US 20070015585 A1
A method and system for awarding a bonus to all eligible players on a gaming network is disclosed. A network of video poker machines in communication with a common controller facilitates one version of the invention. In response to one machine of the network generating a pre-established winning game outcome (e.g., four of a kind), the common controller causes each other player playing a machine on the network to be awarded a bonus. For example, the pre-established game winning outcome may be a minimum poker hand rank, specific poker hand rank and/or primary game winning dollar amount. An icon or audio tone notifies players of the bonus award. To be eligible for the bonus award, players may be required to play maximum coins or units on their machines and/or be identified as a player's club member.
1. A gaming system comprising:
a plurality of electronic gaming machines forming a network;
bonus awarding means in communication with each electronic gaming machine forming the network; and
wherein response to one of the plurality of electronic gaming machines generating one or more pre-established winning game outcomes, said common controller causing each other eligible player playing an electronic gaming machine on the network to receive a bonus award.
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11. The gaming system of claim of 10 wherein the display is capable of displaying text messages.
12. The gaming system of
13. The gaming system of
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15. A video poker gaming system comprising:
a plurality of video poker machines linked to common controller; and
wherein response to one of the plurality of video poker machines generating one or more pre-established winning game outcomes, said common controller causing each other eligible player playing a video poker machine linked to the common controller to receive a bonus award.
16. The gaming system of
17. The gaming system of
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19. The gaming system of
20. The gaming system of
21. The gaming system of claim of 20 wherein the display is capable of displaying text messages.
22. The gaming system of
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24. The gaming system of
25. A method of gaming comprising:
providing a network of electronic gaming machines in communication with a common controller; and
in response to one of said electronic gaming machines generating one or more pre-established winning game outcomes, triggering one or more electronic gaming machines on the network to award corresponding eligible players a bonus.
26. The method of gaming of
27. The method of gaming of
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30. The method of gaming of
31. The method of gaming of
32. The method of gaming of
33. The method of gaming of claim of 32 wherein the display is capable of displaying text messages.
34. The method of gaming of
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The embodiments of the present invention relate to electronic gaming devices and a method of playing the same. More particularly, the embodiments of the present invention relate to a method and system whereby, in response to one or more pre-established game outcomes on a single electronic gaming device, one or more players playing on linked electronic gaming devices may be provided a bonus award.
Electronic gaming devices, such as slot machines, video poker machines and keno machines, now generate more revenue than table games. Specifically, the popularity of video poker machines has increased with the number of game variations being offered. Bonus Poker, Double Bonus Poker and Triple Play Poker are just a few of the video poker variations now being offered to patrons.
In most instances, video poker is premised on players attempting to obtain the highest ranking poker hand possible. Conventionally, five cards from a simulated deck of playing cards are first displayed on a device screen. The player may then hold or discard each card in an effort to improve the rank of the poker hand. Each discard is replaced with a new card from the remaining cards in the simulated deck. The poker rank of the final five cards dictates a player payout. The stronger the rank of the final poker hand the greater the corresponding payout. The many variations of video poker do not typically alter the underlying concept of seeking to obtain the strongest possible final poker hand rank.
The popularity of video poker and other electronic gaming devices is attributable to the ease and quickness of play and the opportunity for large payouts. For example, regarding video poker, a final poker hand rank of a royal flush typically pays 800 to 1. However, based on the probabilities, not all players realize large, or even modest, payouts during their game sessions. Therefore, it would be advantageous to involve a greater number of players in certain pre-established outcomes. The inventors hereof have developed a method and system whereby each player playing a video poker machine (or other gaming device) on a network of commonly linked devices is afforded an opportunity to win a bonus award based on each other player's winning game outcome. The linked machines may be linked via a system of wires, wirelessly or using any other communicative means.
Accordingly, the embodiments of the present invention comprise a plurality of electronic gaming machines forming a network; bonus awarding means in communication with each electronic gaming machine forming the network; and wherein response to one of the plurality of electronic gaming machines generating one or more pre-established winning game outcomes, said common controller causing each other eligible player playing an electronic gaming machine on the network to receive a bonus award.
In one specific embodiment, a gaming system utilizes a plurality of linked gaming devices, such as video poker machines. A poker hand rank or minimum poker hand rank is designated as a bonus triggering outcome. For example, a poker hand having a rank of four of a kind may be designated as the minimum poker hand rank. Should a player playing on one of the linked video poker machines obtain a hand having a rank equivalent to, or higher than, the pre-established minimum poker hand rank, the player wins a corresponding conventional payout and each other player playing a video poker machine on the same network wins a bonus award. In this manner, all players playing on a machine linked to a group of commonly linked machines benefit from outcomes on each other linked machine.
Alternatively, the bonus triggering event may be a pre-established award amount. For example, any player winning a single award in excess of $100 may trigger a bonus payment to other players playing commonly linked machines.
As described in more detail below, gaming establishments may limit the bonus awards to only players playing maximum coins or units. Such a requirement encourages players to play the maximum number of coins thereby maximizing the profits of the establishment offering the unique method and system. Players may also be required to identify themselves to a player tracking system in order to be eligible for a bonus award.
Other variations, embodiments and features of the present invention will become evident from the following detailed description, drawings and claims.
The operation of video poker machines, slot machines and keno machines is controlled by microprocessors which communicate with internal memory devices and the external features of the machines. The microprocessors also incorporate, or communicate with, a random number generator which ensures the randomness of the machines' outcomes. In the embodiments of the present invention, one or more processors, along with memory and related devices, control the new applications disclosed herein. Since the technology for operating and controlling these machines is well known to those skilled in the art, the subtle details are not described herein.
For the purposes of promoting an understanding of the principles in accordance with the embodiments of the present invention, reference will now be made to the embodiments illustrated in the drawings and specific language will be used to describe the same. It will nevertheless be understood that no limitation of the scope of the invention is thereby intended. Any alterations and further modifications of the inventive features illustrated herein, and any additional applications of the principles of the invention as illustrated herein, which would normally occur to one skilled in the relevant art and having possession of this disclosure, are to be considered within the scope of the invention claimed.
While the detailed description below focuses on video poker machines, the embodiments of the present invention may be implemented with slot machines, keno machines and/or other electronic gaming devices or machines as well.
Reference is now made to the figures wherein like parts are referred to by like numerals throughout.
Networks of video poker machines are found on many casino floors. In addition, gaming regulations in the state of Nevada permit bars, restaurants and grocery and convenience stores to hold restricted gaming licenses. A restricted gaming license allows the identified establishments to operate a maximum of 15 video poker machines. Accordingly, while video poker machines are located in a majority of class I gaming jurisdictions, they are even more prevalent in Nevada. In bars and restaurants the machines are often bar top machines rather than stand alone machines which are found in casinos, grocery stores and convenience stores.
Most electronic gaming devices, including video poker machines, are now linked to player tracking systems. Players access, and identify themselves to, the player tracking system by inserting a slot club card, players' club card or player tracking card into a card reader coupled to the subject machine. Other identification means are also available. Upon reading the inserted card, the card reader causes the player to be identified and his or her information on a central database to be accessed. The central database maintains and stores information (e.g., time played, coins-in, coins-out, theoretical win, etc.) related to each of the player's gaming sessions. Casinos and related establishments use the gathered information to form direct marketing campaigns and to reward regular players with complimentaries (a/k/a comps). The embodiments of the present invention may be installed as part of a player tracking system or may be installed as an independent system.
In all embodiments of the present invention, each player playing on a machine 200-1 through 200-N linked to the network and/or linked to the common central controller 210 may be eligible for a bonus award dependent upon game outcomes obtained by each other player playing on a machine 200-1 through 200-N linked to the network and/or linked to the common central controller 210. The common controller 210 may be connected to a player tracking system 215 as discussed below. Ideally, only players identified by the player tracking system are eligible for bonus awards. As detailed above, inserting a player tracking card is one exemplary method for a player to become eligible for a bonus award. Such a requirement encourages players to sign-up for a gaming establishment's players' club which permits the gaming establishment to better track its players and their habits. Consequently, the gaming establishment is better equipped to market services and promotions to its players.
In a first embodiment of the present invention, a pre-established minimum poker hand rank is designated as a bonus trigger. For example, four of a kind may be designated as the minimum poker hand rank. Consequently, a player obtaining a final poker hand equivalent to, or higher than, four of a kind, triggers the central controller 210 to award each other eligible player a bonus. Any winning outcome (e.g., a pair of Jacks or better) may be used as the bonus triggering outcome. The exact dollar amount of the bonus is dictated by the establishment offering the game. A typical video poker pay table pays 125 to 1 on a final poker hand having a rank of four of a kind. Accordingly, each other player playing a machine on the network may be awarded a fixed bonus (e.g., 10 coins/units). Alternatively, each player may be awarded a pro-rata share of a fixed pot or pool. For example, a fixed pot may be set to 50 coins/units such that a single player receives 50 coins/units or five players each receive 10 coins/units.
It is also possible that the awards may be dependent upon the rank of the poker hand such that the higher the rank of the bonus triggering poker hand, the greater the bonus award. Therefore, although both hands qualify as a bonus triggering hand, four Aces may provide a larger bonus than four tens.
It is further possible that the denomination of play of each linked player determines the amount of their corresponding bonus. Therefore, the common controller 210 or similar device determines the amount of each linked player's wager at the time the bonus triggering event occurred. The controller 210 is then responsible for disbursing the bonus awards accordingly. For example, it is assumed that three players are playing on a system of linked video poker machines, Player A obtains a bonus triggering game outcome (e.g., four Kings) while Player B is playing 3 units and Player is playing 5 units (i.e., maximum units). In response to Player A obtaining a bonus triggering outcome (e.g., four Kings), the controller 210 provides Player B with a first bonus award based on three wagered units and provides Player C with a second, larger bonus award based on five wagered units.
In another embodiment, a single pre-established poker hand rank, rather than a minimum poker rank, is designated as the bonus trigger. For example, a straight flush or royal flush may be designated as the lone bonus trigger.
The bonus awards contemplated herein may also be progressive in nature. Progressive jackpots are well-known in the industry and comprise jackpots which increase in value until they are won. Accordingly, a progressive jackpot may be funded initially at $1000. The jackpot value then increases until it is won by a player. Increasing the jackpot is typically accomplished by allocating a portion of each wager on each subject machine to the jackpot. Once the progressive jackpot is won, it is re-set to its initial value; $1000 in this example. Progressive jackpots may be affiliated with a single machine or networks of machines.
With the embodiments of the present invention, all eligible players share in the progressive jackpot upon the occurrence of a bonus triggering hand. Progressive jackpots can become large when the bonus triggering poker hand is difficult to obtain (e.g., straight flush or royal flush).
Optionally, to maximize profits, any establishment offering the bonus concept disclosed herein may require players to wager maximum coins/units to participate in the bonus award. If so, only players playing a machine linked to the common controller 210 and playing maximum coins/units are eligible to receive a bonus award dependent on another player's game outcome. Conventionally, video poker machines accept up to five coins/units.
In another embodiment, the bonus trigger is a minimum game payout. For example, a winning game payout of $100 or more triggers the bonus award such that other eligible players receive a pre-established bonus award or share in a fixed pool or progressive jackpot. This type of bonus trigger is ideal for linked or networked slot machines. The minimum game award still necessitates a player obtaining a winning game outcome. However, the trigger is now based on a winning outcome in combination with the size of the player's wager.
The common controller 210 or other system device may also track time between each player's game plays to prevent players from playing a small number of games and then sitting idle while waiting for a bonus award associated with another player's game outcome. In this manner, upon the occurrence of a bonus triggering outcome, prior to disbursing the bonus awards, the controller 210 checks the time since each linked machine was played. If the time exceeds a pre-established period, no award is disbursed to the corresponding machine.
Funding the bonus awards may be accomplished by collecting a small percentage of all player wagers. Alternatively, the payback percentage of the participating machines may be decreased to accommodate the payment of the bonus awards. By way of example, the bonus awards may be funded by reducing the payback percentage of each linked video poker machine from 98% to 95%.
Although the invention has been described in detail with reference to several embodiments, additional variations and modifications exist within the scope and spirit of the invention as described and defined in the following claims.