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United States Patent Application 20120061915
Kind Code A1
Snow; Roger M. March 15, 2012

High-mid-low variant of Pai Gow poker

Abstract

A poker card game which uses physical playing cards or electronic virtual cards displayed on a video screen is disclosed. Steps in the play of the game may include: a player placing a wager to enter the poker card game; a dealer dealing at least six cards to at least one player to form three distinct player hands comprising a player at least three card high hand, a player at least two card mid hand and a player at least one card low hand; the dealer dealing at least six cards to the dealer to form three distinct dealer hands comprising a dealer at least three card high hand, a dealer at least two card mid hand and a dealer at least one card low hand; the dealer setting the three distinct dealer hands according to the house rules of setting hands; comparing the three distinct dealer hands to the respective three distinct player hands; and paying the player on the poker game wager if at least two of the three distinct player hands outranks at least two of the three respective distinct dealer hands.


Inventors: Snow; Roger M.; (Las Vegas, NV)
Serial No.: 807745
Series Code: 12
Filed: September 13, 2010

Current U.S. Class: 273/292
Class at Publication: 273/292
International Class: A63F 1/00 20060101 A63F001/00


Claims



1. A method for playing a poker card game using physical playing cards or electronic virtual cards displayed on a video screen, comprising: A dealer requiring a player to place a wager to enter the poker card game; a dealer dealing a set of at least six cards to at least one player and requiring the player to form three distinct player hands comprising at least a player three card high hand, a player at least two card mid hand and a player at least one card low hand; the dealer dealing a set of at least six cards to the dealer to form three distinct dealer hands comprising a dealer at least three card high hand, a dealer at least two card mid hand and a dealer at least one card low hand; the dealer setting the three distinct dealer hands according to a set of house way rules of setting hands; the dealer comparing the three distinct dealer hands to the respective three distinct player hands; the dealer paying the player on the poker game wager if at least two of the three distinct player hands outranks at least two of the three respective distinct dealer hands.

2. The method of claim 1, wherein the dealer allows the player an option to place at least a first side bet wager that is paid when a predetermined event occurs in the play of the game.

3. The method of claim 2, wherein the dealer allows a player an option to place a second side bet wager that is paid according to another predetermined criteria, wherein the another predetermined criteria is selected from the group consisting of a paytable and a progressive jackpot.

4. The method of claim 2, wherein the predetermined event and payout for the event are determined according to a paytable.

5. The method of claim 1, wherein in the dealer comparing the three distinct player hands to three distinct dealer hands, at least one tie between specific player and dealer hands is considered a loss for the player.

6. The method of claim 1, wherein a card handling device with playing card recognition capacity reads each card in each set of cards to provide set information to a processor and each set of cards is then hand delivered to each player and the dealer.

7. The method of claim 6, wherein the card handling device is selected from the group consisting of a shoe or a shuffler.

8. The method of claim 7, wherein the processor is programmed with rules for setting sets of cards into a high-hand, mid-hand and low-hand, and the processor determines how each hand can be strategically played for a statistically best long term result.

9. The method of claim 8, wherein the statistically best long term result is provided to individual players by the dealer with respect to their individual hands.

10. The method of claim 8, wherein the dealer allows individual players to request that the processor determine how to set the player hands.

11. The method of claim 10, where the dealer's hand is automatically set into three hands according to a look-up table with identical statistically best long term results provided to the dealer as are provided to individual players with respect to their individual hands.

12. The method of claim 1, wherein the poker card game is played on a gaming platform selected from the group consisting of a traditional gaming table, a video gaming machine, an electronic gaming platform, and a hybrid thereof.

13. The method of claim 1, wherein each set of cards consist of six cards, and one three-card hand, one two-card hand, and one one-card hand is formed from each set.

14. A method of administering a wagering game, comprising: A dealer accepting a primary wager from each player to enter the game; A dealer dealing each player and the dealer a set of six cards each; The dealer setting cards from the set into: A three-card high hand; A two-card mid hand; and A one-card low hand according to a set of predetermined house way hand setting rules; The dealer requiring the player to either elect to set three hands from the player set of cards or the dealer setting the player hands according to a set of predetermined house way hand setting rules, wherein each player's set of cards are set into; A three-card high hand; A two-card mid hand; and A one-card low hand The dealer comparing the dealer and player high, mid and low hands and paying the player a payout when at least two of the three player hands outrank the same two dealer hands.

15. The method of claim 14, and further comprising the dealer permitting each player to make a first optional side bet on the occurrence of a predetermined winning five-card poker hand formed from the set of six player cards.

16. The method of claim 14, and further comprising the dealer paying a first player who made a qualifying first bonus wager an envy bonus payout when another player holds a qualifying first bonus hand.

17. The method of claim 14 and further comprising the dealer permitting each player to make a second optional side bet on the occurrence of all three of the player hands outranking all three of the dealer hands.

18. The method of claim 16, wherein the dealer pays the envy bonus to the first player only when the first player holds a winning first bonus hand.

19. The method of claim 18, wherein first bonus payouts and envy bonus payouts are made according to the following pay table: TABLE-US-00007 Hand Fortune Pays Envy Bonus 5 Aces 1,000 to 1 $500 Royal Flush 500 to 1 $50 Straight Flush 50 to 1 $10 4 of a Kind 40 to 1 $5 Full House 9 to 1 Flush 6 to 1 Straight 4 to 1 3 of a Kind 3 to 1 2 Pair 2 to 1
Description



BACKGROUND OF THE INVENTION

[0001] 1. Field of the Invention

[0002] The present invention relates to the field of gaming, particularly casino table card gaming, and more particularly to casino table card games in which players arrange an initial set of playing cards into multiple hands played against multiple hands set by a house/dealer.

[0003] 2. Background of the Art

[0004] Traditional poker and variant poker games, such as Pai Gow poker, are known in the art. The following rules are for Pai Gow poker:

[0005] Public domain Pai Gow poker is a variation of the Chinese domino game pai gow. Pai Gow poker is played with a 53-card deck, including a joker. The game is head to head play against the house or banker.

[0006] A player enters the game by placing a wager. Then the player and dealer receive seven cards each. Typically the player who receives the first set of cards is determined by a roll of dice or a randomly generated number. This number may be generated by an automatic card shuffler, such as the device described in Breeding U.S. Pat. No. 5,275,411. Each player then arranges his or her seven cards into a five-card hand and a two-card hand. The five-card hand uses traditional poker rankings. The two-card hand is scored by pairs beating two single cards, and then by the individual rank of the cards. The highest two-card hand is a pair of aces, and the lowest possible two-card hand is 3-2.

[0007] After each player has arranged his hand, the banker arranges his hand according to a set of fixed rules known as the "house way," which may vary depending on casino preferences. One example of a house way for traditional Pai Gow poker is the Trump Plaza.TM. house way. According to the Trump Plaza.TM. house way, the "front" refers to the two-card hand and the "back" refers to the five-card hand. The "front" and "back" designations refer to the location of the hand with respect to the player at the table.

[0008] The hands are set according to the following rules:

TABLE-US-00001 No Pair Place the highest card in the back and the next two highest cards in the front. One Pair Place the pair in back and the next two highest cards in the front. Two pair: Use the following groups to determine how to play a two pair: 2 through 6: Low pair 7 through 10: Medium pairs Jack through king: High pairs Low pair and low pair: Split unless holding a king or better, then play two pair in the back. Low pair and medium pair: Split unless holding a king or better, then play two pair in the back. Low pair and high pair: Split unless holding an ace, then play two pair in the back. Medium pair and medium pair: Split unless holding an ace, then play two pair in the back. Medium pair and high pair: Always split. High pair and high pair: Always split. Pair of aces and any other pair: Always split. Three Pair Always play highest pair in front. Three of a kind Always play three of a kind in back unless they are aces, then play a pair of aces in back and one ace in front. Three of a kind twice Always play highest pair in front Straights, flushes, straight flushes, and royal flush .dwnarw. With no pair: When choosing whether to play a straight, flush, or straight flush play the category which will allow the highest two cards in front. With 6th or 7th card: Play the lower straight or flush in the back to place the highest cards in front. With one pair Play pair in the front only if a straight, flush, or straight flush can be played in the back. With two pair Use two pair rule With three pair Use three pair rule With three of a kind Play pair in front. With full house Use full house rule Full house: Always split unless the pair is twos and you have an ace and a king to play in the front. Full house with three of a Play the highest pair in front. kind and two pairs Full house with three of a Always play the highest pair in front. kind twice: Four of a kind Play according to the rank of the four of a kind: 2 through 6: Always keep together. 7 through 10: Split unless a king or better can be played in front. Jack through king: Split unless an ace can be played in front. Aces: Always split. Four of a kind and a pair: Play pair in front. Four of a kind and three Play pair in front from the three of a of a kind kind. Five aces: Split aces and play three aces in back and two aces in front unless you have a pair of kings, then play five aces in back and kings in front.

[0009] This is merely one example of a set of "house way" hand setting rules. Then the player's five-card hand is compared to the dealer's five-card hand. Likewise, the player's two-card hand is compared to the dealer's two-card hand. In the event of a tie between both hands, called a copy, the tie goes to the banker. If the player beats the dealer with two higher ranking hands (the five-card hand and the two card hand), the player wins even money, less a 5% commission. If the player holds one higher ranking and one lower ranking hand (between the five-card hand and the 2-card hand), the bet is a push. If the player holds two lower ranking hands, the player loses the wager.

[0010] When setting the hands, the two-card hand may not be higher in rank than the five-card hand. The player may ask the dealer to assist in setting the hands. If the player sets the hands and the two-card hand rank is higher, then both hands are deemed "fouled" and both lose. The joker can only be used to complete a straight, flush, or straight flush, otherwise it is treated as an ace. When used in a flush, the joker takes the rank of the highest unused card.

[0011] At some casinos, if there is an empty seat, the dealer will also deal a "dragon" hand to the empty player position. Another player may assume the dragon hand if he wishes, essentially playing two positions rather than one. The player is typically required to use the house way in setting the dragon hand.

[0012] Typically, in Pai Gow poker any player may elect to be the banker in turn. Many card rooms still allow this practice, however, most larger casinos no longer allow a player to serve as the banker. If a player banks the game a 5% commission is charged on the net win. When a player is the banker the dealer will still play, betting an amount equal to the last bet the player made when the dealer was banking. It is advantageous to the player to be the banker because the banker collects wins on copies and the banker charges a 5% commission after losses are set against winnings. The opportunity to bank should rotate around the table, skipping players who decline to bank. If a player wishes to bank, the player must have enough money on the table to pay off all winning bets to the other players and dealer. The player/banker must also have played a previous hand against the house banker. The player/banker must set his or her hand by the house way.

[0013] The house way of setting hands depends on the particular casino and complexity of the particular casino game. Dealers are typically trained in the house way of setting hands by the casino and are expected to memorize the rules to do so. However, an inexperienced dealer or a dealer learning a new table game may slow play and/or, make mistakes, resulting in a loss of revenue.

[0014] There is a published card game that has been marketed under the name of 221.TM. Commission Free Triple Hand Pai Gow. A rack card describes the game displays play as follows:

TABLE-US-00002 221 Steps 6 cards Three hands of 2 cards each Hands are Hi, Mid and Lo Each hand is individually played One bet per hand No side bets shown Payout 1:1 on Pai Gow All bets are equal There is a "House Way" of setting hands The player may set hands as desired

Other Pai Gow variants and multi-hand poker games are shown in U.S. Pat. Nos. 7,487,970 and 6,871,855 (Ko); 7,481,434 and 7,195,244 and 6,793,220 (Feola); 5,294,128 (Franklin)); 6,155,568 (Marquez); 6,474,646 (Webb); 6,626,435 (Kanamori); 6,007,424 (Evers); 5,863,041 (Boylan); 5,810,354 (Banyai); 5,921,550 and 5,988,643 (Awada); and 5,584,486 (Franklin). Player hand setting is shown for a specific game in Published U.S. Patent Document 20080171587 (Jackson). All references cited herein are incorporated in their entirety by reference.

SUMMARY OF THE INVENTION

[0015] A poker card game is disclosed which uses physical playing cards or alternatively electronic virtual cards displayed on a video screen. Steps in the play of the game include: a dealer requiring a player wager to enter the poker card game; a dealer dealing a set of at least six cards to at least one player to form three distinct player hands comprising a player at least three-card high hand, a player at least two-card mid hand and a player at least one card low hand; the dealer dealing a set of at least six cards to the dealer to form three distinct dealer hands comprising a dealer at least three-card high hand, a dealer at least two card mid hand and a dealer at least one card low hand; the dealer setting the three distinct dealer hands according to the house rules of setting hands; comparing the three distinct dealer hands to the respective three distinct player hands; and paying the player on the poker game wager if at least two of the three distinct player hands outranks at least two of the three respective distinct dealer hands. Games of the present invention are novel and non-obvious variants of the public domain game known as Pai Gow poker.

[0016] The game may alternatively be played by the dealer dealing three 2-card hands to each player and the dealer, with each 2-card hand having the same rules of rank (e.g., only pairs and high cards) or by varying the rules of rank, allowing flushes or straight flushes or straights in only one or two of the hands).

BRIEF DESCRIPTION OF THE FIGURES

[0017] FIG. 1 is an exemplary layout used to practice a method of the present invention.

[0018] FIG. 2 is an expanded view of a player wager area of the exemplary layout.

[0019] FIG. 3 is an exemplary game table surface incorporating a house way hand setting indicator.

[0020] FIG. 4 is an exemplary gaming table system utilizing credit wagering and the use of physical cards.

DETAILED DESCRIPTION OF THE INVENTION

[0021] A method for playing a variant of the game of Pai Gow Poker is disclosed. The preferred game is a three hand variant, although the invention contemplates more than three, for example, four and five hand versions of the same game. A preferred method of playing the game uses physical playing cards, such as a standard 52 card deck of cards with one Joker. The Joker in the present game is used in the same manner permitted in the game of Pai Gow Poker. That is, Jokers can be used to complete straights, flushes and straight flushes. Otherwise they are Aces. In using physical playing cards, a complete set of playing cards (e.g., a 52-card deck with one Joker) is provided as a complete set (either preshuffled or shuffled in a shuffler). From the complete set are provided a group of player cards used to form the player hands and a group of dealer's cards used to form the dealer hands from the complete set. In this manner, the complete set of cards is transformed into multiple randomized hands of player and dealer cards to be used in a single round of play of the game.

[0022] Although a preferred form of the game is offered in a live game format using live cards, in other embodiments, the game is played on electronic formats, or in hybrid formats that combine live card play (e.g., physical playing cards as described above) with credit wagering. When the game is played on an electronic platform, the platform is equipped with a display that displays the cards in a virtual format. In the use of the display, the pixel image components of the display (e.g., phosphors, liquid crystals, semiconductor emitters, light-emitting diodes and the like) are stimulated by direction of a processor to cause a temporary transformation of the light-emitting pixel components to portray an image of game information (e.g., playing cards), which temporary transformation will be reversed (stopped) in transitioning to another round of play.

[0023] The method comprises the step of the dealer receiving a mandatory wager from each player to enter the game or a gaming machine or platform accepting a wager from a player. The wager amount can be any amount within house limits. According to the method, the dealer deals at least six cards to at least one player and the dealer requires the player to form three distinct player hands. In other embodiments, more than three hands are required by the dealer to be formed, such as four or five hands. The hands in the three card version include a player three card high hand, a player at least two card mid hand and a player at least one card low hand. A preferred grouping of player hands includes a three card high hand, a two card mid hand and a one card low hand, using a total of 6 cards. Other groupings are contemplated, such as a 3 card high hand, a 3 card mid hand and a 2 card low hand, or three 3-card hands, or one 3-card hand and two 2-card hands, etc. The dealer may set a player's hand a "house way," for example by using the house way indicator system described in co-pending application Ser. No. 12/572,205 filed Oct. 1, 2009. The content of this application is incorporated by reference.

[0024] The game may also be simplified by playing three 2-card hands, with each 2-card hand having the same rules of rank (e.g., only pairs and high cards) or by varying the rules of rank, allowing flushes or straight flushes or straights in only one or two of the hands).

[0025] Although the preferred format requires the dealer to deal the exact number of cards needed to set each hand, in other embodiments, the dealer may deal additional cards may require the player to discard cards to form a best high, mid and low card hand. In other embodiments, the dealer may permit players to buy an additional card or cards to better a high, mid or low card hand. Alternatively, the rules may require the dealer to direct players to draw/discard cards, or use additional wild cards or special cards. An exemplary special card is a card of a fifth suit, or a bonus card, for example.

[0026] According to the method, the dealer also deals at least six cards to the dealer to form three distinct dealer hands comprising a dealer three card high hand, a dealer at least two card mid hand and a dealer at least one card low hand. A preferred grouping of dealer hands includes a three card high hand, a two card mid hand and a one card low hand. The dealer sets the three distinct dealer hands according to the house rules of setting hands, and preferably using a "house way" indicator, as described above. The variants above that are described with respect to the player hand also apply to the dealer hand. In one example of the invention, the dealer and players receive the same number of cards. In other forms of the invention, the dealer receives one or more cards than the players to improve the house edge, and the dealer is required to discard the excess card or cards.

[0027] According to one method of the present technology, after the hands are set, the three distinct dealer hands are compared to the respective three distinct player hands. Players are paid on the poker game wager if at least two of the three distinct player hands outrank at least two of the three respective distinct dealer hands. The ranking system in one example of the invention uses a known three-card poker ranking system to resolve the high hand. This system is used only to resolve the high (three card) hand in this example as the mid and low hands lack three cards. A preferred three card ranking system ranks cards (highest to lowest) as: straight flush, three of a kind, flush, pair, high card. The mid hand is resolved using pairs and high card. Straights, Flushes and Straight flushes are not considered in resolving the mid hand, because the preferred mid hand is a two-card hand. Rather, only pairs and high cards are considered. The low hand is preferably resolved on the basis of rank alone, since the low hand contains only one card. In other embodiments, when the hand is a three card hand, standard three-card poker rankings are instead used to determine relative rank. It is to be understood that the ranking system selected depends upon the number of cards in the hand. For example, if one hand contains 4 cards, known four card poker rankings would be used to resolve that hand.

[0028] In addition to the base game wager, the dealer allows a player to make a second optional side bet wager that pays when a predetermined event or one of a plurality of predetermined events occurs in the play of the game. In one embodiment, players win an odds bonus payout on the occurrence of all three of the player hands outranking all three of the dealer hands, referred to as a "hat trick". In one example of the invention, the player wins an odds payout on the occurrence of a hat trick.

[0029] An alternative hand ranking method could allow for "cumulative count" of cards determining a high hand, with the highest count winning on the hand. The low hand is resolved on the basis of the rank of the individual card.

[0030] A first optional wager may also be offered by the dealer. Payouts on this wager are made according to another predetermined criterion, wherein the another predetermined criterion is selected from the group consisting of a pay table and a progressive jackpot. In a preferred embodiment, the player makes a best five-card poker hand from the six available cards. The best hand in one example of the invention is compared to a look up table of standard five-card poker rankings and corresponding payout odds. Alternatively, pay table payouts may comprise fixed payout amounts, odds payout amounts, progressive payout amounts, portions of progressive payout amounts and combinations thereof.

[0031] In one preferred embodiment, the first optional wager pays on a plurality of predetermined winning 5-card poker hands, with corresponding payout odds. The less frequently occurring hands pay higher odds, while the more frequently occurring hands pay lower payout odds.

[0032] In addition to the base game wager, the dealer allows a player to make a second optional side bet wager that pays when a predetermined event or one of a plurality of predetermined events occurs in the play of the game. In one embodiment, players win an odds bonus payout on the occurrence of all three of the player hands outranking all three of the dealer hands, referred to as a "hat trick". In one example of the invention, the player wins an odds payout on the occurrence of a hat trick.

[0033] In a preferred embodiment, when the dealer determines that the player holds any two higher ranking hands than the dealer, the dealer awards the player a win on the mandatory wager. When any one of the hands tie, in a preferred embodiment, the total wager or the event outcome on that comparison of individual hands is a loss for the player. In other embodiments, if two or three hands tie, the wager may be a loss for the player. In some embodiments, the player must hold a higher ranking high hand wager, and must also beat the mid or low hand. In a less preferred embodiment, the player must beat the mid and low hand to win against the dealer. In yet other embodiments the players high, mid and low hand must outrank the dealer's high, mid and low hand to win on the primary wager.

[0034] In one form of the invention, the game is played according to a live gaming table format. Such a format typically includes a standard gaming table with a substantially horizontal gaming surface, and with a printed felt layout. Built into the table or positioned on the table is provided a card handling device, which in one example is an automatic card shuffling device with playing card recognition capacity. An example of a suitable device is disclosed in pending application Ser. No. 11/810,864, filed Jun. 6, 2007, the content which is incorporated by reference into entirety. The card handling device preferably is equipped with a processor that controls card handling functions, receives and stores card information from the card recognition components and also is programmed with "house way" hand setting instructions for the game. The shuffler reads each card in each set of cards. For example, when the shuffler is programmed to deliver a set of six cards to each player and the dealer, the identity of each card in each set is stored in the processor's memory. Each set of cards is delivered to each player and to the dealer. In other embodiments, the card handling device is a shoe, and in order to capture the identify of each card in the set, the dealer inputs a command to designate the first and last card dealt into the set of cards. This type of system is similar to and may be enabled according to the teachings of Published US Patent Application Document 20100090405 filed 1 Oct. 2009 (Roger Snow) which is incorporated herein by reference.

[0035] The processor preferably has memory and preconfigured hardware (e.g., FPGA or ASIC) content that may be accessed. In the memory may be stored a look-up table of possible arrangements of six or other number of cards into a high-hand, mid-hand and low-hand, and identifies how each hand should be set according to house way rules. One way to display the house way rules is to provide an electronic house way display on the gaming table, and to display the rank and/or suit of at least two of the three hands. Upon display, the dealer sets the hand according to the house way rules.

[0036] By setting hands the house way, games can be strategically played for a statistically best long term result. This statistically best long term result is provided to individual players with respect to their individual hands. The dealer may permit players an option to set their hand in any way they see fit. However, if they don't set the hands so that the highest hand outranks the mid hand, and the mid hand outranks the low hand, the dealer may call a "foul" and the player automatically loses the wager. In one embodiment, the dealer requires each player to set exemplary "House Way" rules "B" the player hands the house way.

Exemplary "House Way" Rules "B"

House Way

Garbage

[0037] 1. If Flush or better can be played in the high hand, and Q high in the mid hand, then best the low hand. [0038] a. When the higher single card in the mid hand is a K, if the lower one in the mid hand and the low hand card are all less than 9, then the higher card should be placed in the mid hand and the lower one placed in the low hand. Otherwise the higher card should be placed in the low hand. [0039] b. When the higher singleton in the mid hand is A, if the lower one in the mid hand and the low hand card are all less than 10, then the higher card should place in the mid hand and the lower one place in the low hand. Otherwise higher card should place in the low hand. [0040] 2. If a ten high can be played in the low hand, then form the best low hand first and then form the best high hand. [0041] 3. Keep best of Flush, Straight or Straight Flush in the high hand, and then make the best low hand. [0042] 4. If there is no Flush, Straight or Straight Flush in the high hand, then put the 1st, 5th, and 6th highest cards in the high hand, and put 3rd highest card in the low hand.

One Pair

[0042] [0043] 1. Try a pair in the mid hand and place the highest single card in the low. If the pair is Kings or Aces and the low hand is less than 8, then split the pair. [0044] 2. If a ten high can be played in the low hand, then form the best low hand and then form the best high hand. If the high hand is a pair, put the pair with the smallest card in the high hand. [0045] 3. Play best high (One Pair or better) hand and then best low hand. [0046] a. With a pair that is tens or better in the high hand and Q high in the mid, if the highest single card is less than a 10, then split the pair. Otherwise do not split the pair. [0047] b. If the high hand is a pair, put the pair with the smallest card in the high hand and then form the best low hand.

Two Pairs

[0048] Try a pair in the mid and best high hand. If the high hand is a pair, put the pair with the smallest card in the high hand.

Three Pairs

[0049] Play the middle pair with one high pair card in the high hand, low pair in the mid hand and one high pair card in the low hand.

Three of a Kind

[0050] 1. Place a pair in the mid hand, and place the highest single card in low hand. [0051] 2. If a ten high can be played in the low hand, then form the best low hand and then form the best high hand. [0052] a. If high hand is a pair, place the pair with the smallest single card in the high hand. [0053] b. Play three of a kind in the high and then make the best low hand. Three of a Kind with a Pair

[0054] Try a pair in the mid hand, then form the best high hand.

Three of a Kind Twice

[0055] Split up the high three of a kind between the low and mid hands.

Four of a Kind

[0056] Play a pair in the mid hand, and play the highest single card in the low hand.

Four of a Kind with a Pair

[0057] Play a pair in the mid hand, then form the best high hand.

[0058] When a house way display is provided, the rules of the game may allow individual players to electronically request house way instructions, by inputting a command, so that the statistically best long term result is provided to individual players with respect to their individual hands. This request can be inputted directly into the house way display touchscreen controls by the dealer or by the player. Upon displaying the house way for the hand, the player or preferably the dealer may then arrange the player cards the house way.

[0059] As with many casino games, games of the present invention preferably require the dealer to set all three hands according to a house way. This may be automatically accomplished by using an electronic house way indicator. Once the dealer's set of cards is read, the house way setting instructions for at least two of the hands is automatically displayed and the dealer arranges the cards accordingly. When the dealer sets his hand the house way, he is setting hands according to a look-up table with identical statistically best long term results as are provided to individual players with respect to their individual hands.

[0060] Games of the present invention may also be practiced on other gaming platforms, such as on an electronic gaming machine or EGM, on a multi-player EGM, on a chipless gaming table, which utilizes physical cards and simultaneously enables credit wagering.

[0061] In one example of the invention, a first optional wager pays odds payouts for a plurality of predetermined hand combinations. In addition, if the player's optional bonus wager meets or exceeds a predetermined threshold, the player may qualify for an envy bonus payout. Preferably, envy bonus pays odds based on the ranking of other player hands. For example, an exemplary threshold value is $5.00 on the first bonus wager. If a first player wins this wager and made a qualifying envy wager and another player also wins with certain hands triggering an envy bonus, the first player additionally wins an envy bonus. An exemplary pay table is provided below:

TABLE-US-00003 1.sup.st Bonus Hand Payout Envy Bonus 5 Aces 1,000 to 1 $500 Royal Flush 500 to 1 $50 Straight Flush 50 to 1 $10 4 of a Kind 40 to 1 $5 Full House 9 to 1 Flush 6 to 1 Straight 4 to 1 3 of a Kind 3 to 1 2 Pair 2 to 1

Example 1

[0062] The example of the invention is referred to as the Fortune San Lo Poker.TM. game, and features head-to-head play against a dealer with two optional bonus bets. The game is played with a 53-card deck that includes a semi-wild joker. The joker can be used as an ace, or to complete a straight flush, a straight and a flush. The dealer deals each player a set of exactly six cards to make three distinct poker hands: a high hand comprising three cards; a mid hand comprising two cards; and a low hand comprising one card.

[0063] The dealer also receives a set of exactly six cards and arranges them into three distinct poker hands according to a house way. The "house way" of setting hands is defined by a set of predetermined rules that provide specific guidelines on how each and every specific combination of six initial cards should be arranged into three distinct hands. One example of a suitable method of setting the hands the house way is shown in TABLE 1, below. Setting hands the "house way" provides the best long-term strategy for winning. The house way may vary from casino to casino and it is not uncommon to take as long as a week to train a dealer in the house way of setting hands. For this reason, it is desirable to provide a system for assisting the dealer in setting hands the house way, as described in co-pending application Ser. No. 12/572,205, filed Oct. 1, 2009, attorney docket number PA2723.ap.US, the content of which is hereby incorporated by reference.

TABLE-US-00004 TABLE 1 Hand Rule for setting hand Three card The dealer will play his lowest-valued highest ranking hand hand. For example, if the dealer's highest three-card hand is a straight, and the dealer has more than one straight, the dealer will play lowest straight. EXCEPTION: The dealer will play a higher valued highest ranking hand if doing so lets him play a pair in the 2-card hand. Two card The dealer will play his lowest value highest ranking hand hand. For example, if the dealer's three remaining cards are A , J , 7 , he will play A 7 in his two-card hand. One card The remaining card goes into this hand. hand

[0064] Once each player hand and the dealer hands are set, the dealer will proceed around the table and compare the dealer high hand against each player high hand, the dealer mid hand against each player mid hand, and the dealer low hand against each player low hand. In the event of a tie, the house wins. If at least two of the three distinct player hands outranks at least two of the three distinct dealer hands, then the player wins on the primary wager, otherwise the primary wager is lost. Preferably the player wins 1:1 odds on the primary bet but other payout schemes are contemplated, such as different odds, a fixed payout or other payout. Hands are ranked according to the following exemplary table. However, it is understood that any known poker rankings, or combinations thereof, could be used without deviating from the scope of the invention.

Ranking of Hands

TABLE-US-00005 [0065] Three card (high) hand: Straight flush (AKQ is highest, A23 is second highest) Three of a kind Straight (AKQ is highest, A23 is second highest) Flush Pair High card Two card (mid) hand: Pair High card One card (low) hand: High card

[0066] FIG. 1 is an exemplary gaming table layout 300 for the game of the present invention, marketed under the name Fortune San Lo Poker.TM. game. The game may be played on a gaming table surface 310 that is a traditional gaming table, a video gaming machine, an electronic gaming platform, or a hybrid thereof, such as Shuffle Master Incorporated's i-Table.TM. system, a chipless gaming platform. The i-Table system is disclosed in pending application Ser. No. 12/218,583, filed Jul. 15, 2008, attorney docket no. PA2212.ap.US. Cards are preferably dispensed with the aid of a card handling device with card recognition technology (shown in FIG. 3), such as the i-Deal.TM. shuffler, as disclosed in pending application Ser. No. 11/598,259, filed Nov. 9, 2006, attorney docket no. PA1717.ap.US. The entire specifications of the two pending applications are hereby incorporated by reference.

[0067] Gaming table 300 has chip tray 320 disposed in the dealer area and a plurality of player areas 330. Each player area 330 has a primary wager position 340 and preferably two optional bonus bet positions 350, 352. Position 352 is the area designated for the first optional "Fortune" bet and area 350 is designated at the area for the second optional "Hat Trick" bet. In the preferred embodiment, surface 310 further includes a plurality of paytables 360 with odds payouts for at least the first optional bonus bet, and preferably for the additional envy bonus. Additionally, each player position has a designated spot for each of the three distinctive hands, low hand 315, mid hand 325 and high hand 335.

[0068] As shown in FIG. 2, the dealer requires the player to make the primary wager in area 340 against the dealer to enter the game. The dealer also may allow the player to make at least one side bet, preferably two side bets, by placing additional wagers on bonus bet positions 350 and 352. In the preferred embodiment, the players wager on the second optional (hat trick) side bet may not exceed the amount of the primary wager 340. In other embodiments, side bet wagers can exceed the amount of the base game wager. The optional side bets are resolved according to a predetermined criteria, such as a paytable including odds payouts, fixed payout amounts, progressive payouts and combinations thereof.

[0069] In the preferred embodiment, when the dealer allows the player to place a threshold meeting wager of $5.00 on the first optional bonus bet, or the Fortune Bonus, the bet will be identified by the dealer by the dealer placing an "Envy" lammer next to the player's bonus bet. The lammer will identify those players eligible for an additional bonus, or Envy Bonus. In one embodiment, the player may only be awarded and collect an "envy" payout on another player's hand, not their own hand or the dealer's hand. A players placing at least a $5.00 wager on the first optional bonus bet will qualify for the Envy Bonus if the player has a winning first bonus payout and another player who placed the wager has at least four of a kind. Preferably, the Envy bonus is paid according to a predetermined criteria, such as a fixed amount for a specific hand ranking. In other embodiments, any player who placed a first bonus bet meeting or exceeding a predetermined threshold amount, regardless of whether the bet is won or not qualifies for an envy bonus on other player hands.

[0070] In an alternate embodiment, as shown in FIG. 3, gaming table 300 further includes an electronic house way display 200. Details of the operation of a suitable house way display are described in co-pending U.S. patent application Ser. No. 12/572,205, filed Oct. 1, 2009, attorney docket number PA2737.ap.US, the content of which is incorporated by reference herein. Preferably display 200 has a touchscreen surface 210. It is understood that display 200 may be a stand-alone unit in communication with a card handling device with card recognition technology or the display may be incorporated into an electronic platform, such as the i-Table.TM. system.

[0071] Since Pai Gow poker traditionally does not have a set starting position, a random number generator (RNG) is preferably provided to determine which player will receive the first set of cards. The RNG may be disposed in the card handling device 362, in a display 200 processor (not shown), or in a microprocessor (not shown) in communication with display 200. The number representing the starting position may be shown on display 200.

[0072] Once all player hands and the dealer hand have been dealt, display 200 may be prompted automatically or via touchscreen surface 210 to display the "Dealer House Way" to set the dealer hand. The house way varies from casino to casino and may be customized according to user preferences, such as the house way rules previously discussed. Dealers may require or may offer to set player hands according to the house way, according to an example of the invention.

[0073] In one example of the invention, there is no requirement that a dealer set the player hand or the player set the player hand according to the house way. Where the term "dealer" is used, the dealer may be a live dealer, a virtual dealer or a processor providing the dealer activities during the play of the game. In this example, the only rule for setting the player hand is that the high hand outrank the mid hand and the mid hand outrank the low hand. Otherwise, the player automatically loses. Preferably, the optional first side bet would remain in play and be resolved regardless of a "foul". In other words, the high hand must be ranked higher than the mid hand, and the mid hand must be ranked higher than the low hand. If a player does not follow this rule, the player hands are fouls an accordingly.

[0074] When display 200 is prompted to show the house way for either the dealer hand or a player hand, preferably, only an electronic representation of the low hand 215 and the mid hand 225 are shown. From this information, the high hand is automatically deduced. However, in an alternate embodiment all three distinct hands may be displayed, or the dealer may individually scroll through each of the three distinct hands on display 200. The processor (not shown) computes the house way for the particular set of cards prompted via programming, an algorithm, a look-up table, or the like.

Bonus Bets

[0075] The first optional bonus bet, or Fortune Bonus, is a five card side bet. The dealer requires the players to form their best five-card poker hand out of the set of six cards. In this example, a best five-card poker hand is formed from the six available cards. Players achieving a five card poker ranking of at least two pair win the optional first bonus bet according to a predetermined criteria, such as a paytable or a progressive jackpot. Additionally, players winning the first optional bonus bet who were allowed by the dealer to place wagers in at least a predetermined denomination, preferably $5.00 or greater, qualify for an Envy bonus. However, players cannot win an "envy" bonus on their own hand or the dealer's hand. An exemplary paytable for the Fortune and Envy bonuses is as follows:

TABLE-US-00006 Hand Fortune Pays Envy Bonus 5 Aces 1,000 to 1 $500 Royal Flush 500 to 1 $50 Straight Flush 50 to 1 $10 4 of a Kind 40 to 1 $5 Full House 9 to 1 Flush 6 to 1 Straight 4 to 1 3 of a Kind 3 to 1 2 Pair 2 to 1

[0076] In one example of the invention, a player who was allowed by the dealer to make this side bet whose hand was less than two pair in rank can still win $500.00 when another player who also made the bonus bet holds five Aces. In a preferred form of the invention, the players who make a qualifying wager and hold a winning bonus hand qualify for an envy bonus when another player holds an envy-qualifying hand.

[0077] The second optional bonus bet allowed by the dealer is the Hat Trick bet. This optional bet pays set odds, such as 6 to 1, if the player's the three distinct player hands outranks all of the three distinct dealer hands. Preferably, the dealer does not allow players to wager more on the Hat Trick bet then on the primary wager.

[0078] In addition to a live game format), games of the present invention may be played on a chipless gaming table platform. FIG. 4 shows an exemplary chipless gaming table 100 system for playing live card games with physical playing cards (e.g., 106a and 106b) and utilizing credit wagering according to technologies enabled and disclosed herein. Gaming table 100 can be a variety of common constructions or configurations as are typically used as the structural components of gaming table in the industry. The typical gaming table has a tabletop or playing surface 104 and a perimeter pad or armrest 108 which extends at least about the portion of the table periphery facing players. The relatively straight back portion of the periphery 110 is used by the dealer (not shown) and can be partly or wholly padded as may vary with the particular table chosen. Seven player display/input systems 112a-112g are shown. Each of the player input systems 112a-112g has a processor 114-114g (shown in phantom) and a touch screen entry surface 116a-116g. There may be an optional dealer chip tray 120.

[0079] There is also a game controller, CPU or casino computer 128 (shown in phantom) whose location at the table system 100 is relatively unimportant, but which must be in direct (hardwired or wireless or networked) communication with each individual player processor 114a-114g and a card reading and/or delivery system 122, preferable a card handling device such as a shoe or a shuffler with integrated card recognition technology, from which playing cards are supplied, with a least a rank/count (and preferable also suit) of individual cards known as the cards are removed (for example, one-at-a-time) and delivered to player positions and/or the dealer position. The card delivery system 122 is in communication with controller 128 by wired or wireless communication methods. Chipless gaming table 200 may further comprise a more centrally located display 200, which is also in communication with game controller 128 and preferably includes a random number generator. Display 200, or the House Way Display, may provide information on player stating position for games with no set position, like Pai Gow poker, and may also provide the player and dealer with instructions on how to set their hand according to house rules. The individual processors 114a-114g could also be in communication with the game controller 128 by wireless or hardwired connections. Communication is not limited to electronic or electrical signals, but may include optical signals, audio signals, magnetic transmission or the like.

[0080] The gaming table 100 also advantageously includes a betting chip rack 120 which allows the dealer to conveniently store betting chips used by the dealer in cashing players in and out of the game. A money drop slot (not shown) is further included to allow the dealer to easily deposit paper money bills therein when players purchased credits.

[0081] Table 100 can support a system, or form a part of a system for playing live card games which is constructed according to the present invention. The card game system 100 described herein in one example is a retrofit system which has been added to standard gaming table support frame. Such a retrofit system includes an upright communal player display 130 which displays images which depict game information such as pay table, hand counts, win/loss information, historical win/loss information by player, and a wide variety of other information considered useful to the players. The display 130 is a two-sided display that will be explained more fully below.

[0082] The system also preferably includes a dealer control 118 which is preferably provided in the form of a display with touch screen controls positioned within the chip rack 120. In an alternate embodiment, the dealer control resides on the card dispensing device 122 or as a separate keypad (not shown). The individual player position processors are preferable graphics processors 114a-114g and not full content CPUs as a cost saving, space saving, and efficiency benefit. With the reduced capacity in the processor as compared to a CPU, there is actually reduced likelihood of tampering and fraudulent input.

[0083] The "Chipless Table" format and architecture described herein comprises generic concepts and specific disclosure of components and subcomponents useful in the practice of the present technology. It should be appreciated at all times that equivalents, alternatives and additional components, functions and processes may be used within the system without deviating from the enabled and claimed technology of this invention.

[0084] One preferred construction of a Chipless Table has from three to eight players (Shown in FIG. 1 as seven player positions) with five, six or seven Player betting positions 112a-112g (with independent monitors 114a-114g) being preferred, a Dealer console 118, a double-sided table sign (shown in FIG. 1 as 130, with a front player exposed screen 132 and a casino pit directed screen 134), a card reading shoe 122 (or card reading shuffler or overhead camera imaging system or table mounted card reader--not shown), a chip tray 128, cards 106a, b, a generic felt 136 and a table computer 128 using the Aquarius Controller.TM. protocol (game controller, under the table manufactured by Progressive Games, Inc. of Las Vegas, Nev.), for example.

[0085] The game information (which is preferable for multiple games) is configurable and will be set-up during the initial installation of the table and may be switched from game to game on-the-fly at each table. It is from the set-up that the Game information is selected so that the graphics on the Player Touch Screen 116a-116g. Dealer Console 118, Pit Display 134 and Table Display 132 provide the correct information regarding the game in play. It is the capability of changing individual types of game events (e.g., from blackjack to baccarat) at a table that enables, or even requires that the generic felt 136 is free of any permanent printing that identifies only a specific game at a table. There may be separate monitors (not shown) that enable display of games names, game rules and paytables for individual games, or under table back-lighting that may project such information display on the table.

[0086] Using the Pit Display 134, the game is selected by casino personnel and communicated to the table controller 128 via a touch screen control on the pit display 134. The table controller (and/or a central pit controller) sends out the appropriate graphics to each of the Player screens and table signs to begin game play.

[0087] An exemplary chipless table system is disclosed in co-pending U.S. application Ser. No. 12/218,583, filed Jul. 15, 2008 and Ser. No. 12/231,759, filed Sep. 5, 2008 which are herein incorporated by reference in the entireties.

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