Last week, I discussed some of the Blackjack variants and sidebets that will be on display at the Scientific Games booth at the Global Gaming Expo that begins today. This week, I'll give a preview of some of their poker-based table games. For those of you who are regular readers, you know that I will not find it surprising that virtually all of their table games are fitting into one of these two categories - Blackjack and Poker. Many inventors have tried to break this mold, and none have succeeded. So, you can question whether the issue is that they haven't hit the right formula yet or if they are fishing in the wrong pond. The latter still seems to be the likely answer.
Scientific Games is scheduled to have five new or nearly new poker-based games on display. Two of them, I have written about in the past. They have had some success in the marketplace and are looking to continue the pace. Contrary to what some inventors believe, most games don't go from 1 to 100 placements in 12 or 18 months. Most games take a much slower path to success. These two games are DJ Wild and Flushes Gone Wild. The commonality is obvious - the use of Deuces as wild cards.
In Flushes Gone Wild, all that matters are Flushes. The most cards of one suit is what makes a winner. The use of wild cards might seem a bit confusing at first to a Player, but after a few hands you get used to it. The game uses the Ante/Blind wagering structure where the Player makes two equal sized wagers to begin the game. The Player is dealt five cards face down and there are two community cards shared by all Players and the Dealer. After reviewing his hand, the Player can either Fold, forfeiting his Ante and Blind or he can make a Play Wager equal to two times his Ante. The house edge is just over 2%.
Assuming the Player doesn't Fold, Player and Dealer reveal his cards. The hand with the larger (most cards) Flush wins. Only if the two Flushes are of equal size do the ranks of the cards matter as they would in a Poker game. The Dealer always qualifies. If the Player wins, the Ante and Play pay even money and the Blind will pay based on the gap in the number of cards between the Player and Dealer Flush. If the Player's Flush is the same length or 1 longer, the Blind pushes. If the Player's Flush is 2 or more cards longer, then he will win odds ranging from 3 to 200 to 1.
The DJ in DJ Wild stands for Deuces and Jokers. So, we've got a 53-card deck with five wild cards. The betting structure is similar to Flushes Gone Wild. The Player makes an Ante and Blind wager to begin play. The Player and Dealer will each be dealt five cards face down. No community cards in this one! The Player can review his hand and will decide to Fold or to Play by making a Play wager equal to two times his ante (sound familiar?). The use of the Blind wager and a 2x Play wager in each of these games is what allows there to be no qualifying. Assuming the Player doesn't fold, the two hands are revealed and compared. If the Player's hand outranks the Dealer's the Ante and Play will win even money. The Blind will pay based on the Player's hand when he outranks the Dealer's hand. The house edge is just over 1%.
Another game that will be on display is Power Suit Poker. This one is a paytable based game and definitely has some unique features. To begin Play, the shuffler will pick one of the four suits as the 'Power Suit.' For each card in the Player's hand of that suit, he will get an additional card! So, while the cards of that suit don't have any extra strength directly in making a better or higher paying hand, there is most definitely benefit to having cards of the Power Suit. Pays start at a Pair of Kings or Better. The odds of getting stronger hands go up greatly as the Player has more cards. Obviously, having multiple cards of the Power Suit also greatly increase the likelihood of a Flush as you already have cards towards a Flush and you get more cards! Unlike the other two games, I did NOT do the math analysis on this one. The information from Sci Games is that the house advantage is about 3%. Given it is a relatively simplistic paytable game, this is not surprising. There is also a sidebet that pays based on the total number of cards the Player gets of the Power Suit.
The other games that will be on display, I am less familiar with. So, given, I'm probably out of space for this week and that I'd prefer to make a detailed report, I'll hold off until next week on the final three. These are Lunar Poker, which is a variant of Caribbean Stud Poker where the Player can BUY a 6th card OR BUY the right to exchange 2-5 cards from his hand.
The final poker based game is called HIC Hold'em Poker. The HIC is Hawaiian Island Creation as the game is co-branded with that label. From what I understand this game plays a bit like Ultimate Texas Hold'em but also brings in the 'Pineapple' effect, where the Player is initially dealt three cards and must discard one of them before continuing. The shuffler selects how much the Player is allowed to wager as his Play wager. Next week, I'll have more to report on this much anticipated game.
The one non Poker based game that will be on display is called High Point 99. In this game, the Player's 3-card hand goes against the Dealer's 3-card hand. Scoring is a little like Blackjack in that Aces are 11, Faces are 10 and all other cards are their pip value. But if you have a Pair, the hand value is doubled and if you have Trips, it is tripled. I'll have more on this game next week.
Lastly, Scientific Games will be debuting their coverall sidebet. This sidebet which has been developed for many of their popular games allows the Player to make a wager based on ALL of the hands in play. So, with one wager, the Player will be paid if ANY of the Player or Dealer hands achieve a certain rank. He will be paid for the HIGHEST Ranking hand only and the paytable will dynamically change based on the number of Players at the table. Obviously, it is easier to get paid with more Players at the table, so the payouts will be lower when there are more Players.
I'm looking forward to checking all the table games at the G2E. If anyone finds anything interesting, feel free to drop me a line at ElliotFrome@gamingtoday.com.