Title:
Slot Machine Game With Additional Features
Kind Code:
A1


Abstract:
A method and apparatus to implement special features on slot machine games. For example, a wild (or other symbols) symbol can be purchased by the player before the reels are spun, so that the player is guaranteed to receive a wild symbol. The wild symbol can be positioned by the player or alternatively can be positioned randomly by the game. The price for additional symbol(s) may vary depending on which symbols have already been purchased.



Inventors:
Esses, Barbara (Buenos Aires, AR)
Goldstein, Jon (Lake Worth, FL, US)
Heymann, Jorge (Buenos Aires, AR)
Application Number:
11/678050
Publication Date:
12/13/2007
Filing Date:
02/22/2007
Primary Class:
International Classes:
A63F9/24
View Patent Images:



Primary Examiner:
AHMED, MASUD
Attorney, Agent or Firm:
MUSKIN & FARMER LLC (Lansdale, PA, US)
Claims:
What is claimed is:

1. A method to play a slot machine, the method comprising: positioning a symbol in a position on a slot grid; placing a wager and spinning reels on the slot machine after the positioning; and paying an award to the player based on the wager and a final combination of the reels, wherein the symbol remains positioned in the position during the spinning.

2. The method as recited in claim 1, wherein the symbol is a wild symbol.

3. The method as recited in claim 1, wherein the position is determined by a player.

4. The method as recited in claim 1, wherein the position is determined by the slot machine or associated apparatus.

5. The method as recited in claim 1, wherein the position is determined randomly by the slot machine or associated apparatus.

6. The method as recited in claim 1, further comprising, before the positioning, performing: offering a player an option to purchase the symbol; purchasing, by the player, the symbol.

7. The method as recited in claim 1, wherein a prior spin forms a result which is determined to form a predetermined combination which triggers the positioning as a bonus.

8. The method as recited in claim 7, wherein the positioning is performed as a bonus for limited number of successive spins.

9. A method to play a slot machine, the method comprising: placing a wager; spinning reels on a slot machine to form a result on a slot grid on the slot machine; positioning a symbol in a position on the slot grid, after the spinning; and paying an award to the player based on the wager and the result modified by the symbol being in the position.

10. The method as recited in claim 9, wherein the symbol is a wild symbol.

11. The method as recited in claim 9, wherein the position is determined by the player.

12. The method as recited in claim 9, wherein the position is determined by the slot machine or associated apparatus.

13. The method as recited in claim 9, wherein the position is randomly determined by the slot machine or associated apparatus.

14. The method as recited in claim 9, further comprising, before the positioning, performing: offering a player an option to purchase the symbol; purchasing, by the player, the symbol.

15. The method as recited in claim 9, wherein a prior spin forms a result which is determined to form a predetermined combination which triggers the positioning as a bonus.

16. The method as recited in claim 9, wherein the positioning is performed as a bonus for limited number of successive spins.

17. A method to play a slot machine, the method comprising: receiving a first wager; setting a position of a first indicator and a second indicator on an output device; spinning reels on the slot machine to a resulting reel combination and awarding a first payout based on the first wager and the resulting reel combination; determining if a first symbol behind the first indicator and a second symbol behind the second indicator form a predetermined winning combination, and if so, then awarding a second payout based on the predetermined winning combination.

18. The method as recited in claim 17, wherein the player places a second wager in exchange for performing the setting and the determining, and the second payout is based on the second wager and the predetermined winning combination.

19. The method as recited in claim 17, wherein no additional wager beyond the first wager is required to perform the setting and the determining and the second payout is funded from the first wager.

20. The method as recited in claim 17, wherein a prior spin forms a result which is determined to form a predetermined combination which triggers the setting and the determining as a bonus.

21. The method as recited in claim 17, wherein the position of the first indicator and the second indicator is determined by the machine.

22. The method as recited in claim 17, wherein the position of the first indicator and the second indicator is determined randomly by the machine.

23. The method as recited in claim 17, wherein the position of the first indicator and the second indicator is determined by a player.

24. A method to play a slot game, the method comprising: selecting a first preferred payline out of at least two paylines; receiving a wager; spinning reels on the slot game to a resulting combination and awarding a payout based on the wager on the resulting combination for all of the at least two paylines; and multiplying any award on the first preferred payline by a first multiplier.

25. The method as recited in claim 24, wherein the selecting is performed by the player.

26. The method as recited in claim 24, wherein the selecting is performed by the machine.

27. The method as recited in claim 24, wherein the selecting is performed by the machine such that the first preferred payline is chosen randomly.

28. The method as recited in claim 24, further comprising selecting a second preferred payline out of the at least two paylines, wherein any award on the second preferred payline is multiplied by a second multiplier.

29. The method as recited in claim 28, wherein the first multiplier is higher than the second multiplier.

30. The method as recited in claim 24, wherein a prior spin forms a result which is determined to form a predetermined combination which triggers the selecting and the multiplying as a bonus.

31. The method as recited in claim 24, further comprising offering to the player an option to deposit additional money in exchange for the selecting and the multiplying, and if the player chooses not to deposit the additional money, then the multiplying operation is not performed.

32. A method to play a reeled slot game, the method comprising: receiving a first wager; selecting a first set of two or more horizontally adjacent symbol positions, a number of the horizontally adjacent symbol positions in the first set being less than a number of reels on the slot game; spinning reels on the slot game to a final reel combination; awarding a first payout based on the final reel combination; and awarding a second payout based on a horizontal combination of symbols inside the first set of two or more horizontally adjacent symbol positions.

33. The method as recited in claim 32, wherein the selecting is performed by the player.

34. The method as recited in claim 32, wherein the selecting is performed by the slot machine.

35. The method as recited in claim 32, wherein the selecting is performed by the slot machine and the first set is determined randomly.

36. The method as recited in claim 32, further comprising receiving a second wager before the spinning, and the awarding awards the second payout based on the second wager.

37. The method as recited in claim 32, further comprising, indicating a second set of two or more horizontally adjacent symbol positions, a number of the horizontally adjacent symbols positions in the second set being less than the number of reels on the slot game; receiving a third wager before the spinning; and awarding a third payout based on the horizontal combination of symbols inside the second set of two or more horizontally adjacent symbol positions and the third wager.

38. The method as recited in claim 32, wherein the adjacent symbol positions are on any active payline.

39. The method as recited in claim 32, wherein a prior spin forms a result which is determined to form a predetermined combination which triggers both the selecting and the awarding a second payout as a bonus.

40. The method as recited in claim 39, wherein the selecting and the awarding a second payout bonus are performed for a limited number of spins.

41. A method to play a reeled slot game, the method comprising: allowing a player to select a custom symbol image to be displayed which represents a particular symbol; spinning reels on the slot game to a final reel combination; and displaying the custom symbol image on the reels whenever the custom symbol image appears.

Description:

CROSS REFERENCE TO RELATED APPLICATIONS

This Application claims benefit of provisional application 60/865,185, which is incorporated by reference herein in its entirety. This application also claims benefit of application 60/804,152, which is incorporated by reference herein in its entirety.

This Application is also related to the following applications identified by their application Ser. No.: 11/035,691 (“Slot Machine Game that Allows Player to Purchase Reel Respins”); Ser. No. 11/326,125 (“Slot Machine Bonus Game); Ser. No. 11/337,960 (“Slot Machine with Skill Aspect”); Ser. No. 11/558,405 (“System and Method for Allowing Piggyback Wagering”); Ser. No. 11/609,315 (“System and Method for Allowing Piggyback Wagering”); Ser. No. 11/459,253 (“Slot Machine Bonus Game”); Ser. No. 11/558,564 (“System and Method for Administering a Progressive Jackpot Limited to a Bonus Round”). All seven of these applications are incorporated by reference herein in their entireties for all purposes. Any and all features of any of these applications can be combined with each other and with any feature(s) described herein.

BACKGROUND OF THE INVENTION

1. Field of the Invention

The present inventive concept relates to a system, method, and computer readable storage, for providing additional features to slot machine games.

2. Description of the Related Art

Slot machine games are a billion dollar industry. The current three or five reel machines have been around for a long time and some players may find current game play monotonous.

What is needed are additional slot machine features which will generate more excitement for players and/or more revenue as well.

SUMMARY OF THE INVENTION

It is an aspect of the present general inventive concept to provide additional features to slot machine games.

The above aspects can also be obtained by a method that includes (a) positioning a symbol in a position on a slot grid; (b) placing a wager and spinning reels on the slot machine after the positioning; and paying an award to the player based on the wager and a final combination of the reels, wherein the symbol remains positioned in the position during the spinning.

The above aspects can also be obtained by a method that includes (a) placing a wager; (b) spinning reels on a slot machine to form a result on a slot grid on the slot machine; (c) positioning a symbol in a position on the slot grid, after the spinning; and (d) paying an award to the player based on the wager and the result modified by the symbol being in the position.

The above aspects can also be obtained by a method that includes (a) A method to play a slot machine, the method comprising: (b) receiving a first wager; (c) allowing a player to position a first indicator and a second indicator on an output device; (c) spinning reels on the slot machine to a resulting reel combination and awarding a first payout based on the first wager and the resulting reel combination; (d) determining if a first symbol behind the first indicator and a second symbol behind the second indicator form a predetermined winning combination, and if so, then awarding a second payout based on the predetermined winning combination.

The above aspects can also be obtained by a method that includes (a) selecting a first preferred payline out of at least two paylines; (b) receiving a wager; (c) spinning reels on the slot game to a resulting combination and awarding a payout based on the wager on the resulting combination for all of the at least two paylines; and (d) multiplying any award on the first preferred payline by a first multiplier.

The above aspects can also be obtained by a method that includes (a) receiving a first wager; (b) selecting a first set of two or more horizontally adjacent symbol positions, a number of the horizontally adjacent symbol positions in the first set being less than a number of reels on the slot game; (c) spinning reels on the slot game to a final reel combination; (d) awarding a first payout based on the final reel combination; and (e) awarding a second payout based on a horizontal combination of symbols inside the first set of two or more horizontally adjacent symbol positions.

The above aspects can also be obtained by a method that includes (a) allowing a player to select a custom symbol image to be displayed which represents a particular symbol; (b) spinning reels on the slot game to a final reel combination; and (c) displaying the custom symbol image on the reels whenever the custom symbol image appears.

These together with other aspects and advantages which will be subsequently apparent, reside in the details of construction and operation as more fully hereinafter described and claimed, reference being had to the accompanying drawings forming a part hereof, wherein like numerals refer to like parts throughout.

BRIEF DESCRIPTION OF THE DRAWINGS

Further features and advantages of the present invention, as well as the structure and operation of various embodiments of the present invention, will become apparent and more readily appreciated from the following description of the preferred embodiments, taken in conjunction with the accompanying drawings of which:

FIG. 1 is a diagram illustrating an output of a slot machine game, according to an embodiment;

FIG. 2 is a flowchart illustrating an exemplary method of awarding additional payouts, according to an embodiment;

FIG. 3 is a flowchart illustrating an exemplary method to select multiplied paylines, according to an embodiment;

FIG. 4 is a drawing illustrating nine different possible 3 symbol windows, according to an embodiment;

FIG. 5 is a flowchart illustrating an exemplary method of awarding additional window payouts, according to an embodiment;

FIG. 6 illustrates an exemplary game result with an active window;

FIG. 7 illustrates an exemplary game output with a wild symbol for purchase with an associated price;

FIG. 8 shows an exemplary game output of slot reels after the wild symbol has been positioned but before the reels are spun with the wild symbol in position;

FIG. 9 shows a sample game result after the wild symbol has been positioned and the reels then spun;

FIG. 10 illustrates an exemplary flowchart of a method allowing a player to purchase symbols, according to an embodiment;

FIG. 11A is a flowchart illustrating an exemplary method of implementing custom symbols, according to an embodiment;

FIG. 11B shows a sample game result using a custom symbol, according to an embodiment; and

FIG. 12 is a block diagram illustrating hardware that can be used to implement an electronic gaming machine, according to an embodiment.

DESCRIPTION OF THE PREFERRED EMBODIMENTS

Reference will now be made in detail to the presently preferred embodiments of the invention, examples of which are illustrated in the accompanying drawings, wherein like reference numerals refer to like elements throughout.

Embodiments of the invention relate to slot machine games, where typically a player places a wager, presses a button to spin the reels, the reels each stop at a random position, payouts are determined by comparing all paylines played to a predetermined set of winning combinations, and then the determined payouts, if any, are awarded to the player based on the wager. Additional features can augment the excitement of a player and may also result in increased action for the casino.

In a first embodiment, a player can move around two separate selectors which can cover any possible position on reels of a slot game. For example a 5×3 slot game has 15 possible positions for symbols to be located after the reels stop spinning. The player can move and place each selector on any two out of these 15 possible positions on the slot game output. After the slot game is played, if two predetermined symbols are “under” the selectors (selected), then the player can win an additional award.

FIG. 1 is a diagram illustrating an output of a slot machine game, according to an embodiment.

A player can move around a first selector 100 (or selector A) and a second selector 102 (or selector B). The selectors are movable and can appear in any shape (triangle, circle {as illustrated}, star, etc.) The player can move around the selectors by dragging each one to a desired location using a touch screen or other input device (e.g., mouse, buttons, etc.) The player can move the selectors around to whichever position he or she wishes, although the symbols displayed on the slot output while the selectors are being positioned typically do not have any significance. In FIG. 1, selector A 100 is placed over a “8 ball” symbol, while selector B 102 is placed over a “bell” symbol. When the slot reels are spun, the selectors stay in their same position, and when the reels come to a stop, each selector will have a reel symbol behind (or “under”) it. In essence, the player is selecting two random positions on the slot grid which he or she thinks will result in two predetermined symbols which can generate an additional award.

For example, if there is a male symbol and a female symbol available on the slot game, and the player moves the selectors to two respective locations, spins the reels, and the male symbol is behind one selector and the female symbol is behind the second selector, then the player wins an additional award. The player need not continue to position the selectors after each spin, as the selectors can remain in their last position unless the player decides to move them.

FIG. 2 is a flowchart illustrating an exemplary method of awarding additional payouts, according to an embodiment.

The method can start with operation 200, wherein a player positions selector A and selector B. This can be done as described herein, for example, using a touch screen to move the selectors to the positions desired by the player. Typically, the player will not know where to place them and the player will just rely on his or her “hunches.”

From operation 200, the method can proceed to operation 202, wherein the player plays the slot game. This can be done as known in the art. For example, the machine can accept a wager, allow the player to press a button and spin the reels, display a result of the reel spin, and award the player any respective award(s) based on a result of the spinning, comparing the symbols falling in active paytables to a paytable to determine award(s).

From operation 202, the method can proceed to operation 204, which determines which symbol is behind (or associated with) selector A and which symbol is behind (or associated with) selector B. This can be done by, when the player has positioned the selectors, a number can then be associated with each selector corresponding to which reel position (out of 15 in this example) each selector is associated with. When the reels stop spinning, the symbols in each of these positions can then be identified. Typically, the player will not be allowed to position both selectors on the same position (e.g., the two selectors much cover different symbol positions). Symbol A can be considered the symbol behind selector A, and symbol B can be considered to be the symbol behind selector B.

From operation 204, the method can proceed to operation 206, which determines whether symbol A and symbol B form a predetermined winning combination. A paytable of symbols can be used to make this determination. For example, Table I illustrates one exemplary paytable of symbol pairs and their respective awards.

TABLE I
symbol Asymbol Baward
bellseven$5
sevenbell$5
malefemale$100
femalemale$100

Typically, it should not matter which selector (A or B) appears over which symbol. In other words, the result should be the same if a male symbol appears behind selector A and a female symbol appears behind selector B, as opposed to a male symbol appearing behind selector B and a female symbol appearing behind selector A.

In FIG. 2, the selectors cover an “8 ball” symbol and a “bell” symbol. If table I were to be used, (assuming the selectors were placed and then this result was generated) this would not be a winning combination. But if the selector covered a “7” symbol instead of the “8 ball” symbol, then the player would have won an additional $5.

If the slot game uses vertical reels, then the game may prevent the player from placing both selectors in a same vertical column. This is because due to the way the symbols on a reel are mapped, some symbols may never (or always) appear in the same column as other symbols. If the slot game uses independently spinning symbols (each of the 15 appearing symbols spins on its own reel), then this restriction may not be necessary since there is no correlation between vertical symbols.

The player may be required to pay extra (e.g., an additional coin or coins) for the ability to position the selectors and win additional awards. This can be paid during operation 202, when the wager is collected, or at another time. Alternatively, the ability to position the selectors and win additional awards can be provided to the players for free (of course the overall payout of the main game may have to be reduced in order to pay for the free additional awards). Alternatively, if the player spins the reels and receives a special combination, this may trigger a bonus which then allows the player to position the selectors and win additional awards. The bonus may last for a fixed amount of spins (e.g., 1 to 10 or more).

In a further embodiment of the inventive concept, a player can select one or more lines (or paylines) as “preferred” lines, which can offer the player a special incentive or bonus. A payline is a group of symbols (typically one for each reel on a machine) that is used to form a respective combination, and if the respective combination forms a winning payout then an award is earned. Machines have anywhere from 1 to 60 paylines or more.

A player can pick a particular line which will result in an increased award. For example, if the player plays 15 lines, the player can select a particular line out of the 15 that the player thinks will have the biggest payout. The selected line can then pay double whatever payout that line would have earned. This can be considered the “golden payline.”

The player can select the “golden payline” in any manner, such as touching a button on the slot machine, or pressing a virtual button on a touchscreen output device, etc. The player can either pay extra for the privilege to select the golden payline, or the player can select the golden payline for free (the additional award for the golden payline can be factored into the game itself), or the player can earn the ability to select the golden payline for a limited number of spins (e.g., 3 plays of the game, each play either a free bonus for the player or paid for by the player) by hitting a predetermined combination on the slot machine.

For example, consider a game with a total of 9 possible paylines. The player plays $1 each payline or $9 total. In an embodiment, the player can select one payline out of the nine which will pay double (or any multiple) for free. In another embodiment, the player can select one payline out of the nine which will pay double (or any multiple) upon paying a fee. The player can pay an additional $1 in order for the selected payline to pay double, although in essence this is just allowing the player to bet separate amounts on each payline. In an embodiment, the player can pay an extra $0.50 and have a particular payline pay double as an incentive.

In a further embodiment, the player can select additional paylines which can also have their respective awards multiplied at different amounts. For example, a player can be offered an opportunity to select: a golden payline (which will multiply any respective award 5 times) a silver payline (which will multiply any respective award 3 times), and a bronze payline (which will multiply any respective award 2 times). The player can either pay extra for the privilege to select these three paylines, or the player can select these three paylines for free, or the player can earn the ability to select these three paylines for a limited number of spins by hitting a predetermined combination on the slot machine.

An example will now be presented. A player plays a slot machine with 9 lines ($1 each line), and selects the 5× line (“the golden line”) to be line 1, the 3× line (“the silver line”) to be line 4, and the 2× line (the “bronze line”) to line 9. The player then places the wager and achieves the results illustrated in Table II. The first column is the line (or payline) number and the second column is the award amount.

TABLE II
Line#award
10
20
3$2
4$5
50
60
7$10
80
9$1

If there was no option to select paylines which can multiply their respective award, then the player would win a total of $18. Since the player selected line 1 to be multiplied 5×, this results in a $0 gain. The player selected line 4 to be multiplied 3×, which is $15 or an additional $10 from the original $18. The player selected line 9 to be multiplied 2×, which is $2 or an additional $1 from the original $18. Thus, with the additional gains from the multiplied selected lines, the player is paid a total of $29 on this spin (this does not consider how much the player bet initially).

Typically, paylines all have equal expected values and thus the player would just play his or her “hunches” to pick which paylines they think will have the greatest award.

FIG. 3 is a flowchart illustrating an exemplary method to select multiplied paylines, according to an embodiment.

The method can start with operation 300, wherein the player selects a preferred line (or lines). This can be done by the player touching an indicator on an output device representing a line, or pressing buttons on the slot machine, or any other method.

From operation 300, the method can proceed to operation 302, which receives a wager from the player. In an embodiment, the player can pay extra in order to be allowed to receive the multiplied paylines (as selected in operation 300), or the multiplied paylines can be offered to the player as a free incentive. Alternatively, the multiplied paylines may only be offered to the player when the player has earned them (e.g., by hitting a predetermined combination on the slot machine which triggers the multiplied paylines as a bonus). The reels are spun randomly and stop in a random position.

From operation 302, the method can proceed to operation 304, which pays the appropriate payout to the player which includes any extra amount due to multiplied awards on paylines selected in operation 300.

When a player has selected the multiplied paylines (in operation 302), they can remain the same for each new spin on the slot machine until the player decides to change them.

In a further embodiment regarding preferred paylines, a player can wager more on certain paylines which will in turn result in an increased award. For example, payouts on particular lines are multiplied by the amount bet on each line, but no line receives a higher multiplier than another line (in contrast to the prior embodiment where one line may get a multiplier or a higher multiplier than other lines).

For example, a player can bet two coins an all lines (e.g., 9 lines), and select a golden line in order to bet four coins. Now, any payout on the golden line will pay double what the other lines pay. In other words, the golden line pays 4× the standard payout for one coin, and the other lines pay 2×. The player can indicate other paylines as well to increase his or her bet on.

In a further embodiment, in addition to the standard paylines on a machine, “windows” can be activated. A window is a group of adjacent symbols (2 or more) in either a horizontal or possibly a vertical (if the symbols on the game spin on their own reel) line. A special paytable can be used for the symbols in the window. Thus, in addition to earning the standard payouts during normal play of a slot game, a player can also earn an additional bonus amount by getting predetermined combinations in the window(s). In one embodiment, the player must pay extra in order to be allowed to earn awards in a window. In another embodiment, the window can be offered to the player for free, or the player can earn the ability to activate one or more windows for a limited number of plays (e.g., 3 plays (spins), either awarded for free to the player as a bonus or the player pays for each play) by hitting a predetermined combination on the slot machine.

FIG. 4 is a drawing illustrating nine different possible 3 symbol windows, according to an embodiment.

A first window configuration 401, a second window configuration 402, a third window configuration 403, a fourth window configuration 404, a fifth window configuration 405, a sixth window configuration 406, a seventh window configuration 407, an eighth window configuration 408, and a ninth window configuration 409 are all shown. A current window configuration which will be applied to a next spin of the slot reels can be selected by the player or chosen at random.

If three predetermined symbols fall inside an active window, then the player wins a payout based on the predetermined symbols using a paytable. In one embodiment, only one window can be active during a spin. In another embodiment, more than one window can be active. In the latter embodiment, a player may be required to pay extra for each active window the player wishes to employ.

FIG. 5 is a flowchart illustrating an exemplary method of awarding additional window payouts, according to an embodiment.

The method can start with operation 500, which determines window location. The player can indicate where he or she wishes the window to be located, for example by touching a desired location on the reels itself, or by entering a number (or pressing a button) corresponding to the desired window. Alternatively, the window location can be chosen at random.

From operation 500, the method proceeds to operation 502, which receives a wager and spins the reels. The active window(s) can be highlighted on the reels so that the player can see where the active window(s) are.

From operation 502, the method proceeds to operation 504, which pays an appropriate payout for the wager according to a final result of the reels using the game's standard paylines. The symbols inside any active window(s) are also identified and any winning combinations are also paid to the player according to a paytable. For example, three like symbols can pay an award, and/or a paytable can be used. For example, Table III below illustrates one exemplary window paytable (e.g., for each $1 bet on the window). Thus, for example, if the player bets $2 on a window, and the horizontally adjacent symbols that fall inside the set of horizontally adjacent symbol positions (a window) is 7-7-7, then the player would win $200 for the window.

TABLE III
Combinationpayout
7—7—7$100
cherry—cherry-7$50
bell—bell-7$10
all others$0

FIG. 6 illustrates an exemplary game result with an active window. The active window 600 is shown as a negative image. The Player has bet $3 ($1 per line, playing 3 horizontal lines), and the result is that the player wins nothing on the main game (although of course if the player got a winning combination on the main game the player would be paid according to the main game's paytable). The main game's paytable reflects five symbols in a line (e.g., five “present symbols” win $1000, etc.) while the window paytable reflects three symbols (or however many symbols there are in the window). The active window 600 contains the symbols: wild/bell/7, which according to the paytable in Table III pays 10 (the wild substitutes for any symbol such as the bell in this case). Thus, in this example, the player has bet $3 and won $10 (for a net profit of $7). In this case the active window 600 was provided free of charge to the player, although in another embodiment the player can be required to pay extra (e.g., $1) to activate a window (and can optionally be charged an additional $1 for each additional window the player wishes to activate).

Typically, a number of horizontal positions in the window should be less than the number of reels of the game. For example, if a game is a five-reeled slot game, the window size should then be from two to four. Although, in an alternate embodiment, the window size can still be five. Vertical windows can be used as well as horizontal windows, but in order to use a vertical window, typically each symbol in a column should spin independently on its own reel.

In a further embodiment, a slot machine can allow a player to purchase symbols, such as a wild. For example, the player can purchase a wild symbol (for a displayed amount), and then the wild symbol can appear on a random reel stop on the displayed reels or it can be positioned by the user before (or after) the reels are spun.

For example, the player can indicate he wishes to bet $1 on all lines (in this example let's say there are 3 lines). The player can then spin the machine as normal (e.g., by pressing a spin button (not pictured) and receive a payout based on the resultant combination or alternatively the player may wish to purchase a wild symbol before spinning the reels. The player can do this by touching a displayed wild symbol (which should also typically display the price).

FIG. 7 illustrates an exemplary game output with a wild symbol for purchase with an associated price.

A wild symbol 700 can be purchased for a displayed priced (e.g., $10) by the player. If the player does not wish to purchase the wild symbol, then the player can continue to play the slot game normally.

The player can now touch the wild symbol and is then charged the price of $10. The player can now position this wild symbol anywhere he wishes to place it on the grid positions (there are 15 of them here). In this example, there are three lines (1,2,3) a top horizontal, a middle horizontal, and a bottom horizontal, although of course any number of lines and/or reels can be used. The player in this example decides to put the wild symbol on the center reel (e.g., by touching the center reel). See the below figure. Now the player is guaranteed to get a wild symbol in the position that the player has put the symbol in, as the wild symbol remains stationary (locked) into place while the reels will spin (when the player spins the reels). This can be accomplished, for example, by spinning the reels as normally but the purchased wild symbol will effectively cover whatever symbol would be “under” the wild symbol had this wild symbol not been purchased. In an alternate embodiment, the player can place the wild symbol after the reels have already been spun (as opposed to placing it before the reels have been spun). In an alternative embodiment, the wild symbol can appear on a random position on the grid (as opposed to allowing the player to position it), and this can apply to the embodiment where the wild is positioned before the spinning of the reels or after. In other words, the purchased wild symbol can appear on a random position and then the reels are spun, or the reels can be spun first and then the purchased wild symbol can then appear on a random position. If the displayed symbols already show other wild symbols, this is permitted as the purchased wild is just an additional wild symbol which will allow the player greater excitement.

FIG. 8 shows an exemplary game output of slot reels after the wild symbol has been positioned but before the reels are spun with the wild symbol in position.

After the wild symbol has been positioned, the reels can now be spun and a $3 bet placed ($1 for each of three lines, the player now has a $987 balance). See the below figure. The player has not achieved a winning combination on any of the three lines even with the wild symbol (assume 5 identical symbols are needed to win a payout).

FIG. 9 shows a sample game result after the wild symbol has been positioned and the reels then spun. Now the game is over, any awards based on the outcome of the game are paid (from an initial wager, such as the initial wager placed in operation 1000), and the player can try again.

In addition to buying wild symbols, the player can buy other symbols as well, such as scatter symbols (these symbols are known in the art and pay if a predetermined number of these symbols appear regardless of paylines), and any other symbol available on any of the reels.

Further, instead of being limited to just buying a single type of symbol (e.g., the wild symbol), in a further embodiment the player may be able to choose from a plurality of symbols to purchase and their respective prices. For example, the player could be presented with a menu, such as illustrated below in Table IV.

TABLE IV
Wild symbol$25
Scatter symbol$50
Bell$10
8$5
7$2

Before the prices are displayed, the player may have to commit to betting max bet or may be required to indicate which paylines he wishes to play and how much he wishes to bet, so that the proper cost for each symbol can be displayed. A plurality of tables can be stored in a ROM on the slot machine (or downloaded) which designate the symbol prices for each situation (paylines played, amount bet, etc.) Thus, for example, if a player is betting $2 on all lines, the cost of a wild symbol may be twice what the cost would be if the player was betting $1 on all lines. The player may be required to place his wager first (and also indicating the paylines), then press a button, and then the player can decide whether to buy a symbol (and the appropriate prices will be displayed), and then the reels can be spun by the player.

In addition to buying just one symbol, a player can continuously buy and place symbols on the grid before spinning (or buy them and place them after spinning or buy them and allow the slot machine to place them randomly (either before spinning or after spinning)). After each symbol is purchased, the price for each symbol can change to reflect the changed circumstances. For example, if the player purchases a wild for $10, the cost for buying a second wild may have gone up to $100. If the player is allowed to position the wild symbols himself, then the cost for a wild may typically be higher than if the player is not allowed to position the wild symbols himself but the position is chosen at random. This is because if the player can position the wild himself, the player will of course try to align the wild symbols to win the jackpot (5 wilds). The player may be given a limit of a number of symbols he can select and buy before he must spin the reels (e.g., 10).

In the embodiment wherein the player can purchase symbols but place them after the reels have already spun, this can involve skill as the player should position the symbol(s) in order to maximize the player's award. For example, if the player purchases a wild symbol, then spins the reels, and then is allowed to place the wild symbol over another symbol after the reels have stopped spinning, the player should employ skill in order to put the wild symbol in the position that will maximize the player's award.

FIG. 10 illustrates an exemplary flowchart of a method allowing a player to purchase symbols, according to an embodiment.

The method can start with operation 1000, which receives an initial wager by a player. This can be done as known in the art. In addition, “receiving an initial wager” also includes the player indicating his or her intent to place a wager (e.g., indicate that the player wants to bet three coins, however the wager may not be considered technically placed until the reels actually spin). As known in the art, the player can also indicate which lines the player wishes to bet on. The initial wager can be considered to incorporate all of the bets on all of the lines.

From operation 1000, the method can proceed to operation 1002, which offers symbols for purchase at respective prices. Either one type of symbol (e.g., a wild) can be offered, or multiple types of symbols (e.g., wild, seven, etc.) can be offered at same or different prices (e.g., wild—$100, seven—$20, etc.) Typically, the greater value to the player of the symbol, the higher the price would be.

From operation 1002, the method can proceed to operation 1004, wherein the player decides whether he or she wishes to purchase a symbol or not. If the player does not wish to purchase a symbol, the player can, for example, just hit a ‘spin’ button, which proceeds to operation 1010, which spins the reels for the initial wager placed and awards any awards for reel combinations after the reels have stopped spinning.

If in operation 1004 the player does wish to purchase a symbol, then the method can proceed to operation 1006, wherein the player picks a symbol he or she wishes to purchase (if there are more than one symbol type available), and pays the purchase price. It is noted that the price might not technically be “paid” until the reels are spun, thus a player may be allowed to experiment with purchasing symbols without being required to pay for them until the reels are actually spun (although in another embodiment, the player would be charged immediately before the reels are spun).

After the symbol is purchased, in an embodiment, the purchased symbol can be positioned by the player on one of the positions on the grid (e.g., FIG. 7 shows 15 possible positions for the purchased symbol in a 5×3 reel slot game). In another embodiment, the purchased reel can be positioned on the grid randomly. The positioning (either of the prior two embodiments in this paragraph) can be done before the reels are spun, or after the spinning.

In an embodiment, the player may be allowed to only purchase one symbol. In this embodiment, the method then can proceed to operation 1010, which spins the reels and awards any award(s) based on the first wager.

In another embodiment, the player may be allowed to purchase more than one symbol. If so, then prices of additional symbols may change (or they may not). If they prices do not change, then the method can return to operation 1004, wherein the player can decide whether to purchase another symbol or not.

If prices of symbols change after the previous symbol was purchased, then the method can proceed to operation 1008, which updates a price for symbol(s) available for purchase. For example, a first wild symbol may cost $10, while a second wild symbol may cost $40, and a third wild symbol may cost $100. Of course, if the game awards the player a jackpot for achieving five wilds, then the cost for the five wilds would have to at least be equal (or preferably greater) than the amount of the jackpot award.

The method can return to operation 1004, wherein the player can view the updated price list for symbol(s) and decide whether to purchase another or spin the reels.

In a further embodiment, a symbol or symbol combination can exist that awards the player a free wild on the next spin. For example, if a “free wild on next spin” symbol appears when the player spins the reels (or a predetermined combination appears on an active payline) the player wins a free wild symbol for the next spin. This can be used as described in any of the embodiments herein. For example, the free wild symbol can appear on a random position or the player can be allowed to position it, and the symbol serves as a wild symbol.

A promotion can also be offered to a player wherein the player receives a voucher in the mail (or other delivery method) which allows the player a free wild (or other symbol). The player can insert the voucher into a ticket receiving apparatus associated with the machine in order to redeem the free wild symbol (which then invokes special software to accommodate the free wild), or the player may be presented with the free wild symbol automatically upon insertion of the player's comp card into a machine.

In a further embodiment, a player can choose a customized symbol (such as a wild or any other symbol). The player can, for example, choose his lucky numbers or name and input this into the slot machine, upon which the numbers or name will appear on a particular type of symbol. For example, a player can enter his name (“Joe”) upon which all wild symbols (or any other symbol) will have “Joe” on it. Alternatively, the slot machine may automatically retrieve a player's first name from the comp card he is using, and this name can automatically appear on a symbol. This can be done by generating a customized bitmap image of the symbol with the user's name added onto it, and this bitmap image can then be pointed to in the slot machine software as a replacement bitmap for the original symbol. Alternatively, instead of allowing the player to select his lucky numbers or name, the player can select a lucky charm that would appear in the symbol. For example, the player can select a rabbits foot, four leaf clover, etc., (the player can select this by pressing icons with these lucky charms), upon which a particular symbol (e.g., the “7”) symbol will now have this lucky charm on it.

In a further embodiment, the player can design their own symbol. For example, they can be presented with a “paint” type program on the slot machine upon which the player can draw their own symbol. This symbol can be stored in the player's slot club account so if the player plays at a later time his custom symbol can still be used. The player can create a symbol at home and email it (a jpg image or other format) to a special email account (for example 12345@abccasinoslotclub.com), wherein 12345 is the player's player account number. Upon receiving this email, the system can then use this image file to replace a particular symbol.

FIG. 11A is a flowchart illustrating an exemplary method of implementing custom symbols, according to an embodiment.

The method can start with operation 1100, which determines a custom symbol image. This can be done using any of the methods described herein. The custom symbol can be assigned a symbol number.

From operation 1100, the method can proceed to operation 1102, which initiates a spin of the reels on the slot machine. This can be done as known in the art, such as receiving a wager, receiving a button press by the player, etc.

From operation 1102, the method can proceed to operation 1104, which uses the custom symbol image on the reels. The reel map can comprise a list of symbol numbers, each symbol number representing a particular symbol which is then displayed. The reel can be initially mapped with a symbol number for a custom symbol. Alternatively, a standard reel mapping can be used with a particular symbol number displaying the custom symbol instead of whatever other symbol the particular symbol number would display. In any case, when the custom symbol is to be displayed, the custom bitmap (or other way that the image is stored) can be retrieved and displayed.

FIG. 11B shows a sample game result using a custom symbol, according to an embodiment.

This shows the same result as illustrated in FIG. 9, but the “present” symbol has been replaced with a custom symbol “Bill” (which can be the player's name). Aside from the custom symbol appearance, the slot game plays the same as described herein and known in the art.

It is noted that any of the features described herein can be offered to the player in exchange for an additional (or increased) wager by the player. Alternatively, any of the features described herein can be offered to the player as a bonus (with no additional money paid by the player) as a result of a slot machine resulting in a predetermined combination which can trigger the feature. For example, if the player receives five (or any number) of blank (or any other) symbols, the player can then be allowed on the next spin (or next 5 spins, etc.) to receive any of the features herein, such as being allowed to position the two indicators as illustrated in FIGS. 1 and 2. Alternatively, all of the features described herein can also always be offered to the player as part of the game itself with no additional coinage or trigger needed.

FIG. 12 is a block diagram illustrating hardware that can be used to implement an electronic gaming machine, according to an embodiment.

A processing unit 1200 is used to perform the methods herein using digital computer technology well known in the art. The processing unit 1200 can be connected to an output 1202 unit, which displays the outputs described herein and can be an LCD, touch screen display, CRT, etc. The processing unit 1220 can also be connected to an input unit 1204, which can include buttons, a touch screen used to receive player selections, etc. The processing unit 1200 can also be connected to a network unit 1206, which can connect the electronic gaming machine (or slot machine) to a network host by a casino the slot machine is located in, which can be used to transmit player data, authenticate payouts, etc. The processing unit 1200 can also be connected to a ROM 1208 which can also be a CD-ROM, DVD, EPROM, or any type of storage which can be used to store data and assets needed by the processing unit to perform the methods described herein. The processing unit 1200 can also be connected to a RAM 1210 which is used to implement a computer program used to drive the electronic gaming machine to perform the methods described herein. The processing unit 1212 can be connected to other unit 1212, which can be any further component(s) known in the art which can be used with the electronic gaming device. For example, the other unit 1212 can be a payment unit, which can accept payment from the player (e.g., via cash), and can pay the player (e.g., via coins) when the player wins an award. Coins can be paid directly to the player or a number of coins in an award can be added to the player's current credit meter for later cashout.

Further, the order of any of the operations described herein can be performed in any order and wagers can be placed/resolved in any order. Any operation described herein can also be optional. Any embodiments herein can also be played in electronic form and programs and/or data for such can be stored on any type of computer readable storage medium (e.g. CD-ROM, DVD, disk, etc.)

The descriptions provided herein also include any hardware and/or software known in the art and needed to implement the operations described herein. All components illustrated herein may also optionally communicate with any other illustrated or described component.

The many features and advantages of the invention are apparent from the detailed specification and, thus, it is intended by the appended claims to cover all such features and advantages of the invention that fall within the true spirit and scope of the invention. Further, since numerous modifications and changes will readily occur to those skilled in the art, it is not desired to limit the invention to the exact construction and operation illustrated and described, and accordingly all suitable modifications and equivalents may be resorted to, falling within the scope of the invention.





 
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