Multi level progressive blackjack
Kind Code:

A method is provide for operating a blackjack game. Means are provided for a player to make an initial wager in order to participate in a standard game. Further means are provided for the player to make a further wager on a jackpot feature. After the cards are dealt, the appearance of a selected card combination is determined. If such a combination appears and the player wagered on this feature then a corresponding progressive jackpot is paid to the player. The result of the standard game is determined as normal.

O'halloran, Terry (Paddington, AU)
Application Number:
Publication Date:
Filing Date:
Stargames Corporation Pty Limited (Milperra, AU)
Primary Class:
Other Classes:
463/12, 273/274
International Classes:
A63F9/24; A63F1/00; A63F3/08
View Patent Images:
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Primary Examiner:
Attorney, Agent or Firm:
The claims defining the invention are as follows:

1. A method of operating a blackjack game, comprising at least the steps in any suitable order of: providing means for a player to make an initial wager to participate in the standard game; providing means for the player to make a further wager on a jackpot feature; dealing the cards; determining if a selected card combination has been dealt, and paying a corresponding progressive jackpot if the player has wagered on said feature; and determining the result of the standard game.

2. A method according to claim 1, wherein the selected card combination is a blackjack hand in a specific suit.

3. A method according to claim 1, wherein more than level of jackpot is available, and the level won is determined by different specific combinations.

4. A method according to claim 3, wherein one or more cards are specially marked, and the level of jackpot won is at least partly dependant on presence or absence of the specially marked cards in the combination.

5. A method according to claim 1, wherein the means for the player to make a wager on said jackpot feature is at least partly automated.

6. A method according to claim 1, wherein whether a side bet has been made is monitored automatically, and a portion of such side bet is contributed to said progressive jackpot.

7. A method according to claim 6, wherein more than one game contributes to a common progressive jackpot.

8. A method according to claim 1, wherein the game is played by cards being manually dealt at a gaming table.

9. A method according to claim 5, wherein the game is played in simulation.

10. A gaming table for blackjack, said table comprising a layout for manually dealing cards and placing wagers, wherein a specifically marked region is provided for players to wager on a side bet, said region being monitored by automated means to determine that a side bet has been made, and wherein said automated means communicates with jackpot controller to indicate that a side bet has been made.

11. A gaming table according to claim 10, wherein said automated means is a sensor to detect the placement of a gaming chip in said specifically marked region.

12. A system for operating a blackjack game, said system comprising one or more gaming tables and a jackpot controller, each said gaming table comprising a layout for manually dealing cards and placing wagers, wherein a specifically marked region is provided for players to wager on a side bet, said region being monitored by automated means to determine that a side bet has been made, said jackpot controller being adapted to communicate with each said automated means and receive periodic indications that one or more side bets have been made at each table, and indications that the jackpot has been won, so that a part of the value of each said side bet is added to a progressive jackpot pool.

13. A system according to claim 12, wherein the system further comprises one or more displays for indicating the value of said progressive jackpot.

14. A method of awarding a jackpot in a blackjack game, comprising in any suitable order at least the steps of; providing means for a player to make an initial wager to participate in the standard game; providing means for the player to make a further wager on a jackpot feature; contributing at least a part of said further wager to a jackpot pool; dealing the cards; determining if a selected card combination has been dealt, and paying a corresponding progressive jackpot if the player has wagered on said feature; and determining the result of the standard game.

15. A method according to claim 14, wherein the jackpot pool comprises contributions from a plurality of games, at a plurality of tables.



This invention relates to a game of Blackjack with a side bet, that may be used in a standard manual format, or in an electronic version of the game.


The game of Blackjack has been a stalwart in Casinos throughout the world for generations. In general terms, the dealer plays against one or more players, typically up to 7. The players attempt to score a higher total than the dealer, without breaking a total of twenty one. Various variations and special rules apply in particular situations, with variations including Pontoon.

The casino game is bound by certain rules that the player and dealer must adhere to. In particular, the dealer has no discretion as to whether to draw additional cards or stand, depending upon the total of their hand they must do one or the other based on certain rules. While the mathematics of the game works to the favour of the house in the long run, the strategy adopted by the player can influence the long term result.

Many games have been proposed over the years that allow a side bet to be placed over and above the standard Blackjack game. These side bets pay on a certain combination that is separate from the core game. The insurance bet is not a side bet, but a fixed odds wager available when the dealer draws an ace and the player bets that the dealer will achieve blackjack.

It is an object of the present invention to provide an alternative type of side bet for blackjack.


The present invention broadly provides a blackjack side bet game, in which players can play a separate side bet game for a jackpot prize, in addition to their play in the regular game. The jackpot is triggered by a particular card combination being drawn by the player making the side bet, in the course of the regular game.

According to one aspect, the present invention provides a method of operating a blackjack game, comprising at least the steps of:

providing means for a player to make an initial wager to participate in the standard game; providing means for the player to make a wager on a jackpot feature;

dealing the cards;

determining if a selected card combination has been dealt, and paying a corresponding progressive jackpot if the player has wagered on said jackpot feature; and

determining the result of the standard game.

In a preferred form, the player plays the standard blackjack game, and places a designated side bet that allows them entry into the side game. The side game does not affect the return of the core game, nor does it affect any strategy a player may employ. Preferably, the amount won is a progressive jackpot and not a fixed value.

The invention encompasses the jackpot feature being determined either before, during or after the standard game. This will in part be influenced by the selected jackpot trigger.

The combination required to win the jackpot is preferably a specified card combination that is identified by suit and card value. Preferably, the jackpot won relates to a percentage of the side bets laid being accumulated, across one or more tables, to provide a jackpot pool from a portion of the wagers on the side bet.

The term combination is intended to encompass a variety of possibilities, beyond a specific card combination such as “king and ace of clubs”, consistent with the rules in any given implementation. The combination may be the presence of these cards within the player's hand, either including other cards or not. It may be the presence of one specific card in a blackjack hand. It may require the presence of specially marked cards, or not. The term is intended to broadly cover a special outcome or feature in a player's hand which can be specified in advance.

In a preferred form, some specially marked cards are included in the shoe of cards dealt. The level of jackpot won depends upon whether one or more of the specially marked cards (which are otherwise normal cards for regular play) is included in the player's hand. The probability of winning the levels of jackpot which require specially marked cards is accordingly dependant upon the number of decks used for the game.

The present invention accordingly provides the players with an opportunity to participate in a jackpot type game, as a side bet and without altering the basic rules or RTP of the underlying blackjack game. This provides a separate source of additional revenue for the operator, and excitement for the players, without requiring any substantial additional work for the dealer.


Illustrative implementations will now be described with reference to the accompanying figures, in which:

FIG. 1 shows a possible table layout for one implementation of the present invention; and

FIG. 2 is a schematic illustration of a possible implementation of the jackpot system;

FIG. 3 shows a flow chart illustrating the steps involved in one preferred manner of operating a Blackjack game.


While the game of Blackjack may have many rules permutations and game play rules based on the location, the invention will be described with reference to a particular embodiment, and a layout as shown in FIG. 1. It will be understood that the present invention can be implemented as an additional feature in many forms of blackjack and related games, including any suitable variant of 21 or pontoon, and the invention is not limited to this specific implementation. To anyone knowledgeable in the art of game design, it will be apparent that significant modifications of rules and implementation can be made from those outlined below, whilst retaining the core inventive concept. Indeed, the present invention in many respects is independent of the specific rules for the standard blackjack game as such.

It will also be understood that the present invention could be applied to a fully manual casino game of blackjack, a game with electronic betting but manual dealing of cards, a simulated game for play in a casino or similar environment, or a fully on-line type game. In a preferred form, for a manual dealing game, an electronic arrangement is used to manage the jackpot aspects of the present invention.

For our example, the game will use 4 standard decks of 52 cards (no Joker cards), that are distributed from a card ‘shoe’. For this discussion, it can be assumed that the standard rules of blackjack are applied to the standard game part of play. The shoe may be stand alone or the output of a card shuffler.

The cards that are key to winning the progressive jackpot in this example are the Ace and King of diamonds, of which there will be 4 of each (one for each deck). One of each of these cards will be marked, such that they stand out from the others. Alternatively, one of the decks used could be distinctive in appearance, and the Ace and King of diamonds in that deck constitute the special cards.

In summary, the number of cards is as follows

Ace of Diamonds31
King of Diamonds31

In this example, the game will have 3 levels of jackpots that are won when a player achieves a Blackjack combination off the initial 2 cards drawn involving a King of Diamonds and an Ace of Diamonds. The level of jackpot won depends upon the combination of cards which are drawn:

Jackpot LevelCombination Required
Mega JackpotMarked Ace and King of Diamonds
Major JackpotOne marked Ace or King of Diamonds and one
standard King or Ace of Diamonds
Mini Jackpot •Standard Ace and King of Diamonds

It will be appreciated that the present invention could be implemented with only one jackpot level, or with more or less levels as desired.

The evaluation steps in this process are different from a standard blackjack game and require some new software features, as well as some modifications to the rules and procedures to ensure the integrity of the game.

Referring to FIG. 3, the steps that can be followed in operating a game of Blackjack are as follows:

1. Player bets on main hand and side bet

a. If no side bet is wagered, player is ineligible to win progressive jackpot

2. All side bets are digested by the system and a pre-determined contribution is added to the jackpot value, between ‘startup’ value and ‘increment’ value.

3. Cards are dealt to players and dealer in standard fashion (2 to each)

4. Card values and combinations and evaluated by dealer for possible win

a. If player is dealt a Blackjack of Ace and King of diamonds, then a progressive jackpot is won

b. If no player wins jackpot, progressive element for that hand is complete

5. Rest of the hand is played out in standard Blackjack fashion

6. At the completion of the hand, and the jackpot has been won, the jackpot will be reset to the startup value. If not, it will remain until the next game commences and side bets are evaluated.

7. Prior to the commencement of the next hand, all cards are shuffled.

In this form, between the startup value and increment value, a reduced increment is added per player contribution to the jackpot value, so as to pay for the initial startup value (when there are in fact no player contributions as yet), and thereafter increments at a higher rate. This arrangement is used in other progressive jackpot systems, for example in slot machines, and is well understood by those skilled in the art.

In order to effectively implement this example, the game must be set up to have a method that evaluates all side bets and contributes a pre-determined amount to the jackpot and divides that between the ‘startup’ component and the ‘increment’ component. As the ‘startup’ value is set when there are in fact initially no player contributions, it is necessary to allocate a proportion of the amount that would otherwise be allocated to the jackpot increment to ‘paying back’0 the ‘startup’ component.

It is difficult to see how this could be achieved in practice without an additional hardware component on standard dealer determined table games. This device evaluates the side bet and distributes the proceeds to the jackpot prize. The electronic version includes this feature in the software. In a suitable design, the size of the jackpot bet may be a prescribed standard value. In this case, whether a player has placed a bet in the jackpot area can be determined by a pressure sensitive pad, opto-electronic pickup or the like, with verification of correct value by the dealer. This then facilitates the bet being automatically correctly apportioned. The dealer need only collect the gaming chips after the initial deal, if the jackpot has not been won, much the same as for a conventional insurance bet.

One possible arrangement is shown schematically in FIG. 2. This shows an arrangement, similar in concept to that use for a progressive jackpot system in a gaming or slot machine environment. Central controller 12 may be functionally very similar to the controller of a slot machine jackpot system. Central controller 12 is connected to a plurality of blackjack tables 10, 10a, 10b, and so forth. Each table includes a table controller unit 13, a display 14 and table layout components 15.

The table controller unit 13 provides secure communications with the central controller 12 to send details of table wagers, send details of winning outcomes, receive data for display, and other communications are required. The communications preferably use the existing casino or venue monitoring infrastructure, for example a LAN, wireless network, or the like.

The display 14 is driven by the table controller to show details of the current jackpot, messages to induce customers to play, and so forth. The images are sent from the central controller 12.

The table layout components will differ depending upon how the capture and recordal of side bets wagers are recorded. In a simple form, only a fixed bet value may be permitted, and the dealer inputs on a key pad that (say) 2 players have placed a side bet, and proceeds to play the main game. This is communicated back to the central controller 12, to allow the jackpot to be incremented.

Alternatively, the players may have individual or shared access to apparatus at the table to input their own side bets at the commencement of the hand. These wagers are communicated to the central controller 12 to allow for the jackpot to be incremented. The apparatus may conveniently be a sensor to determine placement of a chip in a specific location. It is strongly preferred that the players may make a jackpot wager of only a specific fixed value. In the implementation proposed, the chance of winning is proportional to the cards dealt, not the wager, and so there is no advantage in making additional wagers. A system could be implemented which takes account of such variable wagers, as is known for slot machines. In the casino environment this would not be convenient from a logistical perspective. However, in the context of on-line or fully electronic betting on a simulated game, this could be implemented.

In the event that the jackpot is won, the croupier similarly inputs this on the keypad, and the jackpot won (of whatever level) is paid at the level achieved at that time. This allows the jackpot to continue to accumulate based on wagers and activity at other tables. The actual payout is preferably carried by a supervisor, and the funds finally removed from the pool at that time.

An alternative implementation, on a real or simulated game utilising solely electronic wagering, would simply provide a position to place a wager on the jackpot side bet, and the contribution to the jackpot can be handled by the respective software.

Various aspects used in other jackpot games may be used, for example, the table display may show an estimated rather than accurate immediate value.

It will be understood that the present invention could be implemented on a single table, many tables at one venue, or tables spread across more than one venue.

In terms of mathematical design, appropriate models must be used to calculate the frequency of the allocated combination being won. This takes into account how the game is played and how many decks are being used. The combination required is related to the number of decks chosen, while the average prize is determined by frequency and the contribution from the side bet to the jackpot prize.

For the 4 deck, 52 card example, the odds of winning a mega jackpot (ignoring previously drawn cards) is about one in 80,000, and the odds of winning a mini jackpot are about 1 in 20,000. It will be apparent that unlike most blackjack features, the odds and RTP are highly dependant upon the number of decks used, and this aspect must be closely controlled by the operator.

There are certain elements of the game that must be controlled to ensure the integrity and fairness of the game. In our example, this is the number of decks used and the frequency of cards being shuffled. If insufficient shuffling occurs, particularly in a manually shuffled game, then a point may be reached where a player becomes aware that there are no remaining (in our example) Kings of Diamonds, and so no one will place a side bet. Alternatively, they may become aware that there is a relatively rich selection of the targeted cards remaining. As it is envisaged that the jackpot is accumulated across multiple tables, to increase the level of activity on the jackpot, it is important that play on each table be generally equivalent. For these reasons, it is preferred that continuous shuffling be used. In a manually shuffled game, if the jackpot is won, it is preferable to reshuffle all cards on that table at the conclusion of that round of play.

While the preferred embodiment is a 2 card combination from the initial draw, there are any numbers of viable alternatives that can be used in this sort of invention. Some include;

    • 3 card combination. In this version, if the player has the targeted cards, as well as another card, then the jackpot is still won. This variant will then impact on player strategy, as if a player has one winning combination card and another card, the player has to decide whether to draw another card in the hope of getting the required card combination to win the progressive jackpot value.
    • More than one combination and variations of those based on suit or card value
    • Multiple side bet options—a different bet for a range of outcomes that may see multiple side bet wins depending on the combinations required.
    • Multiple progressive levels based on frequency.

FIG. 1 illustrates one potential layout for use in one implementation of the present invention. The layout can be seen be to a largely conventional blackjack layout. However, additional spaces for placing side bets are arranged adjacent to the card dealing space for each player. As described above, it is preferred that these spaces include (in the table or under it) a sensor to determine the presence of a gaming chip. This may be simply a proximity or instruction sensor of some kind, a Hall effect device, or a sensor based on a special property of the chips. Such sensors have been deployed in other casino table games, and a wide variety of alternatives are disclosed in the art. The table may further provide some confirmation or indication to the player that a side bet has been placed, for example an indicator light.

It will be understood that a similar layout may be used for games played in an electronic betting format, or on-line.

The game may optionally allow other players or observers to place side bets on another player's hand and side bet, as it commonly permitted in conventional blackjack. In this case, it may be necessary to provide specific spaces for such wagers by observers, as in a sensor based system generally only one of the bets will be sensed.