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Publication numberUS20080113783 A1
Publication typeApplication
Application numberUS 11/558,810
Publication dateMay 15, 2008
Filing dateNov 10, 2006
Priority dateNov 10, 2006
Also published asWO2008063361A2, WO2008063361A3, WO2008063361B1
Publication number11558810, 558810, US 2008/0113783 A1, US 2008/113783 A1, US 20080113783 A1, US 20080113783A1, US 2008113783 A1, US 2008113783A1, US-A1-20080113783, US-A1-2008113783, US2008/0113783A1, US2008/113783A1, US20080113783 A1, US20080113783A1, US2008113783 A1, US2008113783A1
InventorsZbigniew Czyzewski, David Pokorny
Original AssigneeZbigniew Czyzewski, David Pokorny
Export CitationBiBTeX, EndNote, RefMan
External Links: USPTO, USPTO Assignment, Espacenet
Casino table game monitoring system
US 20080113783 A1
Abstract
A networked casino game rules violation alert system that captures game data from numerous game security systems/devices in real time, integrates the data, and compiles the integrated data. The system interprets the compiled data, associates the interpreted data with game rules, analyzes and compares the data to determine if there have been invalid actions (i.e., cheating by the player and/or dealer), detects any game anomalies, categorizes the anomalies, generates alerts based on the anomalies and the priority assigned to the anomaly, and dispatches alerts to various systems and alert mechanisms linked to the network. The system can also be used to collect game statistics, per player and dealer, and can determine and respond to historical anomalies as deemed appropriate.
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Claims(57)
1. A casino game table monitoring system comprising:
at least one video camera for outputting images of objects at the table;
a video interface for inputting the images from the at least one camera and processing the images into first game data;
a game device comprising a rules module to track game states, said game device outputting game state data and second game data;
at least one monetary sensing system for obtaining and outputting monetary information at positions at the table; and
a table manager unit for inputting the first and second game data, the game state data and the monetary information, said table manager unit determining if there have been any game anomalies based on the input data and monetary information.
2. The monitoring system of claim 1, wherein said table manager unit generates an alert based on the determined anomaly.
3. The monitoring system of claim 2, further comprising a server connected to receive the game state data, first and second game data, monetary information and alert from the table manager unit, said server outputting the alert to at least one surveillance device based on the priority of the alert.
4. The monitoring system of claim 3, wherein the game is baccarat and the server outputs the alert to a baccarat tracker unit, which tracks results of the game over a period of time.
5. The monitoring system of claim 3, wherein the server outputs the alert to a wireless device over a wireless communication medium.
6. The monitoring system of claim 3, wherein the server outputs the alert to a game management system that alerts casino personnel of the anomaly.
7. The monitoring system of claim 3, wherein the server outputs the alert over a network to a plurality of data sinks.
8. The monitoring system of claim 3, wherein the server stores the first and second game data, monetary information and alert for further processing.
9. The monitoring system of claim 1, wherein the game is baccarat, the game device is a card shoe, and the second game data corresponds to a rank and suit of cards dealt from the shoe.
10. The monitoring system of claim 9, wherein the first game data comprises data corresponding to a rank and suit of cards on the table and monetary data corresponding to chips wagered at the table.
11. The monitoring system of claim 10, wherein the monetary sensing system comprises:
a plurality of game chips having RFID information corresponding to a monetary value of each chip; and
at least one antenna corresponding to each player position for receiving the RFID information and transmitting the information to the table manager unit.
12. The monitoring system of claim 1, wherein said table manager unit comprises a priority system for detected anomalies.
13. The monitoring system of claim 1, wherein said table manager unit performs a statistical analysis of the input first and second game data, game state data and the monetary information.
14. The monitoring system of claim 1, wherein said table manager unit determines wins and losses based on the input first and second game data, game state data and the monetary information.
15. A casino game data collection system comprising:
at least one video camera, said at least one camera adapted to output images of objects at the table;
a video interface adapted to input the images from the at least one camera and process the images into game data;
at least one monetary sensing system adapted to obtain and output monetary data corresponding to game chips at a plurality of positions at the table; and
a processor unit, said processor unit adapted to input the game data and the monetary data, said unit being further adapted to correlate the game data and monetary data.
16. The collection system of claim 15, wherein the input game data comprises data corresponding to a rank and suit of cards on the table.
17. The collection system of claim 16, wherein the input game data further comprises monetary data corresponding to images of chips wagered at the table.
18. The collection system of claim 15, wherein the input game data can be used to determine game state information.
19. The collection system of claim 15, wherein the processor unit is further adapted to determine if there have been any game anomalies based on the correlated data and to associate an anomaly with a priority level.
20. The collection system of claim 19, wherein the anomalies correspond to one of card switching, card reversal, capping of bets and pinching of bets.
21. The collection system of claim 20, wherein the game is baccarat.
22. The collection system of claim 20, wherein the game is blackjack and the anomalies further correspond to one of improperly dealt cards, improper insurance wagering, improper splitting of cards, and improper double down wagering and card dealing.
23. A casino game data collection system comprising:
a game device comprising a rules module to track game states during a game based on cards dealt from the device, said game device outputting game state data and game data;
at least one monetary sensing system for obtaining and outputting monetary data corresponding to game chips located at positions at the table; and
a processor unit, said processor unit adapted to input the game data, game state data and the monetary data, said unit being further adapted to correlate the game data, game state data and monetary data.
24. The collection system of claim 23, wherein the input game data comprises data corresponding to a rank and suit of cards dealt from the gaming device and the game state information corresponds to a state of a baccarat game as determined by the cards dealt from the device.
25. The collection system of claim 23, wherein the monetary data corresponds to chips wagered and paid out at the table.
26. The collection system of claim 23, wherein the processor unit is further adapted to determine if there have been any game anomalies based on the correlated data and to associate an anomaly with a priority level.
27. The collection system of claim 26, wherein the anomalies comprise one of invalid actions taken during the game, capping of bets and pinching of bets.
28. A casino game data collection system comprising:
at least one video camera, said at least one camera adapted to output images of objects at the table;
a video interface adapted to input the images from the at least one camera and process the images into first game data;
a game device comprising a rules module to track game states during a game based on cards dealt from the device, said game device outputting game state data and second game data; and
a processor unit, said processor unit adapted to input the first and second game data, and the game state data, said unit being further adapted to correlate the first and second game data and game state data to detect game anomalies.
29. The collection system of claim 28, wherein the second game data comprises data corresponding to a rank and suit of cards dealt from the gaming device and the first game data comprises data corresponding to images of the cards.
30. The collection system of claim 28, wherein the game state information corresponds to a state of a baccarat game as determined by the cards dealt from the device.
31. The collection system of claim 28, wherein the processor unit is further adapted to determine if there has been a card switching anomaly from the first and second game data.
32. A casino game anomaly detection system comprising:
means for inputting first game data corresponding to video images of objects at a gaming table;
means for inputting second game data and game state information from a gaming device;
means for inputting monetary data corresponding to chips located at different positions at the table;
means for correlating the first and second game data, game state data and the monetary data;
means for determining if there have been any game anomalies based on the correlated data; and
means for associating an anomaly with a priority level and generating an alert based on the anomaly and priority level.
33. The system of claim 32, wherein the means for inputting first game data comprises means for inputting data corresponding to a rank and suit of cards on the table and monetary data corresponding to chips wagered at the table.
34. The system of claim 33, wherein the means for inputting second game data comprises means for inputting data corresponding to the rank and suit of the cards as the cards were dealt from the gaming device and the game state information corresponds to a state of a baccarat game as determined by the cards dealt from the device.
35. The system of claim 32, wherein the means for inputting monetary data inputs data corresponding to chips wagered and paid out at the table.
36. The system of claim 32, wherein alerts can be generated for one of invalid game play actions, card switching, card reversal, capping of bets and pinching of bets.
37. A casino game anomaly detection system comprising:
means for inputting first game data and game state information corresponding to video images of objects at a gaming table;
means for inputting second game data from a gaming device;
means for inputting monetary data corresponding to chips located at different positions at the table;
means for correlating the first and second game data, game state data and the monetary data;
means for determining if there have been any game anomalies based on the correlated data; and
means for associating an anomaly with a priority level and generating an alert based on the anomaly and priority level.
38. The system of claim 37, wherein the input first game data comprises data corresponding to a rank and suit of cards on the table and monetary data corresponding to chips wagered at the table.
39. The system of claim 37, wherein the input second game data comprises data corresponding to the rank and suit of the cards as the cards were dealt from the gaming device.
40. The system of claim 37, wherein alerts can be generated for one of invalid game play actions, card switching, card reversal, capping of bets and pinching of bets.
41. The system of claim 40, wherein the game is blackjack and the invalid game actions comprise improperly dealt cards, improper insurance wagering, improper splitting of cards, and improper double down wagering and card dealing.
42. A casino game table monitoring system comprising:
at least one video camera for outputting images of objects at the table;
a video interface for inputting the images from the at least one camera and processing the images into first game data and game state data;
a game device outputting second game data;
at least one monetary sensing system for obtaining and outputting monetary information at positions at the table; and
a table manager unit for inputting the first and second game data, the game state data and the monetary information, said table manager unit determining if there have been any game anomalies based on the input data and monetary information and if there has been an anomaly, associating the anomaly with a priority level and generating an alert based on the anomaly and priority level.
43. The monitoring system of claim 42, further comprising a server connected to receive the game state data, first and second game data, monetary information and alert from the table manager unit, said server outputting the alert to at least one surveillance device based on the priority of the alert.
44. The monitoring system of claim 43, wherein the game is blackjack and the server outputs the alert to a blackjack tracker unit, which tracks results of the game over a period of time.
45. The monitoring system of claim 43, wherein the game is blackjack, the gaming device is a card shoe with an alert notification device, and the server outputs the alert to the card shoe.
46. The monitoring system of claim 43, wherein the server outputs the alert to a game management system that alerts casino personnel of the anomaly.
47. A casino game table monitoring system comprising:
at least one data acquisition device proximate a gaming table capable of generating an output signal corresponding to a game event;
a game module, the module receiving data from at least one data acquisition device and generating at least game state data; and
a table manager capable of receiving at least the game state data and detecting anomalies in game play.
48. The casino game table monitoring system of claim 47, wherein the data acquisition device is selected from the group consisting of: a card reader, a card reading shoe, a card reading shuffler, a monetary sensing system, a RFID antenna and chip system, a camera imaging system, a proximity detector, and a magnetic detection device.
49. The casino game table monitoring system of claim 48, wherein at least one data acquisition device is a camera imaging system, and further comprising a video interface for receiving output from the camera imagers and processing the images into first game data.
50. The casino table game monitoring system of claim 49, wherein the video interface and the game module resides on a computer.
51. The casino table game monitoring system of claim 48, wherein at least one data acquisition device is a card reading shoe, the shoe having an internal processor, wherein the game module resides on the internal processor.
52. The casino table game monitoring system of claim 48, wherein at least one data acquisition device is a monetary sensing system.
53. The casino table game monitoring system of claim 48, wherein at least one data acquisition device is a card reading shoe, the shoe having an internal processor, wherein the game module resides outside of the internal processor.
54. The casino table game monitoring system of claim 47, wherein alert signals are generated in response to the detection of an anomaly.
55. The casino table game monitoring system of claim 54, wherein the table manager is programmed to issue multiple levels of alert signal.
56. The casino table game monitoring system of claim 54, wherein alert signals are routed to at least one external data sink.
57. The casino table game monitoring system of claim 47, wherein the game module is programmed to determine the state of a game selected from the group consisting of blackjack and baccarat.
Description
CROSS REFERENCE TO RELATED APPLICATIONS

The present application is related to concurrently filed applications bearing the attorney docket numbers [PA1735.ap.US, PA1701.ap.US and PA1700.ap.US]. The specifications of these applications are incorporated by reference herein.

BACKGROUND OF THE INVENTION

1. Field of the Invention

Embodiments of the invention relate generally to an automated security monitoring system for a casino table game such as e.g., baccarat and blackjack, and more particularly to an automated security monitoring system that can capture game data, detect anomalies, generate alerts, and dispatch alerts to various data sinks and electronic devices in real time.

2. Background of the Art

Security within a casino is focused upon a number of different areas of concern. Those areas include, among others, counterfeiting of currency or tokens, counterfeiting of gaming implements (cards or dice), artificial manipulation of gaming implements (marking cards, weighting dice, weighting roulette wheels or balls, etc.), altering bet amounts or bet types during play, switching cards between players, dealer conspiracy with players, and wagering based upon a degree of intelligence of foreknowledge of cards in play. Each of these different issues requires distinct attention and different implementation of security to be able to control crimes being committed against the casino. The use of totally mechanical or totally electronic gaming systems tends to eliminate the majority of these potential issues, but game players tend to play as much for the social interaction of live games with live players and dealers as they do for the enjoyment of game play. It is therefore necessary for systems, methods and apparatus to be developed that can assist in reducing the potential for these criminal actions being taken at casinos without destroying the live ambiance of a casino table game.

One particular casino table game that would benefit from monitoring is baccarat. Baccarat is often a high stakes game. In addition, players may touch the cards during play. Thus, there is a particular need to monitor the game of baccarat. The basic play of the casino table card game of baccarat is relatively simple and relatively inflexible. The player may feel comfortable relying solely upon the luck of the draw or his/her own luck in playing the game, as opposed to feeling that, as in some other casino games, there is a level of skill needed that is intimidating to the player. Those rules are summarized below.

Baccarat or “Punto Banco” is usually played in a separate casino area. The playing table is about the size of a craps table with three casino dealers and up to 12 or 14 players. FIG. 1 shows a portion of a conventional casino table 10 suitable for playing baccarat. The table 10 includes a card shoe 12, player hand positions 14, 16, banker hand positions 18, 20 and three player wagering positions 22, 24, 26. Each player wagering position 22, 24, 26 includes a position P for wagering on the player hand (comprising cards dealt to the player hand positions 14, 16), a position B for wagering on the banker hand (comprising cards dealt to the player hand positions 14, 16) and a position T for wagering that there will be a tie (also known as a standoff) between the player and banker hands.

Baccarat is typically played from a six-deck or an eight-deck card shoe 12. All face cards and tens have no value. Cards less than ten are counted at face value, Aces are worth 1. Suits do not matter. Only single digit values are valid. Any count that reaches a double digit value drops the left-most digit. For example, a 15 is counted as 5 while a total of 25 is also counted as 5. The object of the game is to bet on the hand that you think will have the highest total value. The goal of the game is to obtain a hand value of 8 or 9.

Some casinos let the players deal the cards in turn and others have a casino dealer deal the cards. Each player, including the player dealing (sometimes referred to as the banker), may place a bet on the player, also known as Punto, by placing at least one casino chip on wagering position P, the banker, also known as Banco, by placing at least one casino chip on wagering position B, or a tie/standoff by placing at least one casino chip on wagering position T. It is customary, but not required, for the player dealing the game to bet on the banker hand. Players may opt not to deal, passing the shoe 12 to the next player. The shoe 12 remains with one player as long as the bank wins. If the player hand wins, the shoe 12 passes on to the next player.

The player's bets are made before any one of the cards in either hand is displayed. The betting in baccarat is similar to betting on black or red at a roulette table, and the payoff is even money (i.e., 1:1), except for a tie, which typically pays out at 8:1 or 9:1. The only difference between the banker bet (B) and the player bet (P) is that a winning banker bet will cost the player a commission or tax levied by the casino, since it is known that the odds favor the banker hand.

Each hand consists of a minimum of two and a maximum of three cards. The person dealing will deal two cards, face down, and will deal to the player with the largest bet on the player hand the other two cards, face down. The player with the largest player bet looks at the cards and gives them back to the player/dealer. Then, the player who is dealing will turn over the cards of both hands while one of the casino dealers announces the results and the winner. If either hand has a total of 8 or 9 (nine is the highest), known in the art as a “natural,” no more cards are dealt. If there are no naturals, then depending on the value of each hand the casino dealer may instruct the card player/dealer to deal a third card. The decision of when to deal a third card follows precise rules used by all casinos and are summarized below. Once dealing is completed, the hand with the highest count (9 being the highest possible count, with first digits in two-digit totals being dropped e.g., an 18 becoming a count of 8) wins. The casino's dealer will collect the losing bets first and then pay out the winning ones.

As stated above, once the two cards in the player/banker hands have been uncovered, the rules of baccarat will dictate whether a third must be dealt to the player and/or the banker based on the following “three-card” rules. In practice, it is not necessary for the players to learn these rules to play the game, as the rules are compulsory and automatically enforced. Starting with the player's hand total, if the player's hand total is less than or equal to 5, the player's hand draws a third card. If the player's hand does not draw a third card, then the banker's hand stands on a 6 or more, but takes a third card on a total of 5 or less. If the player's hand takes a third card, then the following banker's hand third-card-rules determine if the banker's hand takes a third card.

If the banker's hand is a 2 or less, then banker's hand draws a third card. If the banker's hand totals to a 3, then the banker's hand draws a third card unless the player's hand third card was an 8. If the banker's hand total is 4, then the banker's hand draws a third card unless the player's hand third card is a 0, 1, 8, or 9. If the banker's hand total is 5, then the banker's hand draws a third card if the player's hand third card is a 4, 5, 6, or 7. If the banker's hand total is 6, then the banker's hand draws a third card if the player's hand third card is a 6 or 7. If the banker's hand total is 7, then the banker stands.

As is apparent, there are many security concerns with a hands-on game such as baccarat. These concerns include a phenomenon known as “first card cheating,” which is a statistical method of cheating allowing a player to alter his/her betting based on the player's impermissible knowledge of the first card to-be-dealt by the dealer. The theory behind first card cheating is described in U.S. application Ser. No. 11/394,055, filed on Mar. 29, 2006, which is hereby incorporated by reference in its entirety. Other concerns associated with baccarat, as well as other casino table games, include: pinching and/or capping of bets, card switching, and card reversal.

Pinching is the illegal act of removing chips that were wagered from the player's bet after a round/game has begun. Capping is the illegal act of adding chips to those previously wagered from the player's bet after the round has begun. These acts are respectively designed to reduce the amount of money the casino receives (on player losing bets) or increase the amount of money the casino pays out (on player winning bets). Card switching is the act of switching out cards that were dealt from the shoe with other cards in order to modify one or both of the dealt hands. Card reversal is a special case of card switching, which is the act of moving cards that have been dealt to different areas of the table, which results in modifying the dealt hands. The acts are designed to influence the outcome of the game in a manner beneficial to the cheater(s).

Moreover, the casino must also look out for discrepancies in the casino table's chip trays and its payouts of winning bets. That is, the casino must be aware of the chips at the table and must also be aware of any discrepancies between expected payouts and actual payouts.

FIG. 2 illustrates a portion of a casino table 10′ suitable for playing blackjack. The table 10′ includes a card shoe 12, chip rack 13, game indicia 15 and a plurality of player wagering positions 17, 19, 21, 23, 25, 27, 29. In FIG. 2, the indicia 15 is an inscription for an “insurance” bet, which is a unique wagering feature of the game of blackjack (described below). Other indicia 15 could include pay-out odds, house rules and/or the rules of the game.

Blackjack is one of the most popular casino games. Unlike baccarat, blackjack requires some level of skill and game decisions in order to be successful. The object of blackjack is to obtain a card hand with a rank numerical value of twenty-one. All face cards (i.e., kings, queens and jacks) have a rank value of ten. Aces can have a value of one or eleven, depending on the value needed by the player/dealer (as dictated by the other cards in the hand). The remaining cards retain their rank values (i.e., a 2 has a value of two, 3 has a value of three, etc.). The card suits do not matter in blackjack.

After the players place their wagers, the dealer deals two cards to each player. The dealer also deals herself two cards. All player cards are dealt face down. The dealer's hand, however, includes one card dealt face up (i.e., the “up card”) and the second card dealt face down (i.e., the “hole” card). Typically, the last card dealt is the down card. The object of the game is to beat the dealer's hand with a hand having a value of twenty-one, or as close to twenty-one as possible without busting. After the players view their hands and the dealer's up card, each player may decide to draw an extra card (i.e., a “hit”) to bring her total closer to twenty-one. A skilled player uses the odds to decide whether to “hit” or “stand” (i.e., not receive additional cards) based on the present information about her cards and the dealer's up card. There is no limit to the number of hits a player can take as long as the player's hand total does not exceed twenty-one. On rare occasions, the player may take five hit cards without busting. This event is known as “Seven Card Charlie” and is often awarded a bonus payout.

A hand total that exceeds twenty-one is known as a bust. Players that bust are out of the game, must reveal all of their cards and indicate to the dealer that they busted. The dealer removes the player's cards and the player's wagers are forfeited to the house. At any point during the game, the players may decide not to be dealt any more additional cards and hope that their hand total will exceed the dealer's hand total, or hope that the dealer busts out of the game. After all the players have finished making their game decisions, the dealer reveals the hole card and plays out its hand. House rules may require the dealer to hit until its hand reaches at least seventeen, regardless of what the players have.

In blackjack, there is a special event when players are offered an option to purchase “insurance”. Insurance is a separate wager designed to protect the player from losing her initial wager when the dealer is dealt a twenty-one (i.e., blackjack). When the dealer's up card is an Ace, the players are offered an opportunity to place an insurance wager. The amount of the insurance wager may be up to one half of the player's initial wager. For example, if a player's initial wager was $10, then that player may make a $5 insurance wager. The insurance bet is typically placed on the insurance indicia 15 on the table 10′. The purpose of the insurance bet is to allow players to “protect” their initial wager when the dealer's odds of reaching a twenty-one are high such as in the case when the dealer is showing an Ace.

After a player responds to the offer to place an insurance bet, the dealer peeks at her hole card to determine if the dealer's hand is a twenty-one (i.e., blackjack). This is a mandatory procedure. If the dealer's hole card has a rank value of ten, then the player that placed an insurance bet, wins the insurance bet, but loses the initial wager. If the player's insurance bet was one half the initial wager, the player's insurance bet, which pays off at 2:1 odds, essentially returns the players initial wager. If, however, the dealer's hole card does not have a rank value of ten, the player loses the insurance bet, but the player remains in the game in a pursuit of wining the initial bet. As can be appreciated, during the dealer's peeking of the hole card, the dealer can inadvertently or intentionally reveal the rank of the hole card. Insurance betting also provides the players with an opportunity to illegally change wagers or cards when the dealer is not looking.

The game of blackjack has other wagering and dealing scenarios as is known in the art. These scenarios include a “double down” wager or “split” of the player's hand. Double down allows the player to double its initial wager at the cost of receiving only one more card from the dealer. Splitting of a hand allows the player to double its wager, but to use each initial card as a first card in what becomes two new hands. Splitting is only available when the initial cards have the same value. House rules may place restrictions on when a player may double down or split. The scenarios also provide the players with opportunities to illegally change wagers or swap cards.

There are many security issues in high stakes games with rules that permit players to touch/handle the cards that eventually determine the outcome of the wagers placed by the players. Likewise, there are many security issues in games in which multiple cards may be dealt and multiple wagers may be made during the course of the game. Today, there are many types of surveillance systems available, but these systems require vast amounts of manpower to implement. These systems typically rely on overhead video cameras and security personnel to view the video on numerous monitors. Other systems utilize radio frequency identifiers (RFID) in casino chips to determine the value of chips wagered during a game. Card shoes can be equipped with image sensors to determine the card dealt from the shoe. All of these systems also require personnel to walk the casino floor and investigate matters in person, rather than on video.

An example of a surveillance system for the casino game of blackjack is described in patent application publication 2005/0272501 (the “'0272501 publication”), which is hereby incorporated by reference in its entirety. The '0272501 publication discloses a video system and image processing method for monitoring players in a game of blackjack. Video image data is generally retrieved through a series of cameras that capture images of game play from different angles. The cameras or a computer system can have an engine for processing the images into data. The system extracts player and game data, and processes the data to determine game events (i.e., a card being dealt, player placing a bet, etc.). The video images are processed and presented to security personnel to aid in game security and to track player/dealer progress and history.

Conventional security systems, however, are not equipped to handle all of the above potential cheating mechanisms, which are particularly troublesome for the games of baccarat and blackjack. Moreover, there is no system that exists today that can capture and analyze game data in real time and also react to anomalies when need (i.e., issue alerts) in real time.

Accordingly, there is a need and desire for an automated data acquisition and security system that can capture game data, detect anomalies, generate an alert, and dispatch the alert to various source and electronic devices in real time. Moreover, there is a desire for a networked alert system that is integrated with an automated game data tracking system capable of associating compiled data from an image data system and associating integrated peripheral systems with the rules of baccarat and/or blackjack. It is also desirable that the system is capable of detecting game anomalies, interpreting the anomalies, correlating the anomalies, categorizing the anomalies, generating an alert relative to an anomaly's level of security infringement, and dispatching the alert to various remote computer systems linked to a network as well as wired and wireless communication devices.

BRIEF SUMMARY OF THE INVENTION

Embodiments of the invention provide novel combinations of data acquisition equipment and a networked casino game rules violation alert system that captures game data from numerous game security systems/devices in real time, integrates the data, and compiles the integrated data. The system interprets the compiled data, associates the interpreted data with game rules, analyzes and compares the data to detect invalid actions (i.e., cheating by the player and/or dealer), detects any game anomalies, categorizes the anomalies, generates alerts based on the anomalies and the priority assigned to the anomaly, and dispatches alerts to various systems and alert mechanisms linked to the network. The system can also be used to collect game statistics, per player and dealer, and can determine and respond to historical anomalies as deemed appropriate.

In one example embodiment, the system is used to monitor a game of baccarat at a baccarat table. In yet another example embodiment, the system is used to monitor a game of blackjack at a blackjack table.

BRIEF DESCRIPTION OF THE DRAWINGS

FIG. 1 illustrates a conventional baccarat table.

FIG. 2 illustrates a conventional blackjack table.

FIG. 3 illustrates a monitoring system used to monitor gaming at a casino table such as a blackjack table.

FIG. 4 illustrates an integrated monitoring system used to monitor gaming at a baccarat table in accordance with an embodiment of the invention.

FIGS. 5A-5C illustrate processing performed by the system illustrated in FIG. 4 in accordance with an embodiment of the invention.

FIG. 6 illustrates an integrated monitoring system used to monitor gaming at a blackjack table in accordance with an embodiment of the invention.

DETAILED DESCRIPTION OF THE INVENTION

FIG. 3 illustrates a surveillance system 40 suitable for monitoring a game of blackjack. In system 40, a blackjack table 10′ is equipped with a card shoe 12 and chip rack 13 as described above. The system 40 also includes overhead cameras 44, 46 connected to a ceiling 70 of the casino, and other cameras 42, 48 either mounted to or in the vicinity of the table 10′. These cameras 42, 44, 46, 48 communicate with a computer system 50 that is responsible for image processing (if necessary) and automatically monitoring game play by gathering table data. Dealt card values and table activity can be verified using this system 50. Typically, the components of the system 40 are connected to each other by one gigabyte/sec network cabling 52, 54.

As an optional feature, a form of chip recognition may also be implemented into the system 40 using the cameras 42, 44, 46, 48 and evaluation software in the computer system 50. As such, the computer system 50 should be able to process chip images and values on the gaming table 10′. The imaging system (either in the cameras 42, 44, 46, 48 or the computer system 50) requires at least ten clean frames a second to provide the system 40 with the optimal number of images. The number of pixels in an image translates to the identity of an object. The information is transmitted to a local processor equipped with an optical recognition circuit/integrated circuit chip to speed up the pixel translation. Image processing software continues the pixel translation. The pixel density/mass is analyzed and compared to stored pixel densities and stored relative shape data in the system 50. The software detects relative features and performs a shape comparison analysis. The system 50 utilizes a coordinate system to locate the objects and determine the proper identification of the object. The system 50 also has programmed table coordinates that give the probable location of a specific object on the table 10′ and the object's relative shape according to pixel density. The new object's analysis information and coordinates are compared with the stored data and identification of the object is confirmed. The software is sophisticated enough to recognize the rank and suit of playing cards, recognize monetary denominations, and the relative value of chips based on color or black and white.

As can been seen, the cameras 42, 44, 46, 48 are placed to achieve a full view of the gaming table surface, and are positioned to give the best vantage point for the desired application. The cameras 42, 44, 46, 48 can be mounted to the ceiling 70 or on a pole/post adjacent the table 10′. Every image is analyzed to determine if it contains an expected object or game event. An example of such as system for the casino game of blackjack is described in patent application publication 2005/0272501.

The typical operation of the FIG. 3 system is as follows. The cameras 42, 44, 46, 48 and image acquisition systems are activated. An image or images are captured and the pixels in the digitized data are analyzed. Objects are identified, indexed, and compared with stored relative shape indexes. The location of the object is determined by calculating the object's coordinates on the gaming surface. The coordinates and shape of the object are compared with the stored data to confirm the objects location on the table, and to verify that an object of that pixel density and relative shape is normally present at the determined coordinates. The rank and suit of cards positioned face up on the gaming table will be determined. Information is transmitted via communication links to the computer system 50 to see if the rules of the game have been followed. A security decision must be made by security personnel. As described earlier, it is desirable to obtain more automated information and to process and react to the information in real time.

FIG. 4 illustrates an integrated monitoring system 100 used to monitor gaming activities at a baccarat table 110 in accordance with an embodiment of the invention. The system 100 contains many components designed to capture various forms of information about the game being played at the table 110 (e.g., baccarat), the players playing the game, wager amounts and payouts, and the dealer responsible for the game. As is described below in more detail, the information is captured, processed and acted upon (e.g., generation of alerts) in real time.

In system 100, the baccarat table 110 is equipped with a card shoe 112 providing card rank and suit recognition capabilities. That is, the shoe 112 contains optical character recognition (OCR) capabilities (or other ways for determine card rank and suit such as e.g., barcode reader to read barcodes on the cards in the shoe 112) to determine the rank and suit of each card dealt from the shoe. In addition, in a preferred embodiment, the card shoe 112 also contains a baccarat rules module (not shown), which allows the shoe 112 to determine the outcome of the game based on the cards dealt out of the shoe 112. One known device that may be used as the shoe 112 is the Shuffle Master, Inc. iShoe™ intelligent shoe device. Other examples of devices that are suitable for use as shoe 112 are described in patent application publication 2005/0242500 (U.S. application Ser. No. 11/152,475, filed on Jun. 13, 2005), U.S. application Ser. No. 10/915,914, filed Aug. 10, 2004, and U.S. Pat. No. 7,029,009, which are hereby incorporated by reference in their entireties.

The card shoe 112 is in two-way communication with a system table manager 180 (described in more detail below), and transmits the card shoe information and expected game results over a communication medium 113 to the system table manager 180, which inputs and processes the card shoe 112 information to determine if there have been any anomalies during a round of the game (described below in more detail). The medium 113 may be a wireless or wired network communication medium. The card shoe 112, e.g., the iShoe™, may also include a display region to provide dealer instruction and game results to the dealer. The shoe 112 may also include a dealer interface such that the dealer may reset the shoe 112, call for information and initiate a new round of play.

Also shown on the table 110 are game chip wagering areas in the player specific wagering areas 22, 24, 26. In a preferred embodiment of the invention, RFID tagged chips 130 a are used in conjunction with RFID antennas/transmitters 162, 164, 166 located within or underneath the table 110. The RFID antennas/transmitters 162, 164, 166 respectively pick up the values of the game chips 130 a using RFID or similar technology and then transmit the chip information to the system table manager 180 via a communication medium 168. U.S. Pat. Nos. 5,651,548 and 5,735,742 describe RFID chips and chip reading systems that may be used in connection with game chip areas and game chips 130 a and RFID antennas/transmitters 162, 164, 166. Although the illustrated system shows one antenna per player position, in another embodiment, separate antennas are provided to distinguish between player, banker and the bets. In the illustrated system, proximity sensors (not shown) at wager positions (B, P, T) are used to distinguish between wagers within a single antenna.

The medium 168 may be a wireless or wired network communication medium. As is described below in more detail, the system table manager 180 will use the chip information to determine the presence of and the amounts wagered by the players before and after the round (to see if there has been capping or pinching of bets) and may also use the chip information to determine if there have been any payouts anomalies at the end of the round. As can be appreciated, it is desirable to combine the a card reading shoe 112 and RFID chip sensing system at the same table as these components of the system can be used to track the status of the game, invalid player/dealer actions and payouts in a fast and reliable real time manner. Alerts can be sent right to the table via the shoe without the aid of any security personnel.

The system 100 also includes overhead cameras 44, 46 connected to a ceiling 70 of the casino, and at least one other camera 42 either mounted to or in the vicinity of the table 110. These cameras 42, 44, 46 respectively communicate with a video interface 170 over communication media 158, 156, 154 (via video switch or multiplexer 179). The cameras 42, 44, 46 may also communicate with a surveillance computer system 150 over a communication medium 152 and a plasma screen/monitor 177 (via video switch or multiplexer 179) so that the video may be monitored by casino or security personnel. It should be appreciated that although only one connection to the surveillance computer system 150 from the cameras 42, 44, 46 is shown, video from all of the cameras may be sent to the system 150 if desired. As with the other communication media used in the system 100, the communication media 152, 154, 156, 158 may be wired, wireless or a combination of wireless and wired connections.

The video interface 170 (e.g., a computer system) is responsible for image processing, interpretation of game state, and transmission of the items viewed by the cameras 42, 44, 46 in real time. Dealt card values, wagers and other table activity can be imaged using the cameras 42, 44, 46 and video interface 170. The video interface 170 may be implemented in a general purpose computer system, a network server or other processor system as is generally known in the art.

As an optional feature, a form of optical chip recognition may also be implemented using the cameras 42, 44, 46 and evaluation software in the video interface 170. The system is best equipped to detect the presence of a wager, but if cameras are positioned proximate the gaming table, it is possible to extract wager amount data also. As such, the video interface 170 may process chip images and values on the gaming table 110. The video interface 170 processes the video images to create table data that is sent to the system table manager 180. The video interface 170 is sophisticated enough to recognize the rank and suit of playing cards, recognize monetary denominations, and the relative value of the chips. In one example, the video interface 170 does not contain any logic or game rule software and cannot evaluate whether there have been any anomalies. In another example embodiment, the video interface contains game rules. In the illustrated embodiment, the determination of anomalies is performed by the system table manager 180 (described in more detail below). It should be appreciated that using video imaging for object sensing and RFID information for value sensing of wagers is more reliable then using either technique alone. Moreover, the overlap in information provides inherent redundancy to the system.

As can been seen, the cameras 42, 44, 46 are placed to achieve a full view of the gaming table surface, and are positioned to give the best vantage point for the desired application. The cameras 42, 44, 46 can be mounted to the ceiling 70 or on a pole/post adjacent or on the table 110. An optical or magnetic synchronizing sensor 33 can be used to detect the presence of an object on the gaming surface of the table 110. The sensor, if used, may activate the cameras 42, 44, 46 and trigger image acquisition. Every image is processed and extracted data is transmitted to the system table manager 180.

The remainder of the system 100 comprises a network 101 of components that may be at the gaming table or in a back office or other room of the casino. Part of this network 101 is the video interface 170 described above, the other parts of the network include the table manager 180, a central server 190, and the surveillance system 150. Optional components of the network 101 may also include a baccarat tracker 185 and/or a games management system 175. The components of the network 101 may be connected by wireless and/or wired communication media.

The system table manager 180 may be implemented in a general purpose computer system, a network server or other processor system as is generally known in the art. The table manager 180 will contain computer implemented processing (i.e., process 200 illustrated in FIGS. 5A-5C) that may be stored on a computer readable medium of the general purpose computer system. As such, the processing and functions of the table manager 180 may be stored as a computer program on a computer readable medium, or downloaded from a computer server over a network to the general purpose computer. The table manager 180 will receive the real time card and game data from the card shoe 112 over the wired/wireless communication medium 113. The table manager 180 will receive the real time chip data from antennas 162, 164, 166 over the wired/wireless communication medium 168. The table manager 180 will also receive the card, chip and other data from the video interface 170 over the network connection between the table manager 180 and video interface 170. It should be appreciated that the combination of video, card shoe and RFID information makes the system more robust and error proof. Overlap in information (e.g., wager values or card data) provides inherent redundancy not found in prior systems. In addition, the use of optional sensor 33 provides another means to initiate security measures and begin monitoring of activities at a table.

As is described below in more detail with reference to FIGS. 5A-5C, the table manager 180 contains deviation analysis software that integrates the various forms of input data, compiles, interprets and associates the data with known anomaly references or specific conditions that equate to baccarat game rule violations. The table manager 180 analyzes and compares the data to determine whether valid or invalid actions have occurred during and after a round of the game, detects and categorizes any anomalies, and generates alerts. The anomalies can be prioritized. Because some of the data may overlap (e.g., card rank and suit data may be obtained from the shoe 112 and the video data, wager data may be obtained from the RFID information and the video data), the table manager 180 has redundancy. This way, if one of the sources of information is malfunctioning or if it misses a card, chip, etc., the table manager 180 can still detect anomalies. The redundancy of the system also allows the operator to detect changes in the number of cards card composition, wager placement, etc. and provides the means to perform security checks unknown and unachievable prior to this invention. Alerts are generated and distributed by the table manager 180 to the central server 190. In one embodiment, the table manager 180 can send the alerts to the games management system 175, if included in the system 100. In another embodiment, the alerts are sent to both the central server 190 and the games management system 175. The table manager 180 operates in real time, something the prior art security monitoring systems could not do.

In one embodiment, the table manager 180 tags game deviations/anomalies with one of five sequential priority levels illustrated in Table I below. The levels are used to determine what type of alert to generate. The table manager 180 is capable of detecting pinching and/or capping of bets, card switching, and card reversal, as well as discrepancies in the casino table's chip trays and its payouts of winning bets. All of these anomalies, as well as others, may be assigned to any one of the levels illustrated in Table I. In a desired embodiment, the casino personnel can set the priority levels for all of the anomalies through a user interface (not shown) to the table manager 180 or through a connection to the network 101 (e.g., system 150). Alerts may be ranked numerically, color coded, associated with unique sounds or otherwise configured to attract the appropriate response from pit personnel.

TABLE I
Alert Priority Index
Priority
Level Description
1 Lowest level. Basic deviation alert regarding an action that has
little or no potential for influencing a game outcome.
2 Alert regarding an action that warrants the attention of pit
personnel.
3 Alert regarding an action that warrants the attention of pit and
surveillance personnel.
4 Alert regarding an action that warrants the attention of pit and
surveillance personnel and an immediate investigation
by supervisors.
5 Highest level. Gross deviation alert regarding an action with a
crisis status. The anomaly warrants an immediate “stop game”
alert dispatched to all wired and wireless devices of the
security network.

The central server 190 is connected to the table manager 180. The central server 190 may be implemented in a general purpose computer system, a network server or other processor system as is generally known in the art. Although shown as separate components, in one embodiment, the table manager 180 is implemented as an application on the central server 190. That is, the functions of the table manager 180 and the central server 190 may reside in one piece of hardware (e.g., a server or computer system). The central server 190 is responsible for distributing the prioritized alerts throughout the network 101 and outside the network (if desired) over wired or wireless communications path 192. The alerts are routed to various data sinks (i.e., destinations) based on the alert priority. The higher the priority, the greater number of data sinks the alert information is routed to. Alert transmissions may be routed directly to the table 110 (via communications path 192 to a device at the table or on the dealer), across the network 101 to remote viewing stations (e.g., system 150), databases, and any wired/wireless communication device that communicates with the network 101. In one embodiment, the shoe 112 contains a display, speaker or other alert notification device and an optional communication path 113 a from the table manager 180 to the shoe is used to transmit an alert to the table via the shoe 112. One such suitable shoe having an alert notification mechanism and two way communications with a table manager 180 is disclosed in application serial no. (reference PA1735.AP.us), filed on the same date as the present application, which is incorporated by reference herein. In one embodiment, the alert information can be projected onto one or more plasma televisions/monitors/screens 177 used to view image data from the cameras 42, 44, 46 and the video interface 170. The central server 190 stores relevant gaming information (both real time and historical information). The central server 190 may also process alert information received from the table manager 180 if needed. The central server 190 can email or otherwise transmit any relevant information or reports using communications path 192 or any connection to the network 101. The central server 190 may generate and distribute reports based on the information received from the table manager 180.

In a preferred embodiment, the central server 190 may interface with and drive the baccarat tracker 185. The baccarat tracker 185 is a statistical-based system that sequences through a live game of baccarat (based on the data received from the central server 190) to process actions taken during the round and over numerous rounds. The tracker 185 is capable of compiling the data to statistically determine anomalies that can only be detected by a players betting habits using a larger sample set of data and typically occurs over a time period. One such anomaly that may be detected is first card cheating, described in U.S. application Ser. No. 11/394,055, filed on Mar. 29, 2006. The baccarat tracker 185 may use the processing described in U.S. application Ser. No. 11/394,055. It should also be appreciated that the baccarat tracker 185 may be implemented as part of the central server 190, thus alleviating the need for an additional server/computer system dedicated solely to the baccarat tracking functions. It is advantageous to locate the baccarat tracker 185 near the source of the stored data.

In another embodiment, alerts are dispatched to a games management system 175. The games management system 175 is a touch screen table games application allowing for additional real time bet tracking, clear views of the dealer rack count, quick assessment of wins and losses at each table. The information can be used to determine if a gambler's gambling habits are worthy of a free room for the evening (known as comping). A system suitable for use as the games management system 175 is the Table Touch™ product sold by IGT. The games management system 175 includes an intelligent alert package, which alerts pit personnel and surveillance teams using a color coded alert system corresponding to alert priority levels. The system management system 175 may also dispatch the alerts across the network 101 to remote viewing stations (e.g., system 150), databases, and any wired/wireless communication device that communicates with the network 101. Player profiling is also included in the games management system 175 so that specific player bet attributes may be recorded and tracked. The games management system 175 allows pit personnel more time to do their jobs without being tied to a cumbersome data entry system.

Referring to FIGS. 5A-5C, the flowcharts illustrate processing 200 performed by the table manager 180. As mentioned above, the process 200 may be a computer implemented method that runs on a general purpose computer. As such, the process 200 may be stored as a computer program on a computer readable storage medium and/or downloaded to a computer over the network 101. At step 202, the table manager 180 inputs/collects game/table information from a predetermined source or sources within the system 100. This initial game state information (described below) is used to determine if a new game or round of a game of baccarat is beginning (step 204). Since the initial game state information is only being used for this limited purpose, only one of the sources of game state and game data (e.g., video data from the cameras 42, 44, 46, signals from the shoe 112, signal from the antennas 162, 164, 166) need be used.

In one embodiment, the initial game state information is received from the shoe 112 after the dealer presses a new game key or otherwise initiates a new game at the shoe 112 (e.g., resets a game completion message, deals a new card, etc.). In other examples, the shoe includes a time-out circuit that automatically detects the beginning and end of each round. Other methods of round counting are known in the art and could be used as an additional data source. The shoe 112 has a games rule module and is capable of setting a game state to a new game state and transmitting this information to the table manager 180. In response, the shoe 112 transmits data to the table manager 180 indicating the start of a new game. In another embodiment, video information from the cameras 42, 44, 46 and the video interface 170 can be used to indicate a new game state corresponding to a new game (i.e., the dealing of the new cards or the placement of new bets at the table 110). In another embodiment, RFID chip data (i.e., initial wager) or a combination of data from one or more of the sources is used. In another embodiment, the sensor 33 can be used to determine the dealing of a new hand or the placement of new wagers.

At step 204, the table manager 180 determines if a new game has been started. If not, then there is an error or other anomaly, which is processed and reported across the network 101 (if necessary based on the priority level assigned to this “false start” of the game). If at step 204, the table manager 180 determines that a new game has been started, the table manager 180 collects game/table data from all sources (step 206) i.e., the video interface 170, antennas 162, 164, 166, and card shoe 112. At step 208, the table manager 180 makes a series of real time, game in progress (i.e., in-game) comparisons/investigations of the input data. Non-limiting examples of these comparisons include a comparison of: (1) game state versus player/dealer actions; (2) cards on the table versus the cards dealt; (3) cards positions on table versus the position on the table when dealt; and (4) the values of chips wagered versus the value of the chips on table (and on a per player basis).

EXAMPLE 1 Misdeal

For example, for the comparison of game state versus player/dealer actions, the process 200 determines if a third card has been dealt to one or both of the player and banker positions at the table. The process 200 then determines, using the baccarat third card rules whether the dealer should have dealt the third card or not. If the dealer has dealt a third card to a position in which the rules dictate that a card should not have been dealt, then an anomaly has be found. Likewise, the process 200 determines if a third card has not been dealt to the player and banker positions at the table. The process 200 then determines, using the baccarat third card rules whether the dealer should have dealt the third card or not. If the dealer has not dealt a third card to a position in which the rules dictate that a card should have been dealt, then an anomaly has be found.

EXAMPLE 2 Card Switching

A comparison of the cards dealt versus the cards currently at the table (e.g., via displayed or processed video information) can be used to determine if there has been card switching. In a desired embodiment, there will be dealt card information from both the shoe 1 12 and the video interface 170. This provides built-in error processing and redundancy that is not achievable in prior art systems. The process 200 determines whether the cards that were dealt are in different positions. If any of the cards are out of position, then an anomaly has be found.

EXAMPLE 3 Capping/Pinching

Capping and/or pinching can be determined by comparing initial wager information to current wager information. The information can be determined solely from the RFID information. In another embodiment, the wager information can be determined through video images via the video interface 170 in addition to, or instead of the RFID information. Using more than one mechanism is always preferred, however. As with the other comparisons, anomalies may be determined when any current wager amounts do not match initial wager amounts.

EXAMPLE 4 Bet Moved from P to B Positions (or vice versa)

Movement of player wagers between the B and P positions (and T when wagered) can be monitored by comparing the wager information contained in the video images (via the video interface 170) with the wager information contained in the RFID information. The wager amounts are still the same, but they have been moved. This is a unique situation that may be monitored by the illustrated embodiment of the invention which uses two systems to determine if there is an anomaly in the wagering areas.

EXAMPLE 5 New Card Added

The process 200 makes a comparison of the cards dealt versus the cards currently at the table (e.g., via displayed or processed video information). In a desired embodiment, there will be dealt card information from both the shoe 112 and the video interface 170. This provides built-in error processing and redundancy that is not achievable in prior art systems. The process 200 determines whether there are new cards on the table that were not dealt from the shoe. If any of the cards on the table do not match the cards that were dealt, then an anomaly has be found. This is another unique situation that may be monitored by the illustrated embodiment of the invention, which uses two systems to determine if cards have been added/removed from the table.

At step 210, the table manager 180 determines from the various real time comparisons, whether there is an anomaly. The table manager 180 can also determine if there have been any invalid actions, by the player or dealer, based on the state of the game at that time. One non-limiting example includes late wagering. If the table manager 180 determines from the various real time comparisons that there was at least one anomaly, then the process 200 continues at step 240 (FIG. 5C) for anomaly processing (described below).

If the table manager 180 determines from the various real time comparisons that there was no anomaly, then the process 200 continues at step 212 where the table manager 180 determines if the round has been completed. If the round has not been completed, the process 200 continues at step 206 for further real time, in-game processing of the game/table information from the numerous data sources in the system 100. If, at step 212, the table manager determines that the round has been completed, the process 200 continues at step 214 where the table manager 180 collects game/table data from all of the sources in the system 100.

At step 214, after a round of the game has ended, the table manager 180 makes a series of real time, post game comparisons/investigations of the input data. Some of these non-limiting comparisons include a comparison of: (1) cards on the table versus the cards dealt; (2) cards positions on table versus the position on the table when dealt; (3) the values of chips wagered versus the value of the chips on table (and on a per player basis); and (4) the amount and values of the chips paid out versus any expected payouts. At step 218, the table manager 180 determines from the various real time comparisons, whether there is an anomaly. For example, the table manager 180 can determine if there has been any capping or pinching of bets, or if there has been any card reversal or card switching. The table manager 180 can also determine if there are any deviations in individual or total player payouts. If the table manager 180 determines from the various real time comparisons that there was at least one anomaly, then the process 200 continues at step 240 for anomaly processing (described below).

If the table manager 180 determines from the various real time comparisons that there was no anomaly, then the process 200 continues at step 220 where the table manager 180 performs history-based/statistical comparisons. History-based comparisons can be made to track individual player performance (i.e., amount of winning and losing bets) and gaming habits (types of wagers and when made), and actions by the dealer. Alternatively, the history-based comparisons maybe performed by the games management system 175, tracker 185 or server 190. These comparisons can determine if there have been several minor anomalies, that when tallied amount to a much larger/major anomaly. Almost any time of comparisons can be made at this time. If the table manager 180 determines from the comparisons that there was at least one anomaly, then the process 200 continues at step 240 for anomaly processing (described below). If the table manager 180 determines from the comparisons that there is no anomaly, then the process 200 continues at step 202 to prepare for and initiate a new round of the game.

If the table manager 180 determines from the various real time comparisons that there was an anomaly at either steps 210 (in-game anomaly), 218 (post-game anomaly) or 222 (history-based anomaly), then the process 200 continues at step 240, where the anomaly is processed. At step 240, the table manager 180 determines the priority index for the anomaly. Sample indexes which may be used to assign priorities are illustrated above with respect to table I, above. At step 242, the table manager 180 generates an alert based on the anomaly and the priority index of the anomaly. The alert is then output to the central server 190 for appropriate dispersal throughout the network 101 (as described above). In a preferred embodiment, particularly one in which historical information is tracked and historical anomalies are to be reported, the table manager 180 may output the alerts to the games management system 175 in addition to, or instead of, outputting the alerts to the central server 190.

Once the alerts are output, the table manager 180 determines if it should be the end of the round (e.g., if the anomaly was a level 5 anomaly, the game should be stopped regardless of the state of the game). The table manager 180 can use the game state information to allow the game to continue from the point at which the anomaly was detected, assuming the anomaly has a low-level priority index. However, the table manager 180 can determine that the game should be terminated (i.e., the anomaly has a high-level priority index). If it is determined that the game should continue, the process 200 continues at step 206. Otherwise, the process 200 continues at step 202 to prepare for and initiate a new round of the game.

FIG. 6 illustrates another embodiment of system 300 that is suitable for use with a blackjack casino table 310. Components of the system 300, which are the same or substantially similar to components within system 100 (FIG. 4) are labeled with the same reference numbers. Similar to system 100, system 300 contains many components designed to capture various forms of information about the game being played at the table 310 (e.g., blackjack), the players playing the game, wager amounts and payouts, and the dealer responsible for the game. As is described below in more detail, the information is captured, processed and acted upon (e.g., generation of alerts) in real time. This system is necessarily more complex as a variety of actions can be taken by players to play the game. The game also requires the player to make strategic decisions that can be unpredictable. It is therefore advantageous to use monitoring equipment to track this type of game in particular.

In system 300, the blackjack table 310 is equipped with a card shoe 312 providing card rank and suit recognition capabilities. That is, the shoe 312 contains optical character recognition (OCR) capabilities to determine the rank and suit of each card dealt from the shoe. In one embodiment, the shoe 312 will be equipped with a button and is programmed to display on a display screen on the shoe 312 the rank and suit of the last card drawn from the shoe 312. In another embodiment, the shoe 312 is programmed to receive communications (via optional communication medium 313 a) from a table manager 380. One such communication includes the detection that the dealer has dealt a twenty-one to the dealer hand (i.e., an alert that the dealer has a blackjack). One exemplary shoe 312 contains a display for displaying the alert and/or a sound system for generating an audible dealer blackjack alert. Suitable shoes, and means for operating the shoes, having the button and/or alert notification mechanism and two way communications with a table manager 380 are disclosed in co-pending application serial no. (reference PA1735.AP.us), filed on the same date as the present application. The shoe 312 is suitable for use in implementing a no-peek blackjack determination that prevents a player from seeing the dealer's hole card.

The card shoe 312 is in communication with the system table manager 380 (described in more detail below), and transmits the card shoe information over a communication medium 313 to the system table manager 380, which inputs and processes the card shoe 312 information to determine if there have been any anomalies during a round of the game (described below in more detail). The game rules may reside in the video interface 370 and the table manager 380 uses data from both sources to detect anomalies. The data transmission mediums 313, 313 a may be wireless or wired network communications medium. The card shoe 312 may also include a display region to provide dealer instruction and game results to the dealer. The shoe 312 may also include a dealer interface such that the dealer may reset the shoe 312 and begin a new round of play.

Also shown on the table 310 are game chips 130 a in the player wagering areas 17, 19, 21, 23, 25, 27, 29. In a preferred embodiment of the invention, RFID tagged chips are used in conjunction with RFID antennas/transmitters 361, 362, 363, 364, 365, 366, 367 located within or underneath the table 310. The RFID antennas/transmitters 361, 362, 363, 364, 365, 366, 367 respectively pick up the values of the game chips using RFID or similar technology and then transmit the chip information to the system table manager 380 via a communication medium 368. French U.S. Pat. Nos. 5,651,548 and 5,735,742 describe RFID chips and chip reading systems that may be used as the game chips 130 a and RFID antennas/transmitters 361, 362, 363, 364, 365, 366, 367. Although not shown, one RFID antenna/transmitter could be located in the insurance area 15 of the table 310 to obtain the chip values of insurance wagers. In another embodiment, multiple individual antennas connected to medium 368 could be placed in the insurance area 15, and one associated with each player position.

The medium 368 may be a wireless or wired network communication medium. As is described below in more detail, the system table manager 380 will use the chip information to determine the amounts wagered by the players before and after the round (to see if there has been capping or pinching of bets) and may also use the chip information to determine if there have been any payouts anomalies at the end of the round.

The system 300 also includes overhead cameras 44, 46 connected to a ceiling 70 of the casino, and at least one other camera 42 either mounted to or in the vicinity of the table 310. These cameras 42, 44, 46 respectively communicate with a video interface 370 over communication media 158, 156, 154 (via video switch or multiplexer 179). The cameras 42, 44, 46 may also communicate with a surveillance computer system 150 over a communication medium 152 and a plasma screen/monitor 177 (via video switch or multiplexer 179) so that the video may be monitored by casino or security personnel. It should be appreciated that although only one connection to the surveillance computer system 150 from the cameras 42, 44, 46 is shown, video from all of the cameras may be sent to the system 150 if desired. As with the other communication media used in the system 300, the communication media 152, 154, 156, 158 may be wired, wireless or a combination of wireless and wired connections.

The video interface 370 (e.g., a computer system) is responsible for image processing and transmission of the items viewed by the cameras 42, 44, 46 in real time. In this example, the system is capable of tracking the progress of play, since the rules of blackjack are stored in its memory. Game states such as (1) active table, (2) dealer dealing, (3) place wagers, (4) close wagers, (5) take hits, (6) double down, (7) insurance, (8) dealer blackjack, (9) player blackjack, (10) player bust, and the like are monitored. Dealt card values, wagers and other table activity can be imaged using the cameras 42, 44, 46 and video interface 370. The video interface 370 may be implemented in a general purpose computer system, a network server or other processor system as is generally known in the art. As an optional feature, a form of optical chip recognition may also be implemented using the cameras 42, 44, 46 and evaluation software in the video interface 370. As such, the video interface 370 may process chip images and values on the gaming table 310. The video interface 370 processes the video images to create table data that is sent to the system table manager 380 via communication medium 313 b. The medium 313 b may be a wireless or wired network communications medium. The video interface 370 is sophisticated enough to recognize the rank and suit of playing cards, recognize monetary denominations, and the relative value of the chips 130 a. It should be appreciated, however, that adding RFID wagering information is desirable and advantageous since video alone could be effected by lighting, shading, player movement, etc. whereas the RFID chip information is not subject to these effects.

In the illustrated embodiment, the video interface 370 contains game rules software for tracking the state of the blackjack game. In system 100, the video interface 170 did not have this capability, which is one reason why the card shoe 112 contained a game rules module. In the illustrated embodiment, the video interface 370 transmits, via communication medium 313 b, the game, table and game state data to the table manager 380, which evaluates whether there have been any pre, post and in-game anomalies.

As can been seen, the cameras 42, 44, 46 are placed to achieve a full view of the gaming table surface, and are positioned to give the best vantage point for the desired application. The cameras 42, 44, 46 can be mounted to the ceiling 70 or on a pole/post adjacent the table 310. Cameras can also be close to the gaming surface, if it is desired to image chip stacks, for example. An optical or magnetic synchronizing sensor 33 can be used to detect the presence of an object on the gaming surface of the table 310. The sensor, if used, may activate the cameras 42, 44, 46 and trigger image acquisition. Every image is processed and transmitted to the system table manager 380.

The remainder of the system 300 comprises a network 301 of components that may be at the table or in a back office or other room of the casino. Part of this network 301 is the video interface 370 described above, the other parts of the network include the table manager 380, a central server 390, and the surveillance system 150. Optional components of the network 301 may also include a blackjack tracker 385 and/or a games management system 175 (described above). The components of the network 301 may be connected by wireless and/or wired communication media. The blackjack tracker 385 (as well as the baccarat tracker 185) are capable of generating reports and issuing alerts.

The system table manager 380 may be implemented in a general purpose computer system, a network server or other processor system as is generally known in the art. The table manager 380 will contain computer implemented processing (i.e., process 200 illustrated in FIGS. 5A-5C and described above) that may be stored on a computer readable medium of the general purpose computer system. As such, the processing and functions of the table manager 380 may be stored as a computer program on a computer readable medium, or downloaded from a computer server over a network to the general purpose computer. The table manager 380 will receive the real time card data from the card shoe 312 over the wired/wireless communication medium 313. The table manager 380 will receive the real time chip data from antennas 361-367 over the wired/wireless communication medium 368. The table manager 380 will also receive the card, chip and game state data from the video interface 370 over the network connection between the table manager 380 and video interface 370.

As is described above with reference to FIGS. 5A-5C, the table manager 380 contains deviation analysis software that integrates the various forms of input data, compiles, interprets and associates the data with known anomaly references or specific conditions that equate to blackjack game rule violations. The table manager 380 analyzes and compares the data to determine whether valid or invalid actions have occurred before, during and after a round of the game, detects and categorizes any anomalies, and generates alerts. The anomalies can be prioritized. Because some of the data may overlap (e.g., card rank and suit data may be obtained from the shoe 312 and the video data, chip data may be obtained from the RFID information and the video data), the table manager 380 has built-in redundancy. Certain anomalies can only be detected with redundant systems (i.e., cards dealt v. cards imaged). Redundancy also improves reliability. For example, if one of the sources of information is malfunctioning or if it misses a card, chip, etc., the table manager 380 can still detect anomalies. Alerts are generated and distributed by the table manager 380 to the central server 390. In one embodiment, the table manager 380 can send the alerts to the games management system 175, if included in the system 300. In another embodiment, the alerts are sent to both the central server 390 and the games management system 175. The table manager 380 operates in real time, something the prior art security monitoring systems could not do.

In one embodiment, the table manager 380 tags game deviations/anomalies with one of five sequential priority levels illustrated in Table I described above. The levels are used to determine what type of alert to generate. The table manager 380 is capable of detecting pinching and/or capping of bets, card switching, and card reversal, as well as discrepancies in the casino table's chip trays (if monitored) and its payouts of winning bets. In addition, the table manager 380 contains a plurality of rules-based anomalies, which must also be monitored for a game of blackjack. The table manager 380 would operate process 200 (described above with reference to FIGS. 5A-5C) to monitor all possible anomalies.

It should be noted that the process 200 would input game data, chip image data (if desired) and game state data from the video interface 370 and would only receive card data from the card shoe 312. In addition, the process 200 could output an alert to the card shoe 312. In addition, the process 200 performs the same pre, post and in-game monitoring steps to determine bet capping and pinching, card reversal and card switching and payout determinations. In addition, in-game and post-game monitoring steps (i.e., steps 206-210 and 214-218) would make additional comparisons designed to see if there have been any rules-based anomalies (shown below in Table II). A complete description of a process 200 for blackjack has been omitted for convenience purposes.

Table II below, lists exemplary blackjack rules-based anomalies that are monitored by the table manager 380. The monitoring of and/or the responses to some anomalies in Table II may be set through system configuration options by casino personnel using a user interface to the table manager 380 (not shown). All of these anomalies, as well as others, may be assigned to any one of the levels illustrated in Table I (described above). In a desired embodiment, the casino personnel can set the priority levels for all of the anomalies through the user interface to the table manager 380 or through a connection to the network 301 (e.g., system 150).

TABLE II
Blackjack Rules-based Anomalies
Category Anomaly/Response
Correct initial deal For all wager locations with a wager placed before start of the round,
all players receive one face up card, from dealer's left to dealer's right.
Correct initial deal Dealer gets one face down card after all wagered positions get a face
up card, but before a second card is dealt to a player.
Correct initial deal For all betting spots with a wager placed before start of round, all
players receive a second face up card after the dealer receives a face
down card. If cards are dealt out of order, generate an alert.
Correct initial deal Dealer gets a second face down card after all wagered positions get a
2nd face up card, but before any player receives an additional card, or
any wagers are paid. Dealer flips face up the first card received, and
places face down the second card under the first card.
Dealer has 21 Two cards totaling 21 are face up in dealer's card region. No
additional cards are dealt to dealer or any wagered positions.
Insurance If an insurance bet is paid, and the dealer shows anything but 2 cards
totaling 21, generate an alert.
Insurance If an insurance bet is collected, and the dealer shows exactly 2 cards
totaling 21, generate an alert.
Player reneges on If a pair is split, and a second wager placed, but BEFORE an additional
split or double down card is dealt to the table and the second bet removed, if the pair is
reassembled, NO ALERT. If a second wager is placed, appearing to be
a double-down, but BEFORE an additional card is dealt to the table,
and the second bet removed, NO ALERT. If for either condition the
second bet is removed, after a card has been delivered, or the cards are
reconfigured into one hand, generate an alert.
Player split, or resplit A pair of cards with the same rank ONLY can be split or resplit. A
corresponding additional bet must be seen to correspond to that split.
If a split occurs that does not meet these conditions, generate an alert.
Player double (or Any hand that receives an additional chip stack, and a card more than
double after split) 45 degrees off-center to the rest of the hand is a double. If an
additional chip stack appears for a hand, but the card if not laid down
as a double, generate an alert. If a card is laid down as a double, but no
additional chip stack exists, generate an alert.
Player double If a double down condition is ascertained, and two or more hit cards
after the double are detected, generate an alert.
Player Blackjack For players showing a 21 total on two cards, and system configuration
option set to allow pay-outs out of normal pay out of rotation, allow
pay out. If option is NOT selected, and a player is paid before dealer
cards are shown, generate an alert.
Busted hand If a hand is removed from the table that totals 21 or less before the
dealer's cards are both face up, generate an alert.
Busted hand If a hand totaling 22 or greater and bet is left on the table after both
dealer's cards are face up, OR if another player receives a card,
generate an alert.
Dealer hit rules Allow configuration option for dealer hit rules to specify on what total
(or higher) a dealer should stand, and if the dealer should hit on a
“soft” of that total (i.e., soft 17). If dealer fails to hit when he should,
or fails to stand when he should, generate an alert.
Dealer has 21 If a dealer dealt a card to any player, and a 21 on exactly 2 cards is
exposed when the dealer flips his hold card, generate an alert.
Dealer hole card If a dealer fails to show at least 2 cards face up in the dealer area of the
table after player cards are exposed, generate an alert.

The central server 390 is connected to the table manager 180. The central server 390 may be implemented in a general purpose computer system, a network server or other processor system as is generally known in the art. Although shown as separate components, in one embodiment, the table manager 380 is implemented as an application on the central server 390. That is, the functions of the table manager 380 and the central server 390 may reside in one piece of hardware (e.g., a server or computer system). The central server 390 is responsible for distributing the prioritized alerts throughout the network 301 and outside the network (if desired) over wired or wireless communications path 392. The alerts are routed to various data sinks based on the alert priority. The higher the priority, the greater number of data sinks the alert information is routed to. Alert transmissions may be routed directly to the table 310 (via communications path 392 to a device at the table or on the dealer), across the network 301 to remote viewing stations (e.g., system 150), databases, and any wired/wireless communication device that communicates with the network 301.

In one embodiment, the shoe 312 contains a display, speaker or other alert notification device. An optional communication path 313 a from the table manager 380 to the shoe is used to transmit an alert to the table via the shoe 312. In one embodiment, the alert information can be projected onto one or more plasma televisions/monitors/screens 177 used to view image data from the cameras 42, 44, 46 and the video interface 370. The central server 390 stores relevant gaming information (both real time and historical information). The central server 390 may also process alert information received from the table manager 380 if needed. The central server 390 can generate its own alerts and can email or otherwise transmit any relevant information or reports using communications path 392 or any connection to the network 301. The central server 390 may generate and distribute reports based on the information received from the table manager 380.

In a preferred embodiment, the central server 390 may interface with and drive the blackjack tracker 385. The blackjack tracker 385 is a statistical-based system that sequences through a live game of blackjack (based on the data received from the central server 390) to process actions taken during the round and over numerous rounds. The tracker 385 is capable of compiling the data that can only be obtained by collecting game play information over a time period. One such anomaly that may be detected is card counting, which is of particular concern to a casino administering a game of blackjack. The blackjack tracker 385 may be implemented as part of the central server 390, thus alleviating the need for an additional server/computer system dedicated solely to the blackjack tracking functions.

In another embodiment, alerts are dispatched to the games management system 175 (described above). The system management system 175 includes an intelligent alert package, which alerts pit personnel and surveillance teams using a color coded or numerical-based alert system corresponding to alert priority levels. The system management system 175 may also dispatch the alerts across the network 301 to remote viewing stations (e.g., system 150), databases, and any wired/wireless communication device that communicates with the network 301. Player profiling is also included in the system management system 175 so that specific player bet attributes may be recorded and tracked. The games system management system 175 allows pit personnel more time to do their jobs without being tied to a cumbersome data entry system.

In a desired embodiment, the baccarat tracker 185 may be the Bloodhound™ software product designed to monitor a game of baccarat provided by Shuffle Master, Inc. Likewise, in another desired embodiment, the blackjack tracker 385 may be the Bloodhound™ software product designed to monitor a game of blackjack also provided by Shuffle Master, Inc. The Bloodhound™ products provide real-time and post-game session analysis of game state, game data, player decisions and game outcome to e.g., determine a gambler's playing habits. For example, the baccarat tracker 185 implementing the Bloodhound™ for baccarat product can determine if the player is placing large bets only during hands that are favorable to the player (i.e., first card cheating). For example, the blackjack tracker 385 implementing the Bloodhound™ for blackjack product can determine if the player is counting cards or otherwise placing large bets with knowledge of the dealer's hold card.

Although the embodiments of the invention have been described with reference to a games of baccarat and blackjack, it should be appreciated that they may be applicable to other casino communal or non-communal games. That is, the systems 100, 300 and process 200 may be modified to monitor a game of mini-baccarat, or other card games. Games with side bets and large payout odds or progressive payouts would benefit from a monitoring system of the invention. Modifications to the rules and game events in the game rules module in the shoe 112 (if used) and the processing of the table managers 180, 380 would be required to implement the different types of card games. The systems 100, 300 and process 200 could also be used for dice games (e.g., craps) and roulette, if desired.

Other embodiments of the present invention include one or more of the components described above in different combinations. For example, a system could be configured to process the output of the camera imagers and video interface as well as output from a dealing shoe or card shuffler capable of determining the rank and suit of dispensed cards. The information may be processed in a manner to correlate the data for subsequent storage and data analysis. An example of a suitable card shuffler that is capable of reading the rank and/or suit of cards and dispensing cards into a card game is included in co-pending application Ser. No. 11/481,407, filed Jul. 5, 2006. The processor may optionally perform a variety of functions including detecting anomalies and issuing alerts.

The camera imagers and video interface could be combined with wager sensing equipment on the table. Data from the video interface and wager sensing equipment may be inputted into a processor and correlated for storage and data analysis. The processor in this instance may also perform a variety of functions, including detecting anomalies and issuing alerts.

In some examples of the invention, a card reading shoe and or shuffler is the only device in the system that collects and outputs card information. This information may be combined with wager sensing equipment, such as RFID chips and antennas and inputted into a processor, for correlation, storage and data analysis. The processor may optionally detect anomalies and issue alerts.

It might be desirable to provide redundant data collection functions and collect the information in a processor capable of correlating the data. For example, a desirable system might include camera imagers, a video interface, a card-reading device such as a card shoe or a shuffler, and also wager sensing equipment. The processor may optionally be configured to detect anomalies and issue alerts.

When the processor is configured to detect anomalies and issue alerts, it is desirable to provide a game rule module. This module may reside within one or more of the data acquisition devices, may reside within the same computer as the video interface or may be located at a distal computer. It is important to note that some of the anomaly detections are not possible without a game module to monitor game state and the progress of the game.

When a game module is part of the system, the module preferably resides within the card handling device for a baccarat system, and within the video interface for a blackjack system. In other forms of the invention, the game module resides within the table manager, or in a distal computer.

For embodiments that include provide the anomaly detection and alert functionality, the systems would include a game rules module and a table manager in combination with one or more of the following: (1) a card handling device with card reading capability; (2) wager sensing equipment; (3) a camera imaging system with video interface; (4) one or more proximity detectors; and (5) other data acquisition devices, such as player identification i.d. card swipe, dealer i.d. card swipe, player tracking equipment, bet present sensors, and the like.

While the embodiments of the invention have been described in detail in connection with preferred embodiments known at the time, it should be readily understood that the invention is not limited to the disclosed embodiments. Rather, the invention can be modified to incorporate any number of variations, alterations, substitutions or equivalent arrangements not heretofore described, but which are commensurate with the spirit and scope of the invention. Accordingly, the invention is not limited by the foregoing description or drawings, but is only limited by the scope of the appended claims.

Referenced by
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US8298062 *May 11, 2010Oct 30, 2012Universal Entertainment CorporationGaming machine that navigates dealer in a game operation input in roulette game
US20090054130 *Apr 27, 2007Feb 26, 2009Gaming Partners InternationalSystem, Apparatus, and Method For Calculating Bets In Casino Table Games, In Particular For Poker Games
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US20100267434 *Mar 8, 2010Oct 21, 2010Patrick CharackyPlay and tape recording system for gambling games
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US20110014969 *Jul 16, 2009Jan 20, 2011IgtAward frequency analysis (afa) security auditor
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Classifications
U.S. Classification463/29, 463/43
International ClassificationA63F9/24
Cooperative ClassificationG07F17/32, G07F17/3241, A63F3/00157, G07F17/3232
European ClassificationG07F17/32E6, G07F17/32H, A63F3/00A32, G07F17/32
Legal Events
DateCodeEventDescription
Nov 4, 2010ASAssignment
Owner name: WELLS FARGO BANK, NA, AS ADMINISTRATIVE AGENT, NEV
Free format text: SECURITY AGREEMENT;ASSIGNOR:SHUFFLE MASTER, INC.;REEL/FRAME:025314/0772
Effective date: 20101029
Dec 6, 2006ASAssignment
Owner name: SHUFFLE MASTER, INC., NEVADA
Free format text: ASSIGNMENT OF ASSIGNORS INTEREST;ASSIGNORS:CZYZWESKI, ZBIGNIEW;POKORNY, DAVID;REEL/FRAME:018670/0895
Effective date: 20061129