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Publication numberUS20080026826 A1
Publication typeApplication
Application numberUS 11/717,900
Publication dateJan 31, 2008
Filing dateMar 13, 2007
Priority dateMar 13, 2006
Also published asWO2007106511A2, WO2007106511A3
Publication number11717900, 717900, US 2008/0026826 A1, US 2008/026826 A1, US 20080026826 A1, US 20080026826A1, US 2008026826 A1, US 2008026826A1, US-A1-20080026826, US-A1-2008026826, US2008/0026826A1, US2008/026826A1, US20080026826 A1, US20080026826A1, US2008026826 A1, US2008026826A1
InventorsRafael Groswirt
Original AssigneeRafael Groswirt
Export CitationBiBTeX, EndNote, RefMan
External Links: USPTO, USPTO Assignment, Espacenet
Automated poker table
US 20080026826 A1
Abstract
The automated poker table of the present invention allows for live, face-to-face play of all types of poker games and limits without the need for live dealers, cards or chips. All aspects of the game play may be automated so hands are played faster, and downtime is reduced. The system includes a table, a player subsystem, and a dealer subsystem. The player subsystem includes a touch-screen display terminal for viewing cards dealt to a player, and includes a mechanism for creating a transitional animation for displaying at least a portion of the face of each card. The system may further include a debit and credit subsystem having a kiosk for accepting cash and transferring it to an account associated with the player, and an administrator module having a device for interfacing with an administrator of the system.
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Claims(20)
1. A system for playing poker, comprising:
a table;
a player subsystem; and
a dealer subsystem.
2. The system of claim 1, wherein the player subsystem includes a touch-screen display terminal for viewing cards dealt to a player, and includes means for creating a transitional animation for displaying at least a portion of the face of each card.
3. The system of claim 2, wherein the means for displaying a transitional animation includes means for touching a plurality of areas on a card for exposing different portions of the face of the card.
4. The system of claim 1, wherein the player subsystem includes:
an identification terminal for accepting a device containing data related to a player;
at least one pressure sensitive chair connected to the player subsystem;
a microphone configured to a speech recognition system; and
a bar code reader.
5. The system of claim 1, further comprising a debit and credit subsystem having a kiosk for accepting cash and transferring it to an account associated with the player.
6. The system of claim 1, further including a processing system that interfaces with a plurality of player stations over the Internet.
7. The system of claim 1, further including a processing system that interfaces with a plurality of player stations over a virtual private network.
8. The system of claim 1, further including a processing system that provides for a user of the player system to temporarily suspend an interface with the dealer subsystem.
9. The system of claim 1, further comprising an administrator module having a device for interfacing with an administrator of the system.
10. The system of claim 9, wherein the administrator module is configured to control functions of the player subsystem.
11. The system of claim 9, wherein the administrator module is configured to provide an administrator data related to a plurality player stations associated with the player subsystem.
12. The system of claim 9, wherein the administrator module is configured to provide an administrator the ability to initiate mini-tournament play.
13. The system of claim 9, wherein the administrator module is configured with a reporting function.
14. The system of claim 5, further comprising a central processing subsystem for interfacing with the player subsystem, the dealer subsystem, a kiosk, an administrator module and a point of sale subsystem.
15. The system of claim 14, wherein the administrator module is configured to provide accounting data from an accounting database.
16. A method for playing poker; comprising:
(a) providing,
a table having a plurality of player stations,
a processing system for controlling the player stations and a virtual dealer screen;
a kiosk for dispensing a player card;
(b) entering cash value and player data onto a player card at the kiosk;
(c) using the player card at a player station at the table;
(d) playing a game of poker at a player station while interfacing with the virtual dealer screen.
17. The method of claim 16, further including providing a processing system that interfaces with a plurality of a player the Internet.
18. The method of claim 16, further including providing a processing system that interfaces with a plurality of player stations over a virtual private network.
19. A kiosk, comprising:
means for a user to store a cash value onto an electronic player card;
means for dispensing to the user the cash value stored on the electronic player card;
means for displaying the cash value available on electronic player card
means for entering and storing user information onto the player card;
means for displaying the user information stored on the electronic player card; and
means for altering the user information stored on the electronic player card.
20. The method of claim 19, further including means for entering a personal identification number and user name on the player card.
Description
CROSS-REFERENCES TO RELATED APPLICATIONS

This application claims priority from U.S. Provisional Patent Application Ser. No. 60/782,173, filed Mar. 13, 2006 incorporated by reference in its entirety.

BACKGROUND OF THE INVENTION

The present invention is directed to an automated poker table that retains the element of live play, while at the same time offering efficiencies of electronic systems for dealing cards and betting. The recent explosion of interest in poker both live and online has created many opportunities to participate in this booming industry. With the recent boom of televised poker and online game rooms, poker is becoming the game of choice for an increasing number of players.

Poker is one of several card games in which multiple players strategically bet against each other, and poker is further subdivided into various types (such as Texas Hold'em, Omaha, and Seven-Card Stud). Many existing casinos and card clubs offer poker of various types wherein up to ten players play at a common table with a dealer. The dealer is responsible for dealing cards, enforcing rules, calculating bets (less a portion to the house), and distributing payouts. Unlike other casino-based games (such as blackjack, roulette, or craps) where the house can win the whole wager, in poker, the aggregated bets are fully redistributed to the players at the table (less a small house “rake”). Because of the high labor costs associated with operating a poker table, and the modest rake, casinos typically do not allocate major amounts of floor space to live-dealer poker, notwithstanding its growing popularity in homes, private clubs and online.

There is a need for an automated poker table for use in commercial casinos, tribal casinos and card rooms by fully automating the games, which (i) lowers labor costs, (ii) lowers security and oversight costs, (iii) allows for more games per hour to be played at each table, and (iv) attracts more patrons into the facility that would otherwise go elsewhere. Such a system would provide the patron with a credit-card style identity card which tracks account deposits, bets and winnings without significant human intervention. Once the card is inserted into table slot, the game can begin with others seated around the table. Just as in live-dealer poker, anyone may assume an unoccupied seat and join the game on the next round of cards; conversely, the system automatically senses empty seats and passes those seats on any given round.

There is a need for a professional style poker table with the same look and feel of live-dealer table. Such a table would have in front of each player seat, embedded in the green table felt, a flat touch-screen LCD (liquid crystal display), which allows users to monitor each persons bet, visible cards, and to discretely “turn over” blind cards for private viewing. The center of the table features a large LCD monitor showing the table cards and table bets. Every aspect of the game is meant to emulate a live-dealer poker experience, with equivalent decision information to players, including realistic cards and stacks of chips before each player. Also, just as in live-dealer games, players can later cash out their accounts into hard currency.

Throughout American history, poker has always been a popular social game, often seen as the main activity at the center of countless Western-genre films. In 2000, with the World Tour of Poker featuring table-embedded “hole-card” cameras, the game experienced an extraordinary surge in popularity, with amateur players like Chris Ferguson earning the $1.5 million grand prize in the World Series of Poker. Because of the growth in demand for poker in private homes, online and on television, customers increasingly expect to be able to play poker when they visit tribal casinos, commercial casinos, card rooms and cruise ships. However, there are a number of factors which have held back poker in these resort facilities. Most importantly, live-dealer poker is expensive to operate because of significant labor costs in (i) live dealers, (ii) selling, auditing, and redeeming chips of various denominations, (iii) security personnel and cameras to watch other employees, and to prevent dealer-player collusion. Labor costs are compounded by (iv) logistic problems in not knowing beforehand the level of requiring staffing demand at any particular time, resulting in either too many dealers (wasted labor costs), or not enough (upset customers due to crowded tables next to unattended ones). Finally, there are further (v) “soft” costs in the form of lost or broken chips and cards.

Players, too, suffer problems with live-dealer poker because (i) many new players are intimated by live-dealers; (ii) experienced players are often put off by inexperienced or indecisive players, thus slowing down the pace of the game; or (iii) the dealers or players make mistakes in counting, matching bets, or other game rules, which makes an unpleasant experience for other players. Added to this, (iv) players are expected to tip dealers from the winnings of each pot.

Accordingly, there is a need for, and what was heretofore unavailable, an improved automated poker table offering efficiencies of electronic systems for dealing cards and betting having increased profitability and decreased costs. The present invention satisfies these and other needs

SUMMARY OF THE INVENTION

The present invention is directed to an automated poker table configured for live play. The automated poker table of the present invention provides for playing poker at a table with the same amount of player positions as a live game, except there will be no dealer, no chips and every player will have a touch screen. The center of the table will have a large screen for the community cards or “flop.” The automated poker table combines the social, face-to-face experience of live poker with the speed and efficiency of online play. This fully automated system allows for faster play without the need for dealers, cards, chips and additional staffing. In one embodiment of the present invention, there will be ten screens and seats at a table, just like a regular poker table. Other table configurations will follow that will allow placement for space sensitive environments. In addition, the cash handling systems and easy floor/tournament management of the automated poker table of the present invention will fit right into your current operations at a lower cost. An automated kiosk may be used for adding value or cashing out.

The automated poker table of the present invention may result in a significant increase of more hands per hour dealt in an electronic table compared with a live dealer. Thus, a casino using the automated poker tables would increase their rake and profitability for the same space as well as reduce expenses. All forms of poker will be available on the automated poker table in the cash formats, as well as the tournament formats. Tournaments in terms of multi table or single table satellites will greatly benefit from the efficiencies of an electronic poker table. Accordingly, casinos may easily run more tournaments with practically no employees, to player's delights. Traditional tournaments are very man-hour intensive, require coloring up chips, moving players, all which would be done automatically. Single table satellites for larger tournaments will be easy to run, compared to live play satellites that also require a live staff. An electronic table will combine the efficiencies of electronic poker and deliver the feel of live play into one.

The problems described herein with existing automated poker systems limit the viability of live-dealer poker in resorts worldwide, despite the underlying growth in popularity. The automated poker table of the present invention is specifically designed to change the cost-benefit profile for commercial casinos, tribal casinos and card clubs, thereby opening this popular game to gaming resorts worldwide.

For the commercial casino, tribal casino, card club or cruise ship, the automated poker table of the present invention provides a way to supply poker with considerably less operating expense, and increased revenue as compared to live-dealer poker:

    • Lower Labor Costs. Because the automated poker table of the present invention is fully automated, there is no to little labor required in hiring and supervising dealers, cashiers and security personnel; and there are no problems in having too many or too few tables in play due to mismatches in personnel vis--vis spot demand. The tables are designed to operate twenty-four hours a day without human intervention.
    • Lower “Soft” Costs. Because the cards and chips are electronic, there are no consumables to get chipped or lost. Further, unlike slot machines that need to be frequently emptied of coins, the automated poker table of the present invention works with an electronic card system that requires no physical coinage. The automated poker table of the present invention is fully self-contained, self-servicing and self-operating.
    • Increased Revenue ner Hour. In conventional poker, the dealer has to collect the cards, then shuffle and deal them after every hand. Management believes that with the automated poker table of the present invention, the dealing and shuffling are instant, there are no delays relating to counting chips (for a split pot), and the play is faster. Management believes that with the automated poker table of the present invention, it may not be uncommon for players to enjoy up to 50% more hands per hour, as common on online poker. The result is a more pleasant experience for the player and an increased rake for the house.
    • Increased Money in Play. With live-dealer poker it is customary for the winner to tip the human dealer with approximately $2 in chips per hand from the pot. This custom tends to take money out of play, leaving less for the players and the house. Because tipping is not in issue with the automated poker table of the present invention, each winning pot is richer for the player, and the house benefits by having more money in play and therefore a bigger rake.
    • Key-Player Marketing. In live-dealer poker, casinos often have no or little idea of the identity of its players, or any ability to track player patterns. With the automated poker table of the present invention, each player is electronically registered with his personalized automated poker table of the present invention Play card, allowing casinos to capture key information to help establish the hours, frequency and dollar amounts of each player. This data, in turn, may prove indispensable to casinos in developing highly targeted marketing campaigns with appropriate direct-mail advertising and to offer attractive promotional benefits to key players.

In addition to the above benefits to casinos, the individual player also benefits from the automated poker table of the present invention as compared to live-dealer poker:

    • Casino Availability, Most importantly, the automated poker table of the present invention allows poker to be made widely available in commercial casinos, tribal casinos, and cruise ships, when it was not economical to provide previously. Thus, enthusiasts that previously could play only at home or online can now find affordable and ubiquitous resort venues.
    • Social Game. Management believes that the automated poker table of the present invention simplifies game mechanics, thereby allowing players to focus on strategy, social contact with fellow players, or to focus on his opponent's body language.
    • Increased Up Time. Management believes that the automated poker table of the present invention will allow more hands per hour because of reduced setup time between each game, and automated rule enforcement. Increased up time translates to more games per hour for each player, and less time waiting for dealer setups, or for slow players to organize their bets.
    • Reduced Errors. In conventional, other players and dealers can make errors contrary to the rules (knowingly or unknowingly) in placing bets, skipping turns or properly following the rules. In the automated poker table of the present invention, all plays, bets and card moves pass through the Company's computer system assuring that illegal plays cannot occur, and allowing players to focus on strategy.
    • Reduced Collusion. In live-dealer poker it is possible for two or more players to secretly collude (for example, by passing private hand information amongst conspiring players) to the disadvantage of an unsuspecting player, and thereby unfairly cause that player to lose more hands than otherwise. Such collusion is difficult to detect because colluding players can simply fold their hands without anyone knowing the strength of their holding. However, with the automated poker table of the present invention, there is an historic record of all hands allowing bets to be analyzed to spot historic patterns of collusion, and thereby blocking certain players to play on the same table in future hands. To the extent that such collusion can be reduced, it is an advantage to rule-abiding players.
    • Real-Time Game Information. The automated poker table of the present invention provides automated information that removes the guesswork from live-dealer poker in knowing the exact amount of each player's bet, each player's chip count, the size of the pot, and other parameters that allow each player to be better informed.

The automated poker table system of the present invention includes a table, a player subsystem and a dealer subsystem. The player subsystem includes a touch-screen display terminal for viewing cards dealt to a player, and provides for creating a transitional animation for displaying at least a portion of the face of each card. The player subsystem may be configured for displaying a transitional animation to allow a player to touch a plurality of areas on a card for exposing different portions of the face of the card. The player subsystem may be further configured with an identification terminal for accepting a device containing data related to a player, at least one pressure sensitive chair connected to the player subsystem, a microphone configured to a speech recognition system and reader for a player card associated with a user of the system.

The present invention includes a method for playing poker that includes providing an automated poker table having a plurality of player stations, a processing system for controlling the player stations and a virtual dealer screen, and a kiosk for dispensing a player card. The user or player first enters cash value and player data onto a player card at the kiosk, and then uses the player card at a player station at the table to initiate playing a game of poker at a player station while interfacing with the virtual dealer screen. The method of using an automated poker table configured with a processing system that interfaces with a plurality of player stations over the Internet and/or a virtual private network.

The automated poker table system of the present invention may be configured to interface with a kiosk system that includes a subsystem configured for a user to store a cash value onto an electronic player card. The kiosk may be configured for dispensing to the user the cash value stored on the electronic player card, and for displaying the cash value available on electronic player card. The kiosk may also be configured for entering and storing user information onto the player card, for displaying the user information stored on the electronic player card, and for altering the user information stored on the electronic player card. The kiosk may be further configured for entering a personal identification number and user name on the player card.

The CPU server of the present invention may power (control the gaming and other system functions) of the player tables and player stations remotely via a private virtual private network (VPN) or the Internet. This aspect of the present invention is not what was heretofore known as traditional “Internet Poker.” Instead, the system of the present invention may be configured to have automated poker tables with a plurality of player stations in multiple locations. The system of the present invention may further be configured to have a CPU server at each location. Furthermore, the system may be configured to have one server powering (controlling) many automated poker tables and player stations over the Internet, thus making the server more efficient.

Other features and advantages of the invention will become apparent from the following detailed description, taken in conjunction with the accompanying drawings, which illustrate, by way of example, the features of the invention.

BRIEF DESCRIPTION OF THE DRAWINGS

FIG. 1 is a perspective view of a ten player automated poker table of the present invention.

FIG. 2 is a top plan view of a ten player automated poker table of the present invention.

FIG. 3 is a partial end view of a ten player automated poker table of the present invention depicting two player stations raised above the table.

FIG. 4 is a perspective view of a player station of the automated poker table of the present invention wherein the player screen is raised from the housing.

FIG. 5 is a perspective view of a player station of a automated poker table of the present invention wherein the player screen is secured within the housing.

FIG. 6 is an alternative embodiment of a flat panel screen for use with the automated poker table of the present invention.

FIG. 7A is a bottom perspective view of player station of the present invention.

FIG. 7B is a schematic representation of the underside of an automated poker table of the present invention showing installed player stations.

FIG. 8 is an expanded perspective view of the components of one embodiment of a ten player automated poker table of the present invention.

FIGS. 9A, 9B and 9C are side expanded views, top perspective view and bottoms perspective views of a ten player automated poker table of the present invention.

FIG. 10A is a plan top view of a ten player automated poker table of the present invention.

FIG. 10B is a bottom plan view of a ten player automated poker table of the present invention.

FIG. 11 is a perspective view of the central processor housing and support for the automated poker table of the present invention.

FIG. 12 is an expanded view of a bottom housing and support for an automated poker table of the present invention.

FIG. 13 depicts an example screen shot of a player terminal of the present invention.

FIG. 14 depicts an example screen shot of an example center virtual dealer screen of the present invention.

FIG. 15 is an example screen shot of the hand history for a player station for the automated table of the present invention.

FIG. 16 is an example partial shot of the player cards shown in a view position according to the present invention.

FIG. 17 is a partial screen shot of a player station indicating that a player has taken a break from play.

FIG. 18 is an example microphone for use with a player station configured for use with the automated poker table of the present invention.

FIG. 19 is an example player seat configured for use with the automated poker table of the present invention.

FIG. 20 depicts a perspective view of a six player automated poker table of the present invention.

FIG. 21 depicts a perspective view of a two player automated poker table of the present invention.

FIG. 22 is a perspective view of one embodiment of a player card kiosk of the system of the present invention.

FIG. 23 is a front plan view of one embodiment of a player card kiosk of the system of the present invention.

FIG. 24 are schematic representations of the assembly of a kiosk for use with the system of the present invention.

FIG. 25 is a partial perspective view of a cash entry device for use with the kiosk of the system of the present invention.

FIG. 26 depicts an example terminal for entering cash value and other player information to a player card.

FIG. 27 is an example administrator module for use with the system of the present invention.

FIG. 28 is an example of the points of contact on different portions of a graphic playing card for display purposes.

FIG. 29 is a schematic representation of the system of the present invention including an automated poker table, central processing system and kiosk system.

FIG. 30 is a schematic diagram of a ten player automated poker table system of the present invention.

FIGS. 31A-31F are example player station screen displays according to the present invention.

FIGS. 32A-32D are example screen shots of a player station showing various player options according to the present invention.

FIG. 33 is an example of a player station screen shot showing various player station fimctions and tools according to the present invention.

FIG. 34 is an example screen shot depicting player statistics according to the present invention.

FIG. 35 depicts examples of various positions of exposed player cards as would be shown on a player station of the automated poker table of the present invention.

FIG. 36 is an example screen shot of a general game action display and functions of a player station according to the present invention.

FIG. 37 is a partial screen shot of the betting chip set shown on a player station of the automated poker table of the present invention.

FIG. 38 is a front plan view of an example player card kiosk according to the system of the present invention.

FIGS. 39A-39F are example screen shots that allow a player to add value and cash out balances from a player card according to the present invention.

FIGS. 40A-40C are example logic diagrams containing example screen shots for use with a kiosk of the system of the present invention.

FIG. 41 is an example screen shot of a report function of the point of sale function of the automated poker table system of the present invention.

FIG. 42 is an example screen shot of the employee information provided in the point of sale function of the automated poker table system of the present invention.

FIG. 43 is an example screen shot of an employee list of the point of sale function of the automated poker table system of the present invention.

FIG. 44 is an example screen shot of the cashier page of the point of sale function of the automated poker table system of the present invention.

FIG. 45 depicts a wireless chip runner terminal for use with the automated poker table of the present invention.

FIG. 46 is an example screenshot of the LOGIN page for the administration system of the present invention.

FIG. 47 is an example screenshot of the MAIN MENU page for the administration system of the present invention.

FIG. 48 is an example screenshot of the TABLE GROUPS LIST page for the administration system of the present invention.

FIG. 49 is an example screenshot of the TABLE GROUPS DETAILS page for the administration system of the present invention.

FIG. 50 is an example screenshot of the TABLE HARDWARE LIST page for the administration system of the present invention.

FIG. 51 is an example screenshot of the TABLE HARDWARE DETAILS page for the administration system of the present invention.

FIG. 52 is an example screenshot of the SEND MESSAGE TO TABLE page for the administration system of the present invention.

FIG. 53 is an example screenshot of the SEND MESSAGE TO HARDWARE page for the administration system of the present invention.

FIG. 54 is an example screenshot of the GAMES TABLE page for the administration system of the present invention.

FIG. 55 is an example screenshot of the GAMES TABLE DETAILS page for the administration system of the present invention.

FIG. 56 is an example screenshot of the EXISTING TABLE PROPERTIES page for the administration system of the present invention.

FIG. 57 is an example screenshot of the RAKES RULES OF TABLE page for the administration system of the present invention.

FIG. 58 is an example screenshot of the MINI-TOURNEYS page for the administration system of the present invention.

FIG. 59 is an example screenshot of the MINI-TOURNEYS DETAILS page for the administration system of the present invention.

FIG. 60 is an example screenshot of the RAKE TEMPLATES page for the administration system of the present invention.

FIG. 61 is an example screenshot of the RAKE TEMPLATES DETAILS page for the administration system of the present invention.

FIG. 62 is an example screenshot of the GAME HISTORY page for the administration system of the present invention.

FIG. 63 is an example screenshot of the LIST OF USERS page for the administration system of the present invention.

FIG. 64 is an example screenshot of the DETAILS OF USER page for the administration system of the present invention.

FIG. 65 is an example screenshot of the NAMES OF USERS page for the administration system of the present invention.

FIG. 66 is an example screenshot of the COMMON REPORTS page for the administration system of the present invention.

FIG. 67 is an example screenshot of the PERFORMANCE REPORTS page for the administration system of the present invention.

FIG. 68 is an example screenshot of the RAKE CATEGORIES page for the administration system of the present invention.

FIG. 69 is an example screenshot of the BLIND DEFAULTS page for the administration system of the present invention.

FIG. 70 is an example screenshot of the BLIND TEMPLATES page for the administration system of the present invention.

FIG. 71 is an example screenshot of the BEAT JACKPOT HAND RAKES page for the administration system of the present invention.

FIG. 72 is an example screenshot of the EXISTING BEAT JACKPOTS page for the administration system of the present invention.

FIG. 73 is an example screenshot of the LOSING/WINNIG HAND RAKES page for the administration system of the present invention.

DETAILED DESCRIPTION OF THE PREFERRED EMBODIMENTS

The automated poker table of the present invention allows for live, face-to-face play of all types of poker games and limits without the need for live dealers, cards or chips. The speed and efficiency of online games are combined with the advantages of a live environment as players physically sit at a multi-person table and interact with those they're playing against. All aspects of the game play are automated—from dealing to winner payouts—so hands are played faster, downtime is reduced and players can focus on the game.

Turning now to the drawings, in which like reference numerals represent like or corresponding elements in the drawings, and in particular FIG. 29, the fully-automated system of the present invention allows for faster play without the need for dealers, cards, chips and additional staffing. Poker may be played in a table with the same amount of player positions as a live game, wherein each player is provided with a touch screen at a “player station.” The center of the table includes a large screen for displaying the community cards or “flop.” There automated poker table of the present invention may be configured with a plurality of player stations, for example, ten players station at a table. Other table configurations are contemplated that will allow placement of the embodiments of the automated poker table of the present invention within space sensitive environments. In addition, an automated kiosk may be used for adding value or removing value (for example, “cashing out”) from a monetary storage device, referred to herein as a “player card.”

As shown in FIGS. 1 and 2, the automated poker table of the present invention may be configured as a traditional-sized, ten-player table consisting of flush-mounted touch screens at each player station and a “virtual dealer screen” in the center of the table. Players join a game swiping their stored value player card in to a card reader on the seat selected. Upon reading the player card, the player may be prompted to enter a pin in order to login in and transfer funds from the player's account to the table. Alternatively, players join a game by transferring funds to the table with the player card and then entering a name, nickname and/or image to identify themselves to the other players. The automated poker table is configured with personal touch screens that control all aspects of their play as players can view their cards, bet a fixed or flexible amount, call, raise or fold quickly and easily. The player's current balance of funds is displayed on the screen as well as a virtual stack of chips, letting them feel the thrill and power of a large stack.

As shown in FIG. 30, the player station personal computers (“PC”) and virtual dealer screen are interconnected by a central processing unit (CPU) and a switching system that is operably connected to and interacts with at least one player card reader and activation switch configured for each player station. Touch buttons on the screen give provide the player access to past hand history, personal play statistics, display the balance in the player card, page casino personnel (the floor ma, lock the seat and game related functions. The buttons that provide past hand history and percentages of making a hand allow the player to make educated decisions on how to play the game. In the center of the table is the virtual dealer screen, which displays the community cards (the flop) as well as the pot size and the bets from each player. Player attention is drawn to the dealer screen so the face-to-face feel of live play is maintained and players can interact with and evaluate their opponents for tells and behaviors. The automated poker table manages the progressive betting and controls the flow of play so each player knows when it is that player's turn, what the current bet is and what other players have placed which bets. The player may be given a time limit in which the player must act when it is that player's turn, such that the system may automatically fold the player's hand.

A. The Player Station Units

As shown in FIGS. 3-6, each player station unit includes a housing that contains a thin client computer with a mounted touch screen. The design allows for easy servicing a single station with out disturbing an on-going game. The player station bezels allow for the player terminals to be easily accessible and serviced. The player terminals may include a LCD, CRT, plasma or other suitable touch-screen system. As shown in FIG. 7, the player terminal housing will have an extended area for including a lock to secure the terminal to the station. This extended area may protrude through the bottom cover below the table, and may be positioned nearly flush with the bottom. As shown in FIGS. 8-10, the automated poker table is built with a base, a tabletop and station units that all fit together.

As shown in FIGS. 11 and 12, the base is configured with several parts to house a main CPU for controlling the player stations (flat touch screens integrated into the table) and a main large flat screen (virtual dealer screen) to portray the dealer. Different versions and sizes of the automated poker table may be configured to address specific needs. The automated poker table of the present invention may be developed with currently existing or yet to be developed hardware and software. FIG. 13 depicts an example screen shot of what will appear on the player terminal.

FIG. 14 depicts an example screen shot of what will appear on the center virtual dealer screen. The center screen will show the community cards known as the flop (in the case of Hold 'Em) as well as the bets made from individual players. This will serve to keep the attention of the players at the center and thus, keeping the live play feel, where you may evaluate your opponents “tells,” since all players must focus in the center. This screen will display, pot size, and a running jackpot(s), as well as other information that can be flashed to the players, like upcoming tournaments, specials as well as any information the casino may want to display. It will also display special sporting events in the corners that the casino may want to show.

The automated poker table does not require chips or cash. To start, players obtain a magnetic-striped player card and add value to it at a kiosk or through a wireless terminal (FIG. 26). When players sit at an available seat, they swipe their card and enter a personal PIN number. Their player station screen displays a welcome screen (FIG. 31A) followed by subsequent screens that indicate the player's current balance, prompts the player to transfer funds to the game then asks the player to enter a name, nickname and/or an image to identify the player to the other players at the table. At this point in the process, the player station is configured to begin play. Player cards may also be linked with a casino's player club cards for comp point calculations and player tracking.

1. Player Station Touch Screen

Each player station (FIG. 5) will include a flush mounted touch screen that will allow him or her to control all aspects of the game. It will include virtual buttons to bet a fixed or any amount, raise, fold. The touch screen will either be connected to the main CPU where the main CPU will run all of the screens or be a self-contained PC/CPU with touch screen that will be networked to the main table CPU. As shown in FIG. 13, player station virtual buttons will allow the player to act. As shown in FIG. 15, historical information about past hands will be available so players can replay previous hands. The player station touch screen may also be configured to present options to integrate into other casino services, like food service, or other event information and/or reservations, as well as poker related news, statistics, history, player standings.

2. Player Station Tools

As shown in FIGS. 31A-31F, the player stations will also include player tools that can be turned on and off at the players option that will help players make educated decisions about how to play, or just to view percentages and “outs” they have of making a hand as well as outs they have. Online poker game customized to be played face to face on live table. To get started on the automated poker table of the present invention, a player initially uses a kiosk (FIGS. 22-25) in order to input specific player information, create a pin, obtain a stored value player's card and input cash onto the player card in order to start playing on the table.

When the player approaches the table, player card is inserted or swiped into the appropriate terminal or seat assigned to him/her by the casino personnel (floor man). The player will then be prompted to enter his pin (FIG. 31B). Once the login is successful, the player balance along with other options will appear (FIG. 31C). In order to join the game, the player will select the “Bring Money to the Table” option, causing the game's minimum and maximum buy-in amounts to be displayed (FIG. 31D). The player interface screen will then be displayed (FIG. 31E), providing the player to leave the table, view statistics view hand history and player options (FIG. 31F). Player options include calling the poker host, bringing more money to the table and displaying the player cash balance on the player card (FIG. 32A). Further options include displaying the rake rules (FIG. 32B), displaying information about the automated poker table system (FIG. 32C) and changing the player's screen name (FIG. 32D). Other options, such as a help function and toggling the player station sound on and off may be provided.

During play of a game, the player will transfer funds from the player's account as table stakes. Player will then be dealt a hand. The automated poker table system will allow head-to-head multiplayer game to be played. Examples of games to be configured in the system of the present invention include, but are not limited to, Texas Hold'em, seven-card stud, Omaha and multiple variations of those games. The casino or other operator of the automated poker table of the present invention will be able to set the game as well as the betting limit (for example, 3/6 or no limit). All limits and games may be supported by the present system.

3. Viewing the Cards

As shown in FIG. 16, the cards would be dealt face down on the touch screen. The player would make very similar hand movements as the player would to view real cards by touching them, as well as shielding them from opponents. By touching the edge of one the player's cards, one or more cards may open up from the corner to show a portion of the cards exposed to simulate live play as much as possible. Alternatively, a single card or multiple cards may be completely viewed by touching and dragging the card. The cards may be “flipped” up and down with a transitory animation or may simply flip sides when touched. As shown in FIG. 35, touching the corner of the cards in order to view them the cards will fold the corner just enough for the player to see them. It is the player's responsibility to hood the cards to prevent other players from seeing them.

Referring to FIG. 28, the system of the present invention may be configured to turn over (expose or display the face) of a card 100 to varying degrees by touching different portions 102 to 116 of the card on the player terminal screen. Accordingly, different portions of the face of card are displayed when the player touches different areas of the card after it has been dealt face down. For example, the higher on the card (bottom 116 to top 102) the player touches the card, then the more of the card is shown. Thus, when the player touches the top 102 of the card, the whole face of the card exposes. Conversely, if the player touches near the bottom portion 114 of the card, only the corner or bottom portion of the face of the card will be displayed. More or less of the card will be displayed if touched at intermediate portions 104, 106, 112. About half of the face of the card will be displayed if the middle portions 108, 110 are touched. The card will close if the bottom 116 is touched, or the system may be configured to close the card when the player stops touching the player terminal screen where the card is displayed.

4. Other Player Station Functions

As shown in FIG. 33, the player is provided with several control functions and buttons on the screen of the player station. One such function is the “Auto post blind” that may be configured to automatically post the player's blinds in turn. When the “Sit out next Hand” is activated, the player will sit out on the next hand for a predetermined period of time. As shown in FIG. 17, the player may be asked to enter a password or be given a receipt with a code that will lock the player's seat and allow only that player to come back to the game. If the player takes more time that is allowed to take a break, the seat is released, and the player can go to a redeeming station to get cashed out, and does not need to be done at the specific seat in which the player was sitting. While the player is sitting out and the player missed any blinds, then the player may be required to post that amount the player missed to be dealt a hand or the player can wait for the “Big Blind.”

As shown in FIG. 34, the player may request statistics that provides the player with information such as how many times the player has seen the flop and how many times the player went all the way to the river and lost. The “Options” button (FIG. 31F) will provide the player with a variety of options like calling the floor-man, adding money from your account to the table. The “Hand History” button (FIG. 15) allows the player to visually replay all hands the player played since the player logged in to the table.

When the player selects the “Leave Table” feature, the automated poker table system logs the player off the table and returns the player's table stakes back into the player's account. When the player asks to get cashed out, a receipt will be printed with the total money he can be redeemed at the cashier cage. The player may then go back to the kiosk and enter or swipe the player's card and enter the player's pin. The player then selects the cash out option and will then be prompted to select either partial or full cash out. After the player selects the cash-out type and inputs the amount the kiosk will then dispense a voucher with the amount to be cashed out at the casino's Cage Cashier or other facility administrator.

Referring to FIG. 36, the automated poker table system of the present invention is configured with a general game action display and functions. The “Bet” function allows the player to make a bet with an amount that is predetermined to start the action on the betting round, for example, on a $4-$8 limit game, the bet button is going put $4 dollars out before and after the flop, and $8 on the turn and the river cards. The “Call” function matches the previous bet or raise in order to stay in the hand. The “Raise” function increases the mount to be called by other players in order to stay in the hand. The “Fold” button forfeits the player's hand along with any blinds, bet or call amounts made.

Beside the general game controls, the system of the present invention includes extra controls for no limit games have that go along with the game structure. For example, the player can make bet combinations by touching the chips (FIG. 37) on the top of the player screen (FIG. 33). Further, the system may be configured with a button for “All In” that puts the player's full table balance as a bet. Also, the system may be configured with a button for “Bet Pot” that makes a bet equivalent to the total of the pot.

B. Dealer Screens

As shown in FIG. 13, the dealer screen will show the community cards known as the flop (in the case of Hold 'Em) as well as the bets made from individual players. This will serve to keep the attention of the players at the center and thus, keeping the live play feel, where you may evaluate your opponents “tells,” since all players must focus in the center. The dealer screen will display, pot size, and a running jackpot(s), as well as other information that can be flashed to the players, like upcoming tournaments, specials as well as any information the casino may want to display. It will also display special sporting events in the corners that the casino may want to show.

C. Components of the Automated Poker Table

1. Main Table CPU Server

The central processing unit (CPU) system server of the present invention is configured to control the player stations and maintain all gaming and other system data. Currently known and yet to be developed online style poker software or stand alone gaming software (for example, but not limited to, home computer and video game platforms such as SONY's PLAYSTATION, MICROSOFT's X-BOX and NINTENDO's GAMECUBE) may be modified and configured for use with the automated poker table of the present invention. The system server provides overall system control and runs the random number generator (RNG) system of the present invention. The system server also controls the automated poker table functions so as to deal cards, to control games, and to control all functions of the systems on each table and player station. The system server further controls the center community screen information (virtual dealer screen) and related functions. The CPU server is configured to handle (control) as many tables as are deployed in a specific location. The CPU server also controls and monitors all account information, including the kiosk and cashier cage information.

Powering Many Tables With One Server: The CPU server of the present invention may power (control the gaming and other system functions) of the player tables and player stations remotely via a private virtual private network (VPN) or the Internet. This aspect of the present invention is not what was heretofore known as traditional “Internet Poker.” Instead, the system of the present invention may be configured to have automated poker tables with a plurality of player stations in multiple locations. The system of the present invention may further be configured to have a CPU server at each location. Furthermore, the system may be configured to have one server powering (controlling) many automated poker tables and player stations over the Internet, thus making the server more efficient.

2. Wireless Network Router

The router will allow the tables to be networked, as well as tracked and maintained in reference to software. It will also allow for multi table tournaments within an establishment, or across multiple establishments. Industry required security and encryption technology will be used to provide the necessary security.

3. Games and Limits

The automated poker table will allow any poker or head-to-head multiplayer game to be played. The most popular games are Texas Hold'em, seven-card stud and Omaha. These games have multiple variations as well as other games. The casino operator will be able to set the game as well as the betting limit (3/6 or no limit etc.). All limits and games may be supported.

The game should not start until a minimum number of players are logged in. That minimum number should be a variable (X) determined and set by the casino administration or floor manager. For example, if the casino requires a minimum number of five players to start a game, then the game should be set so it wouldn't start until all five players are logged in. Further, some casinos will require all seats to be filled before game start. The system may be configured to allow a floor person to force start the game even if the minimum amount of players' condition is not met (for example, by using an override password). Accordingly, if the minimum amount of players required to start a game is set to eight players, then the floor person should be able to override that condition and start the game with five players. Upon the start of the game all players should be dealt one face up card in order to determine the button position. As a result, the player that receives the highest card may receive the button and the two seats to the left are the small and the big blinds. For example, if five players are available at the start of the game, then the game should deal each player a random face up card. Thus, if seat one gets a two of hearts, seat two gets an ace of hearts, seat three gets a king of spades, seat four gets an ace of spades and seat five gets a five of hearts, then the button should start on seat four because the ace of spades is the highest card, seat five is small blind and seat one is big blind.

4. Poker Tournaments

The tournament features of the automated poker table of the present invention will make poker tournaments greatly efficient, by allowing multiple tables to be networked and eliminating the large staff of people required to run them. Tournament formats will permit from one table satellite (sit and go) type formats to multi-table same location formats to large-scale simultaneous multi-table multi-location events. The tournament system would tell players to move tables, adjust the blind amounts as well as tournament chip leader, blind clock, players remaining and more.

5. Accessories

As shown in FIG. 18, a speech recognition microphone will allow a player to play by issuing voice commands, rather than using the touch screen. The commands will be fold, check, raise and specific amounts of no limit type bets/raises. As shown in FIG. 19, a pressure sensitive seat will allow the table to be alerted when a player sits down and “force the player to play” and not just sit down at the table. The seat will be wired to the main table CPU to detect a person seating down. In addition, a magnetic/bar code reader at each station will serve to track players for casino comp points, stored value option, tournament check in and other applications.

6. Table Sizes

Different versions of tables will be produced. An eight to ten player standard table (FIG. 1) and a very compact six player table (FIG. 20) for space conscious applications will be produced as well as a two-position table (FIG. 21).

7. Automated Buy in Kiosk

As shown in FIGS. 22-24, a kiosk will allow a player to purchase a player card and add value to the card without the need of a location or casino employee. A bill acceptor (FIG. 25) that will take any denomination bill may be at every player station, which may also include a redemption printer for cashing out. As shown in FIG. 38, the kiosk is a compact, free-standing system where players can obtain their player cards for use in the automated poker table of the present invention. As shown in FIGS. 39A-39F and 40A-40C, players may add value to their accounts and cash-out all or a portion of their balance to a voucher they'll take to the cashier's cage, other site administrator or cash dispenser. Through the kiosk, a player may create an account, create stored value players cards or link to existing casino player tracking card, add money to the player's account, join a waiting list, view the player's cash balance and cash-out.

8. Point of Sale Function

As shown in FIGS. 41-44, the Point of Sale (POS) function of the automated poker table system of the present invention is the accounting administration tool with different access rules and permissions. The Pos system allows the casino administration to print all vital report on transactions, player history, drop amounts and more.

D. Table Management System

1. Open Seats

As shown in FIG. 27, an administrator module may allow a view of all open seats in the tables that are in play in a graphical manner to allow poker room people to easily determine if there is an open seat.

2. Hand Replay

The administrator module should also allow the administrator to replay a hand and possibly reassign chips by nullifying a hand.

3. Game Selection

The administrator module will should also include a module to set the type of a game at a table (Texas Hold'em, Omaha etc.), as well as the limits. Rake amounts will be set at the highest level of security in the administrative module.

4. Player Removal

The administrator module will allow the floor man to remove a player electronically form the game

5. Single Table Tournaments (Satellites/Sit and Go's)

The administrator should also be able to determine the way the prizes will be split (winner take all, pay 1st and 2nd, pay 1st, 2nd and 3rd, as well as percentages that go to each player/winner. The administrator should also automatically or manually allow a partially filled up satellite to start, even if two or three seats may not be filled. The administrator should also be able to “speed up” the blinds in the middle of a game or even manually increase them if there are time constraints. A time constraint would be that the main tournament is starting and they need for the satellite to finish so the winner can go play the main tournament. The administrator module should allow to be set the fees for the tournaments

6. Maintenance

The administrator or authorized service personnel (locally or remote) should be able to stop play or indicate to the table there will be XX amount of more hands and then “the table will be shut down for XX amount of minutes.” This in the case the table needs to be serviced locally or remotely.

7. Rebooting the Table, Game and Database Servers

An option on the administrator module may be provided to rebooting the table, game and database servers as is necessary.

8. Wireless Chip Runner Terminal

As sown in FIG. 45, the present invention may include a wireless chip runner terminal, for example a personal digital assistant (PDA) or other mechanism. This feature may be included to allow existing chip runners to add value to player accounts to prevent the player from getting up from the automated poker table chair. Many large casinos have existing infrastructure in terms of chip runners, and this feature provides a way for them to add value to player cards at the automated poker table. The wireless chip runner terminal may be used for other applications such as mini-tournaments or satellites, where players take their seat, the chip runner goes to the table when it is full and in a fast and efficient manner takes the player cards and his buy-in money, swipes the card in the wireless and immediately adds the credit to the player card so the player can now log on and play the game. The sequence for using the wireless chip runner terminal may just take seconds and include the sequence of: (1) a player waives over a chip runner or hits his attendant button on the table; (2) the attendant arrives, takes the player's money and card; and (3) the runner swipes the card and indicates the amount to add to the player's account.

9. Voice Over Feature

A dealer sound may play when certain events occur, for example, but not limited to, (1) when a player is all in saying “ALL IN”; (2) when a players splits a pot saying “SPLIT POT”; (3) when a player wins a pot saying “WINNER”; and (4) during a tournament when blinds increase saying “ROUND UP, BLINDS INCREASE”.

10. Jackpot Functionality

The automated poker table system of the present invention may also provide a casino or other user the ability to set the hand level threshold that needs to be beat, by what other hand threshold. For example, some casinos have Aces full, but must be beat by a four of a kind and, always both hole cards have to play on both players. Accordingly, the settings of the administration module of the present system should allow the casino to set the following: (1) set minimum players at the table for a jackpot; (2) set the lowest level hand that needs to be beat; (3) set the lowest level hand that must beat the lowest jackpot qualifying hand (for example, provide the function to pay on any Aces full, but must be beat by four of a kind and not another higher Aces full); and (4) set an economic (for example, dollar) amount per hand to be raked for the jackpot.

E. Administration System

1. Overview

The administration system is a .NET-based website that allows the system administrator to manage the automated poker table system. The administration system lets the system admin configure the system on the server, and to operate the different game processes.

2. Login

Referring now to FIG. 46, so as to gain entrance to the administration system, the system administrator must first login. The administrator will be asked to enter a login and password into the appropriate fields and then click the LOGIN button.

3. Main Menu

As shown in FIG. 47, the administration system of the present invention includes a main menu as a guide to the different components available to the administrator. The administration system contains several components including, but not limited to, tables, games, accounts, reports, miscellaneous functions and administrator logout. The tables menu allows the system administrator to group tables, administrate hardware and send messages to table(s) or to some specified hardware. The tables menu may contain three drop-down menus: GROUPS, HARDWARE and SEND MESSAGE.

The GROUPS menu provides administrator with information about physical tables or groups of tables. As shown in FIG. 48, the administrator can view displayed listings of the existing table groups, add/delete group(s) or edit one(s). To add a new group of tables, admin should click on the ADD button. The details of group that has been created will appear, as shown in FIG. 49. The administrator may fill in the following fields: NAME—enter name of new group; STATUS—select status of the group from the drop-down list, wherein the possible statuses include, but not limited to, enable, disable, pending, approved, and paused; CASINO ID STRING—fill in this field with identification number of the table that is assigned to this group. The administrator may click on the SAVE button to save new group or BACK to return to the previous page without saving. A DELETE button is provided to delete a group or a few groups selected from the list.

If administrator wishes to change details of the existing group, the administrator may click on it within the list of table groups. Information about this group will appear above the list of table groups. The administrator can change the desired details and click on the SAVE button to save any changes.

As shown in FIG. 50, the HARDWARE menu item navigates the system administrator to a web-page that contains list of table's hardware. The list provides with information concerning hardware allocated on different tables. The administrator can add/delete hardware terminals or edit ones through this page. It is also possible to manage existing hardware (kick them off, enable/disable them). To add a new hardware to the list administrator should first click the ADD button to cause the Table HARDWARE DETAILS page to appear, as shown in FIG. 51. Then it is necessary to fill in the following fields of hardware that has been created: NAME—this is name of a new hardware; HARDWARE TYPE—this is type of the hardware (undefined, watching screen or hardware of player); Table GROUP—this is name of table group to which the hardware will be assigned and the administrator can leave this one unassigned; STATUS—this is status of the hardware (enable, disable, pending, approved or paused); IP—this is IP address of the hardware; MAC—this is physical address of the hardware; SEAT NUMBER—this is the number of a seat player who will use this hardware will occupy; CASINO ID STRING—this is identification number of hardware that is used in the casino; NOTES—the administrator can add some note records for the hardware.

After the hardware fields are filled in, administrator should click the SAVE button to save new hardware. Clicking on some hardware ID within the list (FIG. 50) will cause displaying of the hardware details above. The administrator can easy edit them. If the administrator wishes to do one of the following: (1) kick off hardware(s); (2) enable/disable hardware(s); or (3) delete hardware(s), then the administrator should select the needed items from the list and click the respective button

Referring to FIGS. 52 and 53, the administration system of the present invention allows the administrator to send a message to the whole table or to certain hardware. (player station). The SEND MESSAGE menu item makes this ability possible. To send a message to all enabled hardware at the table(s), the administrator should select SEND MESSAGE→TO TABLE. The system will show the SEND MESSAGE TO TABLE page. To send a message the administrator may select table(s) to which the message will be sent. Clicking on the CHECK ALL button will select all existing tables, while clicking on CLEAR ALL will clear all checked boxes. The administrator may then type the message text within the MESSAGE TO SEND field. The administrator then clicks the SEND MESSAGE button. The system may be configured with a SEND MESSAGE→TO HARDWARE menu item that is intended to send a message to a single hardware (player station). The SEND MESSAGE TO HARDWARE page opens when it is selected.

To send message to a certain hardware the administrator may: (1) Select the table hardware is located at from the drop-down list; (2) Select hardware the message will be sent to from the list of available hardware names; (3) Enter text of the message within MESSAGE TO SEND field; (4) Click on the SEND MESSAGE button.

4. Game Menu

The GAME menu provides information about the game processes (poker tables) and tournaments that run within the system. Bots information is also included to this menu. The Game menu includes four different drop-down menu items: TABLES, MINI-TOURNEYS, RAKE TEMPLATES, and Game HISTORY.

As shown in FIGS. 54-57, The TableS menu item allows the system administrator to view the GAME TABLES page (FIG. 54). The list of game tables contains information about the poker tables within the system. If the system administrator wishes to add a new table to the list, they can do so by clicking on the ADD button. The properties to select from when creating a new table will be displayed in a new window (FIG. 55).

The admin should then fill in the fields concerning creation of a new table: (1) GAME NAME—enter in the new table name; (2) TABLE GROUP—select the group the new table will be assigned to from the list of existing groups; (3) ACTIVATED TIME—time a new table is created will be displayed within this field (current time of a table creation) and the Administrator can change this field; (4) STATUS—from the drop-down list, select the status for the table (enable, disable, pending, approved or paused); (5) GAME STAKE TYPE—the list of this drop-down combo box contains types of stakes for using at the crated table (fixed limit, pot limit or no limit); (6) LOWER STAKES LIMIT—the field contains lower limit of the stakes; (7) MINIMUM TABLE AMOUNT—this is the minimal money amount user should have for playing at the table; (8) MAXIMUM TABLE AMOUNT—this is the maximum money amount user should have for playing at the table; (9) CHAIRS COUNT—enter the number of chairs (seats) for the table.

The system may be configured such that when the administrator clicks on the SAVE button, the administration system will save the changes and create a new table within the processes list. Clicking the BACK button will return the admin to GAME TABLES menu page. The administrator can delete game table(s) by selecting of them and further clicking on DELETE button. The administrator also can do the following actions by selecting the needed table(s) from the list and clicking on the respective button: (1) FORCE START—this will start the game at the selected table(s) before number of players who are sitting at the table(s) amount to the required number of players for game starting, wherein anode administrator can use the ability to force start to avoid too waiting; (2) PAUSE GAME—this will pause game at the selected table(s); (3) RESUME GAME—this will resume game at the selected table(s) after it was paused; (4) RESTORE GAME—this will restore game after forced game failing, and restoration of the game will start when all players involved in failed game take their seats; (5) UNDO HAND—this will undo the last hand for the selected table(s) to make able its replaying; (6) DISABLE GAME—this will disable game at the selected table(s); (7) ENABLE GAME—this will enable game at the selected table(s). As shown in FIG. 56, he administrator may review the existing properties for a table by clicking on the table name within the “ID” column.

The administrator can change some fields within table details and save any changes made by clicking on the SAVE button. The administrator may obtain additional abilities for table administration through the TABLE DETAILS page, for example, setting of rake rules of the table. Once the RAKE RULES button is clicked, the RAKE RULES of TABLE page (FIG. 57) appears allowing the admin to add new rake templates for the table, delete and edit the existing ones. When the BEATS button is clicked, the list of existing beats which can be used for this table will appear. The administrator may select the needed template and click on a special icon on the menu to confirm assigning of the beat jackpot to the table.

As shown in FIGS. 58 and 59, the administrator may control mini-tourneys from the GAME menu. The MINI-TOURNEYS menu when clicked will display the mini-tourneys list, which includes information about mini-tourneys and their control functions. The system administrator can manage mini-tourneys mostly as processes (game tables). There are some differences are in details of mini-townmeys. The details of mini-tourney only are: (1) BUY IN—this is the amount of buying in ofjoining to mini-tourney for gamer, wherein when the game finished winner gets his prize as a part of all buy-ins received from gamers when starting; (2) FEE—this is fee for entrance to the tournament; (3) CHIPS—this is chips amount a player gets for game playing; (4) PRIZE TYPE—this is the type of prizes which are given to winners, wherein winners can get some fixed amount (currency type) or a percent of pots (percent type) and the next three fields (first, second and third prizes) are specified depending on value of this field; (5) FIRST PRIZE—this is the value of the first prize; (6) SECOND PRIZE—this is the value of the second prize; (7) THIRD PRIZE—this is the value of the third prize; (8) MINIMUM GAMERS TO START—this is minimum number of players for mini-tourney starting, wherein mMini-tourney will not start until number of players who are sitting at the table equal to this value; (9) TIME PER TURN—this is time limitation for player's turn; (10) LEVEL INCREASE TYPE—this is the type of level increase in mini-tourney; wherein the level can increase after a certain number of hands (mini-tourney by hands) or after some time period (mini-tourney by time).

When viewing of existing mini-tourneys, the administrator may set blinds for mini-tourney by: clicking the BLINDS button located below the mini-tourney information; select the needed template from the list of blind templates; and clicking on the SET BLIND button.

Referring to FIGS. 60 and 61, the RAKE TEMPLATES menu item allows the system administrator to manage the rake templates, which are used for determination of rake rules. The administrator can add a new rake template to the system by clicking on the ADD button. The DETAILS of RAKE TEMPLATE page will be opened displaying details of a rake template to be created. A rake template can be used in a specific table for defining of rake rules, which will assign rake amount for a game.

The details of the rake rules include: (1) NAME—this is a name of rake rules template to be created, wherein this name will be displayed in the list of rake rules templates when assigning to a table; (2) STATUS—this is a status of a new rake rules template, wherein the administrator should select the status from drop-down list, and wherein the status of a new rake rules template can be the following: ENABLE, DISABLE, APPROVED, PENDING or PAUSED, such that it does not influence on availability of the rake template; (3) RAKE TYPE—this is the rake type defining the way of rake gathering, wherein there are two rake types for Poker Automation: percent (a specified percent of a total pot goes to the rake) or absolute amount (some absolute fixed amount that conforms to the rules of template goes to the rake); (4) RAKE CATEGORY—different rake categories such as house rake) may be used; (5) NUMBER of PLAYERS TO QUALIFY FOR RAKE STAR—this is the minimal number of players who must play at the table to qualify for rake start; wherein a rake cannot start until number of players is less than value of this field.

Additional details of the rake rules include: (6) NUMBER OF PLAYERS MUST BE INVOLVED IN HAND AFTER FLOP TO QUALIFY THE RAKE—this is the minimal number of players who must be involved in hand after flop to qualify for the rake, wherein if the number of players involved in a hand after flop is less than value of this field, the rake isn't qualified, wherein if real values of NUMBER OF PLAYERS TO QUALIFY FOR RAKE START and/or NUMBER OF PLAYERS WHO MUST BE INVOLVED IN HAND AFTER FLOP TO QUALIFY THE RAKE exceed the respective values defined by the sys admin, the rake isn't qualified; (7) % of TOTAL POT THAT GOES TO RAKE—this field have effect on rake only if rake type is percent. It defines percent of total pot that goes to rake after game finishing, wherein in spite of value of % of total pot that goes to rake field, real amount that goes to rake is limited by the next two values (A DOLLAR VALUE OF MAXIMUM RAKE AMOUNT and A DOLLAR VALUE OF MINIMUM RAKE AMOUNT), and if percent of total pot going to the rake is less than A DOLLAR VALUE OF MINIMUM RAKE AMOUNT, then the rake is not qualified, and wherein if it exceeds A DOLLAR VALUE OF MAXIMUM RAKE AMOUNT maximum permitted dollar value goes to the rake; (8) A DOLLAR VALUE OF MAXIMUM RAKE AMOUNT—this is maximum amount of dollars that goes to the rake; (9) A DOLLAR VALUE OF MINIMUM RAKE AMOUNT—this is minimum amount of dollars that goes to the rake.

The final details of the rake rules include: (10) RAKE AMOUNT—this field have effect on rake only if rake type is absolute amount, wherein it contains fixed dollar value gathered from a part of total pot (this part is defined in RARE THRESHOLD) to be gone to the rake, wherein the real rake amount that goes to the rake is limited by previous two values (A DOLLAR VALUE OF MAXIMUM RAKE AMOUNT and A DOLLAR VALUE OF MINIMUM RAKE amount) wherein if the real rake amount is less than A DOLLAR VALUE OF MINIMUM RAKE AMOUNT, then the rake is not qualified, and if it exceeds A DOLLAR VALUE OF MAXIMUM RAKE amount, then a maximum permitted dollar value goes to the rake; (11) RAKE THRESHOLD—this field contains value that defines threshold of a rake, wherein when rake calculating, total pot is divided into a few parts, such that the dollar value of every part is equal to value of RAKE THRESHOLD field; thus the quantity of RAKE AMOUNTS that will form the rake is aliquot of quotient of division total pot amount by rake threshold.

Once game rake rules details are specified, the administrator can save a created rake template. The details are also available thought editing of existing rake template. The administration system may be configured so that the administrator may delete some rake templates from the list.

As shown in FIG. 62, the GAME HISTORY menu item allows the system administrator to view the list of games that are being played. The GAME HISTORY menu provides the administrator with the following information: (1) ID—this is identification number of the hand that has been played; (2) DATE—this is the date and time a game was played; and (3) TABLE—this is the name of a table at which the hand was played. The system administrator can also filter games information. Search criteria are all data given in the list. To view more detailed information about game admin should click on the needed game within the list. The GAME HISTORY DETAILS page will appear. It is possible to play the game once again by clicking on the PLAY GAME button.

5. Accounts Menu

Referring now to FIGS. 63 to 65, The ACCOUNTS menu contains information about the players (users). It includes two menu items: USERS and NAMES OF USERS. The USERS menu item lets the admin manage the user (player) list. The LIST OF USERS also contains scrolled info at the bottom of the list. The administrator can add a user or view/edit the existing user data within this menu (FIG. 63). To add a new user, admin should click on the ADD button above the LIST OF USERS. The DETAILS OF USER page will then appear then (FIG. 64)

The administrator may then fill in the proposed fields: (1) ALTER ID—this is identification number of a user that is assigned to the player in the casino; (2) PIN—this is personal identification number of a user that is given to every user when buying the casino card; (3) LOGIN—this is user login name; (4) STATUS—this is the user status (enable, disable, approved or pending). After each field is filled in, the administrator can save the new user in the system by clicking the SAVE button. Clicking the BACK button will return the system administrator to the previous page. The administrator can edit information about the existing user by clicking on the player's ID from within the user list. Details of the selected user will be displayed above the user list allowing changing user info. The system administrator may delete a user or a group of users from the list by checking the boxes opposite of user(s) to be deleted and clicking on the DELETE button.

As shown in FIG. 65, The NAMES of USER menu item allows changing or deleting names of users displayed in a list. To delete user name(s) admin should select it(s) from the list and then click the DELETE button. Clicking on the EDIT link will allow the administrator to edit the user name. After the administrator has changed the user name, the administrator can save the changes by clicking on the UPDATE button or cancel the changes by clicking on the CANCEL button.

6. REPORTS MENU

Referring now to FIGS. 66 and 67, The REPORTS menu allows generating of different reports for the games played. The administrator can generate reports of two types: COMMON and PERFORMANCE REPORTS. The COMMON reports are available through REPORTS→COMMON menu item. Once this item is selected, the administrator can view the page for the reports creation. The administrator can select the needed kind of report from the drop-down list within the REPORTS field. Some kinds of reports mean a certain date admin should enter to the respective field appeared. For instance, Number of hands played report will be created on the base of a certain day/month/year and will be issued as number of hands played at the defined day, number of hands played at the defined month and number of hands played at the defined year. There are also a few kinds of common reports which require such user information as user PID (personal identification number), login, first and last names. After the administrator has filled in the required fields, the n administrator may click the CREATE REPORTS button to create the new report.

As shown in FIG. 67, the PERFORMANCE menu item navigates system administrator to the PERFORMANCE REPORTS page allowing creating of reports that describe the system performance. To create a new report, admin should select time period for that report —enter in dates manually or select them from the calendar (FROM DATE, TO DATE fields).

Further clicking on CREATE REPORT button will create the report. Report information will be displayed at the table below report creation form. This information is: (1) The TOTAL HANDS PLAYED—this is the total number of hands played within defined time period; (2) NUMBER OF HOURS OF OPERATION—this is time spent for the games played (in hours); (3) TOTAL DOLLARS BET—this is the total number of dollars bet which was made during a certain time period; (4) TOTAL RAKE EMBED—this is total rake earned during a certain time period; (5) AVERAGE NUMBER OF HANDS PLAYED PER HOUR—this is the average number of hands played per hour, wherein the number is calculated on the base of information for time period defined by the administrator; (6) AVERAGE DOLLAR CONTRIBUTION PER PLAYER—this is average amount in dollars which was contributed by a player during a certain time period; (7) AVERAGE NUMBER OF PLAYERS WHO SEE FLOP —this is average number of players who were involved in a flop; (8) AVERAGE NUMBER OF PLAYERS WHO SEE TURN—this is average number of players who were involved in a turn; (9) AVERAGE NUMBER OF PLAYERS WHO SEE RIVER—this is average number of players who were involved in a river.

7. Miscellaneous Menu

Referring now to FIGS. 68-73, the MISC menu contains miscellaneous items intended for system administration, for example, OPTIONS, RAKE CATEGORIES, BLIND DEFAULT, BLIND TEMPLATES, BEAT JACKPOTS HAND RANKS, and BEAT JACKPOTS.

Clicking on the OPTIONS menu will display the Options page. This page includes options which can be edited by the system administrator. Options include: ADMIN EMAIL OPTION (Email address of the system administrator); SUPPORT EMAIL OPTION (Email address of a user who makes support); and SMPT SERVER OPTIONS, including (1) URL—this is SMTP server URL; (2) PORT—this is SMTP server port (3) USER—this is the name of SMTP server user; (4) PASSWORD—this is the password of SMTP server user.

The OPTIONS page further allows selection of GAME PROCESS OPTIONS, WHICH INCLUDES (1) ALL-IN COUNT PER DAY—this is the number of all-ins permitted in a twenty-four-hour period, with a count of all-ins per day, wherein this option is intended to help prevent cheating by players; (2) TIMEOUT OF GAMERS ACTIVITY—gamer will be kicked off if the player has no activity during this timeout; (3) LOGGING ALLOWED—this option allows controlling of users logging to all services of the system; (4) MAXIMUM NUMBER of LOG FILES—this is the maximum number of log files that can be stored without zipping; (5) CLEAR OLD LOG FILES ON SERVICE START UP—this field contains true if administrator allows clearing of old log files on every service start up and false if the administrator does not; (6) SAVE TO ZIP OLD LOG FILES—the field contains true if old log files will be saved to zip at every service finish and false if they will not; (7) DO NOT UP STAKES FOR NO LIMIT GAMES—value of this field defines if stakes can be up for no limit games or not; (8) SHOW AVATARS—defines if avatars will be showed in a game or not; (9) PIN TIME OUT (sec)—this is time restriction for PIN entering by a player in seconds; (10) MESSAGE TIME OUT (sec)—this is timeout between PABA and PASA communications; (11) PLAYER ENTER TIMEOUT (sec)—this is time limitation for player's sitting down at the table after his card was swiped. the administrator can edit the options through this page, and clicking the SAVE button will save the changes made by the administrator.

As shown in FIG. 68, the RAKE CATEGORIES menu item allows deleting and editing of existing rake categories. The existing categories of rake are displayed in a list, for example, including a house rake.

As shown in FIG. 69, the BLIND DEFAULTS menu item navigates the administrator to the page that allows administrating of default blinds. If there is no blind template selected for mini-tourney, default blinds are set for the mini-tourney process. Default blinds have the following properties: ID—this is identification number of a record which contains blinds information for a certain game level; SMALL BLIND—this is default value of small blind for the respective game level; BIG BLIND—this is default value of big blind for the respective game level; ANTE—this is default value of ante for the respective game level; ROUND LENGTH—this field shows length of a level in accordance with blinds groups (as a number of hands which cause level increasing after they are played or as defined time period). There are two kinds of default blinds (blinds groups): MINI-TOURNEY BY HANDS—if this group is selected, increasing of a level is defined by a certain number of hands played; and MINI-TOURNEY BY TIME—levels are increased after time defined for switching to the next level is over.

When working with BLIND DEFAULTS, the administrator may first select blind group from the list (FIG. 69). The respective list of blind defaults is displayed depending on the blind group selected. For “Mini-tourney by hands,” group round length will show number of hand needed to be finished before the next level. For “Mini-tourney by time,” blind group round length displays time in minutes that have to be over to switch to the next game level. To edit the existing blind defaults, the administrator may: select the blind group to be used; click the EDIT button within the string to be edited; set the desired values of blinds, ante and round length; click the UPDATE button to save changes; or click CANCEL to cancel changes. If the administrator wishes to delete some records from the blind default, it is necessary to select the respective strings from the list and then click the DELETE button.

As shown in FIG. 70, the BLIND TEMPLATES menu item provides information about the existing blind templates and allows the system administrator edit them. The templates are showed depending on the blind group selected (mini-tourney by hands or mini-tourney by time). The BLIND TEMPLATES table shows the BLIND TEMPLATE ID and its name. Clicking on DETAILS will cause displaying of template details below the table. The administrator can edit the needed BLIND TEMPLATE. To do so the administrator may click the EDIT button in the respected record and make the desired changes. To delete some template(s) it is necessary to select them from the table and click on the DELETE button.

The administration system of the present invention can run “beat” jackpots, where they will award ajackpot to a player who loses with a very strong hand. For example, if player is holding a full house, Aces full of Tens, but he lose to four-of-a-kind Eights, the player may win a cash prize from the Casino. To give this flexibility to operators of the automated poker table of the present invention, the ability to pause the game at a certain table if a particular hand rank loses to another may be configured in the system. Pausing the game gives the floor person in charge time to review the hand, and note all the relevant information so any jackpot can be awarded.

As shown in FIG. 71, the BEAT JACKPOTS HAND RAKES menu item allows the system administrator to adjust card combinations (hand ranks) which can be the reason to qualify jackpot. Beat jackpots that are associated with poker tables are formed on the basis of these combinations. The BEAT JACKPOTS HAND RAKES menu displays existing card combinations which can be involved into beat jackpot and their priority. It is possible to set card combinations to carry an award in beat jackpot as they wish or correct/delete the existing ones.

To include a new combination in the list the system administrator may: enter the name of a new beat combination within the cell containing [new row] record; select values of cards for each of five positions; wherein these values represent the minimum rank of a hand necessary to qualify in the case that card value is not algoristic; if all cards of combination should be of the same suit, the administrator should check the SUIT box; within the ORDER field, it is necessary to enter order of the beat, wherein the card combination with larger order number will beat minor card.; and click on the provided button to save a new beat card combination. To edit the existing beat card combination, admin should make changes and save them. Deletion of card combination(s) from the list can be accomplished by selecting of them from the list and further clicking the DELETE button.

Referring lastly to FIGS. 72 and 73, the BEAT JACKPOTS menu item allows administrating of beat jackpots templates for their further using at different tables and display of existing beat jackpots (FIG. 72). If some “beat” from the existing ones occurs at any table the beat is associated with, that table should be paused in order to administer the jackpot. Beats are assigned for a table through editing of the existing table details. To add a new beat jackpot template, the administrator may: enter the name of a new beat jackpot template within the NAME field (instead of [new row] record); the administrator can allow “tie” between the player's hole card and a community card by checking the PAY ON TIE box, wherein if it is unchecked then the jackpot will not hit in the case that a player's kicker ties with a community card, and wherein if it is checked, then the jackpot will hit in cases when a player's kicker ties the community card; click on the provided button, wherein this will cause appearing of lists of losing and winning hand ranks to the right of beat jackpots list (FIG. 73).

To add a new beat jackpot, the system administrator may also: select the minimum rank of the hand by the losing player to qualify the jackpot from the LOSING HAND RANK list; select the minimum rank of the hand held by the winning player to qualify the jackpot from the WINNING HAND RANK list, wherein the “Losing” hand rank must be a lower rank than the “Winning” hand rank; click on the provided button to save the selected hand ranks ; and click on the provided button to save beat jackpot template. The system administrator may also possible to edit/delete the existing beat jackpots

8. LOGOUT MENU

The LOGOUT menu lets the system administrator finish their current session and logout from the administration system of the present invention.

While particular forms of the invention have been illustrated and described, it will also be apparent to those skilled in the art that various modifications can be made without departing from the inventive concept. References to use of the invention with a particular automated poker table and poker game are by way of example only, and the described embodiments are to be considered in all respects only as illustrative and not restrictive. The present invention may be embodied in other specific forms without departing from its spirit or essential characteristics. Accordingly, it is not intended that the invention be limited except by the appended claims. I claim:

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Classifications
U.S. Classification463/25, 273/292, 463/29
International ClassificationA63F1/00, A63F9/24
Cooperative ClassificationG07F17/32, G07F17/3251, G07F17/3293
European ClassificationG07F17/32, G07F17/32P6, G07F17/32K6
Legal Events
DateCodeEventDescription
Oct 24, 2007ASAssignment
Owner name: POKER AUTOMATION, LLC, CALIFORNIA
Free format text: ASSIGNMENT OF ASSIGNORS INTEREST;ASSIGNOR:GROSWIRT, RAFAEL;REEL/FRAME:020006/0865
Effective date: 20070614