When game developers create new table games, the first look usually is at poker. Poker-based games usually are easy to learn and easy to deal, and have proven to attract players with success such as three-card poker, Caribbean Stud and Texas Hold’em Bonus Poker.
So it was no surprise at October’s Global Gaming Expo in Las Vegas that new table games had a heavy poker lean. SHFL Entertainment -- the company formerly known as Shuffle Master, the leading distributor of new table games -- showed four new poker games. Face Up Stud Poker features heads-up play against the dealer, an optional Trips bet and a progressive bet. Players get to see all the dealer’s cards before deciding to play or fold, and winners get bigger payoffs when the dealer’s hand is stronger.
Raise It Up Stud Poker is a six-card poker game where the player combines his own three cards with three community cards. The object is to make a hand of a pair of 10s or better. The hand starts with equal wagers on ante and blind. At the same time, you can choose whether to make the optional Pair Plus bet. Pair Plus is the same as in three-card poker, paying off on any pair or better.
You then are dealt three cards, and three community cards are dealt face down in the middle of the table. After you look at your cards, you may make a “play” bet of three times your ante. If you wait until seeing the first community card, you can play for twice your ante. After seeing the second card, if you haven’t already made the play, you can either fold or play for a bet equal to your ante.
If you’re dealt a winner, then you can take full advantage with a 3x play bet. If not, you get free looks at your cards and the first community card, and don’t have to make a play/fold decision until after the second community card.
Other SHFL poker games include Three Card Mulligan, a take on three-card poker in which players have an option to replace their initial hand, and 6 Card Fortune Pai Gow Poker, a variation on the seven-card Fortune Pai Gow game involving a five-card high hand and a one-card low hand.
Galaxy Gaming showed Two Way Hold’em, where players not only can win when their hand beats the dealer, the dealer’s hand can win for them. There are two bonus bets, the Two Way bet and the Trips Plus bet. Trips Plus pays off on any three-of-a-kind or better, while Two Way pays off with a straight or better in either the player’s hand or the dealer’s.
DigiDeal, which has made its name with electronic table games, is going the felt table route with Pik-It Poker. Pik-It was introduced as an electronic game last year, and drew a strong response, so the felt version was added. It’s a two-tiered game that involves both play against the dealer and a bonus bet against a pay table. After seeing their five cards, players make a choice of whether to play a five-card game or a three-card game with their best three.
One non-poker game that caught my eye was called BJ-Bac, from Toke Gaming Corp. As the name suggests, it’s a hybrid of blackjack and baccarat. The game is blackjack, but as in baccarat, only two hands are dealt -- a player hand and a banker hand. You can bet on player, banker or tie, just as in baccarat. And there’s an optional side bet on the first four cards out of the shoe.
The banker hand hits on 16 and below, and stands on 17 and above, just like blackjack. And the dealer plays out the player hand according to a basic strategy chart. There are double down and pair splitting opportunities, but you don’t have to make the extra bets to get a decision on the hand. With only two hands, the game moves fast, something casino operators will like.
One tip for players: Avoid the tie bet. The house edge is lower on either banker or player.
Another non-poker newbie is Riverboat Roulette from Double Luck Gaming. It creates multiple-spin wagers, a la craps. A traditional wheel has different colors in the spaces between frets, where the ball falls. The numbers themselves still are on red and black backgrounds -- with green for 0 and 00, so you can still make all the traditional roulette bets. But you also can bet on the three light blue numbers, the four purple numbers -- seven colors in all. Bets on colors pay odds -- 2-1 on light blue or 8-5 on purple, for example -- but non-winners push and stay in action if the winning color is anything but white. They lose only if one the ball drops in one of the eight white numbers.
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