Title:
Selectable bonus play reel slot system
Kind Code:
A1


Abstract:
A method of playing a video wagering game may comprise: placing a first wager on an underlying game in which symbols are provided to a player; selecting at least one symbol to be a special award winning symbol; playing the underlying game; determining a wagering outcome in the wagering game based upon rules; evaluating the symbols provided to determine if any special award symbol is present in a manner that offers a special award resolving the special award if present. The game may also include providing an additional related subset of symbols if the special award is present; selecting at least one of the second subset of symbols to be a greater or top winning prize; determining an outcome depending on the rules of the bonus game; and evaluating symbols provided to determine if any award symbol arrangement is present in a manner that offers a greater award.



Inventors:
Jackson, Kathleen Nylund (Scituate, MA, US)
Application Number:
11/031174
Publication Date:
07/13/2006
Filing Date:
01/07/2005
Primary Class:
International Classes:
A63F9/24
View Patent Images:



Primary Examiner:
CHAN, ALLEN
Attorney, Agent or Firm:
Mark A. Litman & Associates, P.A. (York Business Center, Suite 205, 3209 West 76th St., Edina, MN, 55435, US)
Claims:
What is claimed:

1. A method of playing a wagering game comprising: a player placing a wager in a gaming machine and selecting one available symbol from a subset of symbols as a special award symbol, the gaming machine having at least one symbol display system comprising a first symbol display area; the first symbol display area displaying a plurality of symbols that are used to determine winning events; independently and randomly completing symbol display for the first display area; determining if winning events are present in the first display area; and determining if displayed symbols include a winning event including the special award symbol.

2. The method of playing a wagering game according to claim 1 wherein the player selects at least one symbol from among a set of symbols to be the special award symbol.

3. The method of playing a wagering game according to claim 1 wherein the player selects exactly one symbol from among a set of symbols to be the special award symbol.

4. The method of claim 2 wherein the set of symbols are equally distributed among available symbols on each frame within a payline

5. The method of claim 3 wherein the set of symbols are equally distributed among available symbols on each frame within a payline

6. The method of claim 2 wherein the set of symbols are unequally distributed among available symbols on each frame within a payline

7. The method of claim 3 wherein the set of symbols are unequally distributed among available symbols on each frame within a payline

8. The method of claim 2 wherein the set of symbols has at least one second subset of symbols or values associated therewith so that upon display of a winning combination of the selected award symbols, the player may select from amongst the second subset of symbols or values to possibly enhance any winning from the winning combination of selected award symbols.

9. The method of claim 3 wherein the set of symbols has at least one second subset of symbols or values associated therewith so that upon display of a winning combination of the selected award symbols, the player may select from amongst the second subset of symbols or values to possibly enhance any winning from the winning combination of selected award symbols.

10. A method of playing a video wagering game comprising: placing a first wager on an underlying game in which symbols are provided to a player; selecting at least one symbol to be a special award winning symbol; playing the underlying game in which symbols are randomly provided for display; determining a wagering outcome in the wagering game based upon rules of the underlying game and the occurrence of symbols randomly provided; evaluating the symbols provided to determine if any special award symbol is present in a manner that offers a special award resolving the special award if present providing an additional related subset of symbols if the special award is present; selecting at least one of the second subset of symbols to be a greater or top winning prize determining an outcome depending on the rules of the bonus game and the occurrence of symbols randomly provided evaluating the symbols provided to determine if any award symbol arrangement is present in a manner that offers a greater award; and resolving the greater award, if present.

11. The method of claim 10 wherein the player selects the at least one symbol and there is no special wager placed for wagering on the special award.

12. The method of claim 10 wherein if the player does not select a special award symbol, a processor randomly selects a special award symbol.

13. The method of claim 11 wherein the special award is won when there is a display on a payline of symbols comprising at least one special symbol.

14. The method of claim 11 wherein the special award is won when there is a display on a payline of symbols comprising at least two special symbols.

15. The method of claim 11 wherein the special award is won when there is a display on a payline of three symbols of three symbols consisting of the special symbols.

16. The method of claim 10 wherein the special symbols are selected from a set of symbols that have a known set of sub-characterizing descriptions, and when three identical symbols from the set appear on an active payline, a special bonus event occurs in which the player selects or a processor randomly selects at least one first sub-characterizing description as a bonus entry symbol, and then the processor randomly selects a second sub-characterizing description as a winning symbol, and if the winning symbol matches the bonus entry symbol, an additional award is provided to the player.

17. The method of claim 11 wherein the special symbols are selected from a set of symbols that have a known set of sub-characterizing descriptions, and when three identical symbols from the set appear on an active payline, a special bonus event occurs in which the player selects or a processor randomly selects at least one first sub-characterizing description as a bonus entry symbol, and then the processor randomly selects a second sub-characterizing description as a winning symbol, and if the winning symbol matches the bonus entry symbol, an additional award is provided to the player.

18. The method of claim 12 wherein the special symbols are selected from a set of symbols that have a known set of sub-characterizing descriptions, and when three identical symbols from the set appear on an active payline, a special bonus event occurs in which the player selects or a processor randomly selects at least one first sub-characterizing description as a bonus entry symbol, and then the processor randomly selects a second sub-characterizing description as a winning symbol, and if the winning symbol matches the bonus entry symbol, an additional award is provided to the player.

19. A gaming apparatus comprising a housing, a video screen and a processor, the processor containing a program enabling play of the method of claim 1.

20. A gaming apparatus comprising a housing, a video screen and a processor, the processor containing a program enabling play of the method of claim 10.

Description:

RELATED APPLICATIONS

This application claims priority from provisional U.S. application Ser. No. 60/534,593, filed Jan. 7, 2004, which claims priority under 35 U.S.C. 120 as a continuation-in-part application of U.S. patent application Ser. No. 10/615,348, filed 8 Jul. 2003 which claims priority from provisional application No. 60/449,714, filed 24 Feb. 2003.

BACKGROUND OF THE INVENTION

1. Field of the Invention

The present invention relates to the field of video wagering games, particularly slot-type machines, and particularly physical reel or virtual reel slot type wagering machines that are capable of playing a single underlying game in which a potential bonus combination is selected by the player for play at the same time as the underlying game, with a winning bonus combination qualifying for a jackpot payoff.

2. Background of the Art

Competition in the gaming industry to attract a player and then retain the player's interest for protracted periods of time is an increasingly greater challenge. The environment in a casino is typically rich in stimulation, both visual and auditory. As a consequence, it is an ongoing effort to initially attract a player to a given machine and then to subsequently encourage the player to stay at the machine based on the machine's entertainment value.

Slot machines formed from a plurality of reels which rotate independently of each other, whether mechanical or video depictions of the mechanical reels, are some of the oldest types of games. Each physical reel has a reel strip. On each reel strip are designated indicia. When predetermined indicia, and especially related indicia are oriented on a “pay line” that corresponds to the symbols or predetermined sets of symbols an associated pay table displayed elsewhere on the machines, the player receive awards.

Such machines have evolved from having a single horizontal pay line centrally disposed on the reel to having a plurality of pay lines, some pay lines located horizontally, some diagonally, others vertically, some in corners, and some in non-linear patterns. The most common pay lines have been provided as a) three symbols in a linear pattern taken from sets of frames on reels having 3 columns and 3 rows, or b) five symbols in a row taken from a set of three rows and five columns.

With the advent of video capability, additional methods have been implemented to provide alternate entertainment and maintain player enjoyment.

U.S. Pat. Nos. 6,641,477 and 5,704,835 describe an electronic slot machine which enables a second spin feature. If a suitable winning combination of indicia is not formed with the initial symbols, the player is given opportunities to select F up to all of the symbol display boxes for replacement, after which a second spin is executed, and any winning combinations are paid awards according to a predetermined pay table.

U.S. Pat. No. 6,604,740 describes a slot machine which enables a player to select his own particular WILD symbol. After each spin, the player receives awards for all winning combinations.

U.S. Pat. Nos. 6,572,471 and 6,102,798, and U.S. Patent Application 20030073481, describe a wagering game that displays a game image on a video display screen. The image is divided into a matrix of elements, or player selectable zones. The player selects at least one of the matrix elements, causing the image in the element to change to reveal an associated prize value. The prize value may be zero or greater. A number of selectable zones may be selected in order to produce a game result, and in the event of a game result being a winning result, the machine awarding the prizes indicated by the indicia revealed in the zones selected by the player.

U.S. Pat. No. 4,648,600 describes an electronic gaming device which facilitates the ability of the player to select symbols to customize play. The player may select individualized symbols (his initials, for instance) which, if matched by randomized symbols selected by the machine, produce a winning combination and predetermined award.

U.S. Pat. No. 4,184,683 describes a slot machine apparatus which allows the player to select a specific symbol at which a reel drum will stop. An additional feature may permit the “holding” of the drum with the specific symbol, thereby preventing its rotation during the next playing cycle, and allowing additional potential chances for a winning combination.

U.S. Patent Application 20030224850 describes a method of playing a wagering game comprising:

    • a player placing a wager in a gaming machine
    • the gaming machine having a plurality of symbol-bearing reels
    • the symbol-bearing reels rotating and stopping to display an outcome
    • the outcome having the possibility of including a plurality of symbols selectable by the player
    • the player selecting at least one of the selectable symbols
    • the machine providing an award based on the particular selected symbol

U.S. Patent Application 20030125102 describes a wagering game and apparatus for playing a partial outcome reel-type slot machine game. After placing a wager, at least one partial outcome is generated and displayed in a pattern determined either by the slot machine or selected by the player. The player then strategically selects one or more paylines based on the partial outcome. The game is then randomly completed, and the player is awarded a prize if a winning combination is present on the selected pay line or lines.

U.S. Patent Application 20020198044 describes a method and apparatus for facilitating a secondary wager at a slot machine. On a gaming device that offers a primary game, the player is offered a chance to make a secondary wager (or “side bet”). The player may choose at least one parameter corresponding to a potential outcome of the secondary game. A payout if provided for a predetermined outcome of the secondary game, regardless of the winning potential of the primary game outcome.

U.S. Patent Application 20020160830 describes a wagering game in which the player can select a number of selectable indicia for play. An equal number of indicia are then randomly selected (by the random number generator, RNG), and awards are given for the number of player-selected symbols that match the randomly-selected symbols. Awards are determined according to a predetermined pay table.

U.S. Pat. No. 6,343,988 (SYSTEMS AND METHODS WHEREIN A GAMBLING RESULT IS BASED ON USER INPUT); U.S. Pat. No. 6,174,235 (Method and apparatus for directing a game with user-selected elements); U.S. Pat. No. 6,068,552 (GAMING DEVICE AND METHOD OF OPERATION THEREOF); and U.S. Pat. No. 6,010,404 (Method and apparatus for using a player input code to affect a gambling outcome) describe other video wagering games where there are symbol selections or other player input steps.

There is always a desire to develop new games with different programs and displays that provide additional player stimulation. This could be achieved by an interactive bonus feature, which could personalize the game for the player, and provide a gateway into a jackpot feature opportunity. The customization of winning combinations of symbols would involve the player's interest and increase time on the machine and entertainment value.

SUMMARY OF THE INVENTION

In the present invention, a base reel-type slot game (or any symbol displaying game (such as a pick and reveal game, or any other form of random symbol display in which specific combinations or individual symbols provide a winning combination or display) is played, and a player may or is required to select a specific subset of combinations that can provide a relatively high award when the selected subset is displayed by the play of the game. The player wagers at least a minimum amount on a base game and is not required to pay an additional amount or optionally places additional at least minimum wagers on the preselected subset of symbols occurring. Any other format of displaying symbols (besides standard 3, 4 or 5 reel symbol displays read along a payline) that can be read in an ordered array, such as in circles, in radial alignment, rectangular frame arrays (e.g., in a linear pattern of four lines of frames forming a rectangle), a horseshoe set of five or seven symbols) or another readable format of symbol displays that are reproduceable in multiple arrays. The symbols are usually displayed in rows, such as in typical reel or video reel-type slot machines. After selection (player selection or automatic selection) of a particular symbol combination that provides a relatively high award when achieved, the underlying game is played, symbols provided and awards resolved according to predetermined combinations or displays of symbols. If and when the relatively high award is achieved, an additional subset of symbols may be provided to the player for selection, with a jackpot payoff being provided for a particular display of matching symbols.

BRIEF DESCRIPTION OF THE FIGURES

FIG. 1 shows a monitor screen that displays the sample pay table for a game referred to as “Lucky Day™.”

FIG. 2 shows a monitor screen and player control panel having a display of a base game showing a three reel base game with a single payline.

FIG. 3 shows a monitor screen and player control panel having a display of a base game showing a three reel base game with a single payline at a specific stage of play.

FIG. 4 shows a monitor screen and player control panel having a display of a base game showing a three reel base game with a single payline at a specific stage of play.

FIG. 5 shows a monitor screen and player control panel having a display of a base game showing a three reel base game with a single payline at a specific stage of play.

FIG. 6 shows a monitor screen and player control panel having a display of a base game showing a three reel base game with a single payline at a specific stage of play.

FIG. 7 shows a monitor screen and player control panel having a display of a base game showing a three reel base game with a single payline at a specific stage of play.

FIG. 8 shows a monitor screen and player control panel having a display of a base game showing a three reel base game with a single payline at a specific stage of play.

FIG. 9 shows a monitor screen and player control panel having a display of a base game showing a three reel base game with a single payline at a specific stage of play.

FIG. 10 shows a monitor screen and player control panel having a display of a base game showing a three reel base game with a single payline at a specific stage of play.

FIG. 11 shows a monitor screen and player control panel having a display of a base game showing a three reel base game with a single payline at a specific stage of play.

FIG. 12 shows a monitor screen and player control panel having a display of a base game showing a three reel base game with a single payline at a specific stage of play.

FIG. 13 shows a monitor screen and player control panel having a display of a base game showing a three reel base game with a single payline at a specific stage of play.

FIG. 14 shows a monitor screen and player control panel having a display of a base game showing a three reel base game with a single payline at a specific stage of play.

FIG. 15 shows a monitor screen and player control panel having a display of a base game showing a three reel base game with a single payline at a specific stage of play.

FIG. 16 shows a monitor screen and player control panel having a display of a base game showing a three reel base game with a single payline at a specific stage of play.

FIG. 17 shows a monitor screen and player control panel having a display of a base game showing a three reel base game with a single payline at a specific stage of play.

DETAILED DESCRIPTION OF THE INVENTION

The basic game according to the invention when played in video format can be played with conventional video gaming equipment that has been programmed to execute the rules of play of the game and to provide the images necessary to inform the player of the activity of the game. A standard system would include at least a housing, a display screen, player controls, hardware, processor (distal or proximal intelligence), software, credit/currency/coin handling systems and the like.

There are number of basic ways of playing the game and many variations that may be added to the underlying play of the game. The descriptions and examples provided herein are not to be taken as limiting in the scope of the practice of the invention but are exemplary of the generic scope of the invention described.

One format of play of the invention is to have a screen display a single array of frames on which a symbol display game is to be played. For purposes of simplicity, the game will be described as a three frame symbol display (i.e., three reels, with a single central payline), but as will be apparent to one skilled in the art, the base game displayed can be of any frame distribution or size. The base game may consist of any set of symbols that can be recognized and distinguished by observation of the player, but according to one design and artwork display of a game according to the invention, symbols related to birthdays, weddings, anniversaries, holidays, special events, historical dates and other celebratory dates are used to display the game. The position of that game on the screen may be varied, and the player may even select where the game is to be displayed on the screen. even though this would not necessarily or even possibly affect the outcome for that game or any of the games played at that time.

The player wagers whatever multiple of the minimum wager that is desired for play, either by inserting coins, inserting currency, accessing an account, using a credit or debit card, or using credits available on the machine. The player may determine what multiples of the minimum wager are to be wagered in a single reel game. The player may wager up to a maximum number of multiples of the minimum amount on that single game.

After (or even before) the initial wagers have been placed, the player selects (or the machine by default may automatically select) a specific combination of three symbols (preferably limited to three identical symbols, and especially three identical symbols from a subset of symbols for which there are equal numbers of each of the symbols in the subset on each reel). For example, in the game displayed in the figures, the set of symbols comprises the months of the year, with each of the twelve months of the year being available for display on each of the three reels, making the subset of three identical months being displayed of equal probability for any single month selected. After the subset selection (e.g., the player picks May for the subset combination for the relatively large payout), the player initiates or the machine automatically initiates the symbol display with the amount of the wager at risk. The display may be in any format, but the traditional reel-type display is preferred. For example, the displays may be in the format of the base game being a three-by-three display of reels, with the payline being along the center horizontal line of three frames that are shown on the reel. The display of the reels (the base game are ‘spun’ (virtually shown as spinning), one or more of the spinning reels is stopped in the base game is stopped until all of the symbol displaying system is stopped with the requisite number of symbols displayed on the payline or paylines. This selections should be random.

The preferred operation of this method would have the first reel symbol displayed e.g., either the most left symbol or the most right symbol in a three reel display, or the innermost symbol or outermost symbol in a radial display). For example, in the discussed example of the three-by-three reel display, the most left-hand symbol would be displayed first in the base game. It is equally possible to have a symbol in any other position displayed first in the base game and then in the remaining frames, but it is traditional to stop the left-most symbol first and that does offer some apparent comfort level benefits to the player in the practice of the game. For example, where the traditional symbols including cherries are used, the provision of the cherry (or a wild symbol) in the left-most symbol frame would create a recognizable winning spin.

Another view of the play of the present invention would be as a machine that enables a method of gaming play comprising playing a wagering game. The game comprises a player placing a wager in a gaming machine. The gaming machine may have more than one symbol selection system (e.g., more then one set of panels or touch screen displays for selection of one or more subsets of symbols to become selected as high value symbols for use in play of a base game or bonus event game). The at least one selection panel may, by way of non-limiting example, comprise a first symbol selection area for months and at least a second symbol selection area corresponding to days. The symbols themselves may have a potential connected value, such as their intrinsic order or a special relationship (i.e., Sept.-Oct.-Nov. are in order, and Nov. Oct., and Dec. are a fiscal quarter; June, August and July are Summer vacation, etc.). The first symbol selection area and the at least a second symbol selection area display images of a plurality of symbols that are used to determine winning events, such as sets or subsets of symbols used in the reel displays for paylines. The first symbol selection area provides at least one set of first symbols. The at least one first symbol selection area may be in a first position in the screen display area and the second symbol area may be in another position on the screen display area. After selection by the first player of a first symbol (usually the only symbol) that is used in a highlighted or featured bonus or relatively high payout event, the machine automatically highlights that at least one first symbol on the player selection area on the screen to verify the selection. The processor in the system is informed of the identification of the selected symbol for subsequent payout events. Upon initiation of the game, the local processor or distal processor (computer) for the gaming apparatus independently and randomly completes symbol display for each frame in the underlying game or bonus event. This may be done in any format that is desired by the designer, balancing speed of game play and stimulation of player interest. For example, all reels on all display areas may be stopped at the same time, or each symbol provided independently of all other symbols.

There are a number of variations that may be played in the practice of the invention. These variations include:

    • a) the player selecting a particular subset from an equal distribution of symbols in a set (e.g., one month from amongst the twelve or artificially fewer months) with a specific or progressive award being made for the occurrence of that specific symbol in all frames in the payline.
    • b) the player selecting a particular subset from an unequal distribution of symbols in a set (e.g., one dice roll total from amongst the thirty-six or artificially fewer rolls) with a varying (rather than specific) or progressive award being made for the occurrence of that specific symbol in all frames in the payline. For example, there is only 1/36 combinations for a dice roll to produce a count of exactly 2, while there are 6/36 combinations for a dice roll of exactly a count of 7. If the symbols showed dice rolls, the awards would have to be different for three 2-counts as compared to 3-seven counts.
    • c) the player selecting a particular subset from an equal distribution of symbols in a set (e.g., one month from amongst the twelve or artificially fewer months) with a specific or progressive award being made for the occurrence of that specific symbol in all frames in the payline, and awarding payouts for any one or particular ones of the frames in the payline displaying the selected symbol from the subset.
    • d) the player selecting a particular subset from an unequal distribution of symbols in a set (e.g., one dice roll total from amongst the thirty-six or artificially fewer rolls) with a varying (rather than specific) or progressive award being made for the occurrence of that specific symbol in all frames in the payline, and awarding payouts for any one or particular ones of the frames in the payline displaying the selected symbol from the subset.

Reference to the Figures will assist in a further understanding of the practice of the present invention.

FIG. 1 shows a monitor screen 2 that displays the sample pay table 4 for a game referred to as “Lucky Day™” in this discussion. Various symbols 6 are shown, and the pay table 4 scales are based on a wager of three units per game.

FIG. 2 shows a monitor screen 2 and player control panel 10 having a display of a base game 12 showing a three reel (14, 16, 18) base game 12 with a single payline 20. Other typical information may be displayed on the monitor screen 2 such as credits bet 30, credits won 32, and total credits available 34, in this example 100 credits. Touch-screen buttons on the monitor screen display a subset of symbols 40 comprising the twelve months with appropriate birthstones.

FIG. 3 shows the selection of a single symbol 42 in the subset of Month symbols 40 before the initiation of a game of Lucky Day™ game play shown on a monitor screen 2. The base game reels 12 are shown in non-spinning format, the wagers placed 30 are not shown, nor are the credits won shown as the game has not been determined, and the total credits are not shown.

FIG. 4 shows the monitor screen 2 in an early stage of the play of the game from FIG. 3, with the month Aug 42 (August highlighted as selected) and the player pressing the maximum spin button 44.

FIG. 5 shows a monitor screen 2 with the Lucky Day™ game of FIGS. 3 and 4 at a further advanced stage, with the three reels (14, 16, 18) spinning and August 42 still highlighted.

FIG. 6 shows a monitor screen 2 with the Lucky Day™ game of FIGS. 3, 4 and 5 at a further advanced stage, with three symbols (70, 72, 74) displayed on the single payline 20 in the final screen of that game. The symbols are, from left to right, August, June and May. These represent three non-consecutive months (three mixed months) which is a winning combination. The fact that one of the months is the specially selected month of August 42 may or may not have an effect on the payout, depending upon programmed rules. In the absence of special programming, this three symbol set represents only three mixed symbols of months with a payout (according to the paytable of FIG. 1) of 5× the wager of three credits 30, or in this case, 15 credits won 32. The win is reflected in the new total credits available 34. As previously indicated, the occurrence of one selected symbol (in the first, second, or third frame, uniquely or randomly) may be a special additional award. Also, if the symbol of the selected month had appeared in more than one frame (e.g., 1st and 2nd, 1st and 3rd, 2nd and 3rd, or uniquely one of those sets of combinations), there also may have been an additional payout beyond the possible three mixed month payout. This is at the option of the designer and game programmer.

FIG. 7 shows a monitor screen 2 and a player selecting an alternative month 80 in the play of a second game.

FIG. 8 shows a monitor screen 2 with the Lucky Day™ game of FIG. 7 at a further advanced stage, with the three reels (14, 16, 18) spinning and with the month Jan 80 (January highlighted as selected) and the player pressing the maximum spin button 44. FIG. 9 shows a monitor screen 2 with three diamond birthstone symbols (82, 84, 86) on the payline 20, representing three identical months (April), which is not the special month 80 (January) selected and shown on the screen. This three symbol set represents matching symbols of months with a payout (according to the paytable of FIG. 1) of 100 credits plus a Bonus 32. Also shown are the wager of three credits 30, and total available credits before the win 34.

With the selection of three identical months (82, 84, 86), a bonus event may be triggered, where the player selects one day from the numbers 1 . . . 31 on the special second selection panel 90 provided as shown in FIG. 10. The numbers may always remain as 1 . . . 31 or 1 . . . 30, or may vary according to the months (e.g., 28 or 29 days for February, if that month appears, 30 days for April, June, November and September; and 31 days for January, March, April, July, August, October and December). With a touch screen, keyboard, or panel selection capability (or any other player selection means, such as voice recognition or joy-stick), the player selects one of the days from the screen.

FIG. 11 shows manual selection 92 of the day 10 94 by a touch-screen system.

FIG. 12 shows the boxed placement of the selected date 96 above the month (April) 98 that was the payline win in the play of the base game.

FIG. 13 shows the selection of one of the 31 numbers 100 as by a random number generator. If that selected number 10 is chosen, the value of the award may be supplemented by a fixed amount, a progressive jackpot amount or a multiplier. In this example, the RNG-chosen number 22 100 does not match the player-chosen number 10 94 in the boxed display 96 and no extra award is issued. The win of 100 credits 32 in the base game is reflected in the new amount of available credits 34.

FIG. 14 shows a monitor screen 2 with the Lucky Day™ game of FIG. 13 at a further advanced stage, with the three reels (14, 16, 18) spinning and with the month Jan 80 (January still highlighted as selected in FIG. 7) and the player pressing the maximum spin button 44 for a third game.

FIG. 15 shows a monitor screen 2 with three garnet birthstone symbols (102, 104, 106) on the payline 20, representing three identical months (January), which is the special month 80 (January) selected and shown on the screen. This three symbol set represents matching chosen symbols of months with a payout (according to the paytable of FIG. 1) of 500 credits plus a Bonus 32. Also shown are the wager of three credits 30, and available credits before the win 34.

With the selection of three identical months (102, 104, 106), a bonus event will be triggered, where the player selects one day from the numbers 1 . . . 31 on the special second selection panel 90 provided as shown in FIG. 16. The player selects number 3 110, which is then displayed in a box 112 over the winning chosen month 80.

FIG. 17 shows the selection of one of the 31 numbers 114 as by a random number generator. The RNG-chosen number 3 114 matches the player-chosen number 3 in boxed display 112, and the value of the initial award is supplemented by a fixed amount, a progressive jackpot amount or a multiplier. The win of 500 credits 32 in the base game plus a bonus award of 2000 credits is reflected in the new amount of total available credits 34.

The technology described herein may be generally described as follows. A method of playing a video wagering game comprises a player placing a wager in a gaming machine. The method of playing the video wagering game may comprise:

placing a first wager on an underlying game in which symbols are provided to a player;

selecting at least one symbol to be a special award winning symbol;

playing the underlying game in which symbols are randomly provided for display;

determining a wagering outcome in the wagering game based upon rules of the underlying game and the occurrence of symbols randomly provided;

evaluating the symbols provided to determine if any special award symbol is present in a manner that offers a special award

resolving the special award if present.

The game may also include providing an additional related subset of symbols if the special award is present; selecting at least one of the second subset of symbols to be a greater or top winning prize; determining an outcome depending on the rules of the bonus game and the occurrence of symbols randomly provided; evaluating the symbols provided to determine if any award symbol arrangement is present in a manner that offers a greater award; and resolving the greater award if present.

As noted, these descriptions are illustrative and are not intended to provide ultimate limitations in the practice of the invention. Alternate constructions, designs and apparatus may be used by those skilled in the art within the scope of practice of the invention. Various equipment and software and procedures known in the art such as security, validation, game and software verification, ticket-n-ticket-out controls, credit card or playing card reading ability, coin acceptance, credit verification, currency validation, currency changing, player monitoring, central computer control and the like may be provided with the gaming apparatus playing the games of the invention.