Title:
LIVE CARD PLAYING STATION
Kind Code:
A1


Abstract:
A system and method for enabling an individual to remotely participate in an actual casino card game, such as Poker, Blackjack and the like. A card playing station is provided that is integrated or interconnected with a conventional card table that is capable of being operatively interconnected to a remote computer via a secure, preferably web-based communications link. The card playing station is provided with means such as web cams to view the casino environment and enable the participant to remotely interact with the dealer and other players. The card playing station is further provided with means for receiving, reading and discharging playing cards, as well as waging bets and tallying gains and/or losses. The systems and methods thus enable the participant to actually play in a conventional casino-style environment and further afford the participant the opportunity to participate in gaming in virtually any casino throughout the world.



Inventors:
Hatamian, Mehdi (Coto De Caza, CA, US)
Tehrani, Hassan Moshrefazad (Burbank, CA, US)
Application Number:
12/431478
Publication Date:
08/20/2009
Filing Date:
04/28/2009
Primary Class:
Other Classes:
463/42
International Classes:
A63F9/24
View Patent Images:
Related US Applications:



Primary Examiner:
GRAY, BRANDON RAMON
Attorney, Agent or Firm:
Mehdi Hatamian (Irvine, CA, US)
Claims:
What is claimed is:

1. A card playing station operative to enable an individual to participate remotely in a card game by means of a personal computer associated with the individual, the station comprising: a housing adapted to be received upon or within a conventional card playing table, the housing having a communications link for connecting with said personal computer of said individual; means for receiving at least one playing card and transmitting information associated with at least one playing card to said personal computer associated with said individual; and means integrated with said housing for enabling said remote individual to wager bets and make playing card gaming decisions through said personal computer to said housing via said communications link in response to a card game being conducted on said card playing table.

2. The card playing station of claim 1 wherein said card playing station is provided with a card reader/scanner for providing information associated with said at least one playing card to said personal computer.

3. The card playing station of claim 1 wherein said communications link comprises a secure web-based communications link.

4. The card playing station of claim 1 further comprising a visual display having at least one webcam associated therewith for enabling said remote individual and any players associated with the card game being conducted on said card table to view and interact with one another.

5. The card playing station of claim 4 further comprising means for tallying and keeping track of gains or losses accumulated by said remote individual from said remote individual's gaming activities associated with the individual's card playing activity.

6. The card playing station of claim 5 wherein said system further comprises means for crediting or debiting a credit card or an account with sums commensurate with gains or losses accumulated by said remote individual via wagering made by said individual.

7. The card playing station of claim 1 wherein said card playing station and card playing table associated therewith are operated in a casino.

8. A method for conducting a casino-type card game involving at least one remote participant, said method comprising the steps: a. providing a casino-type card table with a live dealer; b. providing a card playing station, said card playing station comprising: a housing adapted to be received upon or within a conventional card playing table, the housing having a communications link for connecting with a personal computer of a remote participant; means for receiving at least one playing card and transmitting information associated with said at least one playing card to a personal computer; and means integrated with said housing for enabling said remote participant to wager bets and make playing card gaming decisions in response to a card game being conducted on said card playing table; c. providing a remote participant having a personal computer associated with said remote participant; d. establishing a communications link between said personal computer of said remote participant in step (c) with said remote playing card station of step (b); and e. engaging in a casino-type card game involving said dealer and said remote participant by means of interaction through said card playing station, on one hand, and said remote participant's personal computer, on the other hand.

9. The method of claim 8 wherein said casino-type card game is selected from the group consisting of Blackjack, Poker and Texas Hold 'Em.

Description:

CROSS-REFERENCE TO RELATED APPLICATIONS

Not Applicable

STATEMENT RE: FEDERALLY SPONSORED RESEARCH/DEVELOPMENT

Not Applicable

BACKGROUND

The present invention is directed to systems and methods for enabling remote participation in a casino-type card game, such as Blackjack or Poker, in a casino environment.

Gaming and gambling, and in particular casino-style games, have been dramatically increasing in popularity in both the United States and internationally. In this regard, many states and countries expanded legalized gaming, as exemplified by an explosion in the opening of Native American casinos in the United States. There has likewise been an exponential increase in on-line gaming and gambling.

Among the most well-known of the casino-style games include card games such as Blackjack, Poker and Texas Hold 'Em. Typically, however, if an individual wishes to participate in such a card game, she or he is essentially left with two options, namely, (1) actual participation at a casino, typically at a card table with dealer and other card players; or (2) playing on-line through an interactive website whereby servers coordinate and conduct casino-style card games among on-line participants and/or thoroughly automated, algorithm-driven processes.

Problematic with the former option is that it requires the would-be participant to actually be physically present in a casino, which is often impractical or impossible. This is especially true given the highly regulated nature of the gaming industry, which typically provides for very limited zoning where casinos can lawfully operate.

On-line gaming also has significant disadvantages. Perhaps of most concern with on-line gaming is the lack of regulation associated with such activity, especially given the remote nature by which such activity is conducted, which may include off-shore server and website operations. There is likewise no way to verify the processes and procedures implemented in on-line gaming and there are no assurances that the various programs and algorithms executing the on-line gaming activity will provide the same “odds” and known statistical risks that are frequently relied upon by gaming participants when making gaming decisions or formulating gaming strategy as occurs in an actual live card game.

Accordingly, there is a substantial need in the art for a system and method that can enable an individual to remotely participate in an actual “live” card game that takes place in a legal casino environment to thus afford the participant to play according to conventional, casino-style gaming practices. There is further a need in the art for such a system and method that is easy to deploy, capable of being readily utilized in connection with conventional computers via web-based interconnection, and further can be regulated per conventional casino gaming practices. There is further a need for such a system and method that can afford a participant the opportunity to participate in gaming in virtually every type of casino anywhere in the world to thus afford the participant an actual casino experience in a casino environment, as opposed to on-line gaming practices currently in use.

BRIEF SUMMARY

The present invention specifically addresses and alleviates the above-identified deficiencies in the art. In this regard, the present invention is directed to a system and method that can enable a participant to remotely play in an actual casino card game, such as Blackjack, Poker, Texas Hold 'Em, and any other card game that is known and/or later developed. According to a preferred embodiment, the invention incorporates the use of a card playing station that is either integrated with or interconnectable to a conventional card playing table. The card playing station will be operatively configured to establish a secure communications link with a computer associated with the participant, which will typically comprise a personal computer or the like, and thus enable the participant to interact with the card playing station. With respect to the latter, the same will further preferably be provided with web cams and the like to thus enable the participant to readily view the casino environment and interact directly with a live dealer and other card players. Along these lines, it is contemplated that multiple web cams or the like will be provided to thus enable the participant to choose, at his or her option, various angles or perspectives throughout the casino. In this regard, one aspect of the invention is to provide the remote participant with the ability to experience a live card game in virtually any type of casino of the participant's choosing, whether it be in Las Vegas, Monte Carlo, Atlantic City, or the like.

The card playing station will further be provided with means for receiving, reading and discarding playing cards fed thereto from the dealer. In this regard, it is contemplated that conventional technology will be utilized to thus enable the participant to read the “hand” that is dealt to him or to her, and allow the participant to make gaming decisions in real time as would occur in the live card game. The card playing station will further preferably be provided with means for making wagers, such as through the use of poker chips, and the like, as well as means to keep a running total of monies that are made or lost by the participant. Optionally, the card playing station may be configured with mechanical mechanisms that are operative to receive playing cards and poker chips as would be dealt to an individual playing in the live card game, as well as mechanisms to enable the remote player to physically manipulate the playing cards dealt at the table, such as by flipping playing cards, bending the playing cards to get a “sneak peek” or otherwise discarding or throwing the playing cards back to the dealer and for physically presenting chips in support of a wager or receiving chips won in the card game. Along these lines, it is contemplated that the interactive card playing station may be utilized to thus enable combinations of live and remote players to concurrently play card games at a casino. In addition, because a card game will actually be a live card game conducted by a dealer utilizing standard decks of cards and the like, the odds and statistical probabilities will be consistent per conventional, well-established gaming practices.

BRIEF DESCRIPTION OF THE DRAWINGS

These and other features and advantages of the various embodiments disclosed herein will be better understood with respect to the following description and drawings, in which like numbers refer to like parts throughout, and in which:

FIG. 1 is a perspective illustration showing the remote participation of an individual in a live, casino-based card game via the use of a card playing station constructed in accordance with a preferred embodiment of the present invention.

FIG. 2 is a perspective view of a live card playing station constructed in accordance with a preferred embodiment for use in practicing the present invention.

FIG. 3 is a rear perspective view of the live card playing station depicted in FIG. 2.

FIG. 4 is a perspective illustration of a live card playing station constructed in accordance with a second preferred embodiment for use in practicing the present invention.

DETAILED DESCRIPTION

The above description is given by way of example, and not limitation. Given the above disclosure, one skilled in the art could devise variations that are within the scope and spirit of the invention disclosed herein, including various ways of conducting casino-type card games that can include one or more remote players. Further, the various features of the embodiments disclosed herein can be used alone, or in varying combinations with each other and are not intended to be limited to the specific combination described herein. Thus, the scope of the claims is not to be limited by the illustrated embodiments.

Referring now to the figures, and initially to FIG. 1, there is shown a system and method 10 whereby an individual 12 can remotely participate in a live casino-type card game. In this regard, the present invention specifically enables an individual 12 to remotely participate in an actual casino card game, such as Poker, Blackjack, Texas Hold 'Em and the like. Along these lines, it will be readily understood by those skilled in the art that the live card game within which the remote individual may participate may take any card game known or later developed.

As per such conventional casino-type card games, there will be provided a live dealer 14 and a conventional card table 16, the latter providing means to receive one or more actual players 18, 20, 22 and defining a card playing surface 24 upon which cards may be shuffled and dealt and for receiving and dispensing wages, typically in the form of poker chips and the like as shown. Along these lines, the present invention is specifically directed to conventional casino-type card games and is meant to be readily integrated as part of an existing casino infrastructure, particularly with respect to the design and layout of card playing tables 16 as illustrated.

Unlike conventional casinos, however, there will be provided a live card playing station 26, the latter being operatively associated with a local server and databases 28 and interconnectable, via a communications link 30, to the remote individual 12. In this respect, it is contemplated that through the individual's personal computer 32, the communications link 30 will be established, which will preferably be a web-based communications link, to thus enable the participant to interact with and control the remote card playing station 26. To that end, it is contemplated that the local servers and databases 28 associated with the live card playing station 26 will be operative to establish the communications link 30 with the remote participant and, using known technology available to one skilled in the art, will enable the remote participant 12 to participate in the live card game, via the card playing station 26, and thus make all decisions attendant thereto, such as placing bets and playing a hand of cards, including decisions related to receiving and discarding cards as occurs in numerous card playing games, such as Poker. More detailed aspects of this arrangement are discussed more fully below.

Ideally, the systems and methods of the present invention will thus enable the participant 12 to remotely participate in live card games as they actually take place in casinos. To enhance that experience, it is contemplated that the card playing station 26 will be provided with means, such as web cams, cameras and the like, to view the casino environment from various perspectives and enable the participant 12 to directly interact with the dealer 14 and other players 18, 20, 22. Along these lines, it is contemplated that the systems and methods of the present invention can directly enable a participant 12 anywhere in the world to participate in card games taking place in any casino adapted with the card playing stations discussed herein, whether it be Las Vegas, Monte Carlo or Atlantic City. Accordingly, the systems and methods of the present invention can provide means to directly enable an individual 12 to directly participate in a card game in virtually any type of casino anywhere in the world at any time without requiring the individual to actually be there.

Referring now to FIGS. 2-4, and initially to FIGS. 2-3, there is shown a card playing station 26 constructed in accordance with a preferred embodiment of the present invention. The card playing station 26 will comprise a housing 26a that is operative to be integrated or interconnectable with a conventional card playing table and will be provided with means for receiving, reading and discharging playing cards, as well as waging bets and tallying gains and/or losses. To that end, it is contemplated that the card playing station 26 will be provided with a card reader/scanner 34 that will provide means for the live dealer to place cards 36 on the station 26 and enable data associated with those cards (i.e., suit of card, card value, etc.) to be made available to the remote participant without compromising or making vulnerable the information associated with those cards to the other players and the dealer. In this regard, by using technology well-known to those skilled in the art, merely placing the cards 36 on the card reader/scanner 34 will provide means to transmit information associated with the playing cards to the remote participant without divulging such information to other players. The card reader/scanner 34 will likewise be operative to receive that data and transmit the data in a secure fashion, to the remote participant which will show up on the participant's computer monitor.

To enable the remote participant and the dealer and other participants in the card game to interact with one another, there are provided cameras 38, and preferably webcams, to thus enable the dealer and other players to see the remote participant, on one hand, and enable the remote participant to see the dealer and players on the other hand. To facilitate that end, as shown in FIG. 3, the viewing screen 26a will preferably be designed to be rotational in nature and thus afford all players the opportunity to view the remote participant, his or her gambling decisions, and the like. Along these lines, it is preferred that the display 26a of the remote participant and the hand the participant is dealt be viewed according to a touch screen or displayed via a touch screen as may be necessary or ideal for the dealer to withdraw, replace and/or discard specific types of cards that have been dealt to the remote participant via the station 26, as well as enable the other live participants to view the actions of the remote participant. In this regard, the touch screen can enable the dealer to confirm the commands of the remote participant and ensure that the integrity of the card game is kept in tact despite the remote nature of the participation.

The live card playing station 26 will further preferably be provided with means for waging bets and tallying gains and/or losses. In this respect, and as is well-known in the art and utilized extensively in connection with on-line gaming, it is contemplated that the ability to make wagers will be contingent upon the remote participant “banking” or otherwise securing funds to place wagers, as may be secured via the use of a credit card establishing an account or other techniques well-known to those skilled in the art. Specifically, it is contemplated that when the remote participant logs on to the remote card playing station 26, the remote participant will be prompted to provide a credit card or other like means to thus secure the funds necessary for the participant to make wagers of a certain amount. Through techniques well-known in the art, it is contemplated that a credit card or account set up for the participant may either be credited or debited those amounts made and/or lost through the interactive gaming provided by the present invention.

Referring now to FIG. 4, there is shown an alternative embodiment 40 of a card playing used in the practice of the present invention. As illustrated, the card playing station is provided with a housing 40a, a display device 40b, and cameras 42, similar to the embodiment depicted in FIGS. 2 and 3, which enables the remote participant to view the casino environment and remotely interact with the dealer and other players. The card playing station 40 will further be provided with means for waging bets and tallying gains and/or losses, as well as providing means for the remote participant to contribute funds to be wagered via the secured communications link, as discussed above.

In the embodiment depicted, however, the card station 40 is provided with individual card reader/card scanners 44 for use in receiving, reading and discharging individual playing cards 46. In this regard, it is contemplated that the card playing station 40 will be operative to receive individual cards 46 dealt by the dealer, which are kept internally within the card playing station housing 40a and discarded either by decision of the remote participant or at the conclusion of the particular game. In this regard, the embodiment depicted seeks to provide a more secure and confidential housing 40a within which cards may be dealt to thus preserve the integrity of the card playing game. However, per the embodiment discussed above, it is contemplated that the same functionality will be provided insofar as the card playing station will be operative to receive playing cards and transmit, in a secure fashion, all data related thereto to the remote participant and, in turn, enable the remote participant to make decisions related to the hand that is dealt to her or him.

Along these lines, it is contemplated that the remote card playing stations utilized in the practice of the present invention may be either designed to be detachably fastenable to conventional playing card tables or integrated therewith. It is further contemplated that multiple card playing stations may be provided for a single card table so that multiple remote participants can play in a live casino card game. It will further be readily appreciated and understood by those skilled in the art that, by virtue of the on-line nature by which the remote participant can play in the card game, such remote interconnection may be subject to monitoring or any other type of regulatory restrictions as may apply to permit such on-line participation to comply with any and all applicable gambling regulations. Moreover, it is contemplated that the remote card playing stations may be integrated with servers and databases that provide means to screen and restrict authorization to allow participants to play only upon meeting certain criteria, such as permissible locale where gaming is approved, whether the individual is of legal age to gamble, and the like. There will also be provided means to regulate the gain and/or loss of the participant, especially with respect to any type of applicable taxes or the like that must be levied. For example, to the extent a particular player has winnings over a particular sum (e.g., ten thousand dollars ($10,000.00)), the systems and methods of the present invention may provide an alert notification to the applicable tax authority/casino operator to ensure that all adequate safeguards must be met in terms of taxation issues, as well as routing of winnings to a remote participant.

It is particularly contemplated that utilizing a card playing station in conjunction with a live, traditionally-operated casino game, will thus enable a true casino-type card game to be conducted and not rely upon the operation of gaming algorithms and computer-based operation of casino-type card games, thereby preserving the authenticity of the gaming experience. To enhance such experience for not only the remote participant but also dealer and other players physically present at the card table, it will be understood that there may be optionally provided mechanical mechanisms, such as robotics, vacuum/suction devices, card holding mechanisms and numerous types of mechanical and optical devices that may be readily integrated as part of the card playing station to thus enable playing cards, poker chips and the like to be dealt to the playing station as the dealer would to any given individual physically present at the card playing table. Along these lines, it is contemplated that the dealer need only deal cards and/or provide poker chips to or take poker chips away from the particular station as the dealer would for any given participant playing at the card table. Such mechanical devices and the like may further provide means for the remote player to make motions regarding the manipulation of playing cards and/or poker chips as would occur if the remote participant were actually playing at the card table. For example, it would be readily appreciated by those skilled in the art that mechanisms could be deployed that could enable the card playing station to take in cards that are dealt by the dealer, assemble and organize such cards and optically scan the same as the remote participant would do while holding the cards by hand. Such mechanical mechanisms would further enable the remote participant to engage in other like motions, such as take a “sneak peek” at cards, flip cards, present a hand of cards and/or discard or throw back playing cards to the dealer, as would occur in a live card game. Such mechanisms would likewise provide for the mechanical manipulation of poker chips, whether it be physically presenting one or more chips as part of a wager or otherwise taking in poker chips as may result from the remote player's winning hand. Other motions and gestures would be readily known and appreciated by those skilled in the art, as well as the mechanical and optical devices that may be readily deployed to facilitate the same. In all such instances, it should be understood that such devices will be deployed to enhance the realistic look and feel of the card game for both the remote participant and the players and dealer physically present at the card table.

Accordingly, it will be understood that additional modifications and improvements of the present invention may also be apparent to those of ordinary skill in the art. Thus, the particular combination of parts and steps described and illustrated herein is intended to represent only certain embodiments of the present invention, and is not intended to serve as limitations of alternative devices and methods within the spirit and scope of the invention.