Title:
Strategy support system and method of operation thereof
Kind Code:
A1


Abstract:
A strategy support system (1) for a game of video poker includes a gaming facility (2) operable to deal a poker hand of five initial playing cards to a player, an evaluation facility (7) operable to predict the chance of obtaining a desirable and an undesirable hand of poker pursuant to substitution of any number of the five initial playing cards with other dealt cards, a goal selector (10) that can be activated by the player to select a desired goal for the hand of poker; and a controller (11) capable of automatically effecting a game play decision by causing substitution of any selection of one or more of the five initial playing cards as a function of the selected desired the goal and the chances predicted by the evaluation facility (7).



Inventors:
Moshal, Martin (Marina Bay, GI)
Application Number:
10/504312
Publication Date:
09/08/2005
Filing Date:
02/13/2003
Assignee:
MOSHAL MARTIN
Primary Class:
International Classes:
A63F13/00; G07F17/32; (IPC1-7): A63F9/24
View Patent Images:
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Primary Examiner:
HOEL, MATTHEW D
Attorney, Agent or Firm:
MCDONNELL BOEHNEN HULBERT & BERGHOFF LLP (CHICAGO, IL, US)
Claims:
1. 1-22. (canceled)

23. A strategy support system for a game of video poker, comprising: goal selection means activatable by a player of the game to select a desired goal for a dealt hand of video poker; a gaming facility operable to deal a hand of poker to the player, the hand of poker having five randomly selected initial playing cards; an evaluation facility operable to predict the chance of obtaining a desirable and an undesirable hand of poker pursuant to substitution of any one or more of the five initial playing cards in the dealt hand with other corresponding randomly selected dealt cards; display means selectively operable by the player to display all the possible substitutions and their corresponding predicted chances as predicted by the evaluation facility; and control means capable of automatically effecting a game play decision by causing substitution of any one ore more of the five initial playing cards as a function of the selected desired the goal and the chances predicted by the evaluation facility.

24. A strategy support system as claimed in claim 23 in which the evaluation facility predicts the chance of obtaining every possible type of desirable hand of playing cards, the types of desirable hand of playing cards including Jacks or better, two pairs, three of a kind, a straight, a flush, a full house, four of a kind, a straight flush, and a royal flush.

25. A strategy support system as claimed in claim 24 in which the evaluation facility computes, for every possible substitution of playing cards, an expected return on a wager placed on the hand of video poker.

26. A strategy support system as claimed in claim 25 in which the goal selection means enables the player to select any one of a number of predetermined goals as the desired goal for the initial hand of poker.

27. A strategy support system as claimed in claim 26 in which the number of predetermined goals includes a goal to accumulate any particular desirable hand of playing cards.

28. A strategy support system as claimed in either one of claims 26 or 27 in which the number of predetermined goals includes a goal to maximise the return on the wager.

29. A strategy support system as claimed in claim 26 in which the number of predetermined goals includes a goal to obtain a return on the wager that deviates from the highest expected return by less than a predetermined threshold.

30. A strategy support system as claimed in claim 25 in which the display means displays all the possible substitutions and their corresponding predicted chances in a ranked order according to the expected return, from highest to lowest.

31. A method of operation of a strategy support system for a game of video poker, comprising the steps of: selecting a desired goal for a dealt hand of poker; dealing a hand of poker to a player, the hand of poker having five randomly selected initial playing cards; predicting the chance of obtaining a desirable and an undesirable hand of poker pursuant to substitution of any one or more of the five initial playing cards in the dealt hand with other corresponding randomly selected dealt cards; selectively displaying all the possible card substitutions and their corresponding predicted chances to the player; and automatically substituting any one or more of the five initial playing cards as a function of the selected desired goal and the chances predicted.

32. A method as claimed in claim 31 which includes the step of predicting the chance of obtaining every possible type of desirable hand of playing cards the types of desirable hands of playing cards including Jacks or better, two pairs, three of a kind, a straight, a flush, a full house, four of a kind, a straight flush, and a royal flush.

33. A method as claimed in claim 32 that includes the additional step of computing, for every possible substitution of playing cards, an expected return on a wager placed on the hand of video poker.

34. A method as claimed in claim 33 in which the desired goal for the initial hand of poker is selected to be any one of a number of predetermined goals.

35. A method as claimed in claim 34 in which the desired goal is selected to be a goal to accumulate any particular desirable combination of playing cards.

36. A method as claimed in either one of claims 34 or 35 in which the desired goal is selected to be a goal to maximise the return on the wager.

37. A method as claimed in claim 34 in which the desired goal is selected to be a goal to obtain a return on the wager that deviates from the highest expected return by less than a predetermined threshold.

38. A method as claimed in claim 33 in which all the possible substitutions and their corresponding predicted chances are displayed in a ranked order according to the expected return, from highest to lowest.

Description:

FIELD OF THE INVENTION

This invention relates to a strategy support system that enables a user thereof to play a game and, more particularly, to a strategy system which enables a user thereof to play a game of chance, in this instance, a game of video poker. The invention extends to a method of operation of the strategy support system.

BACKGROUND TO THE INVENTION

The game of video poker is well known and widely played in most land-based and on-line casinos.

In a turn of video poker, a player makes a wager on the turn of the game and is then dealt five playing cards from a single conventional deck of 52 playing cards. The player may then decide to retain (that is, “hold”) any one or more of the five cards dealt to him. Once the player has decided which, if any, of the five cards to hold, the player may then “draw”, in which the cards that have not been held are replaced by an equivalent number of replacement cards dealt from the deck. If the player does not hold any of the original cards, he is then effectively dealt an entirely new hand of five cards at the drawing stage of the turn of the game. On the other hand, if the player holds all of the five cards that are originally dealt to him, the drawing stage of the turn of the game at does not take place at all.

Once the drawing stage has been completed, as described above, the five cards that the player has accumulated are evaluated to determine whether they contain any one of a number of desirable combinations of playing cards. The desirability of any combination of playing cards is proportional to the probability of being dealt that particular combination of playing cards.

Desirable combinations of playing cards are, in order of increasing desirability: a pair of cards, each having the same rank, which can be a Jack, a Queen, a King or an Ace (“Jacks or better”); two pairs of cards in which each card of a pair is of the same rank (“two pairs”); three cards each having the same rank (“three of a kind”); a “straight” in which the five cards are in sequentially ascending rank order, with no restriction on suite; a “flush” in which the five cards are all of the same suite; a “lull house” in which three cards are each of the same rank, while the remaining 2 cards each have an identical rank, but different from that of the other three cards; “four of a kind” in which four cards each have the same rank; a “straight flush” in which the five cards are in sequentially ascending rank order and are all of the same suite; and a “royal flush” in which the five cards are all of the same suite and are ranked Ace, King, Queen, Jack and 10.

Any hand containing one of these desirable combinations is deemed to be successful and the player's wager is paid according to a predetermined table of odds. Hands that do not contain one of these desirable combinations are unsuccessful and the player's wager is forfeited to an operator of the video poker game.

It is known that the game of video poker is a game where a player's skill is a major determinant of success or failure in the game. It is also well known that an unskilled player should play the game according to a certain predefined optimal strategy in order to minimise an advantage that the game offers to the operator thereof. A disadvantage of the game of video poker is that the rules of the optimal strategy can be tedious to learn and to master. An unskilled players can thus find the game of video poker to be particularly daunting and may, unwittingly, play in a non-optimal manner, thereby providing the operator of the game with an unnecessarily large advantage.

It is desirable for an operator of a game of video poker to speed up the rate at which successive turns of the game can be played, in order to increase a turnover of wagers that are made on the game.

OBJECT OF THE INVENTION

It is an object of this invention to provide a strategy support system, and a method of operation thereof, that will, at least partially, alleviate the above-mentioned difficulties and disadvantages.

SUMMARY OF THE INVENTION

In accordance with this invention there is provided a strategy support system for a game of video poker, comprising:

  • a gaming facility operable to deal a hand of poker to a player of the game, the hand of poker having five initial playing cards;
  • an evaluation facility operable to predict the chance of obtaining a desirable and an undesirable hand of poker pursuant to substitution of any one or more of the five initial playing cards in the dealt hand with other corresponding dealt cards; and
  • display means selectively operable by the player to display all the possible substitutions and their corresponding chances of obtaining a desirable and an undesirable hand of poker as predicted by the evaluation facility.

Further features of the invention provide for the evaluation facility to predict the chance of obtaining every possible type of desirable combination of playing cards, for the types of desirable combination of playing cards to include Jacks or better, two pairs, three of a kind, a straight, a flush, a full house, four of a kind, a straight flush, and a royal flush, and for the evaluation facility to compute, for every possible substitution of playing cards, an expected return on a wager placed on the hand of video poker.

Still further features of the invention provide for the strategy support system to include:

  • goal selection means activatable by the player to select a desired goal for the dealt hand of poker; and
  • control means capable of automatically effecting a gameplay decision by causing substitution of any one or more of the five initial playing cards as a function of the selected desired the goal and the chances predicted by the evaluation facility.

Yet further features of the invention provide for the goal selection means to enable the player to select any one of a number of predetermined goals as the desired goal for the initial hand of poker, for the number of predetermined goals to include a goal to accumulate any particular desirable combination of playing cards, for the number of predetermined goals to include a goal to maximise the return on the wager, and for the number of predetermined goals to include a goal to obtain a return on the wager that deviates from the highest expected return by less than a predetermined threshold.

There is also provided for the display means to display all the possible substitutions and their corresponding predicted chances in a ranked order, and for the order to be ranked according to the expected return, from highest to lowest.

The invention extends to a method of operation of a strategy support system for a game of video poker, comprising the steps of:

  • dealing a hand of poker to a player, the hand of poker having five initial playing cards;
  • predicting the chance of obtaining a desirable and an undesirable hand of poker pursuant to substitution of any one or more of the five initial playing cards in the dealt hand with other corresponding dealt cards; and
  • selectively displaying all the possible substitutions and their corresponding predicted chances to the player.

There is further provided for predicting the chance of obtaining every possible type of desirable combination of playing cards, for the types of desirable combinations of playing cards to include Jacks or better, two pairs, three of a kind, a straight, a flush, a full house, four of a kind, a straight flush, and a royal flush, and for computing, for every possible substitution of playing cards, an expected return on a wager placed on the hand of video poker.

There is still further provided for the method to include the steps of:

  • selecting a desired goal for the dealt hand of poker; and
  • automatically substituting any one or more of the five initial playing cards as a function of the selected desired goal and the chances predicted by the evaluation facility.

There is yet further provided for selecting the desired goal for the hand of poker to be any one of a number of predetermined goals, for selecting the desired goal to be a goal to accumulate any particular desirable combination of playing cards, for selecting the desired goal to be a goal to maximise the return on the wager, and for selecting the desired goal to be a goal to obtain a return on the wager that that deviates from the highest expected return by less than a predetermined threshold.

There is also provided for displaying all the possible substitutions and their corresponding predicted chances in a ranked order, and for ranking the order according to the expected return, from highest to lowest.

BRIEF DESCRIPTION OF THE DRAWINGS

One embodiment of the invention is described below, by way of example only, and with reference to the accompanying drawings in which:

FIG. 1 is a schematic representation of a strategy support system, according to the invention, shown in conjunction with a gaming system.

DETAILED DESCRIPTION OF THE INVENTION

Referring to FIG. 1, a strategy support system is indicated generally by reference numeral (1). The strategy support system (1) is shown in conjunction with a gaming facility, indicated generally by reference numeral (2), for playing an on-line game of video poker.

The gaming facility (2) includes a gaming server (3) and a player access facility (4) in the form of a computer workstation with an associated display monitor (9) and a pointing device (9a), such as a mouse or, alternatively, a touchpad. The computer workstation (4) is located remotely from the gaming server (3) and communication between the computer workstation and the gaming server is provided across a communication network (5) that is, in this embodiment, the Internet.

The computer workstation (4) is a conventional personal computer operating under a Windows 2000 operating system, which is well known and commercially available from the Microsoft Corporation of Seattle, Wash., USA. The gaming server (3) also operates under the Windows 2000 operating system. The computer workstation (4) operates under control of a stored program (6), the precise operation of which is not germane to the scope of the invention, and which will not be described here in detail. The stored program (6) enables a player to play the game of video poker at an on-line casino (not shown). The video poker casino game consists of a server process, which is executable on the gaming server (3), and a client process that is executable in the computer workstation (4) and which is the stored program (6). A computer program provides the server process, which acts as a dealing means (8) that generates, upon request of the client process, one or more random events that determine the outcome of the game of video poker. The random events are presented in an intelligible manner in a simulation of the game, as individual cards in a hand of video poker to the player. The stored program (6), or client process, allows the player to make wagers on a turn of the game, and to effect game play decisions on the turn of the game, such as holding and drawing, as a function of the cards which are dealt to the player.

A strategy-support application program (12) also executes on the computer workstation (4). The application program (12) includes three components, or functional modules, namely an evaluation facility (7), goal selection means (10) and a control module (11), the operation of which will be described in detail in the description that follows.

In use, a player places a wager on a subsequent hand of the game of video poker and the dealing means (8) deals a hand of video poker to the player, the hand consisting of five initial playing cards. The evaluation facility (7) predicts, as a function of the dealt hand, the chance of obtaining a desirable and an undesirable combination of playing cards pursuant to substitution of any one or more of the five initial playing cards with other corresponding cards. As part of the prediction made by the evaluation facility (7), the chance of obtaining, by substitution, every possible type of desirable combination of playing cards is predicted as a function of the five initial cards, such as the chance of obtaining a hand containing any one of Jacks or better, two pairs, three of a kind, a straight, a flush, a full house, four of a kind, a straight flush, and a royal flush. The evaluation facility (7) also computes, for every possible substitution of playing cards, an expected return on the wager placed on the hand of poker. The player may, selectively, display on the display monitor (9) all the possible substitutions and their corresponding predicted chances, in order, ranked according to the expected return, from the highest expected return, which represents an optimal gameplay decision given the five initial playing cards, to the lowest.

The user may then construct a proposed game play decision by deciding whether to hold any of the five initial cards, and allowing the others to be substituted as outlined above. The evaluation facility (7) then compares the expected return of the proposed game play decision against the optimal game play decision and provides a warning to the user when the proposed game play decision differs from the optimal decision. The player is then able to either follow the optimal game play decision, or to ignore it, at his discretion. Once the player has decided whether to follow the optimal game playing decision or another or another game playing decision of his choice, the decision is implemented in a normal manner by holding the cards which he does not wish to substitute and drawing one or more cards to replace those which he wishes to substitute.

It will be appreciated by those skilled in the art that the strategy support system (1) described above will enable the player to play the game of video poker without having to memorise any game play strategy, as an optimal strategy is computed in real-time by the evaluation facility (7) as a function of the five initial playing cards dealt to the player.

Alternatively, the game of video poker may proceed in a fully automated manner with little or no intervention from the player. The player first selects a desired game goal or objective from a number of predefined game goals presented to the player by the goal selection means (10). The predefined games goals can include a goal to accumulate any particular one of the different desirable combinations of playing cards. A further predefined game goal is to effect a gameplay decision that will result in highest return on the wager. A still further predefined game goal is to effect any gameplay decision that will result in a return on the wager that deviates from the highest expected return by less than a predetermined threshold. Once the player has selected the desired game goal in this manner, the progress of the turn of the game is regulated automatically by the control means (11). The regulation is effected by automatically implementing an appropriate gameplay decision that causes substitution of any one or more of the five initial playing cards as a function of the desired goal and the chances predicted by the evaluation facility, without further intervention by the player.

It will be appreciated by those skilled in the art that the progress of a plurality of consecutive turns of the game of video poker can be regulated automatically by the control means (11), without intervention by the player, in order to achieve the same selected desired goal. It is envisaged that the strategy support system (1) will heighten a player's enjoyment of the game as it enables the player to make an appropriate game play decision, either manually or automatically without intervention, at all decision points in the game, and will help to sustain the player's interest in the game over a period of time.

The technical problem solved by this invention is to provide a strategy support system that provides a player with real-time feedback on optimal game play decisions required to play a game. The optimal decisions can be implemented and executed by the player in a “man-in-the-loop” configuration. Alternatively, the strategy support system may include a closed-loop feedback path and a control engine that automates the optimal game play strategy without further intervention by the player. The optimal game play strategy is determined as a function of a particular objective or goal that is selected by the player from a predetermined list of goals.

Numerous modifications are possible to this embodiment without departing from the scope of the invention. In particular, the strategy support application program (12), can be configured to suppress the warning to the player when the proposed game play decision will result in an expected return that deviates from the optimum return by less than a predetermined amount. Further, the strategy support application program (12) can be executed in the gaming server (3) instead of in the computer workstation. In such a variation of the embodiment, each prediction and warning generated by the strategy support application program (12) is transmitted from the gaming server (3), along the communication network (5), to the computer workstation (4) for display to the player on the display monitor (5). Still further, the strategy support application program (12) can include a configuration facility which is programmable to enable the player to make alterations, additions or deletions to the number of predefined game goals presented to the player by the goal selection means (10). Yet further, the strategy support system (1) can be applied to a game of video poker in self-contained apparata that do not operate in an on-line environment, such as electronic gaming devices of a type commonly found in land-based casinos, or hand-held gaming devices.

The invention therefore provides a novel strategy support system and a method of operation thereof that enables a user to easily follow an optimum, or another, playing strategy in a game of video poker.