Title:
METHOD AND SYSTEM FOR PROVIDING A GAME FEATURE MODIFYING A SET OF GAME INDICIA IN A GAME OF CHANCE
Kind Code:
A1


Abstract:
A method of providing a game feature in a game of chance comprising a set of game indicia. The method comprises receiving a player selection of a game indicium among the set of game indicia and establishing a second set of game indicia from the set of game indicia and the player selection. Finally, at least one game outcome is generated using the second set of game indicia.



Inventors:
Duhamel, Gerald (Drummondville, CA)
Application Number:
11/428935
Publication Date:
01/11/2007
Filing Date:
07/06/2006
Primary Class:
International Classes:
A63F9/24
View Patent Images:
Related US Applications:



Primary Examiner:
LEE, WEI
Attorney, Agent or Firm:
LABTRONIX CONCEPT (MONTREAL, QC, CA)
Claims:
We claim:

1. A method of providing a game feature in a game of chance comprising a set of game indicia, the method comprising: receiving a player selection of a game indicium among said set of game indicia; establishing a second set of game indicia from said set of game indicia and said player selection; and generating at least one game outcome using said second set of game indicia.

2. The method of claim 1, wherein the step of receiving a player selection comprises receiving a feature-participating wager.

3. The method of claim 2, wherein said feature-participating wager comprises credits, points accumulated during play of said game of chance or a feature game, or money value.

4. The method of claim 1, wherein the step of establishing a second set of game indicia comprises adding occurrences of said game indicium of said player selection to said set of game indicia.

5. The method of claim 1, wherein the step of establishing a second set of game indicia comprises removing occurrences of said game indicium of said player selection from said set of game indicia.

6. The method of claim 1, wherein said set of game indicia comprises a structure or order and wherein the step of establishing a second set of game indicia comprises modifying said structure or order.

7. The method of claim 1, wherein the step of receiving a player selection comprises receiving a selection of at least one of a) a value; and b) an increase or decrease selection.

8. The method of claim 1, wherein the step of receiving a player selection comprises receiving a player selection of a second game indicium; and wherein the step of establishing a second set of game indicia comprises replacing at least one occurrence of said second game indicium by at least one occurrence of said game indicium.

9. The method of claim 1, wherein said game indicia comprise cards, symbols, or numbers.

10. The method of claim 1, wherein said game of chance comprises poker, blackjack, line game, bingo, keno or lotto.

11. A gaming apparatus for providing a game feature in a game of chance comprising: displaying means for displaying said game of chance comprising a set of game indicia or a second set of game indicia established from said set of game indicia and a player selection; and input-receiving means for receiving said player selection of a game indicium among said set of game indicia.

12. The gaming apparatus of claim 11, further comprising communicating means for communicating game information about said game feature in said game of chance from or to said gaming apparatus.

13. The gaming apparatus of claim 11, further comprising at least one of a) controlling means for controlling the establishment of said second set of game indicia from said set of game indicia and said player selection; and b) generating means for generating at least one game outcome using said second set of game indicia.

14. A gaming apparatus for providing a game of chance, comprising at least one of a) controlling means for controlling the establishment of a second set of game indicia from said set of game indicia and said player selection; and b) generating means for generating at least one game outcome using said second set of game indicia.

15. Computer program embodied on a computer readable medium or in processor-readable memory having codes adapted to: receive a player selection of a game indicium among said set of game indicia; establish a second set of game indicia from said set of game indicia and said player selection; and generate at least one game outcome using said second set of game indicia.

Description:

CROSS-REFERENCE TO RELATED APPLICATIONS

The present application claims priority of U.S. Provisional Patent Application 60/696,548 filed on Jul. 6, 2005 and entitled Method of Offering a Reel Modifying Feature. The specification of the foregoing Provisional Application is hereby incorporated by reference.

TECHNICAL FIELD

The present invention relates to a game feature modifying a set of game indicia in a game of chance

SUMMARY OF THE INVENTION

In accordance with an embodiment of the present invention, there is provided a method of providing a game feature in a game of chance comprising a set of game indicia. The method comprises receiving a player selection of a game indicium among the set of game indicia and establishing a second set of game indicia from the set of game indicia and the player selection. Finally, at least one game outcome is generated using the second set of game indicia.

In accordance with another embodiment of the present invention, there is provided a gaming apparatus for providing a game of chance, comprising: displaying means for displaying the game of chance comprising a set of game indicia or a second set of game indicia established from the set of game indicia and a player selection; and input-receiving means for receiving the player selection of a game indicium among the set of game indicia.

In accordance with yet another embodiment of the present invention, there is provided a game apparatus for providing a game of chance, comprising at least one of a) controlling means for controlling the establishment of a second set of game indicia from the set of game indicia and the player selection; and b) generating means for generating at least one game outcome using the second set of game indicia.

In accordance with another embodiment of the present invention, there is provided a computer program embodied on a computer readable medium or in processor-readable memory having codes adapted to: receive a player selection of a game indicium among the set of game indicia; establish a second set of game indicia from the set of game indicia and the player selection; and generate at least one game outcome using the second set of game indicia.

BRIEF DESCRIPTION OF THE DRAWINGS

Further features and advantages of the present invention will become apparent from the following detailed description, taken in combination with the appended drawings, in which:

FIG. 1 is a schematic diagram showing a perspective view of a gaming machine according to an embodiment of the present invention;

FIG. 2 is a bloc diagram illustrating the components of the gaming machine of FIG. 1;

FIG. 3 is a flowchart illustrating the steps for a game process as played on the gaming machine of FIGS. 1 and 2;

FIG. 4 is a flow chart illustrating the steps of the method of conducting a game feature played accordingly to embodiments of the present invention;

FIG. 5 is a table illustrating the effect of purchasing indicia on the hit rate and payout of a game played according to an embodiment of the present invention; and

FIG. 6 is a table illustrating more effects of purchasing indicia on the hit rate and payout of a bonus game played according to embodiments of the present invention.

It will be noted that throughout the appended drawings, like features are identified by like reference numerals.

DETAILED DESCRIPTION

Embodiments of the present invention may be carried out on a gaming apparatus, such as a personal computer, a gaming terminal, a server or a gaming machine as illustrated in FIGS. 1 and 2. Said gaming machine 10 comprises displaying means 12, such as a video screen, an LCD screen or mechanical reels; accepting means 14 such as a card reader, or a coin and/or bill acceptor; input-receiving means 16, such as buttons, levers or a touch screen; awarding means 18, such as a ticket printer, a card reader or a hopper; storing means 20 such as RAM, flash memory, a hard drive or a removable memory medium; and controlling means 22 such as a computer, computer codes, or a hardware controller. The controlling means comprise generating means 24, which also may correspond to a computer, computer codes or hardware components. In another embodiment, the gaming machine 10 carrying out the invention may comprise, either in replacement of or in combination with the accepting means 14, communicating means (not shown) allowing communication between the controlling means 22 and a remotely linked accounting means (not shown) wherein player accounts are maintained (either by a casino or by a financial institution, such as a bank), and money is downloaded on the gaming machine 10 to play the game and uploaded on the accounting means upon quitting the game.

Such a gaming machine 10 is designed, as shown on FIG. 3, to receive credit information from a player (at step 30) coming from the deposit of money either in a physical format (such as coins or bills) or in an electronic format (such as money stored on a player card or transferred from a bank account), to receive activation information from the player (at step 32), to randomly generate (at step 34) and display (at step 36) a game outcome, to evaluate said game outcome according to game rules (a pay schedule for example) (at step 38), and to award a prize to the player for a winning game outcome (at step 40). Embodiments of the present invention generally take place during or between steps 32 and 34.

Embodiments of the present invention may also be implemented, totally or in part, in a computer program. They may also be carried out on a gaming terminal (not shown), part of a local or wide area network or connected through the internet, more or less dependent upon a server or another gaming terminal to perform processes necessary to provide a player with a game of chance and/or game features. To do so, game information is communicated to and/or from said game terminal using communicating means (not shown) such as a physical connection (cable or telephone line, for example), or broadcast facilities using an electrical or electro-magnetic signal. The terminal may participate totally, in part or not at all, in the generation of the game outcome, depending on the nature of the game information communicated to and/or from it. Game information comprise all information useful to conduct the game of chance and any game feature associated therewith, such as the player identity, the game of chance or game feature played, the bet value, the level of play, the game outcome, the pay table, the pay schedule, player input, sets of game indicia, the prize awarded, triggering signals to provide the player with a punctual game feature, etc.

While illustrated in the block diagrams as groups of discrete components communicating with each other via distinct data signal connections, it will be understood by those skilled in the art that embodiments capable of carrying out the invention may be provided by a combination of hardware and software components, with some components being implemented by a given function or operation of a hardware or software system, and many of the data paths illustrated being implemented by data communication within a computer application or operating system. The structure illustrated is thus provided for efficiency of teaching suitable embodiments.

In an embodiment of the present invention, the player is offered to modify the set of game indicia of a game of chance by purchasing game indicia to make them appear more or less often in a second set of game indicia. Purchasing a game indicium have three possible effects: a) adding at least one occurrence of this game indicium in the set of game indicia; b) removing at least one occurrence of this game indicium from the set of game indicia; or c) replacing an occurrence of another game indicium by an occurrence of the purchased game indicium. The price to pay to purchase a game indicium may be determined according to the symbol value, the impact of the purchase on the probabilities of obtaining a winning outcome and/or the impact of the purchase on the payout rate of the game.

FIG. 4 illustrates the steps of this embodiment. The player is provided with a display listing the game indicia available to purchase and their associated price value (at step 50); and the player selection of a game indicia, or the desire to keep the same set of game indicia, is received (at step 52). If a game indicium is purchased, its associated price value is deducted from the player account (either in credits or points or any other asset usable to purchase a game indicium in the game feature) (at step 54). A second set of game indicia is established from the game set of game indicia, the player selection and the game-indicium-purchase effect (at step 56). This second set of game indicia is used to generate game outcomes (at step 58) until the end of the game feature (at step 60) occurring when a new symbol purchase occurs, a number of spins, or length of time, is depleted, or when the player has no more credits to play, for example.

The player may also be invited to enter a number selection. This number may be the number of occurrences of the purchased symbol added to or removed from the set of game indicia, or it may be the number of plays during which the second set of game indicia is used to generate game outcomes. The price value paid by the player may be affected by this number selection. In many cases, the player may decide to purchase more than one indicium. The price values of the purchased indicia are deducted from the player account, one at a time or after being added one to the other.

In a bingo game, the player is offered to purchase numbers he wants removed from the blower. After selecting his card(s), the player is provided with the opportunity to purchase three (3) numbers to remove from the blower. By purchasing numbers not appearing on his card(s), the player enhances his chances of obtaining a winning game outcome. This opportunity may be offered at each play or upon occurrence of a predetermined event in a preceding play.

An example of an embodiment wherein the game-indicium-purchase effect is to add an occurrence of the purchased game indicium is a poker game. In this example, the player is provided with the opportunity to purchase card values to add to the deck of cards. By purchasing face cards, the player raises the probability of obtaining a winning hand comprising face cards, such as a Royal Flush. Purchasing a joker may also be offered, enhancing his chances of forming any winning hand. In this embodiment, purchasing a joker would be more expensive for the player than purchasing a face card since it affects the probabilities of obtaining any winning outcome and not just a portion of them.

In another poker game, the player is invited to select a card value to purchase and a second card value to remove from the deck. Upon purchase, all occurrences of the second card value are removed from the deck and replaced by occurrences of the purchased card. For example, the player desires to buy an ace and select the deuces as the second card value. All deuces of the deck are removed and replaced by aces. This purchase has an impact on the probabilities of forming hands using at least one ace, but it also affects other hands, such as straight and straight flush.

In preceding examples, the game of chance comprised only one set of game indicia and thus the purchased indicia were added to or removed from said set of game indicia to form a second set of game indicia. But in some games, such as line games or lotto games, there are a plurality of sets of game indicia, all used to generate a game outcome. These multiple sets of game indicia may be treated separately or as a whole to apply embodiments of the present invention.

In a lotto game, the player selects his numbers, one at a time to compose a combination or player ticket. In a lotto 6 example, the player ticket comprises six (6) numbers. To each of these numbers, a blower containing numbers ranging from 0 to 9 (each being represented once in the blower) is associated. By drawing a number from each of the blower, a winning combination is generated and then compared to the player ticket to determine whether the player ticket is a winning ticket or not. In this example, after generating his player ticket, the player is offered to purchase a game indicium for each of the six blowers. The player has to determine, independently for each blower, whether he desires to buy a number and if so, which one. The purchased numbers are removed from the corresponding blower. After the purchase step is done, the winning combination is drawn. By purchasing, and thus removing numbers from the blower, the player enhances the probabilities of drawing the desired numbers. The same result is also obtained by adding the purchased indicium to the blower instead of removing it. Another embodiment is to purchase an indicium to remove from all blowers. In this embodiment, the sets of game indicia are treated as a whole since the same indicium purchase is applied the same way to each of them.

In certain games, such as line games, the set of game indicia may have a structure or an order. In a line game, symbols appear on mechanical or virtual reels. On mechanical reels, symbols are printed either on the reel itself or on ribbons that roll around the reel. Since they are printed, they have an order and thus there is a reel structure. Even though virtual reels are not printed, to avoid having the same symbol appear twice in a row (or too close to each other), the symbols may be positioned to form a reel structure. On the other hand, this reel structure may not exist per se, but rather be replaced by safeguard mechanisms put in place to verify the symbols to be displayed beforehand. Regardless on whether a true reel structure exists or not, the number of occurrences of a symbol on a reel (also named weight) has an impact on the probabilities of winning with this symbol. The words “reel structure” are used in this document to describe any type or level of organization of the symbols on the reels, including reels having fixed and ordered structure (the symbols always appear in the same order, just like in a mechanical reel), and reels wherein the only predetermined element is the number of occurrences of each symbol.

In line games, the reels may all share the same reel structure, and thus even if there is more than one set of gaming indicia (one for each reel), only one reel structure is present. On the other hand, line games may comprise reels having different reel structures. In some of these games, not only the order of the symbols is different, but also the number of occurrences of each symbol: symbols may appear on certain reels and not the others, for example. This heterogeneity in reel structures allow a finer control on the hit rate of the game or introduce game features such as complementary symbols or trigger symbols appearing on specific reels.

In such a line game embodiment, purchasing a symbol results in adding, or removing, at least one occurrence of this symbol in the reel structure. The number of occurrences to add or remove, may be predetermined, randomly determined or determined by the player. The same way, determining whether the symbol will appear more or less often in the reel structure may be determined a) by the player (to add strategy or allow more control to the player); b) in the game rules (a game may not allow the player to add symbols in the reel structure, only remove); and/or c) depending on the symbol nature or value, so a common symbol would always be removed while a rare symbol would always be added to the reel structure. In another embodiment, the interactive display allows the player to select a symbol to purchase, and the effect of the game indicia purchase is randomly determined.

In games where all the reels share the same reel structure, the new reel structure is established by modifying the common original reel structure. This new reel structure is then applied to one, a portion of, or all of the reels of the game, depending on the feature rules or the price paid by the player. Accordingly, the price to pay for purchasing a symbol may cover the application of the new reel structure to only one reel, and thus the player would have to pay more if he wanted to apply the new reel structure to more than one reel.

On the other hand, the purchase of a symbol may be applied differently from a reel to the other. For example, in a game where purchasing a symbol double its number of occurrences in the reel structure, a reel comprising two (2) occurrences of a symbol may be affected differently than a reel where there are no occurrence of the purchased symbol. On the other hand, if the rules are to add two (2) occurrences of the symbol to each participating reel, the reel where there is no occurrence now has two (2) occurrences of the symbol in its new reel structure. Game rules may also allow for each reel to have its own application rules: a reel may be affected by adding two (2) occurrences, while another may double the occurrences of the symbol.

The price value may represent the amount the player has to pay on each spin to use the new, often more favorable, reel structure. In this embodiment, if the player decides to pay the larger bet (including the game bet and the symbol purchase price), the new reel structure will be used for this spin, but the reel structure will reverse to the original reel structure unless the player keeps on placing the larger bet; the predetermined number of spins for the application of the new reel structure is one spin.

On the other hand, the new reel structure may also be applied to a plurality of spins, the number of spins being predetermined, randomly determined or determined using events in the game of chance or in a feature game. In an example of such an embodiment, the player is offered to purchase a symbol before the beginning of a free spin feature. If the player decides to purchase a symbol, the price value is deducted from his credit counter only once and the new reel structure is applied for the duration of the free spin feature. In this embodiment, the number of spins for the application of the new reel structure is predetermined or determined by the length of the free spin feature.

The effect of an indicia purchase may last throughout the trigger of a game feature within another game feature. For example, if a new series of free spins may be triggered, and played, within a series of free spins. The player may be offered to purchase indicia for this second series. So, even though a second set of game indicia is already used to generate game outcomes during the first series of free spins, if the player decides to purchase indicia, a third set of game indicia may be established for the duration of the second series of free spins. Upon the end of the second series of free spins, the second set of game indicia would then be restored to complete the first series of free spins.

By purchasing a symbol, the player affects his chances of winning, either with gaming outcomes comprising this symbol or with any other outcomes. If a symbol appears more often in a reel structure, the probability of obtaining this symbol at any position on the screen is better, and thus a line of this symbol occurs more often. On the other hand, if a symbol appears less often, its chance of appearing on the screen are lower, but by reducing the representation of a symbol on a reel, the probability of obtaining any of the other symbols are better. Thus, by reducing the number of occurrence of a symbol in a reel structure, the representation of the other symbols is enhanced.

FIG. 5 illustrates the effect of purchasing occurrences of a symbol. In this example, the original reel structure, shared by all three (3) reels of the game, comprises six (6) different symbols 70 each appearing a certain number of times in the reel structure 74 and a prize value 72. The hit rate 76 represents the probabilities of obtaining a line of three (3) of the corresponding symbol. The total hit rate 78 and the payout 80 (percentage of the money wagered returned to the players) are also given. For example, since there are a lot of Cherry symbols on the reel, obtaining a line of three (3) Cherry symbols is the outcome having the highest hit rate, 7.44%. When offered to purchase a symbol, the player decides to purchase five (5) occurrences of the symbol “7”. In this game, the purchase is applied to the three (3) reels, and thus, the new reel structure comprises seven (7) symbol “7” 82 on each reel. Since the total number of symbols in the reel structure is now bigger, all the hit rates are affected as seen in the column 84. By purchasing five (5) occurrences of the symbol “7”, the player has raised his chances of forming a line of three (3) symbols “7” from about 0% to 0.02%. Not a big hit rate, but enough to get an expected value of 0.2 by bet unit (0.02%×1000). The total hit rate 86 and the payout 88 are also affected.

In FIG. 6, the three reels of the bonus line game comprises four different symbols. The first time the player has the opportunity to purchase a symbol 90, the player decides to purchase a Cherry symbol, which by game rules, remove a randomly determined number of Cherry symbols from the reels (the same number on all reels). The random number generator determines that ten (10) Cherry symbols are removed from the reels. By removing Cherry symbols, which is the most common symbol in the reel structure, the chances of obtaining a winning outcome awarding a prize over or equal to fifty (50) times the bet value for this line are more than doubled. In this game, the player has less chances of getting a winning line, but his prize will be bigger if he does win. When the game feature is over, the player decides to purchase another symbol 92, this time a symbol “7”. According to game rules, purchasing a symbol “7” results in replacing a Cherry symbol on the reel by a symbol “7”. This time, since the total number of symbols on the reel does not vary, the probabilities of obtaining lines of three Orange symbols or of three 1-Bar symbols are not affected.

Even though the above embodiments present awarding prizes to players in relation to the game of chance, other forms of rewards may also be used. Examples of such alternative rewards may comprise: points, participations in features, non-cashable credits, progressive prizes, gifts, vouchers redeemable in multiple forms, and comps. If points or any non-monetary accountable rewards may also be used to purchase game indicia according to embodiments of the present invention.

The nature of the game of chance may also vary. Some examples of game of chance have been provided, but any game of chance providing suitable characteristics are meant to be comprised within the scope of the invention.

It should be noted that the present invention can be carried out as a method, can be embodied in a system, a computer readable medium, processor-readable memory or an electrical or electro-magnetic signal.

The embodiments of the invention described above are intended to be exemplary only. The scope of the invention is therefore intended to be limited solely by the scope of the appended claims.