Title:
CASINO TABLE GAME
Kind Code:
A1


Abstract:
The “starting position” of play and the order of play are randomized in a card game, such as blackjack. The starting position may be the dealer or any one of the players. If the dealer's hand is played in any position other than last, the players following the dealer receive an advantage by virtue of seeing the dealer's hand played first. Both the starting position and order of play are determined in accordance with the face values of cards that are dealt face up before the beginning of play. A bonus wager is also disclosed in which the players may wager on being in the starting position.



Inventors:
Price-crawford, Gwendolyn J. (Eureka, CA, US)
Application Number:
12/166181
Publication Date:
01/07/2010
Filing Date:
07/01/2008
Primary Class:
International Classes:
A63F1/00
View Patent Images:
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Primary Examiner:
LAYNO, BENJAMIN
Attorney, Agent or Firm:
WOMBLE BOND DICKINSON (US) LLP (ATLANTA, GA, US)
Claims:
What is claimed is:

1. A method of playing a card game wherein each of a plurality of cards has a face value, the method comprising: dealing at least one player's hand of cards, at least one card being dealt face up; dealing a dealer's hand of cards, at least one card being dealt face up; determining a starting position in accordance with the face values of the cards dealt face up, wherein the dealer's position may be the starting position; playing each of the hands in sequence commencing at the starting position; the dealer collecting wagers from players having losing hands into a dealer's account and paying winnings to players having winning hands from the dealer's account.

2. The method of claim 1 wherein the starting position is determined to be a position having a highest valued card dealt face up.

3. The method of claim 1 wherein the dealt player's hand and dealt dealer's hand each consist of two cards.

4. The method of claim 3 wherein both cards of each player's hand are dealt face up.

5. The method of claim 1 wherein the starting position is determined to be a position having a highest valued hand dealt face up.

6. The method of claim 5 wherein hand values are determined in accordance with rules of Poker.

7. The method of claim 1 wherein the card game is blackjack.

8. The method of claim 1 further comprising determining an order of play following the starting position.

9. The method of claim 8 wherein the order of play is sequential around a game layout.

10. The method of claim 8 wherein the order of play is non-sequential.

11. The method of claim 8 wherein the order of play is determined in accordance with the face values of the cards dealt face up.

12. The method of claim 1 further comprising a player placing a bonus wager before any cards are dealt.

13. The method of claim 12 wherein the player placing the bonus wager wins a prize if such player has the starting position.

14. A method of playing a multi-player wagering game comprising: distributing denominated game pieces to each of a plurality of players; determining a first player in accordance with the relative denominations of the game pieces; determining an order of play following the first player, wherein the order of play is randomized.

15. The method of claim 14 wherein the game pieces are playing cards.

16. The method of claim 14 wherein the order of play is sequential around a game layout.

17. The method of claim 14 wherein the order of play is non-sequential.

18. The method of claim 14 wherein the order of play is determined in accordance with the relative denominations of the game pieces.

19. The method of claim 14 further comprising a player placing a bonus wager before any cards are dealt.

20. The method of claim 19 wherein the player placing the bonus wager wins a prize if such player has the starting position.

Description:

BACKGROUND OF THE INVENTION

1. Field of the Invention

The present invention relates to the field of gaming and, in particular, to a modification of a blackjack wagering game.

2. Description of Related Art

“Blackjack”, also called “twenty-one”, is a well known and widely played wagering game. Many variations of the game have been developed. Some examples of modified blackjack games can be found in U.S. Pat. No. 5,154,429 to LeVasseur, U.S. Pat. No. 5,257,810 to Schorr et al., U.S. Pat. No. 5,275,416 to Schorr et al., U.S. Pat. No. 5,288,077 to Jones and U.S. Pat. No. 6,182,969 to Green.

However, the games disclosed in these references fail to provide a means for randomizing the order in which the players' and the dealer's hands are played. In the traditional game of blackjack, each player's hand is played from the seat to the dealer's left in clockwise order before the dealer's hand is played, so that the player to the dealer's left is always in the starting position and the dealer always acts last.

By randomizing the starting position and order of play so that any player or the dealer could potentially be the first to play has a number of positive effects. If the dealer does not play last, all players remaining in play have an advantage because they automatically win when the dealer busts; and when the dealer does not bust, the players can see exactly what their hand value must be in order to win. Further, in cases where the dealer busts and the dealer is not in last position, the game is resolved in the remaining players' favor much faster than when played in traditional order, so the overall pace of the game accelerates. These enhancements increase the players' excitement and enjoyment, which encourages players to play the game more often and for a longer period of time.

Green's variation (U.S. Pat. No. 6,182,969) allows for a simple switch of the starting position (and no change to the order of play), whereby the dealer in a limited number of instances will play first, followed by the players in traditional clockwise order. However, Green points out that it is “important not to provide this advantage too often. If the order of play is reversed too often, the average pay out of the game will be too great and the operator of the game will not make a profit.” Green's solution was to make a reversal statistically unlikely based on a separate “order card” deal, but the rarity of the reversal and the relatively simplistic reversal of play does not create enough anticipation or deviation from standard blackjack to make the game interesting to players over the long term.

What is needed, then, is a novel approach to determining the order of play within the game of blackjack or any blackjack-based card game, where any player or the dealer can become the “starting position”, and the order of play can change based on certain criteria. With the starting position and order of play randomized, the operator has the same rotating odds of advantage as the players, which allows the operator to remain profitable. By only randomizing the starting position and the order of play, while keeping the core game play and rules traditional, the player experiences the attractiveness and comfort of the original blackjack game but now with added excitement.

Further, randomizing the starting position reduces psychological pressure on any particular player to play “1st base” (dealer's left) or “3rd base” (dealer's right) and/or randomizes all preferred positions of play relative to the dealer so that the physical location of the player at the table ceases to be an issue. This will increase player participation, especially at busy times when all seats are at a premium.

SUMMARY OF INVENTION

The present invention provides a method of playing a card game wherein each of a plurality of cards has a face value. The method comprises dealing at least one player's hand of cards, at least one of which is dealt face up; dealing a dealer's hand of cards, at least one of which is dealt face up; determining a starting position in accordance with the face values of the cards dealt face up; and playing each of the hands in sequence commencing at the starting position.

In an exemplary embodiment of the invention, the card game is blackjack or a variation thereof in which each player and the dealer initially receives two cards. The players' cards are both dealt face up, whereas only one of the dealer's cards is dealt face up. After any blackjack hands have been resolved, the starting position is determined based on the face value of the cards that have been dealt face up. If the dealer has the highest valued card, the dealer's position becomes the starting position. If the dealer does not have the highest valued card, the player position having the highest valued two-card hand becomes the starting position. Once the starting position is determined, the order of play may be determined. The order of play may be clockwise from the starting position, counterclockwise or may be non-sequential based on the card values.

By randomizing the starting position and order of play, the dealer's hand will often be played before some or all of the remaining players in the game, thereby giving those players an advantage. If the dealer busts, the game is over and all of the players following the dealer will automatically win no matter what the value of their hands. If the dealer's hand is not a bust, the players' decision whether to hit or stand is made much easier. In this situation, the players must either match the value of the dealer's hand to tie (typically called a “push” in which the player is allowed to keep their existing wager) or exceed the value of the dealer's hand without busting to win. Therefore, if a player sees that the value of his or her hand is less than the dealer's hand, the player must hit in order to push or win the game. Of course, if the player busts, the player will lose the hand.

By providing such an advantage to the players when the dealer plays out their hand in any position other than last, the present invention greatly increases the anticipation and excitement experienced by players. The player's perceive that they have a greater chance of winning and they tend to play the game more often for longer periods of time. The amount of time to complete each game is also potentially shortened when the starting position is closer to the dealer, so that the overall game pace is faster. This also generates more player excitement. All of the foregoing factors increase the income received by the game operator.

Game play in accordance with the present invention may also include an optional bonus wager with a prize being awarded to a player if that player's position becomes the starting position.

BRIEF DESCRIPTION OF THE DRAWINGS

FIG. 1 is a schematic view of a table layout for one embodiment of the present invention.

FIG. 2 is a flow chart of a method for determining direction and order of play in accordance with the present invention.

FIG. 3 is a flow chart of an optional bonus wager of the present invention.

DETAILED DESCRIPTION OF THE INVENTION

In the following description, for purposes of explanation and not limitation, specific details are set forth in order to provide a thorough understanding of the present invention. However, it will be apparent to one skilled in the art that the present invention may be practiced in other embodiments that depart from these specific details. In other instances, detailed descriptions of well-known methods and devices are omitted so as to not obscure the description of the present invention with unnecessary detail.

Table Layout

The methods of the present invention may be implemented on a standard casino gaming table, an example of which is illustrated in FIG. 1. Table 10 has a playing surface, which is laid out with a number of regions for cards and wagers. As is customary, the playing surface is preferably colorful felt but many other surfaces may be used. In the illustrated embodiment, seven player positions 1-7 are provided along the curved edge of table 10. The playing surface may be designed to accommodate any number of players; however, it is difficult for a single dealer to efficiently manage more than seven players.

The embodiment of the invention described herein is a variation on the traditional game of blackjack, which is played with standard playing cards. The game may be played with a single deck of cards; however, it is more common to utilize several decks of cards that are shuffled together and dealt from a “shoe”.

A dealer station 12 is positioned on the straight edge of the table so that the dealer can face each of the players and control the play of the game. Dealer station 12 includes a bank area 14 that may be used to store chips, tokens, coins, or bills. A dealer card area 16 is provided for receiving the dealer's cards.

Each of the player positions 1-7 is provided with an individual card area 1a-7a, respectively, for receiving the player's cards when the game is dealt. The player positions are also provided with standard or contract wager locations 1b-7b and bonus wager locations 1c-7c. The standard wager locations are for receiving standard blackjack wagers and the bonus wager locations are for receiving optional bonus wagers described below. At the beginning of each game or “deal”, each player may place wagers in the form of chips, tokens, coins, or bills in the standard wager locations and, if desired, in the bonus wager locations.

It will be recognized that the present invention is not limited to play on the table layout example shown in FIG. 1. Various layouts and playing surfaces may be used to carry out the present invention. Furthermore, the present invention may be implemented on video gaming machines and computer terminals.

Direction and Order of Play

In traditional blackjack, the direction and order of play is fixed. After the cards have been dealt, the players' hands would be played in order by players 1 through 7 with the dealer's hand being played last. In the present invention, however, the direction and order of play may change with each deal of cards. FIG. 2 is a flow diagram of a game embodying a method for establishing direction and order of play in accordance with the present invention. The process begins at 202 with preparing the table for play. This may include clearing the table of cards and shuffling one or more decks of cards.

At 204, the players place their standard wagers and, if desired their bonus wagers, in accordance with the house rules. The amount and type of the wagers may depend on the type of blackjack, blackjack-based or other game played. For example, some modified blackjack games give players the option of placing multiple proportional bonus wagers for different kinds of bonuses or prizes. The present invention may be used with most if not all of these modified blackjack games. The described embodiment, however, is based on the traditional game of blackjack, but may incorporate an optional bonus wager as will be discussed below.

Proceeding to 206, once the players have placed their wagers, the dealer then deals a hand of cards. In the traditional game of blackjack, two cards are dealt to each player to form the players' hands and two cards are dealt to the dealer to form the dealer's hand. In the present invention, at least one and preferably both of the cards dealt to the players is dealt face up, and at least one of the cards dealt to the dealer is dealt face up. This allows all of the players and the dealer to observe the cards that are face up for the purpose of determining the direction and order of play.

As indicated at 208, if the dealer has an Ace showing, the dealer offers all players “insurance” against dealer blackjack at 210 according to traditional blackjack rules. After offering insurance to the players, the dealer determines whether the dealer's hand is blackjack at 212. If the dealer has blackjack, there is no further play and the dealer resolves all wagers at 232. The standard wagers are resolved according to the rules of standard blackjack.

If the dealer does not have an Ace showing, but instead has a 10-point value card showing (214), insurance is not offered and the dealer checks for blackjack at 212. If the dealer has blackjack, there is no further play and the dealer resolves all wagers at 232.

If the dealer does not have blackjack, but one or more of the players has blackjack showing (216), the dealer resolves the wagers of those players at 218 by paying winnings in accordance with the house rules.

In the present invention, the “starting position” and the order of play for the remainder of game play is then decided at 220. A hierarchy of card and hand values is used to decide the starting position and order of play. Card and hand values are preferably determined utilizing traditional Poker values. Individual cards are ranked in value from highest to lowest: Ace, King, Queen, Jack, 10, 9, 8, 7, 6, 5, 4, 3, 2, as is traditional. Suits are ranked in value from highest to lowest: Spades, Diamonds, Clubs, Hearts. Therefore, the Ace of Spades is the highest value card and the Deuce of Hearts is the lowest value card. However, it will be recognized that other hierarchies may be established for ranking the players' hands. Furthermore, the present invention may be practiced with other means, such as a random number generator, to determine the starting position and order of play.

If only one card is dealt face up to the players, the starting position may be determined based on the values of the individual cards showing. If both of the players' cards are dealt face up, the starting position is determined based on the value of the players' two-card hands, which are also ranked according to traditional Poker hierarchy. A pair of Aces, both Spades, would be the highest ranking hand, followed by pairs of Aces in Diamonds, Clubs and Hearts, followed by pairs of Aces of mismatched suits and so on down to the lowest ranked hand comprising a Three of Hearts and a Deuce of Clubs.

In traditional blackjack, the dealer's hand will contain one card that is dealt face up and one card that is dealt face down. Therefore, only the card showing would be used to determine the starting position. However, it will be recognized that in at least one modified game of blackjack, both of the dealer's cards are dealt face up. In this instance, both cards comprising the dealer's hand will be ranked and compared to the players' hands to determine the starting position.

Continuing with the exemplary embodiment of the invention wherein both players' cards are dealt face up and only one of the dealer's cards is dealt face up, the dealer's position would be the starting position if the dealer has the highest single card value of any card showing on the table after the cards are dealt. If the dealer does not have the highest single card value showing on the table, then the starting position is decided in favor of the player with the highest valued hand. Where card and/or hand values are exactly the same for two or more players, the starting position may be determined in favor of the first player with the highest valued hand positioned clockwise from the dealer's left.

STARTING POSITION DETERMINATION EXAMPLE 1

DealerKing of Spades (no blackjack)
Player 12, 4
Player 23, 6
Player 34, 7
Player 43, 9
Player 58, J
Player 62, King of Hearts
Player 73, Q

The dealer has the highest card value showing on the table. Therefore, the dealer's position is the starting position.

STARTING POSITION DETERMINATION EXAMPLE 2

Dealer10 of Hearts (no blackjack)
Player 12, 4
Player 23, 6
Player 34, 7
Player 43, 9
Player 58, J
Player 6J, A
Player 73, 10 of Hearts

Player 6 has blackjack, so the dealer first resolves player 6's wagers. From there, the dealer has tied player 7 in card value, but since player 7 has another card (a 3), player 7 has the highest hand value. Therefore, player 7's position is the starting position.

Randomizing the starting position is an important new variation on the game of blackjack. It reduces the psychological pressure on any particular player to consistently play “1st base” or “3rd base” (player positions 1 and 7, respectively). In traditional blackjack, these positions inherently have an additional layer of playing skill and/or fellow player expectation pressure because of their relationship to the dealer in the traditional order of play. Randomizing the starting position makes the player's physical seat location at the table no longer an issue. This increases player participation, especially at busy times when all seats are at a premium.

After the starting position has been determined, in cases where starting position is not the dealer, the dealer resolves all bonus wagers and pays the appropriate prize(s) as described below.

Once the starting position is determined, the order of play may also be determined. In one variation, the order of play may simply be clockwise, beginning with the starting position and continuing to the dealer's right from the starting position, each player playing out their hand in sequence, including the dealer within the order of play. Alternatively, the order of play may be determined, changed or varied based on a hierarchy of card and/or hand values. Thus, the order of play may also be varied to include play sequentially in a counterclockwise direction and/or a non-sequential order based on the players' and dealer's card/hand values.

DIRECTION OF PLAY DETERMINATION EXAMPLE

Dealer9
Player 12, 4
Player 23, 6
Player 34, Q
Player 43, 8
Player 57, 10
Player 62, A
Player 73, 5

In this example, the order of play is determined to be non-sequential based on the relative rankings of the card/hand values. Therefore, the order of play is: player 6, player 3, player 5, dealer, player 4, player 2, player 7, and finally player 1.

Various methods may be used to determine the order of play other than card/hand values. For example, the order of play may be determined by card values only within a particular suit. As another example, sequential play could be alternated each game between clockwise and counterclockwise. As a further example, the dealer's card, or an additional card drawn and revealed by the dealer, may be used to determine the order of play, the particular order being determined by the card's value, suit or color. As a particular example, the order of play may be clockwise from the starting position if the dealer's exposed card is black and counterclockwise if the card is red.

Including the dealer's position in both the starting position determination and in the order of play determination is a significant new variation on the traditional game of blackjack. If the dealer's position becomes the starting position or is in any position other than last to play (as is traditional), this has the potential to improve the players' odds of winning. If the dealer exceeds 21 points (i.e., “busts”) while playing out his or her hand, this provides an advantage to players in following positions since they will win their wagers without risk of additional wagering and/or busting while playing out their hand. Further, if the dealer does not bust (again, in any playing position except last), all of the remaining players who have yet to play their hands will then know exactly how many points the dealer has and how many points their hand must have to win. Thus, they can determine with certainty whether they can stand with the cards they have or whether they must hit to improve their hands. In the example given above, players 6, 3 and 5 must play their hands not knowing the dealer's hand, as is the case in traditional blackjack. However, players 4, 2, 7, and 1 will have the benefit of knowing the dealer's final score and can play their hands accordingly. Furthermore, if the dealer busts, players 4, 2, 7 and 1 will win their wagers automatically without drawing additional cards.

It should be noted that when the starting position is closer to the dealer's turn to play, the possibility of the dealer busting potentially shortens the total duration of game time, so that the overall pace is potentially faster, which generates more player excitement.

Referring again to FIG. 2, after the starting position and order of play are determined at 220, the player (or dealer) in the starting position plays his or her hand, and play continues in the predetermined order of play until it is the dealer's turn. If the dealer busts, there is no further play and the dealer resolves all wagers at 232. If the dealer does not bust, play continues through the predetermined order of play until all of the player's hands are completed and all wagers have been resolved. At this point the game cycle may repeat and an indefinite number of games may be played.

Playing a hand means either “hitting” or “standing.” Hitting means adding cards to the hand, while standing means leaving the hand as is without adding any further cards to the hand. After hitting, a hand may “bust” which means that the value of the hand exceeds twenty-one. If a hand busts, the hand is a losing hand. If a hand does not bust, the holder of the hand may hit again or stand. Whether the dealer hits or stands usually depends on the house rules. For example, the dealer may be required to hit when the dealer hand has a value lower than 17 and the dealer may be required to stand when the dealer hand has a value of 17 or more.

Bonus Wager

FIG. 3 is a flow diagram of the bonus wagering of the present invention. The bonus wagering may be included in the modified blackjack game illustrated in FIG. 2 and discussed above. The bonus wagering may also be incorporated into the play of traditional blackjack or other modified versions of the game. In the embodiment of the present invention described above, the bonus wager may be placed on bonus wager locations 1c-7c shown in FIG. 1. The bonus wager may be optional or required to participate in the game.

In one embodiment, the bonus wager is a bet that the player's position will become the “starting position” as determined in accordance with the foregoing description. At 302, the dealer determines whether the player placed the bonus wager. If the player did not place the bonus wager, and the bonus wager is optional, the game would continue. If the player did not place the bonus wager and the bonus wager is required to participate, the dealer would request the player place the bonus wager. Once the bonus wager is placed appropriately, the cards are dealt as described above—two cards forming each player's hand, both cards being dealt face up, and two cards forming the dealer's hand, only one of the cards being dealt face up. The starting position is determined by the winning hand based on a predetermined hierarchy of card ranking and player and dealer card or hand values as described above. The dealer awards the bonus prize to the starting position player if the player placed a bonus wager (314). Where winning hand values are exactly the same for two or more players, all players who possess the winning hand combination and who have placed the related bonus wager are awarded a prize.

The amount of the bonus wager may be determined by the house rules. In one embodiment, the bonus wager amount may be defined as the equivalent of the table's standard or contract wager minimum, and the bonus wager prize may be paid in the proportion of one to one. For example, if the player placed a five-dollar bonus wager and the player won, the player would be paid a prize of five dollars. In addition, the bonus wager prize paid to the player may also be increased or decreased based on any criteria assigned to the combination of cards in the player's hand. For example, if both cards of the winning starting position hand are of the same suit, the prize may be increased, for example doubled.

The present invention has been described in the context of a card game based on traditional blackjack. It should be understood that the invention may also be applied to non-standard versions of blackjack and to card games other than blackjack. Furthermore, the invention may be applied to games other than games using standard playing cards. Thus, starting position and order of play may be determined in accordance with the present invention in other games that employ game pieces or tokens with assigned values or denominations.

In general, it will be recognized that the above-described invention may be embodied in other specific forms without departing from the spirit or essential characteristics of the disclosure. Thus, it is understood that the invention is not to be limited by the foregoing illustrative details, but rather is to be defined by the appended claims.