Title:
Wireless syncronizing poker tournament timer
Kind Code:
A1


Abstract:
A wireless synchronizing poker tournament timer the size of a deck of playing cards consisting of front and back cover enclosures 101 &102, a graphical liquid crystal display 103, circuit board 109 with a microprocessor, speaker, and a wireless transmitting and receiving device. It provides a flexible way of tracking and displaying poker tournament information and can be set to broadcast tournament information with other devices to synchronize the timer and starting bet information.



Inventors:
Mclain, David Douglas (Frankfort, IL, US)
Application Number:
11/440380
Publication Date:
12/13/2007
Filing Date:
05/24/2006
Primary Class:
International Classes:
A63F9/24
View Patent Images:



Primary Examiner:
GARNER, WERNER G
Attorney, Agent or Firm:
David McLain (Wexford, PA, US)
Claims:
I claim:

1. A wireless synchronizing poker tournament timer comprising: a) a front and rear cover enclosure; b) a circuit board having a wireless transmitter and receiver, a processor, a battery holder, and a speaker c) a graphical display

2. The wireless synchronizing poker tournament timer of claim 1 wherein said wireless transmitter broadcasts poker tournament information

3. The wireless synchronizing poker tournament timer of claim 1 wherein said wireless receiver receives tournament information

4. The wireless synchronizing poker tournament timer of claim 1 wherein said processor synchronizes tournament information and said graphical display presents the information to tournament players

5. The wireless synchronizing poker tournament timer of claim 1 wherein said enclosure is approximately the same size as a deck of standard playing cards

6. The synchronizing poker tournament timer of claim 1 wherein said graphical display can be configured to show preferred tournament information and still remain synchronized

7. The synchronizing poker tournament timer of claim 1 wherein said battery holder provides the required power to operate the device from standard batteries

Description:

CROSS-REFERENCE TO RELATED APPLICATIONS

Not Applicable

FEDERALLY SPONSORED RESEARCH

Not Applicable

SEQUENCE LISTING OR PROGRAM

C code program included on CD-ROM. The following files are included: About, ButtnMgr, Common, Eeprom, Font, GameMode, GLOBALS, KEYPAD, LCD, LevelCfg, Lfont, MAIN, MainMenu, mAT898252, MenuBmp, MenuBmpCCW, MenubmpFlipped, Mfont, PokrLinx, PokrLinx.Inp, PokrLinx.Opt, PokrLinx.Uv2, Ports, rcvtx1.Inp, rf, screens, Sfont, TestMode, Tools, TmyCnfg, txcw1.Inp, TyAdjust, TyWizard, XLfont

BACKGROUND OF THE INVENTION

1. Field of Invention

This invention relates to poker tournament timing and starting bet management devices, specifically in situations were tournament information needs to be displayed to multiple players

2. Prior Art

With the popularity of poker tournaments growing throughout the world, recreational players are looking for better ways to host and manage poker tournaments.

Hosting a poker tournament requires the host to track the time for each level of the tournament and the size of the blind and ante bets (starting bets) for each tournament level. Blind bets are the forced bets players near the deal are required to make before the next poker hand. Ante bets are forced bets every player is required to make before the next poker hand. In poker tournaments, these starting bets increase at each level of the tournament. A level is set at a fixed time period.

Due to the complexity involved, many hosts use computer programs installed on laptop or desktops computers to track the tournament information and display the information on monitors. These programs track the starting bets for each tournament level and alert players when the starting bets are rising to a new level. Unfortunately, a laptop or desktop computer is not the best device to use in a poker environment. Smoke, spilled drinks and other issues represents a danger to the computer. In addition, a computer typically needs to be plugged to a wall outlet due to the long duration of typical tournament. The most problematic aspect of using a computer to manage a tournament is a computer screen can only be seen by a limited number of players. If a monitor is placed at the end of a room that has a poker table in the middle, then half of the players will have their back to the monitor. Many tournaments are often played with more than 10 players and require multiple tables which adds to the problem because a computer monitor display is even harder to see with multiple tables. This causes some players to have more information regarding the status of the tournament than other players which causes a level of unfairness in the tournament.

Independent poker tournament timing devices have been introduced in the industry but suffer from many disadvantages. These devices are fairly large devices and are not able to be placed into a poker chip carry case which limits portability. The timers in the industry also require wall power sources and usually can not sit on a poker table that is far from a wall outlet. These devices do not have menu based displays which makes configuration of a tournament difficult and information displayed during a tournament can not be adjusted based upon the player's preference. The most problematic issue with these devices is the single display problem similar to the computer problem above. Because these devices have a single display, half of the players in the tournament have their backs to the device and can not see critical tournament information, which again causes a lack of parity of information in the tournament. If a host buys two or more of these timing devices so all players can see the information, this causes additional problems. Each device needs to be setup independently and quickly become unsynchronized due to frequent timer start and stops caused by moving players, tournament breaks, and resolving tournament issues. These devices can not be synchronized via a broadcast signal and because the get unsynchronized, players at a table with two or more devices or with multiple tables with devices will be looking at divergent tournament information. This would cause a considerable increase in tournament inequality.

A small timing device, U.S. Pat. No. 6,357,746B1, has been invented and is shown as a gaming chip with built-in timer. This invention, however, only displays countdown information and does not show the starting bet information required for tournaments. This device was created mainly to time players on break from casino gambling and only tracks timing. Without the starting bet levels related to the timer, the device can not be used for a tournament. The device's display is too small for more than two players to see at a time and significantly compounds the single display problem described above. If many players were using this type of device, a lack of synchronization again becomes a critical issue. Due to common tournament start and stops, each device would get out of sync and display conflicting information regarding the tournament's status.

Accordingly, the invention presented here has the following advantages:

    • (a) to provide a playing card deck sized device that can easily fit into playing card receptacles in a poker chip case for maximum portability
    • (b) to provide a device that is powered by batteries and has no wall power requirements so the devices have no limitations as to where it can be positioned in a room
    • (c) to provide a deck sized enclosure and liquid crystal display that maximizes the display area for the timer, level and starting bet information and gives audible warnings when moving to the next tournament level
    • (d) to provide the critical ability to synchronize the level, timing, and starting bet information wirelessly with other devices in the room at other places on the table or on other tables in the tournament so all players can see the critical tournament information and eliminate inequality
    • (e) to provide an easy menu based way to setup and manage a home poker tournament and the ability to save and load past tournaments
    • (f) to provide multiple informational display options based upon the preferences of the tournament manager or players

Still further objects and advantages will become apparent from a consideration of the ensuing descriptions and drawings.

SUMMARY

In accordance with the present invention a wireless synchronized poker tournament timing device that tracks levels, time, and starting bet information the approximate same dimensions as a deck of cards with large display and has the ability to synchronize via a broadcast signal tournament information with other devices.

DRAWINGS—FIGURES

FIG. 1 shows the front of the assembled device

FIG. 2 shows the back of the assembled device with the leg attachment folded in for storage in a poker chip case

FIG. 3 shows the back of the assembled device with the legs out for table top display

FIG. 4 shows the back of the device with the battery cover and leg attachment removed

FIG. 5 shows the back of the device with the back cover, battery cover, and leg attachment removed

FIG. 6 is an exploded view for assembling the device from a side view

FIG. 7 is an exploded view for assembling the device from a top side view

FIG. 8 is an exploded view for assembling the device from a front side view

FIG. 9 is the print circuit board layout

FIG. 10 is the critical component schematic layout

FIG. 11 is the front of the device with the setup screen view for device operations

FIG. 12 is the front of the device with the normal screen view for device operations

FIG. 13 is the front of the device with the large timer view for device operations

FIG. 14 is the front of the device with the large starting bet view

FIG. 15 is the device with an audio and visual cable connected to a TV

DRAWINGS—REFERENCE NUMERALS

101 Front Cover

102 Back Cover

103 Large Graphical Liquid Crystal Display

104 Leg Attachment

105 Battery Cover

106 Operational Buttons

107 On/Off Switch

108 Battery Holder on Print Circuit Board

109 Circuit Board

DETAILED DESCRIPTION—FIGS. 1 THROUGH 10—PREFERRED EMBODIMENT

A preferred embodiment of the device is shown in FIGS. 1 through 10. The device is approximately 2.5 inches tall by 3.5 inches wide and less than 1 inch deep which is about the same size as a deck of poker playing cards. The size is critical so the device can fit into standard playing card deck holders in poker chip cases and in poker chip racks for easy portability.

The device has a front cover 101 where four operational buttons 106 and a large graphical liquid crystal display 103 are seated. A rear cover 102 is fastened to the front cover with four standard number 3 screws that are assembled through the back of the rear cover through four holes shown in FIG. 4.

A leg attachment 104 has two configurations. The leg attachment 104 can be folded for storage in a poker case such as it is shown in FIG. 2. FIG. 3 shows the leg attachment in the position for placing the device on a table top for players to be able to see the graphical information during a tournament.

A battery cover 105 with an embedded latch is used to hide and secure 3 AAA standard batteries that are placed into a battery holder 108 that is mounted permanently on a circuit board 109. In addition to the battery holder, an on/off switch 107 is also permanently mounted to the circuit board as well as the functional electronic components of the circuit board 109 as shown in FIG. 9 and FIG. 10.

The large liquid crystal display 103 is a standard 64×128 bit graphical display and is attached to the circuit board 109 with a flexible connector. The front cover, rear cover, leg attachment and battery cover are made from a plastic injection mold process using standard plastic materials. The buttons are made from a silicon or rubber material and when pressed make a contact connection directly on the circuit board.

The program components provided on the included CD-ROM and written in C, are stored on an ATMEL Microprocessor. The program controls the device logic, the graphical display and the processing in a Texas Instruments radio frequency transmitting and receiving device. The radio frequency device can transmit tournament timer and starting bet information over 30 feet away. This device can also be set to wirelessly synchronize tournament information another device might be broadcasting. When the device is set to listen for tournament broadcast information, the device displays the synchronized tournament information on the large liquid crystal display. If a tournament is stopped to resolve an issue, move a player, or for a break, all synchronized timers will stop as well. When the broadcasting timer is restarted all synchronized timers will continue counting down and displaying the synchronized tournament information.

A speaker device is also on the circuit board and sounds an alarm when a level is ending and the starting bets will be increased.

Operation—FIGS. 11-14

FIGS. 11-14 show the main user interface consisting of the four operational buttons 106 and the large liquid crystal display 103. The four buttons allow a user to interact with the device. The top button backs a user out of the current selection. The second and third button from the top allows the user to scroll from one section to another selection. The bottom button is similar to an enter key on a computer and makes the selection. When the On/Off switch 107 is set to the on position, the large liquid crystal display shows the user configuration screen in FIG. 11. This screen has 6 main functions. Start New Wizard allows a user to configure a tournament by inputting the desired number of players, the approximate number of minutes a tournament host would like the tournament to last, and the starting number of chips for each player. Using the logic in the provided program, the device calculates the required time for each level and the starting bets for each level. Tourney Config allows a tournament host to manually set the time for each level and the starting bets for each level. Return to Tourney sets the display back into one of the three graphical game displays described below. Poker Tools contains tournament winning payout calculation tools. Device Sync sets the device to broadcast mode or listen mode. When the device is in broadcast mode, it uses the RF device on the circuit board to wirelessly synchronize the level timer and starting bet information with other devices in the room. When the device is set to listen mode, the device will display received tournament information on the display. System Manager allows the host to save and load favorite tournaments.

When the host starts the tournament, they can use the middle buttons to change the display information. The buttons will scroll through 3 displays show in FIGS. 12-15.

FIG. 12 shows the typical information shown on the display during a tournament. This display shows the time left in the tournament, the current level, the amount of the small blind bet, big blind bet and ante. It also shows the size of the next level starting bets. In the lower left corner of the screen the display will show a little box if the device is in broadcast mode.

FIG. 13 shows a much larger timer and the small and big blind bet as well as the indicator if the device is broadcasting the tournament information

FIG. 14 shows the big and small blind bet in a large font and puts the timer in a very small display. Again the broadcast indicator is shown.

FIG.15—Additional Embodiment

FIG. 15 shows an additional embodiment where the device has a standard video and audio output that can be connected to a TV so the TV can display the timer and starting bet information. The TVs speaker can be used to sound the alarm the pizo would normally sound.

Advantages

From the description above, a number of advantages of the deck sized synchronizing poker tournament timer is evident:

    • (a) The device is a portable unit, the size of a deck of cards, that can easily fit into deck holders found in poker cases
    • (b) Multiple devices can be synchronized wirelessly so all players at the tournament can see critical tournament information such as level, timing, and starting bet information and eliminates player information inequality.
    • (c) The device is battery operated and does not limit where it can be placed in the room. It can be used directly on a poker table without impacting play.
    • (d) Provides a graphical and menu driven way to setup tournaments quickly
    • (e) Configured tournaments can easily be saved and then loaded so hosts can quickly start tournament similar to ones played in the past
    • (f) Players can move from one display type to another to see their preferred information and it provides an audible alarm when the next level is starting.

Conclusion, Ramification, and Scope

Accordingly, the reader will see that the deck sized synchronizing poker tournament timer is a very portable user friendly way to manage recreational poker tournaments. The graphical menu based display allows a user to easily create and manage a tournament and it provides the ability change the emphasis in displayed information during tournament play.

The device runs on standard AAA batteries and can be placed directly on a poker table top even if it is in the middle of a room far away from a wall outlet.

The ability to wirelessly synchronize critical tournament information between two or more devices assures all players have a fair view of the current status of the tournament.

Although the description above contains many specificities, these should not be construed as limiting the scope of the invention but as merely providing an illustration of the presently preferred embodiment of this invention. For example, a device could be linked to a computer that could create a broadcast signal for individual devices to synchronize.

Thus the scope of the invention should be determined by the appended claims and their legal equivalents, rather than the example given.