2011 Global Gaming Expo, part 3

1 November 2011

Casinos are always looking for ways to drive repeat business, to entice players to come again.

International Game Technology has come up with a video poker variation that certainly would keep me coming back, provided the casino put a high enough pay table on the game to attract my business in the first place.

It's called Power Quads, and it was one of the new video poker games IGT showed at the Global Gaming Expo at the Sands Expo and Convention Center in Las Vegas.

In Power Quads, you create a log-on, then go about collecting four-of-a-kind hands. When you've drawn quads in all 13 card denominations, you collect a 2,000-coin bonus.

That's not something you're going to do in one short session. In 9/6 Jacks or Better, four of a kind turns up an average of once per 423 hands. Figure a player at an average speed of about 500 hands an hour draws quads a little more than once an hour, and a fast player might get the average to twice an hour. To get all 13 — and if you get the same four of a kind multiple times, you still need all the others at least once — is going to take some time.

Hence the log-on. Use it, and Power Quads will remember you when you come back. Your previous quads will be remembered only on a return trip to the same property. But even if it takes several visits to complete your Power Quads, the bonus will be more than welcome.

IGT also showed a variation called Fast Fours that plays much like Quick Quads in that if you have three of a kind and the other two cards add up to the same denomination, it's paid as a four of a kind. Face cards are not eligible for Quick Quads bonuses, and aces count only as 1. In Fast Fours, aces count as 1 or 11, and faces count as 10. So A-A-A-6-5, with the 6-5 counting as 11, is a Fast Four, as is K-K-K-6-4. It costs an extra coin per hand to buy into the feature.

Spin Fever, another IGT video poker offering, has a bit of a community gaming feel about it. Anytime you get a flush, full house or four of a kind, lights up an arrow or raises a multiplier associated with that arrow. Your first flush will light up the flush arrow and show a 1x multiplier, a second flush raises the multiplier up to 2x, and so on, up to 10x.

The arrows act as indicators for a spin of a bonus wheel. You can go to the bonus spin anytime you have an arrow lit. You can spin with one category with a 1x multiplier, or you can wait to raise the multiplier higher or to light more indicators. If you have all three arrows lit, then when you spin the wheel, you get the three bonus awards, one for the amount indicated by each arrow.

Community-style bonusing hasn't really taken hold in video poker the way it has on slot machines, but there is the possibility for a shared experience here. If more than one player is qualified for a wheel spin, then both or all may get in on the same spin of the wheel. But we don't have to spin together. If you want your own spin, it's your choice.

With a little tweaking, Build a Wheel video poker was back in the IGT booth. A bonus wheel starts with amounts filled in on two of the eight segments, one for 4,000 credits and one for 10,000. Whenever you get three of a kind or better on the initial deal, you fill in a credit amount on another wheel segment. When all segments have been filled in, you get a spin of the wheel for a bonus award.

What's been added is a cashout option. If you have a partially completed wheel and have to leave, you can opt to take the money and get a portion of what the wheel is worth. It's prorated, based on the value of the spaces that have been filled in. If the next player is going to be a friend, relative or significant other, you might want to leave what you've built intact. Otherwise, you can take the money and run.

Video poker remained almost entirely an IGT game at the expo. WMS Gaming had a video poker game in its Inner Sanctum that wasn't ready to show to anyone but a select few. Aruze Gaming did offer a new wrinkle with a random double-up feature. Games are standard offerings such as Jacks or Better, Double Double Bonus Poker and Deuces Wild, but at random times the pay table will be doubled, so in Jacks or Better your five-coin bet will bring you 10 coins on a pair of Jacks instead of the usual five, up to 8,000 instead of 4,000 on a royal. It'll happen just often enough to be noticeable — once per 100 hands on some pay tables, once per 200 hands on others.

Related Links
Global Gaming Expo (G2E) 2011

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.