Title:
WAGERING GAME AND METHOD OF PLAY
Kind Code:
A1


Abstract:
A video game machine or on-line game system provides a game involving a wager. The game involves a plurality of randomly selected icons, such as playing cards, being dealt and displayed to the player on at least two sequential occasions. A game win is determined on the basis of the presence of a winning combination of icons in the final deal of icons. Additionally, a secondary wager is commenced or cancelled on the basis of a winning combination of icons in a deal preceding the final deal of icons in a game. In this way player excitement is greater than that of a conventional wagering game without requiring the player to have a high level of knowledge or expertise in the game.



Inventors:
Parry, Mike (Wantage, GB)
Application Number:
12/491203
Publication Date:
02/04/2010
Filing Date:
06/24/2009
Assignee:
Realistic Games Ltd (Oxfordshire, GB)
Primary Class:
Other Classes:
463/25, 463/42
International Classes:
A63F9/24
View Patent Images:



Primary Examiner:
HSU, RYAN
Attorney, Agent or Firm:
GARCIA-ZAMOR INTELLECTUAL PROPERTY LAW;ATTN: RUY GARCIA-ZAMOR (12960 LINDEN CHURCH ROAD, CLARKSVILLE, MD, 21029, US)
Claims:
What is claimed is:

1. A video game machine for playing a game involving a wager, the video game machine comprising: a payment receipt device, for receiving payment of a wager from a player; an image store in which is stored images of a plurality of icons; a display screen for displaying a plurality of icons to the player; an icon generator adapted to randomly generate a plurality of icons for display on the display screen; and a games processor including program instructions for performing the following steps: deciding whether a plurality of icons generated by the icon generator includes a winning combination of icons; determining a winning payment to be made to the player when the plurality of icons includes a winning combination; assigning said winning payment to a first level of a first secondary wager based upon a winning characteristic of one or more icons to be randomly generated in a future game; when a new game is initiated by said player and a new plurality of icons are displayed on said display screen, determining whether said new plurality of icons includes said winning characteristic; where it is determined that said new plurality of icons includes said winning characteristic, increasing said winning payment of said first secondary wager by a predetermined amount and assigning said increased winning payment to a second level of said first secondary wager; and where it is determined that said new plurality of icons includes a winning combination of icons, assigning a new winning payment to the first level of a new secondary wager based upon a winning characteristic of one or more of the icons to be randomly generated in a future game.

2. The video game machine as claimed in claim 1, wherein each game involves at least one deal of icons preceding a final deal of icons, the games processor includes instructions for determining a winning payment based upon the plurality of icons displayed on the display screen after the final deal of icons for a game has been generated and the games processor additionally includes instructions for determining the presence of said winning characteristic in said preceding deal of icons.

3. The video game machine as claimed in claim 1, wherein the games processor includes instructions for enabling in one game a plurality of separate secondary wagers based on a corresponding plurality of preceding winning payments.

4. The video game machine as claimed in claim 1, wherein said icons stored in said image store are images of a set of playing cards and said winning characteristic for said secondary wager is based upon the colour of a playing card displayed in a predetermined position on the display screen.

5. The video game machine as claimed in claim 1, wherein the games processor includes instructions for increasing the value of the winning payment by a multiple of itself when it is determined that the new plurality of icons includes said winning characteristic.

6. The video game machine as claimed in claim 1, further including a winning characteristic setting device which is adapted to enable a player to select a winning characteristic for a future secondary wager from a predetermined range of winning characteristics.

7. A video game server for playing a game involving a wager via a network, the video game server comprising: a network interface for communicating via the network data and images to one or more remote terminals each having a display screen; an image store in which is stored images of a plurality of icons; an icon generator adapted to randomly generate a plurality of icons for communication via the network interface to the one or more remote terminals for display on the display screens; and a games processor including instructions for playing the game, the instructions including instructions for performing the following steps: deciding whether a plurality of icons generated by the icon generator includes a winning combination of icons; determining a winning payment to be made when the plurality of icons includes a winning combination; assigning said winning payment to a first level of a first secondary wager based upon a winning characteristic of one or more icons to be randomly generated in a future game; when a new game is initiated and a new plurality of icons are randomly generated, determining whether said new plurality of icons includes said winning characteristic; where it is determined that said new plurality of icons includes said winning characteristic, increasing said winning payment of said first secondary wager by a predetermined amount and assigning said increased winning payment to a second level of said first secondary wager, and where it is determined that said new plurality of icons includes a winning combination of icons, assigning a new winning payment to the first level of a new secondary wager based upon a winning characteristic of one or more of the icons to be randomly generated in a future game.

8. The video game server as claimed in claim 7, wherein each game involves at least one deal of icons preceding a final deal of icons, the games processor includes instructions for determining a winning payment based upon the plurality of icons displayed on the display screen of a remote terminal after the final deal of icons for a game has been generated and the games processor additionally includes instructions for determining the presence of said winning characteristic in said preceding deal of icons.

9. The video game server as claimed in claim 7, wherein the games processor includes instructions for enabling in one game a plurality of separate secondary wagers based on a corresponding plurality of preceding winning payments.

10. The video game server as claimed in claim 7, wherein said icons stored in said image store are images of a set of playing cards and said winning characteristic for said secondary wager is based upon the colour of a playing card displayed in a predetermined position on the display screen of the remote terminal.

11. The video game server as claimed in claim 7, wherein the games processor includes instructions for increasing the value of the winning payment by a multiple of itself when it is determined that the new plurality of icons includes said winning characteristic.

12. The video game server as claimed in claim 7, further including a winning characteristic setting device which is adapted to receive via said network interface a player selection of a winning characteristic for a future secondary wager from a predetermined range of winning characteristics.

13. A method of playing a card game, comprising the steps of: a player makes a first wager to initiate a first game; a dealer deals said player a plurality of playing cards; where said plurality of playing cards dealt to the player includes a winning combination of playing cards, assigning a winning payment to a first level of a first secondary gamble based upon a winning characteristic of one or more of the playing cards to be dealt in a future game, the method further comprising the steps of: the player makes a second wager to initiate a second game; the dealer deals said player a new plurality of playing cards; where said new plurality of playing cards includes said winning characteristic, increasing said winning payment of said first secondary gamble by a predetermined amount and assigning said increased winning payment to a second level of said first secondary gamble; and additionally where said new plurality of playing cards includes a winning combination of cards, assigning a new winning payment to the first level of a new secondary gamble based upon a winning characteristic of one or more of the playing cards to be dealt in a future game.

14. The method as claimed in claim 13, wherein each game involves at least one deal of playing cards preceding a final deal of playing cards, the winning payment is based upon the plurality of playing cards after the final deal of playing cards and the winning characteristic is required to be present in said preceding deal of playing cards.

15. The method as claimed in claim 13, wherein each game may include a plurality of separate secondary gambles based on a corresponding plurality of preceding winning payments.

16. The method as claimed in claim 13, wherein said winning characteristic for said secondary gamble is based upon the colour of a playing card in a predetermined position in a deal.

17. The method as claimed in claim 13, wherein the value of the winning payment is increased by a multiple of itself when it is determined that the new plurality of playing cards includes said winning characteristic.

18. A method of playing a video wagering game comprising: receiving an initial wager from a player; randomly generating a plurality of icons and displaying the icons on a display screen; where said plurality of icons displayed on said display screen includes a winning combination of icons, assigning a winning payment to a first level of a first secondary gamble based upon a winning characteristic of one or more of the icons to be randomly generated in a future game, the method further comprising the steps of: receiving a new wager to initiate a second game; randomly generating a new plurality of icons and displaying the icons on said display screen; where said new plurality of icons includes said winning characteristic, increasing said winning payment of said first secondary gamble by a predetermined amount and assigning said increased winning payment to a second level of said first secondary gamble; and additionally where said new plurality of icons includes a winning combination of icons, assigning a new winning payment to the first level of a new secondary gamble based upon a winning characteristic of one or more of the icons to be randomly generated in a future game.

19. The method as claimed in claim 18, wherein each game involves at least one deal of icons preceding a final deal of icons, a winning payment is determined based upon the plurality of icons displayed on the display screen after the final deal of icons for a game has been generated and the presence of said winning characteristic is determined with respect to said preceding deal of icons.

20. The method as claimed in claim 18, wherein each game may include a plurality of separate secondary gambles based on a corresponding plurality of preceding winning payments.

21. The method as claimed in claim 18, wherein said icons comprise the set of images of a set of playing cards and said winning characteristic for said secondary gamble is based upon the colour of a playing card displayed in a predetermined position on the display screen.

22. The method as claimed in claim 18, wherein the winning payment is increased by a multiple of itself when it is determined that the new plurality of icons includes said winning characteristic.

23. The method as claimed in claim 18, further including enabling a player to select a winning characteristic for a future secondary gamble from a predetermined range of winning characteristics.

Description:

FIELD OF THE INVENTION

The present invention relates to a wagering method and to a method of play. In particular, the present invention relates generally to a game incorporating a running gamble implemented as a table game, in a casino-type slot machine or remotely over the internet.

BACKGROUND OF THE INVENTION

Electronic gaming machines, such as, but not limited to, the slot machines that have become so popular in casinos, offer a wide range of different types of games in which the player of the game bets on the outcome. One such type of game is generally referred to as ‘Video Poker’. The purpose of the game is to achieve a winning combination of five cards such as Royal Flush, Straight Flush, Full House, Three of a Kind, Two Pair. Each winning combination has associated with it a win payment that varies in dependence upon the poker ranking of the card combination i.e. the likelihood of the card combination arising. In this game once a player has made a minimum payment as a stake or ante, a set of cards are dealt at random and displayed to the player on the display screen of the gaming machine. The player may then have the option of selecting one or more of the cards that the player hopes will improve the chances of achieving a winning card combination. The selected cards are held, whereas those cards that have not been selected are discarded and replaced by randomly drawn new cards. Whether or not the player succeeds in the wager and is awarded a win payment is dependent upon the combination of five cards on display after the second draw. With conventional gaming machines, rather than making an immediate payout, the gaming machines often store the player's winnings in an electronic purse that the player can use to fund continued play. However, such conventional games and gaming machines can fail to maintain a player's interest.

In order to address the problem of maintaining player interest, additional rules or procedures have been devised in particular for electronic gaming machines. One such improvement is described in U.S. Pat. No. 7,300,347 which proposes changes to the usual rules of play to increase the frequency at which a Royal Flush may arise. This improvement involves presenting the player with the option, subject to the payment by the player of an additional stake, of restricting the group of cards from which the second draw is made to a group limited to Royal Flush cards i.e. the ten, jack, queen, king or ace.

An alternative approach to addressing the problem of maintaining player interest involves offering the player the opportunity to indulge in an additional side wager or prop bet. For example, in U.S. Pat. No. 5,636,843 a gaming machine is described which includes, in additional to the usual display for a poker game machine, a separate prop bet display and player input keyboard which enables a player to place an additional wager on the characteristics of the first few cards to be dealt in each game.

In a CZ slot machine game, in order to maintain player interest the game enables a player to accrue win payments for the purpose of achieving a value of accrued win payments sufficient to permit the player to then engage in a separate, higher stake game.

Unfortunately, these games can be complicated to play with sophisticated concepts and rules and, in general, such games are geared more towards players with extensive gaming experience. Also, the increased complexity of these games has the effect of increasing the time required for each game play.

Therefore, a first object of the present invention is to provide a wagering game and a method of play that adds to the excitement of a conventional wagering game whether played at a gaming table, on a slot machine or over the internet and thereby maintains player interest in the game.

A second object of the present invention is to provide a wagering game that is easy to play; requires a low level of knowledge or expertise in the game; and provides multiple gambling opportunities without significantly increasing the time required for each game play.

A third object of the present invention is to provide a wagering game and a method of play that incorporates one or more running gambles.

A further object of the present invention is to provide an electronic gaming machine which provides high-speed game play.

SUMMARY OF THE INVENTION

In accordance with a first aspect the present invention provides a video game machine for playing a game involving a wager, the video game machine comprising: a payment receipt device, for receiving payment of a wager from a player; an image store in which is stored images of a plurality of icons; a display screen for displaying a plurality of icons to the player; an icon generator adapted to randomly generate a plurality of icons for display on the display screen; and a games processor including program instructions for performing the following steps: deciding whether a plurality of icons generated by the icon generator includes a winning combination of icons; determining a winning payment to be made to the player when the plurality of icons includes a winning combination; assigning said winning payment to a first level of a first secondary wager based upon a winning characteristic of one or more icons to be randomly generated in a future game; when a new game is initiated by said player and a new plurality of icons are displayed on said display screen, determining whether said new plurality of icons includes said winning characteristic; where it is determined that said new plurality of icons includes said winning characteristic, increasing said winning payment of said first secondary wager by a predetermined amount and assigning said increased winning payment to a second level of said first secondary wager; and where it is determined that said new plurality of icons includes a winning combination of icons, assigning a new winning payment to the first level of a new secondary wager based upon a winning characteristic of one or more of the icons to be randomly generated in a future game.

In a preferred embodiment each game involves two or more sequential deals of icons and the games processor includes instructions for determining a winning payment based upon the plurality of icons displayed on the display screen after the final deal of icons for a game has been generated. Also, icon retention means may be provided for holding one or more of the plurality of icons during a subsequent deal of icons in the same game and during said subsequent deal replacing only those icons not held with new randomly generated icons.

Ideally, each game involves at least one deal of icons preceding a final deal of icons and the games processor includes instructions for determining the presence of said winning characteristic in said preceding deal of icons. Moreover, the games processor may include instructions for enabling in one game a plurality of separate secondary wagers based on a corresponding plurality of preceding winning payments.

In said preferred embodiment said icons stored in said image store are images of a set of playing cards and said winning characteristic for said secondary wager is based upon the colour of a playing card displayed in a predetermined position on the display screen.

In a second aspect the present invention provides a video game server for playing a game involving a wager via a network, the video game server comprising: a network interface for communicating via the network data and images to one or more remote terminals each having a display screen; an image store in which is stored images of a plurality of icons; an icon generator adapted to randomly generate a plurality of icons for communication via the network interface to the one or more remote terminals for display on the display screens; and a games processor including instructions for playing the game, the instructions including instructions for performing the following steps: deciding whether a plurality of icons generated by the icon generator includes a winning combination of icons; determining a winning payment to be made when the plurality of icons includes a winning combination; assigning said winning payment to a first level of a first secondary wager based upon a winning characteristic of one or more icons to be randomly generated in a future game; when a new game is initiated and a new plurality of icons are randomly generated, determining whether said new plurality of icons includes said winning characteristic; where it is determined that said new plurality of icons includes said winning characteristic, increasing said winning payment of said first secondary wager by a predetermined amount and assigning said increased winning payment to a second level of said first secondary wager, and where it is determined that said new plurality of icons includes a winning combination of icons, assigning a new winning payment to the first level of a new secondary wager based upon a winning characteristic of one or more of the icons to be randomly generated in a future game.

In a third aspect the present invention provides a method of playing a card game, comprising the steps of: a player makes a first wager to initiate a first game; a dealer deals said player a plurality of playing cards; where said plurality of playing cards dealt to the player includes a winning combination of playing cards, assigning a winning payment to a first level of a first secondary gamble based upon a winning characteristic of one or more of the playing cards to be dealt in a future game, the method further comprising the steps of: the player makes a second wager to initiate a second game; the dealer deals said player a new plurality of playing cards; where said new plurality of playing cards includes said winning characteristic, increasing said winning payment of said first secondary gamble by a predetermined amount and assigning said increased winning payment to a second level of said first secondary gamble; and additionally where said new plurality of playing cards includes a winning combination of cards, assigning a new winning payment to the first level of a new secondary gamble based upon a winning characteristic of one or more of the playing cards to be dealt in a future game.

In a fourth aspect the present invention provides a method of playing a video wagering game comprising: receiving an initial wager from a player; randomly generating a plurality of icons and displaying the icons on a display screen; where said plurality of icons displayed on said display screen includes a winning combination of icons, assigning a winning payment to a first level of a first secondary gamble based upon a winning characteristic of one or more of the icons to be randomly generated in a future game, the method further comprising the steps of: receiving a new wager to initiate a second game; randomly generating a new plurality of icons and displaying the icons on said display screen; where said new plurality of icons includes said winning characteristic, increasing said winning payment of said first secondary gamble by a predetermined amount and assigning said increased winning payment to a second level of said first secondary gamble; and additionally where said new plurality of icons includes a winning combination of icons, assigning a new winning payment to the first level of a new secondary gamble based upon a winning characteristic of one or more of the icons to be randomly generated in a future game.

With the secondary running gamble of the present invention, the player is offered the opportunity to turn each individual winning amount into much larger individual winning amounts. Moreover, the secondary running gamble of the present invention offers distinct benefits over conventional wagering games in terms of player involvement and interest. Most importantly, the present invention offers significant advantages in terms of enabling a greater number of games to be played in comparison to conventional video poker games for the same amount of time.

Reference herein to a running gamble is to be understood as reference to using a win payment from a previous game as the stake or ante for a subsequent gamble.

BRIEF DESCRIPTION OF THE DRAWINGS

Embodiments of the present invention will now be described by way of example only, with reference to the accompanying drawings, in which:

FIG. 1 is a perspective view of an illustration of a slot-type gaming machine in accordance with the present invention;

FIG. 2 shows the touch sensitive display screen of the gaming machine of FIG. 1 in a first state prior to a game commencing;

FIG. 3 shows the touch sensitive display screen of FIG. 2 in a second state following a first card deal of a first game;

FIG. 4 shows the touch sensitive display screen of FIG. 2 in a third state following the second and final card deal of a first game;

FIG. 5 shows the touch sensitive display screen of FIG. 2 in a fourth state following the first card deal of a second game;

FIG. 6 shows the touch sensitive display screen of FIG. 2 in a fifth state following the second card deal of a second game;

FIG. 7 shows the touch sensitive display screen of FIG. 2 prior to the first deal of a fifth game;

FIG. 8 shows the touch sensitive display screen of FIG. 2 after the first deal of the fifth game;

FIG. 9 shows the touch sensitive display screen of FIG. 2 after the second deal of the fifth game;

FIGS. 10a and 10b, in combination, present a flow diagram of the game steps performed by the gaming machine in accordance with the present invention;

FIG. 11 is a schematic diagram of the components of a gaming machine in accordance with the present invention; and

FIG. 12 is a graph of the number of games played on a slot-type gaming machine with respect to elapsed time for three different conventional poker games and for the game illustrated in the preceding figures which is in accordance with the present invention.

DETAILED DESCRIPTION

The conventional operation of electronic gaming machines, including but not limited to slot machines and video machines, is well known in the industry. Hence, small conventional details of the design or operation of such electronic gaming machines have not, in all cases, been described herein. However, it is to be understood that such small conventional details are intended for incorporation in the embodiment described herein.

Although not described in detail herein, in general slot machines and other electronic gaming machines are controlled individually by one or more processors and may, optionally, be commonly connected to or in communication with at least one managing server. The processor of the gaming machine includes or is in communication with a random number generator and it is to be understood that reference herein to a random number generator is intended to include reference to systems or components in which numbers or images are generated in a wholly random or quasi-random manner.

Reference is now made to the figures wherein like parts are referred to by like numerals throughout. In FIG. 1 an embodiment of the present invention in the form of an electronic gaming machine 10 is shown. The electronic gaming machine 10 generally comprises a housing 11 having a touch sensitive display screen 12, a payment collector 13 and a winnings dispenser 14. The payment collector 13 generally comprises one or more different devices for enabling a player to input payments to be to be used as stakes in future bets. Thus the payment collector 13 may include a coin slot 15, a note/bill slot 16, a credit/debit card reader 17 or other payment collection devices including remote payment collection. The winnings dispenser 14, as illustrated, comprises a receptacle for collecting coins or notes/bills paid to the player as winnings. Alternatively, the winnings dispenser 14 may comprise a printer for printing receipts for redemption by a cashier. The housing may additionally include player comfort features such as a cup holder 18. Other player comfort devices (not illustrated) include, but are not limited to, an attendant call button, a foot-rest and the like.

With the electronic gaming machine of FIG. 1 a touch sensitive display screen 12 is described. It is to be understood, though, that other forms of display screens which are not touch sensitive may be employed in combination with a plurality of player-operable input devices such as buttons or the like. Moreover, for ease of implementation of the wagering game it is also envisaged that the electronic gaming machine may include a combination of a touch sensitive screen and one or more player operable input devices. To ease comprehension reference is generally made herein to a player touching buttons on the display screen. It is to be understood that this is intended as reference to the player touching pre-assigned areas of the touch sensitive display screen or alternatively conventional buttons and other player input devices or a combination of both.

The touch sensitive display screen 12 is shown in detail in FIGS. 2-9. In overview, the separate sectors of the touch sensitive display screen 12 are as follows: a card display sector 20, a deal button 21, an auto play button 22, a balance display 23, a stake display 24, a stake increase button 25, a stake decrease button 26, a game speed control 27, a winnings collection control 28, a secondary gamble display and control 29, a display of the winning tariff for different card combinations 30 and a win payment display 31.

In FIG. 2 the touch sensitive display screen 12 is shown after a player has made a payment but prior to a game commencing. Following the player making a payment by means of the payment collector 13, the payment is allocated to an electronic payment purse and throughout the ensuing game play the balance of the electronic payment purse is illustrated in the balance display 23. As soon as a payment is made, the gaming machine automatically transfers a minimum stake from the player's payment purse to a first electronic wager purse and the amount of the stake is shown in the stake display 24. The amount of the stake may be increased or, where the stake is in excess of the minimum, the amount of the stake may be decreased. This is done by the player selectively touching either the stake increase button 25 or the stake decrease button 26. The gaming machine will automatically reduce the recorded amount in the electronic payment purse by the amount of the stake. Hence, in the case of FIG. 2 after receiving a player payment of $100, $5 (exemplary minimum permitted stake) has been transferred automatically to the electronic wager purse by the gaming machine and the stake amount appears in the stake display 24. The balance of $95 in the electronic payment purse appears in the balance display 23.

With a stake in play the game is ready to commence. The first game is a conventional ‘Jacks or Better’ poker game. The player activates the start of the game by touching the deal button 21. This causes the gaming machine 10 to display in the card display sector 20 the images of five playing cards randomly selected from the group of 52 playing cards. FIG. 3 illustrates the display screen 12 once the first deal is completed. In this first deal a pair of tens in the spades suit and the hearts suit has been dealt along with a two of spades, the eight of diamonds and a five of spades. The player then has the option of selecting cards to be held during the second deal of the game. The player selects the cards to be held by touching the display screen in the vicinity of each chosen card, one at a time. As each card is selected the display is changed to show the word HELD applied over or below the card. If, in error, the player touches a card he does not wish to be held, the card can be unselected by touching the same card a second time. Alternatively, in a preferred embodiment, the gaming machine may identify cards in the hand that has been dealt which are automatically held. The option for the player to over-ride this automatic selection is also envisaged with this embodiment.

Having completed the selection of cards to be held, the player commences the second deal of the first game by pressing the deal button 21. This results in those cards not chosen to be held being discarded. The gaming machine deals replacement cards for those discarded, which are selected at random from the remaining group of 47 playing cards. The first game is now complete. FIG. 4 shows the display screen 12 after this second deal. In the illustrated game, the player had held a pair of tens and a ten of spades has appeared in the second deal forming the winning card combination ‘three of a kind’. This card combination produces winnings of $30 and this amount is assigned to an electronic winnings purse and appears in the winnings display 31.

The total amount of the winnings is also displayed in the first level running gamble display 40 of the secondary gamble display and control 29. Hence, the running or secondary gamble is only enabled once the player has won on the first bet. In this preferred embodiment, the winnings are automatically assigned by the gaming machine to the secondary gamble game. However, if a player does not wish to gamble all of the winnings, the gaming machine includes the option for the player to collect all or part of the winnings by pressing the take button 46 which appears adjacent the first level running gamble display 40. Having pressed the take button 46, the amount of the winnings displayed in the first level running gamble display 40 counts down as the contents of the electronic winnings purse is either transferred to the electronic payment purse or is paid out to the player by means of the winnings dispenser 14. The player is therefore able to stop the count down of the winnings in the first level running gamble display 40 at any amount. In an alternative embodiment, the winnings are not automatically transferred to the secondary gamble game and instead the gaming machine prompts the player to decide whether or not to gamble all or part of their winnings in a running gamble. The amount of the secondary gamble can then be determined by the player entering the amount on the display screen 12 directly or selecting an add button (not illustrated) which has the same functionality as the take button 46, but in reverse, with the add button counting up from 0 to the total win amount. In the illustrated embodiment, the player decides to let the whole of the winnings i.e. $30 be wagered on the secondary gamble.

In the illustrated embodiment the secondary gamble is a simple bet on the colour, i.e. red or black, of the central card to be dealt in the first deal of the next game. In the secondary gamble display and control 29 there are a series of six staggered displays 40-45 which represent six levels of a running gamble. That is to say, if the secondary gamble is successful, the win payment is added to the stake (in this example the stake is therefore doubled) and the original secondary gamble stake added to the win payment is transferred to the next level of the running gamble as the new stake. On the other hand, if the secondary gamble loses, then the amount of the winnings assigned to the secondary gamble is lost. Furthermore, as each secondary gamble is either lost or ascends to the next level, with each new winning primary game, a new and separate secondary gamble is possible. In this way a plurality of separate secondary gambles (arising from separate winning primary games) can be separately identified by the level displays 40-45 of the secondary gamble display and control 29.

The background colour of each secondary gamble level display 40-45 may be selectively varied between black and red to indicate whether the secondary gamble is on a red card or a black card. In the figures black is represented by a grey background and red by a white background. The background colour of one of the level displays is selected by the player touching the display screen in the vicinity of the relevant level display which causes the background colour to change. The background colour for any individual level display can be changed at any time—once a series of games have commenced the colours do not remain fixed. Alternatively, the background colours of all of the secondary gamble level displays may be changed to a single colour by selecting either the ‘All Red’ button 47 or the ‘All Black’ button 48.

In FIG. 5, the first deal of a second primary game is illustrated. A minimum stake of $5 has been transferred from the electronic payment purse and as shown in FIG. 4 the winnings of the previous primary game ($30) have been staked on the central card of the first deal of this second primary game being red. As can be seen in FIG. 5 the central card was red and so the secondary gamble has been doubled to $60 and has been moved to the second level running gamble display 41. This is, though, still the first deal of the second primary game and so, as before, the player has the option to select cards to be held during the second deal of the second game. On this occasion, none of the cards dealt in the first deal offer clear prospects of a winning card combination and so all are selected to be discarded. The outcome of the second deal of the second primary game is illustrated in FIG. 6 namely no winning card combinations. The stake, but not the secondary gamble, is therefore lost.

In FIG. 7 the player has continued with the secondary gamble in each of two more primary games, each time being successful, so that the original secondary gamble is now at the fourth level running gamble display 43. In the meantime, the player was successful in the fourth primary game with a minimum winning card combination: Jacks or Better, and so a separate secondary gamble of $5 also now appears at the first level running gamble display 40. The player has decided to play both colours in the secondary gamble and so has set the background colour of the fourth level running gamble display 43 to red whereas the background colour of the first level running gamble display 40 is set to black.

The outcome of the first deal of the fifth primary game is illustrated in FIG. 8. The central card dealt was black and so the fourth level running gamble was lost and no longer appears on the secondary gamble display 29 whereas the first level running gamble won and so the value of the secondary gamble stake has been doubled and transferred to the second level running gamble display 41. The outcome of this fifth primary game is illustrated in FIG. 9 which shows two pairs and the winnings of $10 automatically transferred to the first level running gamble 40.

As long as the player either has payment remaining in the electronic payment purse or winnings to collect, the game play may continue. If the electronic payment purse falls to zero and there are no winnings to take, the player has the option of topping up the purse with additional funds.

In FIGS. 10a and 10b one example of method steps that may be performed by a video poker game system incorporating a secondary running gamble, being an embodiment of the present invention, are illustrated in a flow diagram. A detailed description of each step is not included here as it would be repetitive of the steps of the game described earlier. In overview, the video poker game commences when a player makes a payment which is assigned to the payment purse S1. The minimum stake is then automatically debited from the payment purse and assigned to an electronic wager purse S2. For ease of comprehension a single method step S3 is shown for checking whether the amount of the stake is changed by the player. It is to be understood, however, that preferably the wagering game system continuously checks for any player changes to the amounts in any of the electronic purses and that the functionality for adjusting the amounts may be disabled once a deal has been instructed by the player. Where the game system detects a player instruction to change the amount of the stake, additional funds are automatically transferred from the payment purse to the wager purse S4. The game system also monitors for player selection S5 of the deal button 21. When the deal button 21 has been touched, the game system randomly or quasi-randomly selects and displays the images of five playing cards S6.

In this embodiment the poker game involves two deals. Therefore, after the first deal the game system checks whether any secondary gambles exist S7. If no secondary gambles exist the game system next analyses the randomly selected cards to identify any potential winning card combinations S8 and where the deal includes such a combination the game system updates the display to indicate that the card combination will be held during the second deal. Where one or more secondary gambles exist, the game system checks whether the colour of the central card dealt in the first hand corresponds with the colour selected by the player for each secondary gamble S9. Where the colours match and therefore the secondary gamble has been won, the secondary gamble stake is matched by a winning payment and both the original stake and the winning payment are transferred to the next level of the secondary gamble S10 i.e. the amount in the secondary gamble is doubled and automatically moved to the next running gamble. Where the colours do not match, the secondary gamble has been lost and is removed from the secondary gamble display S11.

Either before, after or at the same time as the win/lose determination is made with regard to all secondary gambles, the game system may select potentially winning card combinations in the first deal to be held S8.

The wagering game continues once the player has activated the deal button a second time S13. Those cards that are not to be held are discarded and replaced by new randomly generated cards S14. The game system then identifies the highest-value winning card combination S15 and, where a winning card combination exists, a winnings payment is assigned to the winnings purse S16 and the winnings display 31 is updated. At the same time, only when a winning card combination exists, the game system automatically creates a new secondary gamble S17 for the next or a future game and enters the value of the winnings payment for the game just completed into a first level secondary gamble purse, displaying the amount in the first level display 40. The game system then awaits a new game to be initiated by the player selecting the deal button S19.

As mentioned earlier, the game system enables a player to collect winnings recorded in the winnings purse. The game system therefore additionally continually monitors for instruction from a player to payout a portion or all of the winnings S18. When a game is in progress, the player option of taking their winnings may be disabled.

Of course, the method steps described above relate to a particular game version and the method steps will be varied in dependence upon the details of the game being played. For example, each game may involve more than two deals or where each game involves only a single deal the game system determines individually whether the main wager and any secondary gambles have been won on the same deal. Furthermore, it will of course be understood that this game system is not limited to games involving playing cards. Other games in which randomly-selected items or icons determine the outcome of a wagering game may also implement the secondary running gamble of the present invention.

In FIG. 11 the functional components of the electronic gaming machine are illustrated. Thus, the gaming machine 10 comprises a processor 100 which is in communication with an input/output player interface 101 which controls the operation of the display screen 12. The processor 100 is also in communication with a random number generator 102 for randomly selecting the cards to be displayed on the display screen 12 and a comparator 103 for comparing the colour (red or black) of the central card dealt in the first deal of each game with the colour of each secondary gamble. Data storage 104 is also in communication with the processor 100 and has stored within it a first set of programme instructions 105 for implementing the poker game, a second set of instructions 106 for implementing the secondary gamble, financial data in the form of an electronic payment purse 107 and an electronic winnings purse 108 and an image library 109. It will, of course, be understood, that reference herein to individual functional components may be implemented in various forms including but not limited to hardware or software. In particular, reference herein to electronic purses is not intended as limiting the manner of storage of financial data to physically separable hardware.

It will also be apparent that, in the alternative, the wagering game may be implemented over the internet or any other public or proprietary network. With a network implementation of the present invention, the wagering game is played by any conventional computer, set-top box, personal digital assistant (PDA) incorporating a network interface or any graphics enabled mobile phone or other electronic communications device connecting via a network to a remote game server. Preferably, the wagering stakes paid by the player are debited from a player account registered with the remote server and all winnings are credited to the same registered account. Otherwise operation of the wagering game proceeds as described earlier with separate secondary gambles being automatically commenced each based on the winnings of a different successful primary wager.

As mentioned earlier, the gaming machine described herein offers the opportunity for auto-play. With auto-play enabled the first hand of cards will be dealt; cards will be selected to be held; and the second hand of cards dealt without player intervention other than to set the speed at which all of this happens. Thus, the game speed control 27 comprises a gradated scale of speeds with a sliding marker which is movable by the player along the scale to select the speed of game play.

In the auto-play mode, all winnings are automatically transferred to the secondary gamble. However, the player is additionally able, by means of the winning rates control 30, to select a value at which the winnings are automatically taken, e.g. paid out to the player, rather than for the winnings to continue inexorably up the secondary gamble levels. The winning rates control 30 comprises a gradated scale of winning amounts with a sliding marker which is movable by the player along the scale to select the amount which automatically triggers a payout.

With the secondary running gamble of the present invention, the player is offered the opportunity to turn each individual small winning amount into much larger individual winning amounts.

The secondary running gamble of the present invention offers distinct benefits over conventional wagering games in terms of player involvement and interest. Most importantly, the present invention offers significant advantages in terms of a greater number of games being played for the same amount of time in comparison to conventional video poker games. To illustrate this, FIG. 12 is a graphical illustration of a comparison of the wagering game described above including a secondary running gamble in accordance with the present invention referred to as Running Poker with three different conventional poker games: Jacks or Better/Deuces Wild, Double Joker and Joker Poker. In generating the comparison data, the following assumptions have been made:

    • Jacks or Better and Deuces Wild variants have a hit rate of approximately 1 win every 2.2 primary games.
    • Double Joker Poker has a hit rate of approximately 1 win every 2.7 primary games.
    • Joker Poker has a hit rate of approximately 1 win every 3.33 primary games.
    • The time taken to deal cards for first and second deals is assumed to be 2 seconds per deal.
    • The time taken by a player in each deal to view and respond to the ‘Gamble or Collect’ choice is 3 seconds.
    • The time taken by a player to make a gamble selection and to view the outcome is 2 seconds.

The first three assumptions are based on available statistical data whereas the latter three assumptions are based on best-guess estimates in relation to a typical video poker game. Also, in all cases the initial set-up time before commencement of the first deal has not been included.

The graph clearly shows a significant increase in the number of games played with respect to time for the wagering game of the present invention in comparison to conventional video poker games. This increase in the speed of the wagering game arises from the combination of a primary wager and one or more secondary gambles operating simultaneously using the same randomly generated cards or icons. Also, the choices of the secondary gambles are determined in advance by the player thereby permitting uninterrupted play until the player opts to alter the settings or to collect his or her winnings. Moreover, with the present invention the winnings of each primary wager are automatically and individually assigned to respective secondary running gambles so that delay between the end of a winning game and the next game is minimised.

Additionally, with the particular embodiment described herein the secondary running gamble of the present invention offers a win or lose gamble on the first deal of two card deals of each primary game play, which means that the player does not become focused solely on the second deal of each game.

Although reference has been made to cards being selected from the group of 52 playing cards, it is envisaged that the wagering game and the method of play described herein could encompass the use of jokers or other elements to increase the total number of cards in the group and also the range of possible outcomes.

Furthermore, although the secondary gamble display and control 29 described herein includes only 6 levels, it is envisaged that different numbers of levels may be implemented either more or less, as desired. It will, of course, be apparent that the secondary gamble may be based on the colour of any one of the cards in the first deal of a game and the present invention is not restricted to the colour of the central card. In a further alternative, instead of the colour of the card, the secondary gamble may be based on any alternative wager on the cards dealt in either the first or second deal of the game at relevant odds.

It will, of course, be appreciated that the winning rates and the winning card combinations appearing in the figures are only illustrative and different winning rates and different winning card combinations are also envisaged. Indeed, it is further envisaged that the gaming machine might offer a player the option of selecting before each game between different poker versions which provide for different winning card combinations so that a player is able to choose a version of the poker game with which the player is familiar.

Although the wagering game has been described specifically in relation to a video poker game, it is to be understood that the present invention is not so limited and additionally encompasses internet wagering games and manual card games.

The present invention may be embodied in other specific forms without departing from the spirit or essential characteristics thereof. The present embodiments are therefore to be considered in all respects only illustrative and not restrictive and all changes which come within the meaning and range of equivalency of the claims are therefore intended to be embraced therein.