Title:
Blackjack game
Kind Code:
A1


Abstract:
A conventional game of Blackjack modified so that the play of the game remains the same, but the house advantage is increased in a manner which does not affect the player's desire to play the game. The Blackjack game is played with a single deck of 52 cards. A player places a wager to be entitled to play, and cards are dealt to the player and dealer/house. Play continues in the conventional manner with, if desired or applicable, insurance bets, double-down, splits, surrender, and/or player and/or house standing or receiving one or more additional cards. The player's hand is compared to the dealer's hand in accordance with conventional Blackjack rules to determine if the player's hand is a winning hand. If the player's hand is a winning Blackjack (i.e. two card 21) then the player is paid a winning in the amount of 6:5 times their original wager.



Inventors:
Zimmer, Charles W. (Las Vegas, NV, US)
Kearns, Patrick A. (Las Vegas, NV, US)
Application Number:
10/116562
Publication Date:
10/09/2003
Filing Date:
04/04/2002
Assignee:
ZIMMER CHARLES W.
KEARNS PATRICK A.
Primary Class:
International Classes:
A63F3/00; A63F1/00; (IPC1-7): A63F1/00
View Patent Images:
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Primary Examiner:
LAYNO, BENJAMIN
Attorney, Agent or Firm:
WEIDE & MILLER, LTD. (7251 W. LAKE MEAD BLVD., LAS VEGAS, NV, 89128, US)
Claims:

What is claimed is:



1. A method of at least one player playing a game of Blackjack with a dealer comprising the steps of: a) a player placing a wager to be eligible to play the game; b) the dealer dealing two cards to the player and two cards to the dealer; c) the dealer dealing none, one or more additional cards to the player based upon an indication from the player, defining the player's hand; d) The dealer dealing none, one or more additional cards to the dealer in accordance with a set of defined house rules for the game, defining the dealer's hand; e) determining if the player's hand is a winning hand by comparing the player's hand to the dealer's hand; f) paying the player a winning in the amount of their wager in the event the player's hand is a winning non-Blackjack hand; and g) paying the player a winning in the amount of 6:5 times their wager in the event the player's hand is a winning Blackjack hand.

2. The method in accordance with claim 1 wherein said game is played using a single deck of 52 cards and said steps of dealing comprise dealing from said single deck.

3. A modified method of playing a standard game of Blackjack comprising providing a standard deck of 52 cards, playing a hand of Blackjack using said standard deck utilizing a standard rule of play of Blackjack including a player placing a wager in order to be entitled to play the game, and including the step of modifying the award of winnings paid to a player for receiving winning hand of Blackjack by paying said player an amount of 6:5 times the player's wager.

4. The modified method in accordance with claim 3 including the steps of providing a player hand and a dealer hand and utilizing standard rules of Blackjack play to determine if the player hand is a winning hand.

5. The modified method in accordance with claim 3 including the steps of permitting under standard rules of Blackjack play one or more of the elements of play selected from the group consisting of: placing insurance bets, doubling-down, surrendering, and splitting cards.

6. A method of playing a modified game of Blackjack comprising the steps of: a) providing a standard deck of 52 cards; b) a player placing a wager in order to be entitled to play the game; c) a dealer dealing two cards to said player from said deck and two cards to the house from said deck; d) dealing none, one or more additional cards to said player in order to form a player's hand; e) dealing none, one or more additional cards to said house in order to form the house's hand; f) determining if the player's hand is a winning hand in accordance with the conventional rules of Blackjack; g) awarding said player a winning in the amount of said wager if said player's winning hand is a winning non-Blackjack hand; and h) awarding said player a winning in the amount of 6:5 times said player's wager if said player's winning hand is a winning Blackjack hand.

7. The method in accordance with claim 6 including the step of permitting said player to double down.

8. The method in accordance with claim 6 including the step of permitting said player to place an insurance bet.

9. The method in accordance with claim 6 including the step of permitting said player to split said two cards into a first hand and a second hand and including the step of determining if said player's first and second hands comprise winning hands.

Description:

FIELD OF THE INVENTION

[0001] The present invention relates to a card game, and more particularly, to a method of playing the game of Blackjack or “21.”

BACKGROUND OF THE INVENTION

[0002] The game of Blackjack is very popular. As a result of the popularity of the game, where law permits, it is offered at nearly all casinos and other gaming establishments.

[0003] While the game of Blackjack is very popular to players, in its conventional form played with a single deck of cards, for the reasons described below, it is generally not very popular with the casinos or other gaming establishments. As a result, casinos rarely offer Blackjack in its conventional form. If offered, such is generally only done at a few tables to draw players to the casino. However, by limiting the number of these Blackjack tables, players who wish to play these games may instead have to play other games offered by the casino, such as modified versions of Blackjack using multiple decks, modified decks or employing various rule changes.

[0004] The primary reason for the unpopularity of single-deck Blackjack to casinos is the house hold. In the standard or conventional form of Blackjack, a player's winning hand is generally paid at even money or 1:1. The exception to this rule is that when the player's winning hand is a Blackjack, i.e. any two card combination totaling 21, then the player's winning hand is paid at 3:2. In this standard format of the game of Blackjack, when optimum strategy is employed by a player, the house advantage is an average of approximately 0.02%. This house advantage is quite low, especially when compared to other games which often have an advantage of several percent. Because the house advantage is so low, the revenue generated by the game at any particular gaming table is low compared to the revenue which may be generated by another type of game occupying the same space within the casino. As a result, casinos have a disincentive to offer the game.

[0005] Blackjack may be played with a single standard deck of 52 cards, or multiple decks of cards. The game preferred by players is the “single deck” game of Blackjack. In part, the single deck game is preferred by players because they believe by watching the cards and knowing all of the cards of the deck being used to play the game, they can employ an optimum strategy for their play. In some cases, very skilled players can indeed “beat the odds,” tracking the cards, such as by counting them, to improve their winning percentage. Because of the already low house advantage, this added risk to the house further reduces the desire of casinos to offer the game of Blackjack in this purest form.

[0006] As a result of this problem, casinos and players have proffered various alterations to the game of Blackjack. Some of these variations have been suggested by casinos desiring to reduce the risks associated with the standard form of the game. Other variations have been offered by players attempting to find a solution to the problem that players like the game, but casinos do not wish to offer the game.

[0007] As indicated, one attempted solution has been to vary the pure form of the game of Blackjack from play with a single deck of cards to use of multiple decks of cards. This solution has the benefit that it makes more difficult the player's ability to track cards. On the other hand, the attempted solution does not improve the house advantage much, and is less desirable to players.

[0008] Another attempted solution is described in U.S. Pat. Nos. 5,615,888 and 6,217,024 to Lofink et al. This game, called “Spanish 21” is a modified game of Blackjack. In accordance with this game, certain player favorable cards are removed from, or certain player unfavorable cards are added to, a standard deck of cards. The result of the addition or removal of these cards is that the odds of the outcome of the game are shifted in favor of the house. This game has the advantage that the house advantage or vigorish is substantially increased. On the other hand, this variation of the game has several undesirable effects. First, the game of Blackjack is no longer played using a single standard deck of cards, making it more difficult for players to attempt to “track” the cards. Further, players are able to readily discern that the odds have been shifted in favor of the house, and to their disadvantage.

[0009] In another variation of the game of Blackjack described in U.S. Pat. No. 5,413,353 to Demarest et al., players are pitted against one another instead of against the house. The house collects a rake from each pot during the game. This variation of the game has the advantage that the risk to the house is reduced, and in fact the advantage or rake can be set at any percentage, such as 10%, ensuring the house a good advantage. On the other hand, this variation of the game requires player's to rotate into the position of the “dealer,” which many players find uncomfortable or undesirable. In addition, the game pits players against one another for the highest hand, a substantial change to the standard form of the game in which a player simply attempts to beat the hand of the house.

[0010] U.S. Pat. No. 5,154,429 to LeVasseur discloses a method of playing “multiple action” Blackjack. In accordance with this game, a player plays a single hand against multiple dealer hands. This variation of the game has the advantage that more hands of Blackjack are played during an interval of time, permitting the house to increase the volume of play and possibly the total revenue of the game. On the other hand, a player is required to place multiple bets and again deviates from the purest form of Blackjack.

[0011] U.S. Pat. No. 5,979,897 discloses a modified form of Blackjack in which various rule variations are proposed. In one arrangement, the game involves seven rule changes, including late surrender and the like. These variations are alleged to “increase the excitement” of the game. On the other hand, the various rule changes are implemented in order to ensure that the house advantage remains low. Not only does this proposed game thus not address the above-stated problem of the low house advantage, but the game is significantly more complicated as a result of the various rule changes that the player must understand.

[0012] An improved game of Blackjack which addresses the above-stated problems is desired.

SUMMARY OF THE INVENTION

[0013] The present invention is a method of playing a game of Blackjack, and more specifically a game of Blackjack played substantially in accordance with conventional rules of the game.

[0014] One embodiment of the invention comprises a modified method of playing a standard game of Blackjack utilizing a standard deck of 52 cards. The method includes the step of a player placing a wager in order to be entitled to play the game, playing the game in conventional manner including comparing the player's hand and a dealer's hand to determine if the player's hand is a winning or losing hand, but modifying the award of winnings paid to a player for receiving a winning hand of Blackjack by paying the player an amount of 6:5 times the player's wager.

[0015] In one embodiment of the invention, the method comprises the following steps: providing a standard deck of 52 cards; a player placing a wager in order to be entitled to play the game; a dealer dealing two cards to the player from the deck and two cards to the house from the deck; dealing none, one or more additional cards to the player in order to form the player's hand; dealing none, one or more additional cards to the house in order to form the house's hand; determining if the player's hand is a winning hand by comparing the player's hand to the house's hand in accordance with the conventional rules of Blackjack; awarding the player a winning in the amount of the player's wager if the player's winning hand is a winning non-Blackjack hand; and awarding the player a winning in the amount of 6:5 times the player's wager if the player's winning hand is a winning Blackjack hand.

[0016] In accordance with the invention, various steps may be additionally included in accordance with the conventional game of Blackjack. For example, a player may be permitted to double down, split pairs, place an insurance bet or surrender.

[0017] In accordance with the invention, a standard or conventional game of Blackjack is provided. The game allows a player to play Blackjack without learning new rules. On the other hand, the payout modification for winning Blackjack hands causes the house advantage to increase substantially to approximately 1.47%. As a result of the infrequency at which players receive Blackjack hands and the continued enticement of a still higher payout for winning Blackjack hands over other winning hands, players have the same desire to play the modified game as the conventional game. At the same time, the house hold is improved sufficiently to entice casinos and other gaming establishments to offer the game.

[0018] Further objects, features, and advantages of the present invention over the prior art will become apparent from the detailed description which follows.

DETAILED DESCRIPTION OF THE INVENTION

[0019] The invention is a modified game of Blackjack. In the following description, numerous specific details are set forth in order to provide a more thorough description of the present invention. It will be apparent, however, to one skilled in the art, that the present invention may be practiced without these specific details. In other instances, well-known features have not been described in detail so as not to obscure the invention.

[0020] In general, the invention comprises a modified game of Blackjack in which the payout for a player's winning hand of Blackjack is adjusted in a manner which increases the house advantage and house hold for the game, but which does not affect the player's desire to play the game. Various specific versions of the game are described below. It will be appreciated that other variations are contemplated as within the scope of the invention.

[0021] In one embodiment, a method of the game is practiced at a table or other location using a single standard deck of 52 cards. The method of the game involves one or more players playing against the house, each player attempting to obtain a better hand than the house's hand. As in the conventional game of Blackjack, the game may be played with a single dealer and single player, or with multiple players. Further, as used herein, the term “dealer” and “house” may be used generally interchangeably, as the dealer is generally a party representing a casino or the “house” establishment.

[0022] In a first step, each player places a wager, bet or ante. The amount of the wager may vary, and in one embodiment may be no less than a pre-set minimum amount such as $1 or $5.

[0023] Once all players have placed their wagers or bets, the dealer deals the cards. Two cards are dealt to each player. The cards may be dealt in a variety of manners, including from a shoe. The cards dealt to each player may be dealt face up, face down, or a combination thereof. Preferably, the dealer deals two cards to the house, one card face up and the other face down. In other embodiments, the dealer's or house's cards may be both dealt face up.

[0024] Play then proceeds in a conventional manner, with each player then electing a next action. This action may comprise, for example, standing, taking one or more cards or “hits,” making an insurance bet, or determining whether to split pairs, to double down, or surrender.

[0025] In one or more embodiments of the invention, a player may make an insurance bet if the dealer's face up card is an Ace. This bet is generally made after the player's and dealer's cards have been dealt, but before other cards have been dealt. In accordance with this bet, each player may wager an amount, such as one-half of their original wager or ante, as insurance against the dealer having a Blackjack (i.e. two card count of 21). If the dealer has a Blackjack, unless the player also has a Blackjack, the player loses on his original wager or ante, but is paid a winning at 2:1 on his insurance bet. In one embodiment, if the dealer has a Blackjack, the game is over. All players lose on their original wager or ante except those who also have a Blackjack, in which event a “push” is declared, and those players are refunded their original wager or ante. If the dealer's hand is not a Blackjack, then each player who placed an insurance bet loses their insurance bet and then the game continues.

[0026] In one or more embodiments, after the initial round of cards are dealt, a player may be permitted to surrender. When it is a player's turn, the player may concede their hand, announcing a surrender and forfeiting some of their wager or ante, such as one-half of their wager. In one embodiment, a player is not permitted to surrender in the event the dealer has a Blackjack.

[0027] In one or more embodiments, a player may be permitted to “double down.” If the player's first two cards have a predetermined count, such as 9, 10 or 11 (or in other embodiments, only 10 or 11, or only 11) then the player may be permitted to make a second wager equal to their first wager (i.e. double-down). The player is then dealt a single additional card, and the three cards then comprise the player's hand for purposes of determining if the player's hand is a winning hand or losing hand.

[0028] In one or more embodiments, a player may be permitted to “split pairs.” If the player's first two cards are a pair, then the player may be permitted to split the pair of cards, which each of the cards of the pair forming one card of each of two separate hands. The player's original wager or bet is applied to one of the hands, and the player is required to place a second wager to play the second hand. The player is dealt a second card for the two split hands, and then the two hands are treated just as single hands during the play of the game. For example, the player may stand or elect to take additional cards for either hand. In one embodiment, a player may be permitted to split a pair of Aces, but the player may be entitled to receive only a single additional card (i.e. form a two card hand). An exception to this rule may be that if the player receives a second card which is an Ace, the player may be permitted to split the hands again, or may be permitted to receive additional cards for the hand, as desired.

[0029] In one embodiment, a player may be permitted to split pairs received on already split hands. For example, if a player splits a pair of Fours into a first hand and a second hand and then receives another Four in relation to either the first hand or second hand, the player may then split that hand, resulting in the player having three hands.

[0030] In one embodiment, a player may be permitted to “double down” on a split hand in similar manner to a conventional single hand. For example, if the player splits a pair of Sixes into a first hand and a second hand and then receives a Four with respect to one of the hands, the player may be permitted to double down and receive a single third card to form the three card hand.

[0031] With respect to the player's hand (or hands, in the case of splits), the player may also stand or take one or more additional cards or “hits.” If the player is satisfied with their hand, they may elect to stand and not take any additional cards. The determination of whether the player's hand is a winning hand is then made in accordance with the conventional rules of Blackjack detailed below.

[0032] A player may also elect to take one or more cards. The player indicates to the dealer if they wish to stand or receive additional cards. If the player elects to receive additional cards at their turn, the dealer deals the additional cards. If the player's card count exceeds 21 at any time, then the player's hand is a losing hand and the player loses their wager. If the player's card count is less than 21 when they stand (i.e. stop taking additional cards) then the determination of whether the player's hand is a winning hand is made in accordance with the conventional rules of Blackjack detailed below.

[0033] As in the conventional form of the game, once all players have completed their turns, then the dealer may deal to himself or “the house” additional cards, or stand. Generally, the determination of how the dealer treats his hand is in accordance with predetermined rules. In accordance with conventional rules, the dealer must generally take additional cards if the dealer's card count is less than 17 (i.e. 16 or less). If upon taking additional cards the dealer's hand exceeds a card count of 21, then the dealer's hand is a losing hand and the hands of all players remaining in the game are declared winning hands.

[0034] In one embodiment of the game, an exception to the above-stated rule may be that the dealer must take additional cards when the dealer's hand is a “soft” 17. By “soft” it is meant that the dealer has received a card count of 17 comprising an Ace and one or more other cards totaling a count of six.

[0035] In accordance with the game, the outcome is determined by comparing the player's hand with the dealer's hand after all cards have been dealt. If the player's hand is closer to a card count of 21 than the dealer's, without going over 21, then the player's hand is declared a winning hand. If the count of the player's hand and the dealer's hand are the same, then a “push” is declared. The game is ended for that player and the player's wager is returned.

[0036] In one embodiment, if a player's hand is a winning hand and is other than a Blackjack (i.e. other than a two card 21, such as a three or greater card count of 21), then the dealer or house pays the player a winning equal to the player's wager or bet, i.e. at 1:1.

[0037] In the event a player's hand is a Blackjack and the dealer's hand is a Blackjack, then in a preferred embodiment, a push is declared and the game is over and the player's wager or ante is returned. If the player's hand is a Blackjack and the dealer's hand is not, then the player's hand is a winning Blackjack hand. Preferably, the player is paid a winning in the amount of 6:5 times the player's wager or bet. For example, if the player's bet was $5, then the dealer or house pays the player $6.

[0038] In accordance with the invention, the conventional game of Blackjack is modified in a manner which results in an increase in the house advantage and house hold, but without making the game less desirable to the player. In the preferred embodiment, the invention comprises modifying a conventional game of Blackjack by paying a player's winning Blackjack hand at a payout of 6:5 times the player's wager.

[0039] Preferably, the game of the invention is played with a single standard deck of 52 cards. In other embodiments, the game may be played with multiple decks of cards.

[0040] It will be appreciated that a player may be “paid” winnings in a variety of manners. For example, the player may be awarded chips or other forms of credit, as well as currency. In this regard, the terms “pay” or “paid” and the like are meant to also mean “award.”

[0041] As indicated, in one embodiment, the method of the invention may be implemented at a table. The table may include a felt or other printed or illustrated layout. The table and layout may include dealer and one or more player positions, as well as card and bet positions. The method may include use of the table and layout such as, for example, dealing the cards to the card positions. The method of the invention may also be implemented in whole or in part by a mechanical, electrical or electro-mechanical device or devices. For example, the game of the invention may be presented by a computer controlled electronic gaming machine having a video display.

[0042] One or more embodiments of the invention comprise a method of playing a game of Blackjack using conventional rules, including the steps of a player placing a wager or bet to be entitled to play the game, dealing cards to the player and dealer/house, and determining if the player's hand is a winning hand in accordance with the conventional rules of Blackjack. In the event the player's hand is a winning non-Blackjack hand, then the player is preferably paid a winning in the amount of their wager (i.e. 1:1). If the player's hand is a winning Blackjack hand, then the player is preferably paid at 6:5 times their wager.

[0043] In accordance with the invention, the game of Blackjack which is played may be deemed “conventional” even though certain of the variations described above are employed. For example, the game may be considered conventional even though a player is permitted to double down on various card counts or the dealer is required to take additional cards in a “soft” 17.

[0044] As one aspect of the game, the modification of the invention could be applied to “non-conventional” games of Blackjack where significant rule changes are implemented. However, while the modification would still change the odds on the house advantage in the house's favor, the detriment that the game requires the player to learn new rules or is otherwise disadvantageous from the player's perspective still exist.

[0045] The modified game of Blackjack in accordance with the invention has numerous advantages. The most significant aspect of the invention is that a standard or conventional game of Blackjack is presented which has an improved house advantage. In other words, a player is presented with the opportunity to play a game of Blackjack having normal rules of play, but with only the payout in one winning situation changed thereby resulting in the improved house advantage. Thus, a player does not need to learn new rules of game play in order to play the game. Further, in a preferred embodiment of the invention, the game is played with a single standard deck of 52 cards. Thus, a player is permitted the opportunity to try and track cards and otherwise implement optimum play strategy for the purpose of improving the game results.

[0046] In accordance with the invention, by changing the payout for a player's winning Blackjack hand to 6:5 on their wager, the house advantage is improved by approximately 1.39% (in one embodiment where standard rules of play are utilized with single deck play and the play element of splitting and “soft” 17 are employed along with the modification of the present invention, the total house advantage is then approximately 1.47%). Importantly, it has been found that the change to this single payout does not affect the player's desire to play the game. Generally, when utilizing a single standard deck of 52 cards a player would expect to receive a Blackjack about 1 in every 21 hands. As a result, a player perceives that the frequency of times that they receive a Blackjack is quite low. While a player may appreciate the somewhat lower payout of 6:5 on Blackjack hands, it has been found that it is a player's belief that this change has little if no affect on their individual play, because of the low frequency of receiving a Blackjack hand. Further, the 6:5 payout is still better than the 1:1 payout for winning Blackjack hands, thus creating an incentive for the player to attempt to achieve a Blackjack winning hand. In fact, it has been generally found that player's prefer the game in accordance with the invention where Blackjack is presented in single deck form with modified payout, versus a Blackjack game having a standard Blackjack 3:2 payout, but which utilizes a multi-deck format.

[0047] The change in house advantage has a surprising effect on the “total hold percentage” for the game. This effect is not appreciated by the player, but is very significant to the casino or other gaming establishment offering the game. The total hold percentage for a conventional game of Blackjack using a single deck of cards and a standard 3:2 payout for winning Blackjack hands generally averages between 6 and 9%. By total hold percentage, it is meant the percentage value comprising the total value of the house win divided by the total drop. As a result of the format of the game of the present invention, which has a modified Blackjack payout improving the house odds, the total hold percentage has been found to average approximately 20%. Further, because player's desire to play the game of the invention is substantially increased over other games such as multi-deck Blackjack, the level of play, and thus the total drop, is increased. Because the house retains approximately 20% of this larger drop, the total revenue to the casino is substantially increased in an unexpectedly high manner. As a result, a casino or other game operator achieves a sufficient revenue stream from the game to offer the game on a wider basis.

[0048] It will be understood that the above described arrangements of apparatus and the method therefrom are merely illustrative of applications of the principles of this invention and many other embodiments and modifications may be made without departing from the spirit and scope of the invention as defined in the claims.





 
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