2006 Global Gaming Expo report - part 6

9 January 2007

If any walk through a casino slot floor wasn't convincing enough, the annual Global Gaming Expo sends one message loud and clear: IGT is the king of video poker.

In my reports from G2E, I've written about Guaranteed Play Video Poker and a number of new Multi-Strike games, all distributed by IGT. Impressive as those games were, they weren't all there was to offer from IGT, which makes the large majority of video poker games you see on casino floors.

Wild cards, bonuses and a little mystery are part of the fun of playing, and IGT enhances the entertainment value in video poker with these new games:

**Wild Thing Poker is three games in one, with changing wild cards. First the player wagers on a three-card hand, with 3s being wild. Then there's the option of continuing with two more cards with 5s wild, and finally two more cards for a seven-card hand with 7s wild. After the first three cards, it's entirely up to the player whether to continue with additional wagers. If you're dealt 5s or 7s in the first three cards, you might not win at first, but you have a head start on later hands. And if you cash out a big hand-paid jackpot, it's back to the '60s as the Troggs rock out with "Wild Thing."

**Super Triple Play Draw Poker is just like the Triple Play/Five Play games we've been playing for years, but with an added feature. A sixth coin wagered per line doubles or triples the payoffs on four of a kind hands, adding volatility for players who like to go for the big one.

**Ultimate Four of a Kind Poker also puts the emphasis on quads. Your maximum bet here is six coins instead of five, but when you hit four of a kind, you not only get the standard payoff, you go to a pick-'em-style second-screen bonus round for extra rewards.

**Still on the four of a kind trail, Wheel Poker is a Triple Play/Five Play game where four of a kind triggers a bonus wheel, with bonuses worth anywhere from 100 to 2,000 credits. A dealt four of a kind can give you five bonus wheel spins at once. Quads happen often enough to make the bonuses attainable --- about once per 400 to 500 hands, depending on game and strategy, as opposed to once per 40,000 hands for a royal. The bigger payoffs on attainable hands add excitement to the game.

**Random Rewards Poker makes all the payoffs from a flush through straight flush a mystery. It's a single-hand game, with a six-coin maximum wager. That sixth coin triggers the mystery feature. As I tested the game at G2E, on one hand four of a kind was worth 263 coins, just 13 over the standard payoff, but on the next was worth 630. On some hands, lower ranking, more frequently occurring hands are worth more than hands higher up the ladder. If you're in the right place at the right time, a flush or full house can be a real bankroll-padder.

As with most of the new games at Global Gaming Expo, it'll be a few months before we start to see these games in casino, and we're likely to see them on a trip to Las Vegas before we see them on a trip to Joliet or Gary. Still, fun times are coming for video poker players … and I look forward to a little "Wild Thing" with my jackpot.


Next week, in the last of my reports from G2E, I'm going to take a look at new table games. Before I moved onto the games themselves, I just wanted to get in a word about PokerTek's Ultimate Heads-Up Battle version of its Poker Pro electronic poker tables.

The full-size Poker Pro has been successful in carving a niche in poker rooms. Cards are dealt electronically, and you wager at the touch of a screen. Touch the face-down cards in front of you, and the corners "bend" up to give you a peek. Managers like Poker Pro because games move faster with more hands per hour than with a human dealer, and because there are fewer disputes and no mistakes in payoffs.

The Heads Up version will give operators something they can't offer with human dealers. Players used to playing on the Internet can get one-on-one games that casino card rooms can't afford to offer. It costs too much, with too low a house take, to take up dealer time for a two-player table. With Poker Pro's Heads-Up version, it gives casinos the option of offering a game they know is popular.

Listen to John Grochowski's "Beat the Odds" tips Saturdays at 6:20 a.m., 2:50 p.m. and 7:41 p.m. and Sundays at 8:20 a.m., 2:50 p.m. and 10:42 p.m. on WBBM-AM, News Radio 780 in Chicago, streaming online at www.wbbm780.com, and to his casino talk show from 7 to 8 p.m. Saturday on WCKG-FM (105.9), streaming at http://1059freefm.com.

Related Links
Global Gaming Expo (G2E) 2006

This article is provided by the Frank Scoblete Network. Melissa A. Kaplan is the network's managing editor. If you would like to use this article on your website, please contact Casino City Press, the exclusive web syndication outlet for the Frank Scoblete Network. To contact Frank, please e-mail him at fscobe@optonline.net.