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Best of Alan Krigman

Gaming Guru

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Poker-Oriented Table Games: Here to Stay and More Are on the Way

15 March 2006

Some emerging slot action is entirely fresh, not simply a refinement of an earlier genre. Although the depths are still barely being plumbed, the devices now coming to your friendly neighborhood slot salon utilize powerful digital computer chips and video command and control interfaces for games differing in kind rather than merely magnitude from those of the past.

Table games are also evolving, although less strikingly. Much of what's new can best be considered as variations on relatively stable old themes. In these, the idea is typically to attract casual players with features like big jackpots or extra bets that spark the pace and excitement of games these folks find too slow.

Arguably, the most significant change at the tables has been the addition of games based on poker rankings to the classic casino repertoire in which players oppose a mathematically advantaged house. Caribbean Stud, Let-It-Ride, and Three-Card Poker are now staples almost everywhere. Several other such games have gained footholds and loyal followings but haven't become as universal as their developers had dreamed at least, not yet. Further, activity in the Patent Office suggests that more poker is in the pipeline. Much of this involves modifications or variants of games you can already find. But truly novel expressions of the familiar poker idiom are in there as well.

As an example of the latter, patent number 6,575,464 uses a three-card stud approach with multiple mandatory and optional betting opportunities. These include wagers on whether the player will receive a pair of threes or better, have a higher- or lower-ranked hand than the dealer, tie the dealer, or match a predetermined set of cards posted before the deal. The inventors of this game believe that the chance to bet on a "hot" dealer will be of particular interest to many solid citizens.

Another illustration is afforded by patent number 6,705,613. Here, each player and the dealer receive five cards; one additional card is exposed and can be utilized by players and the dealer alike in lieu of a discard from their original hands. Players must pay the house for the privilege of using the sixth card. The game has provision for two different wagers. The first is an "ante." The second is a "common pot" bet, required if the player elects not to fold but to continue in the round. The ante returns even money if the player's hand outranks the dealer's; it also pays an escalating bonus to players for hands from straights to royals. The common pot forms a pool awarded to the player with the best hand in the round. Eligibility for this payoff is three-of-a-kind or better, so the money may be held over between rounds and grow in amount.

In a third unique poker paradigm, patent number 6,270,405, each player works with multiple hands. A recommended embodiment involves three hands and an initial deal of five cards to the first of these. The player may elect to move cards from the first hand to the second or third, in which case positions so vacated are replaced from the deck by the dealer. The round ends when all spots in all hands are populated or when the player decides to stand pat and the dealer fills any remaining blank spots in the second and third hands from the deck. The poker ranking of each hand determines whether it loses or how much it wins.

Will you be seeing these or other new poker-oriented table games at your favorite gambling emporium any time soon? The casinos are being bombarded with proposals and the likelihood is high that at least a few will get to the trial stage.

Anything new you see, nowadays, will probably be easy to learn and fun to play yet have an aura of being "big time." Of course, you can be sure the bosses have done their homework and expect to earn a decent buck on it, through a combination of edge and the rate at which bets are resolved. Or were you mistaking the casinos for great philanthropic trusts, again? Here's how the irrepressible inkster, Sumner A Ingmark, put it:

Ignoring the disparity,
'Tween revenue and charity,
Is logic lacking clarity.

Alan Krigman

Alan Krigman was a weekly syndicated newspaper gaming columnist and Editor & Publisher of Winning Ways, a monthly newsletter for casino aficionados. His columns focused on gambling probability and statistics. He passed away in October, 2013.
Alan Krigman
Alan Krigman was a weekly syndicated newspaper gaming columnist and Editor & Publisher of Winning Ways, a monthly newsletter for casino aficionados. His columns focused on gambling probability and statistics. He passed away in October, 2013.