Title:
Method for Teams to Play Poker Tournaments
Kind Code:
A1


Abstract:
A method for teams having one or more players each to play poker tournaments (101) The teams start with the same number of chips and, when the tournament starts, each team is allocated a certain number of seats (103) The chip stacks respectively allotted to a team's allocated seats belong to the seats, not the players (107) Players can be moved between seats, but players from the same team are not allowed to sit at the same table (215) When a player loses such that his or her chip count is zero (301), the team loses that seat (303), but the losing player can be moved to another seat at another table, if desired When a team has lost all of their seats, that team is out (307), (309) The size of the tables during the tournament may vary The ranking of the teams is based on their respective total number of chips, active seats or combination of chip and active seat totals



Inventors:
Gustafsson, Carl Stefan (Stockholm, SE)
Application Number:
12/084890
Publication Date:
05/14/2009
Filing Date:
11/16/2006
Primary Class:
International Classes:
A63F1/00
View Patent Images:
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Primary Examiner:
LAYNO, BENJAMIN
Attorney, Agent or Firm:
JACOBSON HOLMAN PLLC (Washington, DC, US)
Claims:
We claim:

1. A method of playing a poker tournament with teams of multiple players comprising the steps of: establishing a plurality of teams for play on a plurality of tables; setting a number of player seats per team; assigning players to said tables so that only one player from each team is seated at each table; allocating chip stacks to said player seats based on said number of player seats per team; and commencing tournament play until a first player from a first team sitting at a first table loses all of the chips allocated to said first player's seat, said first team losing said first player's seat at said first table, other players from said first team continuing to play at tables other than said first table.

2. The method as set forth in claim 1, wherein after said first player's seat is lost by said first team, remaining players at said first table continue with tournament play at said first table without a player from said first team.

3. The method as set forth in claim 1, wherein each team begins with an equal number of chips, said step of allocating including allocating an equal number of chips to each seat.

4. The method as set forth in claim 1, further comprising the step of substituting said first player for a second player from said first team at a second table, said first player continuing tournament play with the chips allocated to the second player's seat at the second table.

5. The method as set forth in claim 1, further comprising continuing tournament play with teams being respectively eliminated from each table as all of the chips allocated to their respective one seat per table are lost.

6. The method as set forth in claim 5, further comprising the step of initiating a team action during a natural break in tournament play, said team action including switching one player for another in a given seat.

7. The method as set forth in claim 5, further comprising the step of initiating a team action during a natural break in tournament play, said team action including transferring chips within a given team from one team seat to another team seat at a different table.

8. The method as set forth in claim 5, further comprising the step of eliminating at least one team from the tournament when all of the seats assigned to said at least one team have been lost.

9. The method as set forth in claim 8, further comprising the steps of: comparing a number of remaining teams with a threshold number established for formation of a master table; and forming a master table when the number of remaining teams matches said threshold.

10. The method as set forth in claim 9, further comprising the step of forming a number of side tables in addition to said master table when more than one team has more than one active player, remaining, said number of side tables being one less than a number of active seats held by the team with a greatest number of active seats.

11. The method as set forth in claim 10, wherein play on said side tables is voluntary such that a player at one of said side tables is free to stop playing at any time and transfer that player's remaining chips to a teammate at the master table.

12. The method as set forth in claim 10, wherein a player from said side tables is moved to said master table when that player's teammate at said master table is busted.

13. The method as set forth in claim 12, wherein a team having multiple players at multiple side tables can choose which player to move to the master table.

14. The method as set forth in claim 13, wherein the player moved to the master table begins play with chips brought to the master table from the side table.

15. The method as set forth in claim 5, further comprising the step of breaking a table when a seat is lost at said table, remaining players from said broken table being placed on a waiting list or being assigned to other tables only if doing so will not result in any table having two players from the same team.

16. A method of playing a poker tournament with teams of multiple players comprising the steps of: establishing a plurality of teams for play on a plurality of tables, each team having a number of seats with a chip count allocated to each seat; assigning players to said tables so that only one player from each team is seated at each table; commencing tournament play with teams losing seats when all chips respectively allocated to said seats are lost, players seated at said lost seats being assignable to other seats that are still in play provided there is only one player from each team per table, each team continuing to play with a lesser number of players as seats are lost until all of the team's seats have been lost.

17. The method as set forth in claim 16, further comprising the step of forming a master table when a number of remaining teams reaches a threshold, said master table having only one player from. each remaining team.

18. The method as set forth in claim 17, further comprising the step of forming a number of side tables in addition to said master table when more than one team has more than one active player remaining, said number of side tables being one less than a number of active seats held by the team with a greatest number of active seats.

19. The method as set forth in claim 18, wherein a player from said side tables is moved to said master table when that player's teammate at said master table is busted.

20. The method as set forth in claim 17, further comprising the step of initiating a team action during a natural break, said team action including switching one player for another at said master table.

21. The method as set forth in claim 16, wherein said poker tournament is played on-line over a distributed computer network.

22. The method as set forth in claim 21, further comprising the step of collaborating between team members using an on-line client.

23. The method as set forth in claim 22, wherein said step of collaborating includes exchanging card information within the team so that all team members can advise the active player as needed.

24. The method as set forth in claim 22, wherein said step of collaborating includes exchanging text messages or voice transmission within the team.

Description:

This application is entitled to and hereby claims the priority of co-pending U.S. Provisional application, Ser. No. 60/736,841 filed Nov. 16, 2005.

BACKGROUND OF THE INVENTION

1. Field of the Invention

The present invention relates generally to the field of poker tournaments and more specifically to a method for teams to play poker tournaments.

2. Description of the Related Art

Poker tournaments, both in real life and online via a computer follows the same general method. Players register for a tournament and when the tournament starting criteria are satisfied (generally a time, but can also be number of players) the tournament starts. Seats are assigned at random, and seat changes are not permitted before the tournament has started. Seats may be changed during the tournament, but only by the tournament management. The tournament ends when one player accumulates all the chips in play.

Conventionally, poker is an individual (not a team) game. Any action intended to help another player is unethical and is prohibited. Unethical play, such as soft-play and chip dumping, may result in penalties.

As players are eliminated from the tournament, the tournament management may balance tables to ensure all tables have an equal, or as close to equal as possible, number of active players. The balancing of tables is done randomly. When a predefined number of players remain in a tournament, all players are brought together at the “final table”. Play will continue at the final table until one player has accumulated all the chips and thereby becomes the. winner of the tournament.

According to conventional play, poker and poker tournaments are strictly considered to be an individual game. There have been some so-called “team” poker tournaments, but these tournaments include only a superficial composition of teams, representing no more than a grouping of independent players who still play individually. These earlier poker tournaments were often marked by cheating and collusion was common.

SUMMARY OF THE INVENTION

In view of the foregoing, one object of the present invention is to provide a method that make it possible to play poker tournaments as a meaningful competition between teams of players.

Another object of the invention is to provide a method of playing poker with teams in which collusion between players from the same team does not occur.

Another object of the invention is to provide a method of playing team poker that supports the breaking of tables and the reseating of players without putting two players from the same team at the same table.

A further object of the invention is to provide a method that allows poker tables to be balanced by moving players between tables without putting two players from the same team at the same table.

Yet another object of the invention is to provide a method of playing team poker that allows the team members to transfer chips between them.

Still another object of the invention is to provide a method of playing team poker that allows the team to decide which team member will play at which of the specific seats allocated to the team.

Another object of the invention is to provide a method of playing team poker that allows the players of the team to make strategic decisions that affect the end result for the overall team.

A further object of the invention is to provide a method of playing team poker that allows the players on a team other than those specifically playing cards to make decisions for the team.

Yet another object of the invention is to provide a method of playing team poker that allows the players to make decisions on the size of the stack.

Still yet another object of the invention is to provide a method of playing team poker that allows the team to decide which player profiles and styles to seat at a specific table.

Another object of the invention is to provide a method of playing poker in a team format that will enable different kinds of team poker championships to be held, and which allows for recurrent tours, series or leagues for team poker.

A further object of the invention is to provide a method that allows any kind of poker or poker like card game including Texas Hold'em, Omaha, 7 card Stud, etc., to be played as a team game.

In accordance with these and other objects, the present invention is directed to a method and process for playing poker tournaments with teams. Teams are made up of one or more players, with each team starting with the same number of chips. The teams can start with different numbers of players, and the method allows for variable starting size of the tables, as well as for varying the size of the tables during the tournament. Each team is allocated a certain number of seats when the tournament starts, and the team can be allowed to decide which player to put in each allocated seat. The team members play simultaneously but not together at the same table.

The respective chip stacks assigned to a team's allocated seats do not belong to the players sitting in the particular seats, but rather to the seats themselves. Therefore, if a player's chips are lost so that his or her chip count is zero, the seat is relinquished but the player is free to be assigned by the team to another seat, as desired. When the team has lost all allocated seats the team is out of the tournament.

All players are seated at the tables in an arrangement that ensures that the players from any given team are at separate tables. When needed, one or more players can be moved to other seats, so long as players from the same team do not sit at the same table. A table that contains too few players to continue playing will be broken up and the players moved to new seats at other tables, with the same restriction that each team is allowed to have only one playing member per table.

When only a few teams are left in the tournament, they are consolidated to a single “master” table where they play until only one team is left. The master table is created when a specified number of teams are still in the tournament, even if some of those teams contain more than one player. At any time in the tournament, the ranking of the teams is based on each team's total number of chips relative to the other teams, the number of seats still in play, or any combination of these two parameters.

These and other objects of the invention, as well as many of the intended advantages thereof, will become more readily apparent when reference is made to the following description taken in conjunction with the accompanying drawings.

BRIEF DESCRIPTION OF THE DRAWINGS

FIG. 1 is a flow chart of the process steps for initialization of the team tournament, in accordance with the present invention.

FIG. 2 is a flow chart of the process steps for conducting team actions or events during the running of the team tournament, in accordance with the present invention.

FIG. 3 is a flow chart of the process steps for a “player out” situation, as occurs when a player loses all the chips associated with a seat and, as a consequence, the team loses that seat, in accordance with the present invention.

FIG. 4 is a flow chart setting forth the steps that are taken when one or more players are waiting to be assigned a new seat.

FIGS. 5A-5E together are a flow chart of the steps that are taken every time a team loses a seat, and further outlines the steps taken when play commences at the master table.

FIGS. 6A-6B together are a flow chart of the steps that are taken in forming side tables when the master table is formed.

DETAILED DESCRIPTION OF THE PREFERRED EMBODIMENTS

In describing a preferred embodiment of the invention illustrated in the drawings, specific terminology will be resorted to for the sake of clarity. However, the invention is not intended to be limited to the specific terms so selected, and it is to be understood that each specific term includes all technical equivalents which operate in a similar manner to accomplish a similar purpose.

Although only one preferred embodiment of the invention is explained in detail, it is to be understood that the embodiment is given by way of illustration only. It is not intended that the invention be limited in its scope to the details of construction and arrangement of components set forth in the following description or illustrated in the drawings. Also, in describing the preferred embodiments, specific terminology will be resorted to for the sake of clarity. It is to be understood that each specific term includes all technical equivalents which operate in a similar manner to accomplish a similar purpose.

As generally depicted in FIG. 1, the method according to the present invention begins by establishing two or more teams, each team having at least one player, step 101. Preferably the tournament starts with the same number of players on each team, with the number being announced by the tournament management at the time of team registration for the tournament. However, the present invention supports the initiation of tournaments with teams having different numbers of players.

The tournament management sets the number of seats to be assigned to each team, step 103. Generally, the number of seats will correspond with the established number of players per team but, if different numbers of players per team are allowed, the number of seats will not correspond with the number of players on every team.

The teams then assign their players to the seats available to the team, step 105. Players may be seated anywhere provided that no two players from the same team are seated at the same table.

Each team starts with the same number of chips, and the starting chip count is allocated between the seats by tournament management, step 107. Chip allocation is based on the number of seats assigned to each team and not to the actual number of players. This means that every team member actually playing when the tournament starts has the same number of chips.

More particularly, when a team begins the tournament with fewer players than the designated number of seats assigned by tournament management, each of the starting players plays until the first break with the chips that would have been allotted to their seat had the full team been available for play. Therefore, if the tournament was established for four-player teams and only three players were available when the tournament started, these three players would each start with 25% of the team chip total. The remaining chips would be placed at a table and blinded away. At each break, the team can transfer chips from the absent player's stack according to the chip transfer rule set forth by the tournament management. This transfer rule could specify any number of chips or percentages, e.g., 10%, 15%, 20%, 25%, etc. of the stack that can be transferred at each break from the absent player's stack.

When the players have been assigned to their seats and the chips allocated, play can start, step 109.

The chip stack allocated to each seat when play commences does not belong to the player at that seat but to the team and, more specifically, to the team's seat at that table. Thus, while the player can move between different tables, the chip stack remains at the assigned table and does not move with the player.

Just as the chip stack is separate from the player, the seat is separate from the player as well. In other words, the players are interchangeable and are not eliminated by losing the chips assigned to the seat. Instead, the seat itself is lost when the player loses all of the chips for that seat. The loss of a seat reduces the number of seats remaining for the team. But any player can be moved to any seat (provided the same table only has one player from each team), and all players remain viable even when seats have been lost.

As an illustrative example, assume a team that starts with players A, B, C, and D, each at one of four tables 1, 2, 3 and 4, respectively. If player A loses all of the chips assigned to his seat at table 1, that seat is lost and the team only has seats at tables 2, 3 and 4 remaining. However, player A can be moved to any of tables 2, 3 or 4, to replace any of team players B, C, or D, respectively, who were playing at these tables. Thus, the team is free to circulate its players among the team's remaining seats or places at the tables. In this way, the significance of the individual player is minimized as the players' identities are not tied to their physicality but to their being part of the team as a unit.

The exchanging of players between seats according to team decision is considered to be one of several “team actions” or events that can characterize the inventive method. The tournament management can elect to allow the teams to take this or other various teaming actions to enhance the team feeling of the tournament, with the availability of such teaming actions being at the prerogative of the tournament management. If teaming actions or events are allowed, they can be best scheduled to occur in the natural breaks that occur in a poker tournament. Examples of such events can include 1) team discussions; 2) transfer of chips between the team's active seats; 3) movement of players between the team's seats; 4) change of the specific player that is sitting in a specific seat, etc. A representative flow chart outlining the process steps undertaken in a team action is set forth in FIG. 2.

During the normal running of the poker tournament, step 201, natural breaks will occur. Natural breaks typically include those points in which blinds are raised and rest breaks.

When it is determined that it is time for a break, step 203, the tournament management decides whether a team action is allowed, step 205. If no team action is allowed, the blinds are raised and/or the break is taken, step 207, but then play resumes, step 201.

If a team action is allowed, step 205, several parallel actions can be allowed by the tournament management, step 209. These can include the allowance of chip transfer between seats, step 211; the optional change of player in a seat, step 213; and/or the mandatory change of player in a seat, step 215.

If chip transfer between seats is allowed, step 211, each team is permitted to transfer chips, in an amount decided by the team up to a limit specified by the tournament management, from one of the team seats to another, step 217. Such a chip transfer can only occur between active seats. In other words, once a seat has been lost as a result of play that occurs between team actions, that seat cannot be regained through a chip transfer. As an option, the tournament management could issue a limited number of “team action cards” to each team. These cards can be “played” during a period between the established team actions, such as when a seat is in danger of being lost and a chip transfer is therefore urgently needed.

If an optional change of player is allowed, step 213, the team can decide to replace one player with another according to team strategy or other requirement, step 219.

If a mandatory change of player is required by tournament management, tournament management forces one or more teams to replace one or more of their players with another player on the team, step 221. This may be necessitated by tournament rules (such as a rule which provides that a “busted” player must replace a seated player in the next break), player misconduct, or any other reason as determined by the tournament management within their discretion. Thus, while natural breaks typically present the opportunity for team actions, the timing of mandatory. player. movement between seats may be initiated by tournament management at any time, as considered necessary.

When the team actions allowed by tournament management have been concluded, step 223, the event that initiated the natural break is completed, such as blind raising and/or a rest break, step 207. Ordinary tournament play then resumes at step 201.

During the course of play, players will lose hands and ultimately lose all their chips. These “seats” are then out of the tournament. The process that occurs when a player, i.e., “seat”, is “out” is summarized in FIG. 3.

As shown, when a player loses all of his or her chips, step 301, that player's team loses a seat, step 303. At this point, step 305, three matters are generally addressed.

First, it is determined whether the team that has just lost a seat has any remaining seats active in the tournament, step 307. If there are remaining active seats, the process is ended, step 314. But if the team has no remaining seats, then the team is out and their final position in the tournament is calculated, step 309. This calculation is determined on the basis of the total number of teams remaining, with their position or finishing place being one greater than the number of remaining teams. For example, if when a team goes out there are three other teams still in play, the team going out will have ended the tournament in fourth place.

The second matter is deciding whether the table from which the seat was lost should be broken, step 311. If the tournament allows odd numbers of players and if the number of players remaining at the table is sufficient, the process ends, step 314. If, however, the table is to be broken, step 311, then the remaining active players from the broken table are placed on a waiting list for new seat assignment, step 313, and the player out process terminates, step 314. A flow chart setting forth the steps that are taken when one or more players are waiting to be assigned a new seat, i.e., a new table and/or position at a table, is provided in FIG. 4.

Whether tables are to be broken or not is determined by tournament management. Tournament management can use a balancing scheme in order to keep an equally fair number of players at the tables, and ordinary poker tournament structures can be used for balancing. Table size is also determined by tournament management. Generally tables are sized for 6 to 12 players.

The third matter addressed at step 305 is that of determining if a master table can be formed, step 315. This process is summarized in the flowchart of FIGS. 5A-5E, and will be discussed more fully hereinafter after the following description of chip counts.

During tournament play, chip counts can be performed during each break. This can be done by the players or by the dealers.

If the players count the chips, each player is given a tournament card (TC) when the tournament starts. The player first counts his own chips and writes down the number on the TC. Then the player on his right side counts the stack and writes down the number of his TC. If they match, the latter player signs the first player's TC. The TC's are then compiled by the team captain who fills in a team chip transfer (TCT) form which is a summary of all the team players' chip counts before and after any subsequent transfer of chips to another team player or receipt of chips from another team player. Subsequent chip transfers are completed during the team events as already summarized. These chip transfers are limited in amount according to the rules set by tournament management.

The TCT is provided to the tournament management for approval. Each player should announce any changes that were made in chip allocation to the other players at the table before the tournament resumes. If the tables have dealers, the dealers will make the announcement. The dealer, if present, will also collect all of the chips from the table and redistribute them when he gets the TC from the player.

If the tournament lacks sufficient resources such that chip counts must be based on trust among the players, the chip count is performed as follows. Each player has one TC and counts his chips, filling in the number in the CHIPCOUNT column. The player on his right then counts the first player's chips and signs the TC with his signature, team number and player number. The first player then calculates a percentage of his stack, for example 25% of his stack, and writes down this amount in the 25% column in the TC. Up to this 25% amount (or other percentage amount determined by the tournament management) is brought by the player when he meets the rest of his team to decide on eventual chip transfer. After the chip transfer, the player fills in the NEW STACK column and places the TC on the table beside him. The tournament management collects the TC when the game resumes and updates the total chip count. Before the next break, the tournament cards are distributed again.

The tournament management decides the starting size of the master table, and the master table will be created when the number of remaining teams in the tournament equals the master table starting size. The tournament management also decides whether play on the other tables should continue when it is possible to create a master table, or whether all other tables should be shut down once the master table is created. The steps that are taken every time a team loses a seat, as well as the steps that are taken when play commences at the master table are illustrated in the flow chart shown in FIGS. 5A-5E.

Side tables are formed when the master table is formed, if more than one team has more than one active seat still in the tournament. The number of side tables is dependent on how many active seats the team with the most active seats has, with the maximum number of side tables being the number of active seats held by the team with the greatest number of active seats minus one.

Teams having more than one active seat can decide which player to place at the master table. This is generally decided as part of a team action which is typically allowed at the time of master table formation.

Players are assigned to seats to keep as many seats (players) active as possible. If there is more than one side table, then the side tables are broken as soon as needed and possible. Two players from the same team cannot sit at the same table, and if a seat (player) is alone at a side table, then this seat is on standby. A standby seat means that the team has an active seat that is not playing. The flow chart of FIGS. 6A and 6B illustrates the steps that are taken in forming side tables when the master table is formed.

The tournament management decides if the play on the side tables should be voluntary such that a player on a side table can stand up at any time and hand over his remaining chips to the team player at the master table. For example, when the master table is unbalanced and the tournament is run by not breaking the tables each time a team is “busted” from the master table, the teams still seated at the side tables have the opportunity to decide if they want to continue playing on the side tables or if they want to hand over their chips to the player at the master table.

Various situations can develop at the master table. For example, the master table should always be full such that players from side tables are moved to the master table when their corresponding team member is “busted” from the master table. For example, assume a master table with six seats for teams, 1, 2, 3, 4, 5 and 6. Side table A has seats from teams 1, 2 and 3 still playing. Side table B has seats from teams 1, 4 and 5 still playing. If the seat from team 4 is busted at the master table, the seat from team 4 at side table B is moved to the master table, along with the chips from that side table seat. If team 5 is busted at the master table, the seat from team 5 at side table B is moved up to the master table, along with its associated chips. The chip stack held by the remaining team 1 seat at side table B is moved to the team 1 seat at the master table or, as an alternative, the remaining team 1 seat at side table B could be placed on standby depending upon the rules set up by tournament management.

As a final example, if team 1 is busted at the master table, the team 1 players can choose which of the seats from side tables A or B should be moved up to the master table. However, a team action is generally not allowed following a player bust.

Tournament management sets the rules for how often players can change at the master table. Some examples of times would be when every hand is finished, on the dealer button, or at any other suitable interval.

To enhance the marketability and media attraction of the team poker method according to the present invention, each team is assigned a private “team area” where team strategizing discussions and other exchanges are protected from the other teams while being recorded for broadcasting to television viewers, on-line viewers, etc. This will provide viewers with new insights on how poker players use strategy and how they think.

To increase drama, each team at the master table is also preferably assigned two “time-outs” of two minutes each. These time-outs provide an additional real-time opportunity for team discussions on a particular hand, or for the making of strategic decisions. These time-out discussions are also recorded for broadcast.

During the course of play, the order of the leading team is generally determined based on the number of chips held by the team. As a result, a team having only one seat remaining mid-way through the tournament, while other teams have 3 and 4 seats, can still win the tournament if that one player continues to win. The winning team is that team having the last player/seat standing, i.e., the player/seat who has collected all of the chips.

Alternatively, ranking of the teams may be determined based on the number of seats the team still has in play. This can be useful as it can be very difficult to track chip counts all the time. The ranking could also be based on some combination of chip and seat totals. For example, the number of seats a team still has in play could provide the team's major ranking while that team's chip total denotes its minor ranking.

The method for team poker according to the present invention may also be played online using online poker rooms. Navigation is provided to a special PokerTeamArea which contains information for clubs, teams, general team requests, and poker team tournament information where the actual tournaments are displayed. A “PokerTeamDirectTournament” set up to “play when full” starts as soon as a predetermined number of teams are ready to play. Statistics on previous results from play and including money earned can also be included.

A PokerTeamClient service is also developed that allows communication with the different team members during the game. The client shows the different member's handcards and team member statistics, while also providing a pop up view of the team member's table and allowing text messages and verbal communication between team members. Statistical information on a selected team member can help the team captain understand the situation at a specific table.

Chip transfer and player transfer functionality can also be provided. The team client identifies the different team members by the IP address, Mac address or other unique identification in the computer network and only allows the player assigned to the special table to make real actions, i.e., decisions on check, fold, raise, etc. This means that the action on-line can only be taken by a particular computer. However, this rule has to be decided upon by the tournament management and the on-line poker room.

Functionality in the on-line configuration can also be included for managing the team by pre-planning player exchange and chip transfer so as to support swift execution once these actions are allowed in the structure of the tournament.

The foregoing descriptions and drawings should be considered as illustrative only of the principles of the invention. The invention may be configured in a variety of shapes and sizes and is not limited by the dimensions of the preferred embodiment. Numerous applications of the present invention will readily occur to those skilled in the art. Therefore, it is not desired to limit the invention to the specific examples disclosed or the exact arrangement shown and described. Rather, all suitable modifications and equivalents may be resorted to, falling within the scope of the invention.