitoring applications in a wide range of facilities. The power may also be low voltage or standard voltage provided by simple wiring under the table, in the table, or in the table top covering.
As the nodes are turned on, any available information and any subsequently generated information (any signal or data of any source that is to be communicated) immediately flows to the final element of the mesh network, the bridge or gateway node. The gateway device may be connected to a processor, microprocessor, main frame or PC either directly or through a network connection, enabling remote monitoring. Links beyond the immediate player location, table location and/or pit location may be hardwired, especially where there is more density to the communication flow. For example, with eight tables having as many as or more than eight components sending signals through the mesh network to the central node (e.g., which may be at the pit structure or pit podium), the further transmission to a central casino data collection system or joint casino mainframe data collection system may need a more robust and physical link. Such a physical link (e.g., by cable or the like) may also ensure greater security for the totality of information. Administration and commissioning of the system is managed through a processor, microprocessor, mainframe or PC. For example, the system can easily be configured to generate an audible alert in casino security sections if any star node in the network exceeds certain predetermined threshold conditions. At least some of the benefits of using wireless mesh sensor networking in this type of application include, at least, easy installation. The system described above can be installed, configured and operational in less than a day in a new construction, and replacement components and additional components can be provided in a matter of minutes. Furthermore, a PC-literate pit employee or regular casino staff can easily perform the installation and configuration.
There is a scalable and cost-effective nature to the mesh network system. The system can easily scale based on the needs of the gaming environment. A minimum configuration with built-in redundancy might be one bridge node for each pit and one star node for each table plus software. A practical, basic configuration for a 20 table casino environment would include 10-20 star nodes, 2-5 mesh nodes, one bridge node, and software. Such a system could be purchased for less than the ordinary cost of a single, non-wired gaming table.
Although specific forms of implementation have been provided and described, the disclosure is intended to be generic in scope and the specific description, recitations, materials, components and the like are merely species exemplifying the generic concepts of this technology.