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Publication numberUS20070054726 A1
Publication typeApplication
Application numberUS 11/425,647
Publication date8 Mar 2007
Filing date21 Jun 2006
Priority date8 Sep 2005
Publication number11425647, 425647, US 2007/0054726 A1, US 2007/054726 A1, US 20070054726 A1, US 20070054726A1, US 2007054726 A1, US 2007054726A1, US-A1-20070054726, US-A1-2007054726, US2007/0054726A1, US2007/054726A1, US20070054726 A1, US20070054726A1, US2007054726 A1, US2007054726A1
InventorsDavid Muir, Anthony Baerlocher
Original AssigneeIgt
Export CitationBiBTeX, EndNote, RefMan
External Links: USPTO, USPTO Assignment, Espacenet
Gaming devices and methods with alternative betting configurations
US 20070054726 A1
Abstract
A gaming device and method having alternative wagering or betting features. A gaming device includes a plurality of paylines. At least one of the paylines includes a different number of symbol positions than at least one of the other paylines. The gaming device enables the player to select and wager on one or more of the paylines. The amounts wagered on each payline may be different amounts. A gaming device enables a player to place different wager amounts on a first or second game.
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Claims(23)
1. A gaming device controlled by a processor, said gaming device comprising:
a game controlled by the processor;
at least one input device operable to communicate with the processor;
a plurality of symbols in the game;
a plurality of symbol generators in the game, wherein a plurality of said symbol generators each includes a plurality of the symbols; and
a plurality of paylines in said game, each payline including a plurality of symbol positions which form a predetermined path in relation to the symbol generators, wherein a first designated payline includes a different number of symbol positions than a second designated payline, and all of the symbol positions in the first designated payline are in the second designated payline; wherein said processor is programmed to operate with the input device and the symbol generators to:
(a) enable a player to select a first one of the paylines,
(b) enable the player to wager a first amount on said first selected payline,
(c) enable the player to select a second one of the paylines,
(d) enable the player to wager a same or different second amount on said second selected payline,
(e) generate a plurality of symbols, and
(f) provide an outcome to the player, wherein said outcome is based on the symbols generated on the first selected payline and the amount wagered on the first selected payline and on the symbols generated on the second selected payline and the amount wagered on the second selected payline.
2. The gaming device of claim 1, wherein at least one of the paylines begins with a leftmost symbol position.
3. The gaming device of claim 1, wherein at least one of the paylines begins with a rightmost symbol position.
4. The gaming device of claim 1, wherein more than one of the paylines includes all of the same symbol positions as at least one of the other paylines.
5. The gaming device of claim 1, wherein the symbol generators are chosen from a group consisting of: reels, dice, and wheels.
6. A gaming device controlled by a processor, said gaming device comprising:
a game controlled by the processor including a first game sequence and a second game sequence, wherein the second game sequence is triggered upon a triggering event in the first game sequence;
at least one input device operable to communicate with the processor;
at least one symbol generator in the game, wherein the at least one symbol generator includes a plurality of symbols;
a plurality of paylines associated with the at least one symbol generator in said game, each of said paylines forming a predetermined path along the at least one symbol generator; and
a wager amount including a first wager amount and a second wager amount;
wherein said processor is operable with the input device and the at least one symbol generator to:
(a) enable a player to place the first wager amount on a first selected payline for the first game sequence,
(b) enable the player to place the second wager amount on the first selected payline for the second game sequence,
(c) generate a plurality of symbols in the first game sequence,
(d) if the triggering event occurs in the first game sequence, generate a plurality of symbols for the second game sequence,
(e) provide a first award to the player based on the first wager amount and the symbols generated for the first game sequence, and
(f) provide a second award to the player based on the second wager amount and the symbols generated for the second game sequence.
7. The gaming device of claim 6, wherein the player is enabled to place the first wager amount and the second wager amount at the same time.
8. The gaming device of claim 6, wherein the player is enabled to place the wager amount and then designate the first wager amount and the second wager amount.
9. The gaming device of claim 6, wherein the second wager amount is predetermined.
10. The gaming device of claim 6, wherein the second wager amount is player determined.
11. A method of operating a gaming device, wherein said gaming device includes a game having a plurality of symbols, a plurality of symbol generators in the game, wherein a plurality of said symbol generators each includes a plurality of symbols, said method comprising:
(a) enabling a player to select a first payline of a plurality of paylines, each payline including a plurality of symbol positions which form a predetermined path in relation to the symbol generators, wherein a first designated payline includes a different number of symbol positions than a second designated payline, and all of the symbol positions in the first designated payline are in the second designated payline;
(b) enabling the player to wager a first amount on said first selected payline;
(c) enabling the player to select a second one of the paylines;
(d) enabling the player to wager a same or different second amount on said second selected payline;
(e) generating a plurality of symbols on said symbol generators; and
(f) providing an outcome to the player, wherein said outcome is based on the symbols generated on the first selected payline and the amount wagered on the first selected payline and on the symbols generated on the second selected payline and the amount wagered on the second selected payline.
12. The method of claim 11, wherein at least one of the paylines begins with a leftmost symbol position.
13. The method of claim 11, wherein at least one of the paylines begins with a rightmost symbol position.
14. The method of claim 11, wherein more than one of the paylines includes a plurality of the same symbol positions as at least one of the other paylines.
15. The method of claim 11, wherein the method is provided through a data network.
16. The method of claim 15, wherein the data network is an internet.
17. A method of operating a gaming device including a game having a first game sequence and a second game sequence, wherein the second game sequence is triggered upon a triggering event in the first game sequence, at least one symbol generator in the game, wherein the at least one symbol generator includes a plurality of symbols, a plurality of paylines associated with the at least one symbol generator in said game, each of said paylines forming a predetermined path along the at least one symbol generator, and a wager amount including a first wager amount and a second wager amount, said method comprising:
(a) enabling a player to place a first wager amount on a first selected payline for the first game sequence;
(b) enabling the player to place a second wager amount on the first selected payline for the second game sequence;
(c) generating a plurality of symbols in the first game sequence;
(d) if the triggering event occurs in the first game sequence, generating a plurality of symbols for the second game sequence;
(e) providing a first award to the player based on the first wager amount and the symbols generated for the first game sequence; and
(f) providing a second award to the player based on the second wager amount and the symbols generated for the second game sequence.
18. The method of claim 17, which includes enabling the player to place the first wager amount and the second wager amount at the same time.
19. The method of claim 17, which includes enabling the player to place the wager amount and then designate the first wager amount and the second wager amount.
20. The method of claim 17, wherein the second wager amount is predetermined.
21. The method of claim 17, wherein the second wager amount is player determined.
22. The method of claim 17, wherein the method is provided through a data network.
23. The method of claim 22, wherein the data network is an internet.
Description
PRIORITY CLAIM

This application is a non-provisional application of, claims priority to and the benefit of U.S. Provisional Application No. 60/715,463 filed Sep. 8, 2005, the entire contents of which are incorporated herein.

COPYRIGHT NOTICE

A portion of the disclosure of this patent document contains or may contain material which is subject to copyright protection. The copyright owner has no objection to the photocopy reproduction by anyone of the patent document or the patent disclosure in exactly the form it appears in the Patent and Trademark Office patent file or records, but otherwise reserves all copyright rights whatsoever.

BACKGROUND

Gaming device manufacturers strive to make gaming devices that provide as much enjoyment and excitement as possible. Providing a game in which a player has an opportunity to win multiple awards and potentially large awards or credits are ways to enhance player enjoyment and excitement. Known gaming machines or devices include games wherein a player has one or more opportunities to obtain a winning symbol combination on mechanical or video reels. In these gaming devices, the player initiates the spinning of the reels by a single wager on each of one or more paylines associated with the reels. Such gaming devices may have one, three, five, nine, fifteen, twenty-five or any other suitable number of paylines which are horizontal, vertical, diagonal or any suitable combination thereof. In these gaming devices, the player makes a single wager on each of a designated number or combination of paylines, such as one, two, three, five, ten, or fifteen paylines, wherein the player must place at least one wager on each payline. After the player wagers on one or more paylines, the gaming device generates and displays a plurality of symbols. The gaming device determines and provides any awards to the player based on any winning symbols or winning combinations of symbols generated along any of the wagered on paylines and on the wagers on those paylines.

In other gaming devices, a payout is provided based on one or more scatter pays. A scatter pay includes a pay for the occurrence of designated symbols anywhere on the symbol display (i.e., not specifically on a payline or in adjacent symbol positions). Scatter symbols generated on the symbol display are evaluated for winning combinations as if the symbols were generated along a traditional payline of adjacently arranged symbol positions.

In one known gaming device, a player is provided an additional payline (associated with the reels in a slot game) upon which the player did not directly wager. The player has a chance of winning an award on this additional payline.

In another known gaming device, one payline (associated with reels in a slot game) has a greater value than another payline (associated with reels in that slot game). The greater valued payline provides a greater award for the same symbol combination than if that symbol combination would have occurred on another one of the paylines.

Another known gaming device randomly selects a set of symbol locations which define an additional mystery payline in a slot game. The mystery payline, however, is not enhanced by any value.

To increase player enjoyment and excitement, it is desirable to provide players with new and different payline and other wagering features in gaming machines.

SUMMARY

The present disclosure relates in general to gaming devices and methods, and more particularly to gaming devices and methods having alternative wagering or betting configurations, functions or features.

In one embodiment, the gaming device includes a plurality of symbol generators and a plurality of symbols on or associated with each symbol generator. In one embodiment, the gaming device includes a plurality of different paylines associated with the symbol generators and specifically the symbol positions at which the symbol generators generate or display symbols. In one embodiment, at least one of the paylines is of a different length than one of the other paylines. That is, at least one of the paylines includes a different number of symbol positions than at least one of the other paylines. For example, a first payline includes five symbol positions and a second payline includes three symbol positions. In one embodiment, all of the symbol positions in one of the paylines are in another one of the paylines. In the above example, for instance, the first payline includes all three symbol positions of the second payline. The gaming device enables a player to wager different amounts on each of a plurality of the different or separate paylines. That is, the gaming device enables a player to wager one amount on one payline and a separate, different amount on another payline. It should be appreciated that the gaming device may also enable the player to wager the same amounts on the different paylines.

In one embodiment, the gaming device includes at least one input device which enables a player to: (a) select one of the paylines and enables the player to wager a first amount on the selected payline; and (b) select another one of the paylines and enables the player to wager a second, different amount on that selected payline. In various embodiments, this can be repeated for one, a plurality or any of the paylines. The gaming device thus enables the player to wager various potentially different amounts on a predetermined number of paylines where at least two of the paylines include different numbers of symbol positions.

After the player makes the wagers, upon player activation or automatically, the gaming device generates a plurality of symbols on the symbol generators. The gaming device determines an outcome for the player based on the number of paylines wagered on, on the amount wagered on each of the selected paylines and the symbols generated on the wagered-on paylines. The gaming device provides the outcome to the player.

It should thus be appreciated and as discussed further below, various different embodiments of wagering configurations, features and functions may be employed in accordance with the present disclosure.

In one alternative embodiment, the gaming device enables the player to wager different amounts on different segments of the same game or different games. In one example of these embodiments, the gaming device includes a base or primary game and a secondary or bonus game. The gaming device enables a player to place a wager and enables the player to designate a portion of that wager for the primary game and a portion of the wager for the secondary game. These wagers in one embodiment are on the same component (such as the same payline) in the primary game and the secondary game In one embodiment, the gaming device enables a player to input two separate wagers, one for the primary game and one for the secondary game. It should be appreciated that the base and secondary games may be any suitable base or secondary game. In one embodiment, the gaming device generates an outcome for the primary game and an outcome for the secondary game (if provided or triggered in the primary game). The gaming device provides an outcome for the player based on the game outcomes and on the amounts wagered by the player.

In one example of this further embodiment, the gaming device includes a first game sequence of a base reel game and a second game sequence of a free spin game triggered upon a triggering event in the base reel game. The gaming device enables the player to place a first wager amount on a first payline for the reel game and the second wager amount on a second payline for the free spin game. The wager amounts may be the same or different. Additionally, the first and second paylines in the reel game and free spin game may be the same or may be different. The gaming device generates a plurality of symbols for the reel game and evaluates the symbols for winning symbols on the first payline. If the triggering event occurs, the gaming device generates another plurality of symbols (i.e., for the free spin game) and evaluates the symbols along the second payline for any winning combinations. The gaming device provides game outcomes to the player. The outcomes are based on the symbols generated along the first payline in the first game sequence and the amount of the first wager and if the triggering event occurs, the game outcomes are additionally based on the generated symbols along the second payline in the second game sequence (i.e., for the free spin game) and the amount of the second wager. The evaluation for the free spin game can additionally be based on both the amount of the first wager and the amount of the second wager. It should thus be appreciated that present disclosure provides for bifurcated or other division of betting which can be for specific paylines, hands, or other component or options and that such bets can be the same or different.

It should thus be appreciated that various embodiments of the gaming device disclosed herein increase player enjoyment by providing players opportunities to win awards based on one or more wagers on one or more new and different payline and other component types and new and different types of betting schemes. Such gaming devices and methods provide the player with: (a) increased flexibility in betting by providing the player greater control in how their bet is applied and managed; and (b) a sense of the ability to weigh payline importance as well as to place their bets where they feel their bets will be most beneficial to them. Additionally, in alternative embodiments, the gaming device enables players to wager different amounts on primary and secondary games, which can provide the player with more exciting gaming experiences.

Additional features and advantages of the gaming devices and methods are described herein, and will be apparent from the following Detailed Description and the figures.

BRIEF DESCRIPTION OF THE FIGURES

FIG. 1A is a front-side perspective view of one embodiment of the gaming device of the present disclosure.

FIG. 1B is a front-side perspective view of another embodiment of the gaming device of the present disclosure.

FIG. 2A is a schematic block diagram of the electronic configuration of one embodiment of the gaming device of the present disclosure.

FIG. 2B is a schematic block diagram illustrating a plurality of gaming terminals in communication with a central controller.

FIG. 3 is a flowchart of one embodiment of the present disclosure illustrating the gaming device enabling the player to place one or more different wagers on one or more paylines.

FIGS. 4A, 4B, 4C, 4D and 4F are front elevational views of one embodiment illustrating the gaming device enabling the player to place one or more different wagers on one or more paylines.

FIG. 5 is a flowchart of one embodiment of the present disclosure illustrating the gaming device enabling the player to place one wager on a first game and a second wager on a second game.

FIG. 6 is a front elevational view of one embodiment illustrating the gaming device enabling the player to use input buttons to place different wagers.

FIG. 7 is a front elevational view of one embodiment illustrating the gaming device enabling the player to wager more on a base game than on a secondary game such as a progressive game.

DETAILED DESCRIPTION Gaming Device and Electronics

The present disclosure may be implemented in various configurations for gaming machines or gaming devices, including but not limited to: (1) a dedicated gaming machine or gaming device, wherein the computerized instructions for controlling any games (which are provided by the gaming machine or gaming device) are provided with the gaming machine or gaming device prior to delivery to a gaming establishment, such as a casino, and (2) a changeable gaming machine or gaming device, where the computerized instructions for controlling any games (which are provided by the gaming machine or gaming device) are downloadable to the gaming machine or gaming device through a data network when the gaming machine or gaming device is in a gaming establishment, such as a casino.

Referring now to the drawings, two example alternative embodiments of the gaming device of the disclosed herein are illustrated in FIGS. 1A and 1B as gaming device 10 a and gaming device 10 b, respectively. Gaming device 10 a and/or gaming device 10 b are generally referred to herein as gaming device 10.

In the embodiments illustrated in FIGS. 1A and 1B, gaming device 10 has a support structure, housing or cabinet which provides support for a plurality of displays, inputs, controls and other features of a conventional gaming machine. It is configured so that a player can operate it while standing or sitting. The gaming device may be positioned on a base or stand or can be configured as a pub-style table-top game (not shown) which a player can operate preferably while sitting. As illustrated by the different configurations shown in FIGS. 1A and 1B, the gaming device may have varying cabinet and display configurations.

In one embodiment, as illustrated in FIG. 2A, the gaming device preferably includes at least one processor 12, such as a microprocessor, a microcontroller-based platform, a suitable integrated circuit or one or more application-specific integrated circuits (ASIC's). The processor is in communication with or operable to access or to exchange signals with at least one data storage or memory device 14. In one embodiment, the processor and the memory device reside within the cabinet of the gaming device. The memory device stores program code and instructions, executable by the processor, to control the gaming device. The memory device also stores other data such as image data, event data, player input data, random or pseudo-random number generators, pay-table data or information and applicable game rules that relate to the play of the gaming device. In one embodiment, the memory device includes random access memory (RAM), which can include non-volatile RAM (NVRAM), magnetic RAM (MRAM), ferroelectric RAM (FeRAM) and other forms as commonly understood in the gaming industry. In one embodiment, the memory device includes read only memory (ROM). In one embodiment, the memory device includes flash memory and/or EEPROM (electrically erasable programmable read only memory). Any other suitable magnetic, optical and/or semiconductor memory may operate in conjunction with the gaming device disclosed herein.

In one embodiment, part or all of the program code and/or operating data described above can be stored in a detachable or removable memory device, including, but not limited to, a suitable cartridge, disk, CD ROM, DVD or USB memory device. In other embodiments, part or all of the program code and/or operating data described above can be downloaded to the memory device through a suitable network.

In one embodiment, an operator or a player can use such a removable memory device in a desktop computer, a laptop personal computer, a personal digital assistant (PDA), portable computing device, or other computerized platform to implement the present disclosure.

The processor and memory device may be collectively referred to herein as a “computer” or “controller.”

In one embodiment, as discussed in more detail below, the gaming device randomly generates awards and/or other game outcomes based on probability data. In one such embodiment, this random determination is provided through utilization of a random number generator (RNG), such as a true random number generator, a pseudo random number generator or other suitable randomization process. In one embodiment, each award or other game outcome is associated with a probability and the gaming device generates the award or other game outcome to be provided to the player based on the associated probabilities. In this embodiment, since the gaming device generates outcomes randomly or based upon one or more probability calculations, there is no certainty that the gaming device will ever provide the player with any specific award or other game outcome.

In another embodiment, as discussed in more detail below, the gaming device employs a predetermined or finite set or pool of awards or other game outcomes. In this embodiment, as each award or other game outcome is provided to the player, the gaming device flags or removes the provided award or other game outcome from the predetermined set or pool. Once flagged or removed from the set or pool, the specific provided award or other game outcome from that specific pool cannot be provided to the player again. This type of gaming device provides players with all of the available awards or other game outcomes over the course of the play cycle and guarantees the amount of actual wins and losses.

In another embodiment, as discussed below, upon a player initiating game play at the gaming device, the gaming device enrolls in a bingo game. In this embodiment, a bingo server calls the bingo balls that result in a specific bingo game outcome. The resultant game outcome is communicated to the individual gaming device to be provided to a player. In one embodiment, this bingo outcome is displayed to the player as a bingo game and/or in any form in accordance with the present disclosure.

In one embodiment, as illustrated in FIG. 2A, the gaming device includes one or more display devices controlled by the processor. The display devices are preferably connected to or mounted to the cabinet of the gaming device. The embodiment shown in FIG. 1A includes a central display device 16 which displays a primary game. This display device may also display any suitable secondary game associated with the primary game as well as information relating to the primary or secondary game. The alternative embodiment shown in FIG. 1B includes a central display device 16 and an upper display device 18. The upper display device may display the primary game, any suitable secondary game associated or not associated with the primary game and/or information relating to the primary or secondary game. As seen in FIGS. 1A and 1B, in one embodiment, the gaming device includes a credit display 20 which displays a player's current number of credits, cash, account balance or the equivalent. In one embodiment, gaming device includes a bet display 22 which displays a player's amount wagered.

In another embodiment, at least one display device may be a mobile display device, such as a PDA or tablet PC, that enables play of at least a portion of the primary or secondary game at a location remote from the gaming device.

The display devices may include, without limitation, a monitor, a television display, a plasma display, a liquid crystal display (LCD) a display based on light emitting diodes (LED), a display based on a plurality of organic light-emitting diodes (OLEDs), a display based on polymer light-emitting diodes (PLEDs), a display based on a plurality of surface-conduction electron-emitters (SEDs), a display including a projected and/or reflected image or any other suitable electronic device or display mechanism. In one embodiment, as described in more detail below, the display device includes a touch-screen with an associated touch-screen controller. The display devices may be of any suitable size and configuration, such as a square, a rectangle or an elongated rectangle.

The display devices of the gaming device are configured to display at least one and preferably a plurality of game or other suitable images, symbols and indicia such as any visual representation or exhibition of the movement of objects such as mechanical, virtual or video reels and wheels, dynamic lighting, video images, images of people, characters, places, things and faces of cards, and the like.

In one alternative embodiment, the symbols, images and indicia displayed on or of the display device may be in mechanical form. That is, the display device may include any electromechanical device, such as one or more mechanical objects, such as one or more rotatable wheels, reels or dice, configured to display at least one or a plurality of game or other suitable images, symbols or indicia.

As illustrated in FIG. 2A, in one embodiment, the gaming device includes at least one payment acceptor 24 in communication with the processor. As seen in FIGS. 1A and 1B, the payment acceptor may include a coin slot 26 and a payment, note or bill acceptor 28, where the player inserts money, coins or tokens. The player can place coins in the coin slot or paper money, a ticket or voucher into the payment, note or bill acceptor. In other embodiments, devices such as readers or validators for credit cards, debit cards or credit slips may accept payment. In one embodiment, a player may insert an identification card into a card reader of the gaming device. In one embodiment, the identification card is a smart card having a programmed microchip or a magnetic strip coded with a player's identification, credit totals (or related data) and other relevant information. In one embodiment, money may be transferred to a gaming device through electronic funds transfer. When a player funds the gaming device, the processor determines the amount of funds entered and displays the corresponding amount on the credit or other suitable display as described above.

As seen in FIGS. 1A, 1B and 2A, in one embodiment the gaming device includes at least one and preferably a plurality of input devices 30 in communication with the processor. The input devices can include any suitable device which enables the player to produce an input signal which is received by the processor. In one embodiment, after appropriate funding of the gaming device, the input device is a game activation device, such as a pull arm 32 or a play button 34 which is used by the player to start any primary game or sequence of events in the gaming device. The play button can be any suitable play activator such as a bet one button, a max bet button or a repeat the bet button. In one embodiment, upon appropriate funding, the gaming device begins the game play automatically. In another embodiment, upon the player engaging one of the play buttons, the gaming device automatically activates game play.

In one embodiment, as shown in FIGS. 1A and 1B, one input device is a bet one button 36. The player places a bet by pushing the bet one button. The player can increase the bet by one credit each time the player pushes the bet one button. When the player pushes the bet one button, the number of credits shown in the credit display preferably decreases by one, and the number of credits shown in the bet display preferably increases by one. In another embodiment, one input device is a bet max button (not shown) which enables the player to bet the maximum wager permitted for a game of the gaming device.

In one embodiment, one input device is a cash out button 38. The player may push the cash out button and cash out to receive a cash payment or other suitable form of payment corresponding to the number of remaining credits. In one embodiment, when the player cashes out, the player receives the coins or tokens in a coin payout tray 40. In one embodiment, when the player cashes out, the player may receive other payout mechanisms such as tickets or credit slips redeemable by a cashier (or other suitable redemption system) or funding to the player's electronically recordable identification card.

In one embodiment, as mentioned above and seen in FIG. 2A, one input device is a touch-screen 42 coupled with a touch-screen controller 44, or some other touch-sensitive display overlay to allow for player interaction with the images on the display. The touch-screen and the touch-screen controller are connected to a video controller 46. A player can make decisions and input signals into the gaming device by touching the touch-screen at the appropriate places.

The gaming device may further include a plurality of communication ports for enabling communication of the processor with external peripherals, such as external video sources, expansion buses, game or other displays, an SCSI port or a key pad.

In one embodiment, as seen in FIG. 2A, the gaming device includes a sound generating device controlled by one or more sounds cards 48 which function in conjunction with the processor. In one embodiment, the sound generating device includes at least one and preferably a plurality of speakers 50 or other sound generating hardware and/or software for generating sounds, such as playing music for the primary and/or secondary game or for other modes of the gaming device, such as an attract mode. In one embodiment, the gaming device provides dynamic sounds coupled with attractive multimedia images displayed on one or more of the display devices to provide an audio-visual representation or to otherwise display full-motion video with sound to attract players to the gaming device. During idle periods, the gaming device may display a sequence of audio and/or visual attraction messages to attract potential players to the gaming device. The videos may also be customized for or to provide any appropriate information.

In one embodiment, the gaming machine may include a sensor, such as a camera in communication with the processor (and possibly controlled by the processor) that is selectively positioned to acquire an image of a player actively using the gaming device and/or the surrounding area of the gaming device. In one embodiment, the camera may be configured to selectively acquire still or moving (e.g., video) images and may be configured to acquire the images in either an analog, digital or other suitable format. The display devices may be configured to display the image acquired by the camera as well as display the visible manifestation of the game in split screen or picture-in-picture fashion. For example, the camera may acquire an image of the player and the processor may incorporate that image into the primary and/or secondary game as a game image, symbol or indicia.

Gaming device 10 can incorporate any suitable wagering primary or base game. The gaming machine or device may include some or all of the features of conventional gaming machines or devices. The primary or base game may comprise any suitable reel-type game, card game, number game or other game of chance susceptible to representation in an electronic or electromechanical form, which in one embodiment produces a random outcome based on probability data at the time of or after placement of a wager. That is, different primary wagering games, such as video poker games, video blackjack games, video keno, video bingo or any other suitable primary or base game may be implemented.

In one embodiment, as illustrated in FIGS. 1A and 1B, a base or primary game may be a slot game with one or more paylines 52. The paylines may be horizontal, vertical, circular, diagonal, angled or any combination thereof. In this embodiment, the gaming device includes at least one and preferably a plurality of reels 54, such as three to five reels 54, in either electromechanical form with mechanical rotating reels or video form with simulated reels and movement thereof. In one embodiment, an electromechanical slot machine includes a plurality of adjacent, rotatable reels which may be combined and operably coupled with an electronic display of any suitable type. In another embodiment, if the reels 54 are in video form, one or more of the display devices, as described above, display the plurality of simulated video reels 54. Each reel 54 displays a plurality of indicia such as bells, hearts, fruits, numbers, letters, bars or other images which preferably correspond to a theme associated with the gaming device. In this embodiment, the gaming device awards prizes after the reels of the primary game stop spinning if specified types and/or configurations of indicia or symbols occur on an active payline or otherwise occur in a winning pattern, occur on the requisite number of adjacent reels and/or occur in a scatter pay arrangement.

In an alternative embodiment, rather than determining any outcome to provide to the player by analyzing the symbols generated on any wagered upon paylines as described above, the gaming device determines any outcome to provide to the player based on the number of associated symbols which are generated in active symbol positions on the requisite number of adjacent reels (i.e., not on paylines passing through any displayed winning symbol combinations). In this embodiment, if a winning symbol combination is generated on the reels, the gaming device provides the player one award for that occurrence of the generated winning symbol combination. For example, if one winning symbol combination is generated on the reels, the gaming device will provide a single award to the player for that winning symbol combination (i.e., not based on paylines that would have passed through that winning symbol combination). It should be appreciated that because a gaming device with wagering on ways to win provides the player one award for a single occurrence of a winning symbol combination and a gaming device with paylines may provide the player more than one award for the same occurrence of a single winning symbol combination (i.e., if a plurality of paylines each pass through the same winning symbol combination), it is possible to provide a player at a ways to win gaming device more ways to win for an equivalent bet or wager on a traditional slot gaming device with paylines.

In one embodiment, the total number of ways to win is determined by multiplying the number of symbols generated in active symbol positions on a first reel by the number of symbols generated in active symbol positions on a second reel by the number of symbols generated in active symbol positions on a third reel and so on for each reel of the gaming device with at least one symbol generated in an active symbol position. For example, a three reel gaming device with three symbols generated in active symbol positions on each reel includes 27 ways to win (i.e., 3 symbols on the first reel×3 symbols on the second reel×3 symbols on the third reel). A four reel gaming device with three symbols generated in active symbol positions on each reel includes 81 ways to win (i.e., 3 symbols on the first reel×3 symbols on the second reel×3 symbols on the third reel×3 symbols on the fourth reel). A five reel gaming device with three symbols generated in active symbol positions on each reel includes 243 ways to win (i.e., 3 symbols on the first reel×3 symbols on the second reel×3 symbols on the third reel×3 symbols on the fourth reel×3 symbols on the fifth reel). It should be appreciated that modifying the number of generated symbols by either modifying the number of reels or modifying the number of symbols generated in active symbol positions by one or more of the reels, modifies the number of ways to win.

In another embodiment, the gaming device enables a player to wager on and thus activate symbol positions. In one such embodiment, the symbol positions are on the reels. In this embodiment, if based on the player's wager, a reel is activated, then each of the symbol positions of that reel will be activated and each of the active symbol positions will be part of one or more of the ways to win. In one embodiment, if based on the player's wager, a reel is not activated, then a designated number of default symbol positions, such as a single symbol position of the middle row of the reel, will be activated and the default symbol position(s) will be part of one or more of the ways to win. This type of gaming machine enables a player to wager on one, more or each of the reels and the processor of the gaming device uses the number of wagered on reels to determine the active symbol positions and the number of possible ways to win. In alternative embodiments, (1) no symbols are displayed as generated at any of the inactive symbol positions, or (2) any symbols generated at any inactive symbol positions may be displayed to the player but suitably shaded or otherwise designated as inactive.

In one embodiment wherein a player wagers on one or more reels, a player's wager of one credit may activate each of the three symbol positions on a first reel, wherein one default symbol position is activated on each of the remaining four reels. In this example, as described above, the gaming device provides the player three ways to win (i.e., 3 symbols on the first reel×1 symbol on the second reel×1 symbol on the third reel×1 symbol on the fourth reel×1 symbol on the fifth reel). In another example, a player's wager of nine credits may activate each of the three symbol positions on a first reel, each of the three symbol positions on a second reel and each of the three symbol positions on a third reel wherein one default symbol position is activated on each of the remaining two reels. In this example, as described above, the gaming device provides the player twenty-seven ways to win (i.e., 3 symbols on the first reel×3 symbols on the second reel×3 symbols on the third reel×1 symbol on the fourth reel×1 symbol on the fifth reel).

In one embodiment, to determine any award(s) to provide to the player based on the generated symbols, the gaming device individually determines if a symbol generated in an active symbol position on a first reel forms part of a winning symbol combination with or is otherwise suitably related to a symbol generated in an active symbol position on a second reel. In this embodiment, the gaming device classifies each pair of symbols which form part of a winning symbol combination (i.e., each pair of related symbols) as a string of related symbols. For example, if active symbol positions include a first cherry symbol generated in the top row of a first reel and a second cherry symbol generated in the bottom row of a second reel, the gaming device classifies the two cherry symbols as a string of related symbols because the two cherry symbols form part of a winning symbol combination.

After determining if any strings of related symbols are formed between the symbols on the first reel and the symbols on the second reel, the gaming device determines if any of the symbols from the next adjacent reel should be added to any of the formed strings of related symbols. In this embodiment, for a first of the classified strings of related symbols, the gaming device determines if any of the symbols generated by the next adjacent reel form part of a winning symbol combination or are otherwise related to the symbols of the first string of related symbols. If the gaming device determines that a symbol generated on the next adjacent reel is related to the symbols of the first string of related symbols, that symbol is subsequently added to the first string of related symbols. For example, if the first string of related symbols is the string of related cherry symbols and a related cherry symbol is generated in the middle row of the third reel, the gaming device adds the related cherry symbol generated on the third reel to the previously classified string of cherry symbols.

On the other hand, if the gaming device determines that no symbols generated on the next adjacent reel are related to the symbols of the first string of related symbols, the gaming device marks or flags such string of related symbols as complete. For example, if the first string of related symbols is the string of related cherry symbols and none of the symbols of the third reel are related to the cherry symbols of the previously classified string of cherry symbols, the gaming device marks or flags the string of cherry symbols as complete.

After either adding a related symbol to the first string of related symbols or marking the first string of related symbols as complete, the gaming device proceeds as described above for each of the remaining classified strings of related symbols which were previously classified or formed from related symbols on the first and second reels.

After analyzing each of the remaining strings of related symbols, the gaming device determines, for each remaining pending or incomplete string of related symbols, if any of the symbols from the next adjacent reel, if any, should be added to any of the previously classified strings of related symbols. This process continues until either each string of related symbols is complete or there are no more adjacent reels of symbols to analyze. In this embodiment, where there are no more adjacent reels of symbols to analyze, the gaming device marks each of the remaining pending strings of related symbols as complete.

When each of the strings of related symbols is marked complete, the gaming device compares each of the strings of related symbols to an appropriate paytable and provides the player any award associated with each of the completed strings of symbols. It should be appreciated that the player is provided one award, if any, for each string of related symbols generated in active symbol positions (i.e., as opposed to being based on how many paylines that would have passed through each of the strings of related symbols in active symbol positions).

In one embodiment, a base or primary game may be a poker game wherein the gaming device enables the player to play a conventional game of video draw poker and initially deals five cards all face up from a virtual deck of fifty-two card deck. Cards may be dealt as in a traditional game of cards or in the case of the gaming device, may also include that the cards are randomly selected from a predetermined number of cards. If the player wishes to draw, the player selects the cards to hold via one or more input device, such as pressing related hold buttons or via the touch screen. The player then presses the deal button and the unwanted or discarded cards are removed from the display and the gaming machine deals the replacement cards from the remaining cards in the deck. This results in a final five-card hand. The gaming device compares the final five-card hand to a payout table which utilizes conventional poker hand rankings to determine the winning hands. The gaming device provides the player with an award based on a winning hand and the credits the player wagered.

In another embodiment, the base or primary game may be a multi-hand version of video poker. In this embodiment, the gaming device deals the player at least two hands of cards. In one such embodiment, the cards are the same cards. In one embodiment each hand of cards is associated with its own deck of cards. The player chooses the cards to hold in a primary hand. The held cards in the primary hand are also held in the other hands of cards. The remaining non-held cards are removed from each hand displayed and for each hand replacement cards are randomly dealt into that hand. Since the replacement cards are randomly dealt independently for each hand, the replacement cards for each hand will usually be different. The poker hand rankings are then determined hand by hand and awards are provided to the player.

In one embodiment, a base or primary game may be a keno game wherein the gaming device displays a plurality of selectable indicia or numbers on at least one of the display devices. In this embodiment, the player selects at least one or a plurality of the selectable indicia or numbers via an input device such as a touch screen. The gaming device then displays a series of drawn numbers to determine an amount of matches, if any, between the player's selected numbers and the gaming device's drawn numbers. The player is provided an award based on the amount of matches, if any, based on the amount of determined matches.

In one embodiment, in addition to winning credits or other awards in a base or primary game, the gaming device may also give players the opportunity to win credits in a bonus or secondary game or bonus or secondary round. The bonus or secondary game enables the player to obtain a prize or payout in addition to the prize or payout, if any, obtained from the base or primary game. In general, a bonus or secondary game produces a significantly higher level of player excitement than the base or primary game because it provides a greater expectation of winning than the base or primary game and is accompanied with more attractive or unusual features than the base or primary game.

In one embodiment, the bonus or secondary game may be any type of suitable game, either similar to or completely different from the base or primary game. In one embodiment, the gaming device includes a program which will automatically begin a bonus round after the player has achieved a triggering event or qualifying condition in the base or primary game. In one embodiment, the triggering event or qualifying condition may be a selected outcome in the primary game or a particular arrangement of one or more indicia on a display device in the primary game, such as the number seven appearing on three adjacent reels along a payline in the primary slot game embodiment seen in FIGS. 1A and 1B. In other embodiments, the triggering event or qualifying condition may be by exceeding a certain amount of game play (such as number of games, number of credits, amount of time), reaching a specified number of points earned during game play or as a random award or event.

In one embodiment, after a player has qualified for a bonus game, the player may subsequently enhance his/her bonus game participation through continued play on the base or primary game. Thus, for each bonus qualifying event, such as a bonus symbol, that the player obtains, a given number of bonus game wagering points or credits may be accumulated in a “bonus meter” programmed to accrue the bonus wagering credits or entries toward eventual participation in a bonus game. The occurrence of multiple such bonus qualifying events in the primary game may result in an arithmetic or exponential increase in the number of bonus wagering credits awarded. In one embodiment, the player may redeem extra bonus wagering credits during the bonus game to extend play of the bonus game.

In one embodiment, no separate entry fee or buy in for a bonus game need be employed. That is, a player may not purchase an entry into a bonus game, rather they must win or earn entry through play of the primary game thus, encouraging play of the primary game. In another embodiment, qualification of the bonus or secondary game could be accomplished through a simple “buy in” by the player if, for example, the player has been unsuccessful at qualifying through other specified activities. In another embodiment, the player must make a wager on the bonus game or designated level in the primary game, and a triggering event must occur in the primary game, a plurality of plays of a primary game, or otherwise for entry into a play of the bonus game.

In one embodiment, as illustrated in FIG. 2B, one or more of the gaming devices 10 may be connected to each other through a data network or a remote communication link 58 with some or all of the functions of each gaming device provided at a central location such as a central server or central controller 56. More specifically, the processor of each gaming device may be designed to facilitate transmission of signals between the individual gaming device and the central server or controller.

In one embodiment, the game outcome provided to the player is determined by a central server or controller and provided to the player at the gaming device. In this embodiment, each of a plurality of such gaming devices are in communication with the central server or controller. Upon a player initiating game play at one of the gaming devices, the initiated gaming device communicates a game outcome request to the central server or controller.

In one embodiment, the central server or controller receives the game outcome request and randomly generates a game outcome for the primary game based on probability data. In another embodiment, the central server or controller randomly generates a game outcome for the secondary game based on probability data. In another embodiment, the central server or controller randomly generates a game outcome for both the primary game and the secondary game based on probability data. In this embodiment, the central server or controller is capable of storing and utilizing program code or other data similar to the processor and memory device of the gaming device.

In an alternative embodiment, the central server or controller maintains one or more predetermined pools or sets of predetermined game outcomes. In this embodiment, the central server or controller receives the game outcome request and independently selects a predetermined game outcome from a set or pool of game outcomes. The central server or controller flags or marks the selected game outcome as used. Once a game outcome is flagged as used, it is prevented from further selection from the set or pool and cannot be selected by the central controller or server upon another wager. The provided game outcome can include a primary game outcome, a secondary game outcome, primary and secondary game outcomes, or a series of game outcomes such as free games.

The central server or controller communicates the generated or selected game outcome to the initiated gaming device. The gaming device receives the generated or selected game outcome and provides the game outcome to the player. In an alternative embodiment, how the generated or selected game outcome is to be presented or displayed to the player, such as a reel symbol combination of a slot machine or a hand of cards dealt in a card game, is also determined by the central server or controller and communicated to the initiated gaming device to be presented or displayed to the player. Central production or control can assist a gaming establishment or other entity in maintaining appropriate records, controlling gaming, reducing and preventing cheating or electronic or other errors, reducing or eliminating win-loss volatility and the like.

In another embodiment, a predetermined game outcome value is determined for each of a plurality of linked or networked gaming devices based on the results of a bingo or keno game. In this embodiment, each individual gaming device utilizes one or more bingo or keno games to determine the predetermined game outcome value provided to the player for the interactive game played at that gaming device. In one embodiment, the bingo or keno game is displayed to the player. In another embodiment, the bingo or keno game is not displayed to the player, but the results of the bingo or keno game determine the predetermined game outcome value for the primary or secondary game.

In the various bingo embodiments, as each gaming device is enrolled in the bingo game, such as upon an appropriate wager or engaging an input device, the enrolled gaming device is provided or associated with a different bingo card. Each bingo card consists of a matrix or array of elements, wherein each element is designated with a separate indicia, such as a number. It should be appreciated that each different bingo card includes a different combination of elements. For example, if four bingo cards are provided to four enrolled gaming devices, the same element may be present on all four of the bingo cards while another element may solely be present on one of the bingo cards.

In operation of these embodiments, upon providing or associating a different bingo card to each of a plurality of enrolled gaming devices, the central controller randomly selects or draws, one at a time, a plurality of the elements. As each element is selected, a determination is made for each gaming device as to whether the selected element is present on the bingo card provided to that enrolled gaming device. This determination can be made by the central controller, the gaming device, a combination of the two, or in any other suitable manner. If the selected element is present on the bingo card provided to that enrolled gaming device, that selected element on the provided bingo card is marked or flagged. This process of selecting elements and marking any selected elements on the provided bingo cards continues until one or more predetermined patterns are marked on one or more of the provided bingo cards. It should be appreciated that in one embodiment, the gaming device requires the player to engage a daub button (not shown) to initiate the process of the gaming device marking or flagging any selected elements.

After one or more predetermined patterns are marked on one or more of the provided bingo cards, a game outcome is determined for each of the enrolled gaming devices based, at least in part, on the selected elements on the provided bingo cards. As described above, the game outcome determined for each gaming device enrolled in the bingo game is utilized by that gaming device to determine the predetermined game outcome provided to the player. For example, a first gaming device to have selected elements marked in a predetermined pattern is provided a first outcome of win $10 which will be provided to a first player regardless of how the first player plays in a first game and a second gaming device to have selected elements marked in a different predetermined pattern is provided a second outcome of win $2 which will be provided to a second player regardless of how the second player plays a second game. It should be appreciated that as the process of marking selected elements continues until one or more predetermined patterns are marked, this embodiment insures that at least one bingo card will win the bingo game and thus at least one enrolled gaming device will provide a predetermined winning game outcome to a player. It should be appreciated that other suitable methods for selecting or determining one or more predetermined game outcomes may be employed.

In one example of the above-described embodiment, the predetermined game outcome may be based on a supplemental award in addition to any award provided for winning the bingo game as described above. In this embodiment, if one or more elements are marked in supplemental patterns within a designated number of drawn elements, a supplemental or intermittent award or value associated with the marked supplemental pattern is provided to the player as part of the predetermined game outcome. For example, if the four corners of a bingo card are marked within the first twenty selected elements, a supplemental award of $10 is provided to the player as part of the predetermined game outcome. It should be appreciated that in this embodiment, the player of a gaming device may be provided a supplemental or intermittent award regardless of if the enrolled gaming device's provided bingo card wins or does not win the bingo game as described above.

In another embodiment, one or more of the gaming devices are in communication with a central server or controller for monitoring purposes only. That is, each individual gaming device randomly generates the game outcomes to be provided to the player and the central server or controller monitors the activities and events occurring on the plurality of gaming devices. In one embodiment, the gaming network includes a real-time or on-line accounting and gaming information system operably coupled to the central server or controller. The accounting and gaming information system of this embodiment includes a player database for storing player profiles, a player tracking module for tracking players and a credit system for providing automated casino transactions.

In one embodiment, the gaming device disclosed herein is associated with or otherwise integrated with one or more player tracking systems. In this embodiment, the gaming device and/or player tracking system tracks any players gaming activity at the gaming device. In one such embodiment, the gaming device and/or associated player tracking system timely tracks when a player inserts their playing tracking card to begin a gaming session and also timely tracks when a player removes their player tracking card when concluding play for that gaming session. During one or more gaming sessions, the gaming device and/or player tracking system tracks any suitable information, such as any amounts wagered, average wager amounts and/or the time these wagers are placed. In different embodiments, for one or more players, the player tracking system includes the player's account number, the player's card number, the player's first name, the player's surname, the player's preferred name, the player's player tracking ranking, any promotion status associated with the player's player tracking card, the player's address, the player's birthday, the player's anniversary, the player's recent gaming sessions, or any other suitable data.

A plurality of the gaming devices are capable of being connected together through a data network. In one embodiment, the data network is a local area network (LAN), in which one or more of the gaming devices are substantially proximate to each other and an on-site central server or controller as in, for example, a gaming establishment or a portion of a gaming establishment. In another embodiment, the data network is a wide area network (WAN) in which one or more of the gaming devices are in communication with at least one off-site central server or controller. In this embodiment, the plurality of gaming devices may be located in a different part of the gaming establishment or within a different gaming establishment than the off-site central server or controller. Thus, the WAN may include an off-site central server or controller and an off-site gaming device located within gaming establishments in the same geographic area, such as a city or state. The WAN gaming system may be substantially identical to the LAN gaming system described above, although the number of gaming devices in each system may vary relative to each other.

In another embodiment, the data network is an internet or intranet. In this embodiment, the operation of the gaming device can be viewed at the gaming device with at least one internet browser. In this embodiment, operation of the gaming device and accumulation of credits may be accomplished with only a connection to the central server or controller (the internet/intranet server) through a conventional phone or other data transmission line, digital subscriber line (DSL), T-1 line, coaxial cable, fiber optic cable, or other suitable connection. In this embodiment, players may access an internet game page from any location where an internet connection and computer, or other internet facilitator is available. The expansion in the number of computers and number and speed of internet connections in recent years increases opportunities for players to play from an ever-increasing number of remote sites. It should be appreciated that enhanced bandwidth of digital wireless communications may render such technology suitable for some or all communications, particularly if such communications are encrypted. Higher data transmission speeds may be useful for enhancing the sophistication and response of the display and interaction with the player.

The present disclosure may be employed in a server based gaming system. In one such embodiment, as described above, one or more gaming devices are in communication with a central server or controller. The central server or controller may be any suitable server or computing device which includes at least one processor and a memory or storage device. In alternative embodiments, the central server is a progressive controller or another gaming machine in the gaming system. In one embodiment, the memory device stores different game programs and instructions, executable by a gaming device processor, to control the gaming device. Each executable game program represents a different game or type of game which may be played on one or more of the gaming devices in the gaming system. Such different games may include the same or substantially the same game play with different pay tables. In different embodiments, the executable game program is for a primary game, a secondary game or both. In another embodiment, the game program may be executable as a secondary game to be played simultaneous with the play of a primary game (which may be downloaded to or fixed on the gaming device) or vice versa.

In this embodiment, each gaming device at least includes one or more display devices and/or one or more input devices for interaction with a player. A local processor, such as the above-described gaming device processor or a processor of a local server, is operable with the display device(s) and/or the input device(s) of one or more of the gaming devices.

In operation, the central controller is operable to communicate one or more of the stored game programs to at least one local processor. In different embodiments, the stored game programs are communicated or delivered by embedding the communicated game program in a device or a component (e.g., a microchip to be inserted in a gaming device), writing the game program on a disc or other media, downloading or streaming the game program over a dedicated data network, internet or a telephone line. After the stored game programs are communicated from the central server, the local processor executes the communicated program to facilitate play of the communicated program by a player through the display device(s) and/or input device(s) of the gaming device. That is, when a game program is communicated to a local processor, the local processor changes the game or type of game played at the gaming device.

In another embodiment, a plurality of gaming devices at one or more gaming sites may be networked to a central server in a progressive configuration, as known in the art, wherein a portion of each wager to initiate a base or primary game may be allocated to bonus or secondary event awards. In one embodiment, a host site computer is coupled to a plurality of the central servers at a variety of mutually remote gaming sites for providing a multi-site linked progressive automated gaming system. In one embodiment, a host site computer may serve gaming devices distributed throughout a number of properties at different geographical locations including, for example, different locations within a city or different cities within a state.

In one embodiment, the host site computer is maintained for the overall operation and control of the system. In this embodiment, a host site computer oversees the entire progressive gaming system and is the master for computing all progressive jackpots. All participating gaming sites report to, and receive information from, the host site computer. Each central server computer is responsible for all data communication between the gaming device hardware and software and the host site computer. In one embodiment, an individual gaming machine may trigger a progressive win, for example through a game play event such as a symbol-driven trigger. In one embodiment, the central server or other central controller determines when a progressive win is triggered. In one embodiment, a central controller and an individual gaming machine work in conjunction with each other to determine when a progressive win is triggered, for example through an individual gaming machine meeting a predetermined requirement established by the central controller.

Alternative Betting Methods

In one embodiment, the gaming device and method includes a plurality of different paylines where at least one of the paylines is of a different length than one of the other paylines. That is, at least one of the paylines includes a different number of symbol positions than at least one of the other paylines. The gaming device enables a player to wager different amounts on each of the plurality of different or separate paylines. That is, the gaming device enables a player to wager one amount on one of the paylines and a separate, different amount on another one of the paylines. One or more of the longer paylines may include all of the symbol positions of one or more of the shorter paylines.

Referring now to FIG. 3, in one embodiment, a gaming device initiates a game and enables a player to select one of a plurality of paylines as indicated in blocks 102 and 104. It should be appreciated that at least one of the paylines includes a different number of symbol positions than at least one of the other paylines. The gaming device enables the player to wager a first amount on the selected payline as indicated in block 106 and the gaming device activates that payline. The gaming device enables a player to select another one of the plurality of paylines as indicated in block 108. If the player selects another payline to wager on, the gaming device enables a player to wager a second amount on the selected payline as indicated in block 106. It should be appreciated that the player may wager the same amount as the amount wagered on the previous payline or a separate, different amount on the newly selected payline. The gaming device enables the player to select a plurality of paylines up until all or a designated number of the paylines have been selected and wagered upon. After a player does not select another payline (i.e., inputs an indication that the player is done selecting paylines and/or desires to generate a plurality of symbols for the selected paylines) as indicated in diamond 110, the gaming device generates a plurality of symbols as indicated in block 112. The gaming device determines awards, if any, based on the symbols generated on each of the selected wagered upon paylines as indicated in block 114 and on the amount wagered on the selected wagered upon paylines. The gaming device provides the determined award(s) to the player as indicated in block 116.

FIGS. 4A, 4B, 4C, 4D, 4E and 4F illustrate screen shots of one embodiment where the gaming device includes a plurality of reels and paylines associated with the reels, where the gaming enables the player to wager different amounts on a plurality of the paylines. In the illustrated embodiment, the gaming device includes reels 54 a, 54 b, 54 c, 54 d and 54 e. Each reel includes a plurality of symbols. The gaming device also includes an award indicator or display 118. The gaming device includes a plurality of paylines which are associated with the symbol positions at which the reels generate or display symbols. At least one of the paylines includes a different number of symbol positions than at least one of the other paylines as generally illustrated in FIG. 4D.

As illustrated in FIG. 4A, the gaming device instructs a player to select a payline and wager an amount on the payline. As illustrated in FIG. 4B, a player selects Payline A 120. The gaming device enables the player to wager on Payline A and the player wagers five credits on Payline A. The gaming device instructs and enables the player to select another payline (if desired) and wager an amount on the selected payline as indicated in FIG. 4B. It should be appreciated that the gaming device enables the player to wager the same or a different amount on the second payline as the amount wagered on the first payline. As illustrated in FIG. 4C, the player selects a second payline, Payline B 122 and wagers ten credits on Payline B 122. The gaming device enables a player to select another payline, as illustrated in FIG. 4D. The player selects Payline C 124, and the player wagers eight credits on Payline C.

It should be appreciated the paylines may be any suitable type of paylines. In one embodiment, as illustrated in FIG. 4D, a payline may overlay some, or all of another payline. That is, a payline may include one, a plurality or all of the same symbol positions as the symbol positions of another payline. In one embodiment, all of the symbol positions in one payline are included in another one of the paylines, as illustrated in FIG. 4D. As illustrated in FIG. 4D, Payline C only extends from the first symbol position through the middle symbol position for the first three reels 54 a, 54 b, and 54 c. That is, Payline B 120 and Payline C 124 each include the middle symbol position 130 on the first reel 54 a, the middle symbol position 132 on the second reel 54 b and the middle symbol position 134 on the third reel. Payline B includes all of the symbol positions of Payline C and two additional symbol positions. It should be appreciated that Payline C ends after the third reel 54 c. The paylines may be any suitable length. In one embodiment, the player may select the length of the payline or create a payline from the displayed symbol positions. In another embodiment, the gaming device provides the player with a plurality of predetermined paylines from which to select.

Referring now to FIG. 4E, the player selects Payline D 126 and wagers twelve credits on Payline D. It should be appreciated at this point that the player did not select any more paylines. However, it should be appreciated that the gaming device may enable the player may wager on any suitable number of the paylines.

As illustrated in FIG. 4F, either automatically or in response to a player input, the reels are activated to generate a plurality of symbols. The gaming device determines any suitable awards associated with any symbol or symbol combinations generated on the wagered on or active paylines. In this example, an award of five is associated with a combination of three money bag symbols 136, 138 and 140 illustrated in FIG. 4F. As illustrated in FIG. 4F, the middle symbol position on the first three reels, 54 a, 545 b and 54 c each include a money bag symbol 136, 138 and 140. It should be appreciated that the player wagered two amounts on these three symbol positions.

The player wagered ten credits on Payline B and eight credits on Payline C. Therefore, the player wins fifty credits for Payline B 122 and forty credits for the wager placed on Payline C 124. Additionally, in this embodiment, a cherry symbol on any active payline is worth two credits. Thus, the player receives an award of two credits for Payline D 126 for the cherry symbol. The gaming device provides a total award to the player of 92 credits. In this example, the paytable is the same for the different paylines. However, it should be appreciated that the paytables could be different for the different paylines. In one such embodiment, wins on certain paylines can provide greater payouts per credit wagered.

It should be appreciated that the gaming device may include any type and any number of paylines. In one embodiment, at least one of the paylines includes all of the same symbol positions of at least one of the other paylines. That is, at least one paylines overlays one of the other paylines. In one example of this embodiment, one of the paylines with the same symbol positions includes additional symbol positions. For example, the gaming device awards the player when they obtain the same symbol in every symbol position of the payline and the player receives greater awards for each same symbol obtained on a payline. Allowing a player to wager different amounts per payline enables the player to have some effect on the volatility of the game. The volatility pertains to the range of the values of the awards. For example, Payline 1 includes three symbol positions, Position A, Position B, and Position C. Payline 2 includes Position A, Position B, Position C the same positions of Payline 1. Additionally, Payline 2 includes Position D and Position E. A player is more likely to obtain three of the same symbols on a payline than five of the same symbols on a payline and is therefore more likely to win a payout by wagering on Payline 1 (assuming a three symbol combination does not payout on a five symbol position payline as in one embodiment disclosed herein). However, the five same symbol combination results in a larger payout than the combination of three of the same symbols but is less likely to occur. Therefore, the player may wager $4 on Payline 1 and $1 on Payline 2 and the player is more likely to receive an award on the shorter payline but can still win a larger payout if they obtain the five matching symbols on the longer payline. The player is changing the volatility by changing their wager. It should be appreciated that more than one payline may include all of the symbols positions of one or more paylines.

In one alternative embodiment, the gaming device includes one or more directionally biased paylines. A directionally biased payline is a payline in which a winning combination is determined based on which symbols are generated along the payline and on symbol positions of the symbols. In one embodiment, a symbol combination must begin in a certain symbol position to result in a winning payout. A directionally biased payline results in a non-symmetric game evaluation. As with a symmetrical payline configuration, the more desired symbols that lie along the payline, the larger the payout tends to be provided the desired symbol combinations begin at the correct directional position on the payline. A directionally biased payline from left-to-right results in a payout for symbol combinations in which the symbol combination begins in the leftmost column or the leftmost symbol position. If the first symbol of the winning symbol combination does not begin in the leftmost column but is still present on the payline, the symbol combination does not result in a payout. A directionally biased payline from right-to-left results in a payout for symbol combinations in which the symbol combination begins in the rightmost column or the rightmost symbol position. It should be appreciated that left-to-right and right-to-left biased paylines may be combined with each other and with conventional non-biased paylines in a single slot game.

It should be appreciated that while the left-to-right and right-to-left biased paylines may be used to wager on an outcome of a game, the types of payline bias may be used to wager for different winnings. For example, left-to-right bias paylines may give winnings for a value such as cash or credits and right-to-left bias paylines may give winnings for free spins, free games and other non-impaired monetary based payouts. It should be appreciated that certain prizes may be awarded in any suitable manner depending on the payline structure. It should also be appreciated that these paylines may be of different lengths.

It should also be appreciated that the games disclosed herein may include one or more moving symbols, falling symbols, rotating symbols, rising symbols, stacked symbols, cascading symbols or any other suitable type of symbols.

It should further be appreciated that while the betting method of weighting paylines or wagering different amounts per payline is described in regard to a slot game, the present disclosure can be implemented into any suitable type of game wherein a plurality of symbols are generated and any award, if any, is provided to the player based on generated symbols or symbol combinations.

In another embodiment, the game is a poker game wherein the gaming device enables the player to play a conventional game of video poker and wager on one or more different hands of the cards. The player may wager different wager amounts on different numbers of cards in the same hand. For example, the gaming device enables the player to wager a first wager amount on a first subset of the dealt cards and a second wagerable amount on a second subset or the entire set of the dealt cards. For instance, a gaming device enables the player to place a first wager on the first three cards of a five card hand creating a three-card poker hand and a second wager on the entire five cards of the five card hand creating a five-card poker hand. That is, the three cards of the three-card hand are a subset of the five-card hand. The gaming device displays five cards all face up from a virtual deck of a fifty-two card deck. If the player wishes to draw for the hands, the player selects the cards to hold via one or more input device, such as pressing related hold buttons or via the touch screen. The player then presses the deal button and the unwanted or discarded cards are removed from the display and the gaming device deals the replacement cards from the remaining cards in the deck. This results in a final three-card hand and a final five-card hand resulting from the same five-card hand. The gaming device compares the final three-card hand and the final five-card hand to a payout table which utilizes conventional poker hand rankings to determine the winning hands. The gaming device provides the player with an award based on a winning hand or winning hands and the credits the player wagered on each hand.

In one embodiment, the gaming device enables the player to weigh certain paylines instead of wagering a separate amount on each payline. As previously discussed, the payout may be alternatively based on the number of symbols that appear on a payline. Alternatively, payouts may be made only when desired symbols for all the symbol spaces are on a particular payline.

It should be appreciated that the betting method described above may be used in conjunction with any other type of suitable game. In one embodiment, the betting method can be employed in conjunction with one or more primary games or one or more bonus games. In one embodiment, the player must place one or more separate wagers for each separate symbol generation. In one embodiment, the player may place separate wagers for symbols or symbol combinations. In another embodiment, the betting method can be employed in association with free spins or free activations of the symbol generators. In this embodiment, the gaming device provides the player a number of free spins or free activations of the symbol generators during which symbols are generated and the game proceeds until a predetermined number of free spins, such as zero, remain or a terminating event or condition occurs and the free spin mode or sequence ends. In one embodiment, a selected payline and wager may remain active for one, a plurality or each of the remaining free spins. In different embodiments, the number of remaining free spins or symbol generations remains active is predetermined, randomly determined, determined based on the player's wager, determined from the occurrence of one or more symbols or determined based on any other suitable method.

Referring now to FIG. 5, in one embodiment, the gaming device enables the player to make different wagers on two or more aspects or sequences of one or more games. In one embodiment, the gaming device enables a player to weigh his or her bet for a base or primary game and a secondary or bonus game. In one such embodiment, the gaming device enables a player to wager a first amount on a first one of the games and wager a second different amount on a second one of the games.

In one embodiment as illustrated in FIG. 5, the gaming device awaits player activation as illustrated in block 150. As illustrated in diamond 152, if a player inputs a first wager amount for a first game, the gaming machine enables the player to input a second potentially different wager amount for a second game, as illustrated in diamond 154. When the player completes the wagers, the gaming device plays the first game and possibly the second game as illustrated in block 156. The gaming device provides the player an outcome based on, at least in part, the wager amounts or the weight placed on both of the games, as illustrated in block 158. It should be appreciated that the gaming device may enable the player to weight the base game and the bonus game depending on the wager level or amount. It should be appreciated that the first and second games may always be provided, or that the second game may only be provided when a triggering event occurs, such as a triggering event in the first game.

In another example of this embodiment (not illustrated), the gaming device enables the player to place a wager with two wager components, weight the wager or place two separate potentially different wagers on different aspects or sequences of a single game. It should be appreciated that the aspects or the sequences may include the gaming device enabling player to purchase special symbols, purchase preferred pay directions or biased paylines, purchase a different type of payline, purchase game play extensions, purchase wild cards or bonus symbols, or purchase other suitable options.

For example, in one embodiment, the gaming device includes a plurality of symbol generators and a plurality of paylines. The gaming device enables the player to wager on different paylines or place different wagers on the same payline for different aspects or sequences of the game. In one example of this embodiment, the gaming machine enables: (a) the player to select a payline and wager a first amount on the selected payline for the first aspect or sequence of the game; and (b) the player to select and place a second potentially different wager amount on another payline or on the same payline for a specific symbol combination that results in a progressive award or other bonus award or event. The gaming device generates a plurality of symbols on the symbol generators. The gaming device uses the first wager to determine the outcome of the game based on the paytable and symbol combination on the first selected payline. The gaming device uses the second wager to determine an award if the gaming device generates the progressive winning symbol combination on the second wagered on payline.

In one embodiment, the gaming device includes at least one and preferably a plurality of symbol generators which each includes a plurality of symbols, and a plurality of paylines associated with the symbol generators, wherein a plurality of the paylines form each form a predetermined path along the symbol generators. The game includes a plurality of winning conditions at least including a first winning condition and a second different winning condition. The gaming device enables a player to place a first wager amount on a first selected payline and a second potentially different wager amount on the first selected payline. The symbol generators generate a plurality of symbols, and the gaming devices provides: (a) an award to the player if the player placed the first wager and the generated symbols resulted in the first winning condition on the first payline; (b) an award to the player if the player placed the second wager and the generated symbols resulted in a second winning condition on the first payline. In various alternative embodiments, (a) the award includes a bonus game if the player placed the second wager and the generated symbols resulted in the second winning condition on the first payline; (b) the award includes a progressive award if the player placed the second wager and the generated symbols resulted in the second winning condition on the first payline; (c) the player is required to place the first wager amount on a first selected payline to be enabled to place the second wager amount on the first selected payline; (d) the player is enabled to place the second wager amount on a selected first payline without having placed the first wager amount on the selected first payline; (e) the second wager amount is predetermined; (f) the second wager amount is player determined; (g) the second wager amount must be greater than the first wager amount, (h) the second wager amount must be less than the first wager amount.

In another example of the above described embodiments, the game is a free spin game which includes a plurality of symbol generators and a plurality of paylines. The game includes a first game sequence which includes wagering game having a paytable for winning combinations. The gaming device includes a second free game sequence triggered by a triggering event in the first game sequence. In one example of this embodiment, the triggering event is a symbol combination that triggers a number of free activations of the symbol generators. The gaming device enables the player to place one or more first wager amounts on a first payline for the first game sequence and one or more second potentially different wager amounts on paylines for the second game sequence. The gaming device respectively determines any awards based on the symbols generated on the paylines and on the amounts wagered per payline.

For example, a player wagers five credits on a first payline for the first game sequence and twenty credits on a second payline for the second game sequence. The gaming device generates a plurality of symbols for the first game sequence. The gaming device evaluates the first payline for any winning combinations in the first game sequence. The gaming device produces a game outcome for the first sequence. If the triggering event occurs, the gaming device provides the player with a certain number of free spins. The gaming device generates a plurality of symbols for each of the free spins. The gaming device determines if there are any winning combinations on the second wagered on payline for each of the free spin symbol generations. The gaming device provides the player an outcome in the free-spin game based symbols generated on the second payline and the second wager amount. If the triggering event does not occur, the gaming device does not use the second wager amount to determine a game outcome.

It should be appreciated that the gaming machine may enable the player to place two separate potentially different wagers, or wager one amount and designate a first portion of that wager amount for the first game or first game sequence and a second different portion of that wager amount for the second game or second game sequence. It should be appreciated that the first game or game sequence and second game or game sequence may occur at the same time or at different times. In one embodiment, the first game is a primary game and the second game is a sequentially provided bonus game. It should be appreciated that in one embodiment, though the player may place a wager on the bonus game or second game sequence, the player may not actually play the bonus game or second game sequence unless a triggering event occurs in the primary game or first game sequence. The player may wager one or more amounts on symbol combinations in the same game as well.

In one embodiment, the gaming device enables the player to place an additional wager or a side wager on a portion of the primary game, place an additional wager or a side wager on a portion of the secondary game or place additional wagers or side wagers on portions of both the primary game and the secondary game. Thus, various embodiments provide for the bifurcation or other division of the wagers, such as betting on specific occurrences such as occurrences of bonus symbols in a primary game with different wager amounts which provide greater flexibility in betting or alternative betting configurations.

This various embodiments thus provide players with new and different ways to control betting, and provide players with increased flexibility in bets by allowing the players to have greater control over how their bets are applied and managed. These various embodiments also provide the players with a sense of the ability to weigh payline importance as well as to place their bets where they feel these bets will be most beneficial to them.

In various embodiments, the gaming devices and methods provide players with betting systems that enable the players to wager not just on one or more paylines, but also on a number of symbols per payline. In certain embodiments, this enables players to essentially weight their bets to portions of the symbol generators such as the reels that are more likely to result in winning outcomes. For example, due to probability factors, typically it is more likely that three of the same symbols will be generated than five of the same symbols being generated. Certain embodiments enable the players to place wagers based on these probability factors.

FIG. 6 illustrates a screen shot of one embodiment where the gaming device includes a plurality of touch screen input buttons 162, 164, 166, 168, and 170 on the display device 160. The gaming device provides options enabling a player to place wagers based on probability factors through the use of input buttons. For example, the first input button 162 enables the player to wager one credit on three symbols for one payline. The second input button 164 enables the player to wager five credits on three symbols for five paylines. The third input button 166 enables the player to wager twenty credits for three symbols for twenty paylines. The fourth button enables the player to wager forty credits for four symbols on twenty paylines. The fifth input button 170 enables the player to wager sixty credits for five symbols on twenty paylines. The parentheses on the input buttons in FIG. 6 illustrate an alternative embodiment where a discounted rate is applied for placing higher bets. This wagering scheme provides an interesting dynamic for the player. The player is aware that they are most likely to receive a combination of three symbols as opposed to a combination of five symbols; thus, they see this wagering option as desirable in that it is more likely to result in success for them while costing them less than a maximum wager. However, at the same time, it also represents a risk for the player. The risk resides in the chance that they may receive five symbols without placing a maximum wager and thus miss out on a large payout they could have won had they been wagering at the highest level.

This wagering technique provide players greater flexibility in wagering options as well as the ability to weight their wagers on symbol combinations that are more likely to occur. This essentially enables players to define payline importance. This also provides a risk factor due to the possibility of missing out on a large payout by not placing a full wager. Such wagering configurations, features and functions create interesting dynamics for players in deciding how to wager while allowing them greater control and flexibility over how their wagers are actually applied in the gaming system. In one alternative embodiment, the gaming device enables the player to individually wager on multiple options such as options (b) and (d) listed above for a total wager amount of sixty-five credits.

In another example embodiment, the second potentially different wager increases the frequency of getting into the bonus or secondary game. In one embodiment, the first wagers are placed on the paylines and the second potentially different wagers can be placed on one or more bonus activation symbols associated with symbols generators or each reel in the slot game. In one embodiment, as the number of credits per pay line increases, the number of bonus activations increases because the bonus activation symbols on additional reels become active. Therefore, the chances of getting the bonus or secondary game increases. In one example embodiment with a three by three reel matrix and three paylines, if a player makes a one credit wager on each of three paylines in a nine credit max wager game, only the bonus activation symbol on the first reel which occurs on a payline will activate the bonus or secondary game. On the other hand, if the player makes a three credit wager on each of three paylines in a nine credit max wager game, each of the bonus activation symbols on the paylines will activate the bonus or secondary game. In a second example embodiment with a three by three reel matrix with three paylines, the first three credits buy the three paylines, and each additional credit buys the bonus symbol/feature of the reels (i.e., fourth credit buys the first reel, fifth credit buys the second reel, and the sixth credit buys the third reel).

In an alternative embodiment, the gaming device enables a player to wager more on a base game than on a secondary game such as a progressive game or vice versa.

For example as illustrated in FIG. 7, a gaming device includes five reels 182 a, 182 b, 182 c, 182 d, and 182 e. The first three reels 182 a, 182 b, 182 c, make up the first three symbol positions (i.e. left to right) and the last two reels 182 d and 182 e make up the last two symbol positions. The wager of fifty credits provides additional awards for the first three symbol positions on the first three reels. The second different wager of one hundred fifty credits in this example provides additional awards for the fourth and fifth symbol positions on the fourth and fifth reels 182 d and 182 e. It should be appreciated that the gaming device may enable wager allocation in any suitable manner.

In one embodiment, the gaming devices are integrated with one or more player tracking systems. In one embodiment, the player tracking system tracks the participating player's gaming activity at each of the gaming devices the player plays. In one such embodiment, the individual gaming device and/or the associated player tracking system timely tracks when a player initiates play of or logs onto a gaming device by the insertion of their playing tracking card, enters identifying information, such as a player number or cashes in to begin a gaming session and also timely tracks when a player ends play of or logs off the gaming device by removal of their player tracking card or concludes play for that gaming session. During one or more gaming sessions, the individual gaming device and/or the associated player tracking system tracks any suitable information, such as any amounts wagered, average wager amounts and/or the time wagers are placed. In different embodiments, for one or more players, the player tracking system includes the player's account number, the player's card number or other identification number, the player's first name, the player's surname, the player's preferred name or nickname, the player's player tracking ranking, any promotion status associated with the player's player tracking card, the player's address, the player's birthday, the player's anniversary, the player's recent gaming sessions, or any other suitable data. It should be appreciated that the player tracking data may be used for any suitable purpose in game play.

In one embodiment, the player's wagering preferences are previously stored by a gaming system, such as a player tracking system (such as in the player's account preferences). In one embodiment, upon identification at the gaming device, the gaming device automatically wagers the player's preferred amounts on the paylines or the symbols previously selected by the player without requiring any player entry or input during game play. It should be appreciated that this automated type of game play may be implemented through any suitable gaming system.

It should be understood that various changes and modifications to the presently preferred embodiments described herein will be apparent to those skilled in the art. Such changes and modifications can be made without departing from the spirit and scope of the present disclosure and without diminishing its intended advantages. It is therefore intended that such changes and modifications be covered by the appended claims.

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US831336819 Feb 201020 Nov 2012IgtGaming systems, gaming devices and methods with non-competitive play and optional competitive play
US852366213 Nov 20093 Sep 2013IgtGaming system and method providing balanced paybacks with varying wager amounts
US867273916 Nov 201218 Mar 2014IgtGaming systems, gaming devices and methods with non-competitive play and optional competitive play
US872786516 Nov 201220 May 2014IgtGaming systems, gaming devices and methods with non-competitive play and optional competitive play
US20090131154 *16 Jul 200821 May 2009Aristocrat Technologies Australia Pty LimitedGaming system with feature game play
US20100029364 *1 Aug 20084 Feb 2010IgtGaming system, gaming device and method having secondary symbols associated with primary symbols
Classifications
U.S. Classification463/16
International ClassificationA63F9/24
Cooperative ClassificationG07F17/3262, G07F17/34
European ClassificationG07F17/34, G07F17/32M2
Legal Events
DateCodeEventDescription
31 Aug 2006ASAssignment
Owner name: IGT, NEVADA
Free format text: ASSIGNMENT OF ASSIGNORS INTEREST;ASSIGNORS:BAERLOCHER, ANTHONY J.;MUIR, DAVID H.;REEL/FRAME:018193/0156;SIGNING DATES FROM 20060728 TO 20060801