G2E 2007, Part 4: What's New at IGT?

25 December 2007

Have you ever played video poker, drawn a hand like three 8s, a 5 and a 3, and thought, "Hey, that's four 8s --- 5 plus 3, right?"

I know I have, and apparently International Game Technology is thinking right along with players who harbor such wishful thinking.

The world's largest slot machine manufacturer, the Reno, Nevada-based IGT dominates video poker like the Yankees have dominated baseball history or Harry Potter has dominated kids' best seller lists. If you're playing a video poker machine, it probably was made by IGT.

At the 2007 Global Gaming Expo in the Las Vegas Convention Center, nearly all new video poker product was concentrated in the IGT booth. One game that caught my eye was Quick Quads, a dream for players who like the idea of unmatched cards adding up to four of a kind.

Three of a kind plus two cards that add up to the winning number bring the same quads payoff you'd get with a natural four of a kind. Three 8s plus a 5 and a 3 that add up to the fourth 8? You've got your payoff.

The result will be a dramatic increase in quads, one funded by an extra wager. It takes a six-coin bet per hand to activate the Quick Quads feature, instead of the standard five-coin wager that's the maximum in most video poker games. The result is an increase in volatility. When you lose, you lose six coins per hand instead of only five. When you win, you're paid as if you had wagered only five coins. But you make up for all that with three-of-a-kind hands that are turned into four-of-a-kind bonanzas.

IGT pioneered the sixth-coin wager in its popular Super Times Pay multihand video poker games. At G2E, it showed several games with sixth-coin features, including Ultimate X Poker. When the Ultimate X feature is activated on the multihand game, any winning hand brings a multiplier into place for the next hand --- the size of the multiplier depends on the value of your winner. If you're playing a Five Play version and have winners on hands 2 and 4, you might see a 2x symbol next to one and a 4x symbol next to the other, with exact multipliers determined by the value of the winning hand.. On the next play, a winner next to the 2x symbol will be doubled and a winner next to the 4x symbol will be quadrupled.

When it's time to leave, use up the last of your multipliers by making one last wager of five coins per hand. You get to use the multipliers you've already paid for with your previous six-coin wager, but you won't be paying for additional multiplier that you won't use.

IGT is more than just video poker, of course. One of the most talked-about games at the show was the Indiana Jones and the Last Crusade with its 3-D effect, using layered screens licensed from a California firm called PureDepth. The effect was stunning in animated bonuses and film clips. And you get to see plenty of clips. After each winning spin, you see short a film clip, and it's all in sequence.

In its MultiWay series of video slots, IGT moved to do a little something different with Golden Gate. We've seen wild symbols that expand vertically before, making all positions on one reel wild. Golden Gate expands its wild symbol horizontally instead, so that an image of the Golden Gate Bridge spans horizontally across three reels. It's a reel position-drive, 243 ways to win game rather than line-driven, so having three wild symbols in the middle opens the way to big pays.

On the community gaming side, eBay made for one of the flashiest displays at the show. Topping a bank of five machines was the eBay logo and five giant reels, bearing the online auctioneer's category symbols including motors, jewelry, electronics and fashion. The shared bonus round brings free spins of the giant eBay reels.

One of the IGT's showcase products of 2006 was Guaranteed Play Video Poker, which guarantees a set number of hands for your buy-in. This year, IGT and the developer, Walker Digital, extended the concept to Guaranteed Play video slot machines and to the tables with Guaranteed Play Blackjack.

As shown at the expo, Guaranteed Play would offer 30 hands of blackjack for a price dependent on your wager per hand. A $20 buy-in would guarantee you 30 wagers at $5 a hand --- $150 in action. You can choose 30 $10 wagers for a $40 buy-in, 30 $25 wagers for a $100 buy-in, and if you buy in for $300, and the guarantee jumps to 30 hands at $100 a hand.

Just as in Guaranteed Play Video Poker, on a break-even session, the casino keeps your buy-in. That's the price of the guarantee. To cash out, you need to have a winning session.

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.

Related Links
Global Gaming Expo (G2E) 2007

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.