Title:
SKILL GAME PLAYABLE ON A CASINO TYPE DISPLAY WITH GAME ENDING FEATURES INCLUDING SPINNING REEL UP/DOWN CAPABILITY AND A BONUS GAME
Kind Code:
A1


Abstract:
A skill game is provided that can be played on a casino gaming display that employs methods to hold a player's interest after normal completion of the initial game. In a first embodiment, an up/down selection is provided to the player for one or more reels of the spinning reel game that have stopped spinning. The one up/down feature allows the player to move the reel one position up or down to increase the reward level. To assure skill is involved, the available up or down motion for the reel is displayed for a short time prior to when the wheel stops and the player must remember the available state correctly. If the player remembers correctly, the award for the game can be increased. In a second embodiment, a bonus game is provided with the frequency of offer of the bonus game randomly set to assure operator profit while maintaining player interest and enjoyment.



Inventors:
Mathis, Richard M. (Las Vegas, NV, US)
Application Number:
12/212343
Publication Date:
03/19/2009
Filing Date:
09/17/2008
Primary Class:
International Classes:
A63F9/24
View Patent Images:



Foreign References:
GB2062922A
GB2148036A
GB2335524A
Primary Examiner:
SKAARUP, JASON M
Attorney, Agent or Firm:
TUCKER ELLIS LLP (ONE MARKET PLAZA STEUART TOWER, SUITE 700, SAN FRANCISCO, CA, 94105, US)
Claims:
What is claimed is:

1. A skill game comprising a game controller configured to: provide a game to a player involving at least one spinning reel; display to the user an indication of up or down direction movement of the at least one spinning reel for a limited period of time; and provide a user key to allow the user to move the at least one spinning reel in the displayed up or down direction after the up or down direction indication has been displayed for the limited period of time and the at least one spinning reel has stopped spinning.

2. The skill game of claim 1, wherein the display to the use of the up or down direction of movement is provided to the user for the limited period of time prior to when the at least one spinning reel stops spinning.

3. The skill game of claim 1, wherein only one of the up or down direction of movement is displayed to the user and provided by the key to the user to move the at least one spinning reel.

4. The skill game of claim 1, wherein the at least one spinning reel moves more than one symbol in the up or down direction.

5. The skill game of claim 1, wherein the user key is active for a limited period of time to move the at least one spinning reel in the displayed up or down direction.

6. The skill game of claim 1, wherein the player can increase buy-in prior to selecting the user key to move the at least one spinning reel in the displayed up or down direction.

7. The skill game of claim 1, wherein display to the user of the up or down direction of movement includes given symbols that when partially covered prevent a player from distinguishing the given symbols from other symbols provided on the spinning reel display.

8. A game comprising a game controller configured to: provide at least one random result determination after a player successfully completes a game; compare the at least one random result determination with a first fixed variable; and provide a bonus game to the player based on the results of the comparison with the first fixed variable.

9. The game of claim 8, wherein the game controller is further configured to: count a number of times the player has successfully completed a non-bonus game, and perform the comparison step after the count has reached a predetermined value.

10. The game of claim 8, wherein the game controller is further configured to: compare the at least one random result determination with at least one additional fixed variable; and providing the bonus game to the player based on the results of the comparison with the at least one additional fixed variable as well as the first fixed variable.

11. The game of claim 10, wherein the game controller is further configured to: provide indicators when each of the comparison with the first fixed variable and the additional fixed variables indicates a bonus game can be awarded; and return to play of a non-skill game after each successful comparison if all indicators have not been enabled.

12. The game of claim 8 further comprising: providing a no-win counter that counts times a player does not successfully complete the skill game; changing the first fixed variable to increase the frequency of when the bonus game is awarded to the player when the no-win counter reaches a predetermined value

13. The game of claim 11, wherein the fixed variables are adjustable to change the frequency of when the bonus game is offered to the user.

14. The game of claim 8, wherein prior to award of the bonus game the game controller is further configured to: provide a game to a player involving at least one spinning reel; display to the user an indication of up or down direction movement of the at least one spinning reel for a limited period of time; and provide a user key to allow the user to move the at least one spinning reel in the displayed up or down direction after the up or down direction indication has been displayed for the limited period of time.

15. A game comprising a game controller configured to: determine if a successful play of an initial game has occurred; pay an award amount displayed to a player when the initial game is determined to be successfully completed; and sum a buy-in amount for the initial game to a bonus pool when the initial game is determined to be unsuccessfully completed and return to display a screen allowing a player to play a subsequent game.

16. A game of claim 15, wherein after payment of the award, the game controller is further configured to: determine when the bonus pool exceeds a predetermined value; and award a bonus game when the bonus pool exceeds the predetermined value.

Description:

CLAIM OF PRIORITY TO PROVISIONAL APPLICATIONS

This application claims priority under 35 U.S.C. 119(e) to the following U.S. Provisional Patent Applications: (1) Provisional Application No. 60/994,110, entitled “Spinning Reel Skill Game,” by Richard M. Mathis, filed Sep. 17, 2007, which is incorporated by reference herein in its entirety; and (2) Provisional Application No. 60/994,406, entitled “Skill Game As A Bonus Game in a Game of Chance,” filed Sep. 19, 2007, which is incorporated by reference herein in its entirety.

CROSS REFERENCE TO RELATED APPLICATIONS

This application is related to U.S. patent application Ser. No. 11/247,092 entitled “Method and Apparatus For Skill Game Play and Awards” filed Oct. 11, 2005, which is hereby incorporated by reference herein in its entirety.

This application is further related to U.S. patent application Ser. No. 12/127,660, entitled “Skill Game That Can Be Played Upon a Casino Type Display Combining Determinative, Fixed and Random Processes,” filed May 27, 2008, which is hereby incorporated by reference herein in its entirety.

BACKGROUND

1. Technical Field

The present invention relates to a method of operating a gaming device, particularly a spinning reel skill gaming device or representation thereof that can be used in casino gaming. The present invention further relates to features provided at the end of the skill game.

2. Related Art

Casino gaming has offered games of chance that can be played upon a machine for many years. Typically the gaming machines employ some method of randomly selecting a game result and presenting it to a player. The random selection can be made by a random number or character generator with the result displayed to a player. A pseudo-random, or fixed process, can likewise be made by stopping a spinning reel in a manner not reasonably controlled by an operator. In the U.S.A., a distinction has been by the Federal Government as to whether a gaming apparatus generates game outcomes based upon a random or pseudo-random selection or whether player skill can influence game outcome to some degree in a determinative or non-random process. The determinative process is also referred to herein as a skill game.

Games that depend solely upon random selection for generation of game outcomes are classified as Class III, but those in which player skill can influence game outcome may be placed in another class not being subject to regulation. The classification is a regulatory matter, but can have very significant economic ramifications. For example, Class III gaming may be relegated to casinos and Indian Tribes that have suitable compacts with state governments. Class III gaming is highly regulated and requires large economic resources in order to comply with regulations in operation and reporting. Games of skill, however, may be currently permitted on any Indian reservation whether or not an agreement exists with the state in which they are located and reporting and compliance with regulation is considerably simplified.

Skill games may be classified as non-regulated games, but award to a player must depend to some degree upon player skill. A significant risk to an operator exists if game outcome depends entirely upon player skill as a very skillful player can win every game with disastrous economic results for the operator. If game outcome is made to depend upon skill in such manner that skill level is beyond the bounds of normal human competence then the game outcome essentially becomes a process of random selection, the game is classified as Class III, and is not permitted to be legally operated in said venue. The classification assigned is important and has been the subject of many court actions.

Several gaming machines that allow skill games to be played currently exist. Most of said gaming machines depend upon a video representation of a spinning reel and require a player to stop certain symbols at a given position in order to accomplish a winning result. Stopping the spinning reel depends upon player skill to influence a game outcome, but in nearly all cases the number of symbols is huge and/or speed at which symbols are presented to a player is much greater than can be expected to be processed within even the boundaries of superhuman capabilities. If game outcome can be influenced by normal human capabilities the operator of said game is in danger of losing money. A system described in U.S. Pat. No. 7,192,342 describes a spinning reel gaming system as well as other systems with an outcome that can be influenced by normal human capabilities, while still enabling the operator to make a profit. U.S. patent application Ser. No. 12/127,660 discloses an additional system that has an outcome influenced by the player, while still maintaining operator profit. It would be desirable to provide additional game features to increase player entertainment and desire to play a skill game while still maintaining an operator profit.

SUMMARY

Embodiments of the present invention provide a method for implementing a skill game that employs methods to hold a player's interest after normal completion of the game. In some embodiments the procedures are provided after normal completion of a non-skill game allowing for player skill to complete the game, effectively creating a skill game. In other embodiments, the procedures are offered after a skill game to enhance player interest. In still other embodiments, the feature offered may enhance player interest in a game that is a complete non-skill game.

In a first embodiment, an up/down selection is provided to the player for one or more reels of the spinning reel game that have stopped spinning. The one up/down feature allows the player to move the reel one position up or down to increase the reward level. To provide a skill feature, in one embodiment the available up or down motion for the reel is displayed for a short time prior to when the wheel stops and the player must remember the available state correctly. If the player remembers correctly the award for the game can be increased, while if the player incorrectly remembers the available up/down state the award can be decreased.

This up/down selection embodiment is particularly valuable to the player when all reels stop in a position where no award is displayed. Without the up/down feature, the player would receive no award. However, with the up/down feature, the player is still offered the opportunity to receive an award after the normal non-skill game would otherwise be complete. The up/down feature can likewise be used after play of a skill game.

In a second embodiment, a bonus game is provided with the frequency of offer of the bonus game randomly set to assure operator profit. Reducing frequency of the bonus game award can further increase player excitement because the total value offered for the bonus game can build significantly over time. In some embodiments, the bonus game can be offered randomly as well as based on the player's skill measured by the number of games a player wins when the initial non-bonus game is a skill game. Because different player skills can require different frequencies of bonus offerings, in some embodiments the random frequency of offer of the bonus game can be controlled by monitoring the player's skill. The bonus game of the second embodiment can be a skill game or non-skill game. The bonus game can be awarded following either a non-skill game or a skill game.

BRIEF DESCRIPTION OF THE DRAWINGS

Further details of the present invention are explained with the help of the attached drawings in which:

FIG. 1 illustrates components of a system of games that can be used to implement embodiments of the present invention.

FIG. 2 is a pictorial representation of a game display showing a reel symbols display and an award table that as can be shown to a player playing a game with features according to embodiments of the present invention.

FIG. 3 shows a complete reel strip showing the symbols that can be displayed on the spinning reels shown in FIG. 2;

FIG. 4A shows a pictorial representation of a game according to an embodiment of the invention that is being played just prior to a time when an up/down skill decision must be made by a player;

FIG. 4B shows a pictorial representation of the spinning reel game after FIG. 4A when play has been completed and the player is given the up/down skill decision;

FIG. 5A shows a pictorial representation of a game according to an embodiment of the present invention with a different display to the user than in FIG. 4A;

FIG. 5B shows a pictorial representation of the spinning reel game after FIG. 5A when play has been completed and the player is given the up/down skill decision;

FIG. 6A shows a game display according to a further embodiment of the present invention where symbols are used to prevent a player from identifying the character symbol that will be nudged up or down along with a modified award table;

FIG. 6B shows a reel strip with the new symbols of FIG. 6A illustrating that the symbols can be placed out of order on the reel strip;

FIG. 7 shows a pictorial representation of a display of a game that provides a bonus game to the user under certain conditions according to some embodiments of the present invention;

FIG. 8 is a flow chart showing one embodiment of steps taken to offer the player the bonus game, as well as steps taken during and after play of the bonus game;

FIG. 9 is a flow chart showing modification to the steps of FIG. 8 to account for a player's skill in awarding the bonus game as well as to account for a less skillful player taking over plays of the game before the bonus game is awarded; and

FIG. 10 is a flow chart showing steps of a process for setting a bonus pool amount that can be available when a bonus game is offered;

DETAILED DESCRIPTION

FIG. 1 illustrates components of a system of games that can be used to implement embodiments of the present invention. In general, a game used for embodiments of the present invention can be implemented in programming on a general purpose computer or processor as illustrated by processor 1 in gaming device 2. The processor can further be included in a central location, such as central server 4, that controls multiple games. The games can operate in a stand-alone fashion or be networked using the central server 4 operating a wireless network made up of gaming devices 6 and 7 or a wired network made up of games 2 and 4 connected by wired network connection 5. The game results may be displayed on an output device connected to any of the gaming devices, as illustrated by display 8, or transmitted to a remote device (not shown) for output or display. In addition control of the gaming devices may be made using a keypad 10 directly connected to the gaming device, or by a wireless remote device as illustrated by device 9. Another applicable representation of a stand-alone game is shown in FIG. 1 of U.S. Pat. No. 7,192,346 B2.

Embodiments of the present invention can be implemented in a system as illustrated in FIG. 1. In particular, the present invention can incorporate one or more of the features of a skill game described in U.S. Pat. No. 7,192,342 as well as U.S. patent application Ser. No. 12/127,660. Either system can further include one or more of a game ending feature including a spinning reel up/down capability or a bonus game award capability that are described in more detail to follow.

I. Spinning Reel Up/Down Capability

FIG. 2 is a pictorial representation of a game display showing a reel symbols display 11 and an award table 15 that as may be shown to a player playing a game according to the present invention. The reel symbols display includes three rotatable reels 14a, 14b, 14c, and a win line 12 under which indicia must be aligned in order to indicate an outcome of the game. Each reel 14a, 14b, and 14c, has a repeating representation of the reel strip shown in FIG. 3 that changes in accordance with a pattern shown on the reel strip. The reel strip of FIG. 3 has symbols reading from the top that are shown as SP, 3B, 2B, CH, 1B, SP, 3B, 2B, CH, B, blank and said symbols repeat on said reels as the reels rotate. An award table 15 is displayed to a player to indicate an award that may be won by a player after the reels are stopped and depending upon symbols beneath said win line. As an example, a player can win 4 credits if any CH (cherry) is beneath the win line and the player bought into the game with two credits as indicated on award table line labeled 16. Another example is if the player bought into the game with one credit and 3 SP (special) symbols are aligned under the win line when the reels cease to rotate after the player successfully completes the skill portion of the game, with a single credit buy-in for the player may win 800 credits as shown by award table line labeled 20. With a two credit buy-in, the 3 SP symbols will award the jackpot (JP) as shown at line 18.

Operation of the up/down decision process according to some embodiments of the present invention will be described below initially with respect to FIGS. 4A and 4B as well as previous FIGS. 2 and 3. FIG. 4A provides a pictorial representation of a game as it is being played and just prior to time when an up/down skill decision must be made by a player. FIG. 4B shows the spinning reel game after FIG. 4A when play has been completed and the player is given the up/down skill decision.

The game of skill of a first embodiment of the present invention begins as follows, with reference to FIG. 4A. A player chooses a one or two credit buy-in and indicates to the game that he desires to play by pressing a switch, choosing an icon or by some other means that signal to a microprocessor controlling the game that the game should begin. A game platform to accomplish aforesaid operation is described in U.S. Pat. No. 7,192,346. Upon the game beginning, the reels or representation thereof begin to rotate.

As the reels rotate, a momentary display of icons that the player must choose to rotate a reel up 30 or down 32 to successfully complete a skill game is made to the player. The icons 30 and 32 may appear at a random position on the game presentation to the player and may be visible for a random period of time from game to game. Icons switches 22, 23 and 24 have markings that can correspond to momentarily displayed icons 30 and 32 that appear on the game presentation to the player. The switches 22, 23 and 24 may be static in position, or displayed only at certain times in a touch screen or actual push button available to the player. Additionally, a time allowed for a player to complete the skill game is shown at 38 and a choice of whether said player wishes to increase his buy-in. If the player is not already at maximum buy-in, the option to increase the buy-in can be shown on the game presentation to the player at 40 after reels 14a and 14b have stopped rotating. Reel 14c is still rotating at this point in the game cycle shown in FIG. 4A. Reel 14c stops and the player may move the reel up or down to successfully complete the skill game using buttons 22, 23 and 24. The message 30 and 32 temporarily shown in FIG. 4A tells the player whether to move reel 14c up or down to successfully complete the skill game. The player must remember which icon of the message 30 and 32 momentarily displayed to move the reel in the direction indicated.

Referring to FIG. 4B after the initial portion of the game has been completed, the player has a period of time as shown by line 41 to select the heart on button 24 so that the reel 14c moves up to the next CH (cherry) symbol and the award given to the player would be a 3 CH pay as indicated by line 44 in award table 15. If the player mistakenly moved the reel downward by selecting the clover, the next symbol, a 2B (2 bar), would give him an award of a 2 CH pay as indicated by line 42 in the award table. If the player waits beyond the 5 second time limit for up/down selection the reel 14c will not be moved, and the award given will also be a 2 CH pay as indicated by 42 of the award table.

The up/down selection process can serve to increase player interest in a situation where the award can be increased, as shown in FIGS. 4A and 4B. The up/down selection can further increase player interest because the player may end up with symbols not paying any award on the award table 115, but the player can use the up/down selection to move one reel to a CH symbol to receive an award of 2 credits as shown on line 40, or 4 credits if two credits are played as shown by line 16 on the award table 15. Allowing a player to increase buy-in except at random intervals, including just before the up/down selection process further increases player interest, as long as offered amounts are carefully displayed at predetermined times and calculated prior to advertising in game to prevent the operator from losing revenue.

FIGS. 5A and 5B illustrate alternatives for the up/down selection process to those shown for FIGS. 4A and 4B, providing another non-limiting example. FIG. 5A shows a pictorial representation of a slightly different display of an up or down indication 51 that specifically indicates “UP” or “DOWN” to a player, rather than a symbol such as a heart or clover shown in FIG. 4A. The “UP” indication is displayed at 51 temporarily during the game. The player must remember the “UP” or “DOWN” indication displayed at 51 after the game is complete. Once the initial game is complete, an up/down button 54 is displayed as shown in FIG. 5B. Selecting the up/down button 54 during the time period shown at 56 will cause the reel 14b over which the up/down button is displayed to move according to the indication temporarily displayed in FIG. 5A.

For the symbols displayed in FIG. 5A, the pay line currently contains 1B-CH-1B. If the player chooses to not select button 54 during the time displayed at 52, then the player will receive the award for 1 CH of either lines 16 or 40, depending on buyin, from the reward table 15 of FIG. 2. If the player selects button 54, then the center reel 14b will move up one causing the pay line to display 1B-1B-1B and the player will receive the greater award of line 42 from the reward table of FIG. 2. If the symbol displayed in FIG. 5A had been a “DOWN” indication and the player selected button 54, the 1 CH symbol would move to a 3B in the pay line to have a pay line reading 1B-3B-1B, and the player would receive no reward. This illustrates that by incorrectly remembering the symbol 51, the player can lose the reward already gained in hopes of getting a higher award. As with FIGS. 4A and 4B alternatives to the configuration of FIGS. 5A and 5B can likewise be used, such as offering an “up/down” selection for more than one of the reels 14a-14c, adding more reels, or using an “up/down” selection of two or more reel symbol movement.

FIG. 6A shows a game display according to a further embodiment of the present invention where symbols are used to prevent a player from identifying the character symbol that will be moved up or down along with a modified award table. In previous figures the symbols on the spinning reels are not symmetrical, enabling a player to determine from the exposed portion of the reel strip what symbol is being moved up or down. The symbols such as 63 of FIG. 6A are designed to be symmetrical in such a manner that a player seeing the top of a symbol protruding above the bottom of the outline of the reel window or the bottom of a symbol protruding below the bottom of the outline of the reel window do not reveal the actual symbol that will be displayed by the symbol moving into full view. Alternatively the confines of the reel window may be adjusted in a manner so as to render the upper and lower symbols indistinguishable or hidden until such time as the player activates a nudge up/down switch 54.

In FIGS. 6A-6B, the face symbol has a number (3 in on the symbol 63) that can be seen, but symbols 68 and 69 although partially shown do not show the number. The reel strip is shown in FIG. 6B illustrating that the numbers on the symbols can be set out of order to prevent the player from identifying what the next symbol will be without having the entire reel strip memorized. Although a face symbol is used in FIGS. 6A and 6B with a number in the center, other symmetrical symbols can be used such as a square or triangle with numbers or other identification symbols placed thereon to prevent a player from identifying the next symbol before it is nudged up or down.

II. Bonus game

FIG. 7 shows a pictorial representation of a display 61 showing a game that provides a bonus game to the user according to additional embodiments of the present invention. FIG. 7 provides a representation of a spinning reel slot machine game including reels 14a, 14b and 14c that appear to rotate when the game is initiated and stopping of said reels can be determined by one of any well-known stochastic algorithms. One of said stochastic algorithms is described in U.S. Pat. No. 5,380,008. If predetermined reel stopping positions are calculated causing predetermined patterns of symbols to occur beneath win line 12, and if certain other conditions occur according to embodiments of the present invention the player may be eligible to play a bonus game. The conditions for awarding a bonus game in one embodiment include awarding the bonus game only if a predetermined pattern of indicators is shown at 62. A potential amount 64 that may be offered to a player as a bonus adds to player excitement and enjoyment. As one example alternative, nomenclature 66 can be provided to indicate to a player that a bonus game will be available when 4 indicators 62 are all illuminated and outcome of a game of chance is a predetermined value (a pattern of all SP's in this case).

As indicated previously, the configuration displayed in FIG. 7 is only one alternative embodiment of the present invention, and other possible alternatives exist. For example, the bonus game can be awarded based on a number of player wins without using the indicators 62 or its associated random result comparison process. Alternatively, the indicators can randomly come on after each win as shown in FIG. 7 without any consideration of the total number of wins a player has. Further, more or less of the indicators 62 than the four shown can be used. With the bonus indicator lights 62 lighted one at a time after different game plays, the game can have the effect of allowing a player to see that the probability of award of a bonus game is becoming greater as the game is played more.

FIG. 8 is a flow chart showing one embodiment of steps taken to offer the player the bonus game, as well as steps taken during and after play of the bonus game. The program flow begins at 70 and continues to 72 where the program waits for a predetermined outcome of a game of chance. In step 72, the predetermined outcome is a win of initial game. If in step 70 the condition is satisfied, a random result (RR) variable is drawn from a pool of random results in step 74 that will be used in a random determination process of steps 76-92 to determine whether the player can play a bonus game. The random result (RR) may be created using a random number generator. Steps 76-92 also light indicator lights 62 shown in FIG. 7 as described in more detail below.

The procedure to determine if a bonus game will be awarded in steps 76-92 begins with step 76 where if a first bonus indicator light (Bonus Ind1) is off the random result (RR) is compared to a variable R1. If the random result is less than or equal to R1, a first bonus indicator light 55a at step 78 is turned on. The program then continues to 92 where a check is made if all four bonus indicator lights (Ind1-4) are on and, if not, continues back to 72 where another game of chance may be played by the player. If the random result is greater than variable R1, or the bonus light indicator Ind1 is already on the program continues to 80 where if the second indicator light (Ind2) 55b is off a comparison is made for the random result (RR) being less than or equal to variable R2. If the random result is less than or equal to said variable R2, a second bonus indicator 55b at step 82 is turned on and program continues to 92 where a check is made if all bonus indicators are on and, if not, continues back to 72 where another game of chance may be played by the player. If the random result is greater than variable R2 or the second indicator light 55b was already on, the program continues to 84 where if a third indicator light (Ind3) 55c is off a comparison is made for the random result (RR) being less than or equal to variable R3. If the random result is less than or equal to R3, a bonus indicator light (Ind3) 55c at step 86 is turned on and program continues to 92 where a check is made if all bonus indicators are on and, if not, continues back to 72 where another game of chance can be played by the player. If the random result is greater than variable R3 or the third indicator light 55c was already on, the program continues to 88 where if a fourth indicator light (Ind4) 55d is off a comparison is made for the random result (RR) being less than or equal to variable R4. If the random result is less than or equal to R4, a bonus indicator light 55d is turned on at step 90 and program continues to 92 where a check is made if all bonus indicators are on and, if not, control continues back to 72 where another game of chance may be played by the player. If the random result is greater than variable R4 or the indicator light (Ind4) 55d was on, the program continues to 92 where a check is made if all bonus indicators are on and if not continues back to 72 where another game of chance may be played by the player. If at any time in step 92 all bonus indicators are on, the program continues to 94 where a bonus game is presented to the player and the player can proceed to play at step 96. After the bonus game is complete, program continues to step 98 where all bonus indicators are turned off and control is returned to step 72 where additional games can be played and the process for a bonus game award is started over.

Those skilled in the art will see that the value of variables R1, R2, R3 and R4 may be increased or decreased to change the frequency of allowing a bonus game to be presented to a player. As one example the frequency at which the bonus game is awarded may be increased by moving the value of R1 closer to R2. In fact, if R1=R2=R3=R4 and RR is constrained to be less than R1, the bonus game will be presented to the player after every fourth game of chance win. To further enhance player excitement and enjoyment, the aforesaid variables R1, R2, R3, and R4 may be randomly adjusted, thus making an erratic presentation of turn on of the bonus lights before awarding the bonus game to the player. The variables R1, R2, R3 and R4 can further be changed to assure an operator is guaranteed a profit even with presentation of the bonus game with a substantial award for winning the bonus game. Further with values set so that R1<R2<R3<R4, the portion of steps 76, 78, 80 and 82 that checks the bonus indicator will be unnecessary since some random results RR can be generated that will satisfy each of step 76, 78, 80 and 82 to separately turn on indicator lights ind1-4. For the embodiments of FIG. 8, the bonus game can be either a skill game or a non-skill game, and similarly the initial non-bonus game can be either a skill game or a non-skill game.

FIG. 9 is a flow chart showing modification to the steps of FIG. 8 to account for a player's skill in awarding the bonus game when the initial non-bonus game is a skill game. The steps of FIG. 9 account for a less skillful player taking over plays of the game before the bonus game is awarded. The process of FIG. 9 begins at step 100 and proceeds to step 102 where a determination of whether the game has been won within a predetermined period of time is made. This process allows the player skill to significantly control award of the bonus game, so if a skilled player turns on a number of the bonus indicator lights 61 of FIG. 7 and a new unskilled player begins playing, the bonus indicator lights can be turned off and not allow the unskilled player to receive a bonus game. Thus, in step 102 if the initial skill game is not won within a predetermined time, in step 104 the bonus indicator lights are turned off, but if the skill game is won within the predetermined time, a win counter that counts the number of games won is incremented in step 106. In step 108 the win count is checked to determine if a number of wins has occurred to proceed to other random steps to award the bonus game. If the win count is not sufficient, play resumes to 102 until sufficient wins are accumulated. If the win count is sufficient, the process proceeds to step 110 where the win count is reset to zero and the random process is initiated, similar to those steps in FIG. 8, to determine if a bonus game will be awarded.

In the random process, a random result is drawn in step 112 for comparison to R1 and R2 in subsequent steps in FIG. 9, similar to steps of FIG. 8. For exemplary purposes only two random results and two bonus indicator lights are used, as opposed to the four bonus indicators of FIG. 8. Although two bonus indicators are used, it is understood that one or more bonus indicator lights can be used, or the random process could be eliminated and only a number of game wins could be used to determine if a bonus game is awarded.

As with the process of FIG. 8, in FIG. 9 step 114 if a first bonus indicator light (Bonus Ind1) is off the random result (RR) is compared to a variable R1. If the random result is less than or equal to R1 and the first indicator light is off a first bonus indicator light at step 116 is turned on and program continues to 122 where a check is made if both bonus indicator lights (Ind1-2) are on and, if not, control continues back to the start where additional skill games must be won. If the random result is greater than variable R1, or the bonus light indicator Ind1 is already on the program continues to 118 where if the second indicator light (Ind2) is off a comparison is made for the random result (RR) being less than or equal to variable R2. If the random result is less than or equal to R2, a second bonus indicator at step 120 is turned on and program continues to 122 where a check is made if all bonus indicators are on and, if not, control continues back to the start for additional skill game play. If at any time in step 122 all bonus indicators are on, the program continues to 124 where a bonus game is presented to the player and the player begins play at step 126. After the skill game is complete, the program continues to step 128 where all bonus indicators are turned off. Finally in an optional step 130 if the bonus game is won, the win counter can be incremented similar to win of a non-bonus game and control is returned to the start for play of additional non-bonus games and the process for a bonus game award is started over.

In some embodiments of the present invention further alternatives can be used, such as use of a no-win counter instead of the win counter referenced in FIG. 9. The no-win counter can likewise be used in FIG. 8 to enable setting the frequency of bonus game award by adjusting variables R1-R4 of FIG. 7 or R1-R2 of FIG. 2. The no-win counter can be reset after a bonus game is awarded to player. If the number of the no-win counter exceeds a predetermined amount, the frequency of award of the bonus game will be too low. The numbers R1-R4 can then be adjusted and the no-win counter reset and evaluated again until the frequency of award of the bonus game is acceptable. For FIG. 9, the number of wins required before a bonus game can be awarded can likewise be adjusted based on the no-win count to increase bonus award frequency.

Other alternatives to the bonus award steps of FIGS. 8 and 9 are likewise available. For example in one alternative the bonus game can be awarded based solely on a number of wins a player has. Further, a bonus pool amount can be determined and the bonus game offered only when the bonus pool exceeds a predetermined amount necessary to guarantee operator profit. The bonus game awarded in embodiments of FIG. 9 can be either a skill game or a non-skill game.

FIG. 10 is a flow chart showing steps of a process for setting a bonus pool amount that can be available when a bonus game is offered. In FIG. 10, the program is entered as a subroutine from a skill game outcome evaluation routine at 160 and a check is made at 162 to determine if a preceding skill game was successfully completed. If said preceding skill game was successfully completed, program continues to 168 where an award amount previously displayed to a player is paid after which program continues to 170 where exit from award evaluation occurs. If the preceding skill game was not successfully completed, program continues to 164 where buy-in amount for the game is added to a total amount in a bonus pool and the program continues to 166 where a zero award amount is displayed to a player after which program continues to 170 where exit from award evaluation occurs.

The process of FIG. 10 has the effect of removing any player skill influence from a stochastic award determination routine and allowing said stochastic award determination routine to function independently of player skill. Profit to an operator of a game constructed in aforesaid manner is guaranteed by means of the stochastic game determination algorithm. Using the method of FIG. 10, the bonus pool will be increased by players not successfully completing games of skill and the aforesaid bonus pool may be all or partially used to provide awards to players. By creating a bonus pool in this manner, a very fair return to players may be accomplished.

It should be noted that the preceding discussion discloses a method of implementing a game of skill upon any computer controlled gaming apparatus and may be adapted to devices including display types and actuation devices different than those described herein. A person skilled in the art will see many other games and implementations that employ the methods disclosed herein. For example the up/down selection procedure can be combined with the bonus game award in a single game. Further, the bonus game can be awarded only after the bonus pool has reached a predetermined value to guarantee operator profit, whether or not random results like R1-R4 are used, or a predetermined number of wins are counted.

Although the present invention has been described above with particularity, this was merely to teach one of ordinary skill in the art how to make and use the invention. Many additional modifications will fall within the scope of the invention, as that scope is defined by the following claims.