New casino games don't have an impact to start
August 29, 2017 3:10 AM
by Elliot Frome
As someone who reviews new casino game ideas on a regular basis, I’ve seen my share of some really bad ideas.
It gets downright comical when the inventor’s bad idea includes a sales pitch that involves telling me how it is going to knock Three Card Poker from its perch or how their game will have hundreds of tables within a year.
For those of you who have read my column for years, you know I’m a diehard Mets fan (tough year!). Can you imagine if Amed Rosario came up to the majors and started spewing how he’s going to win more gold gloves than Ozzie Smith and steal more bases than Rickey Henderson? The kid has the skills in this area, but the odds of him accomplishing either of those feats is still a longshot. Now imagine if it was Wilmer Flores (so-so glove, no speed) boasting the same!
Even if the game has a plausible shot of succeeding in the casino, boasting that it’s going to take out the most successful game of all time is absolutely absurd. It took years for Three Card Poker to even get going. I think the shortest time for any base game to get to 100 tables was about 2-3 years. So, when you try to tell me how your game is going to get to hundreds by the end of the year (even if it is March!), you’re not just blowing smoke, you might be smoking something!
Successful casino games are slow, steady climbs and even sometimes have some pullbacks. I’ve written numerous times how Mississippi Stud Poker had just two tables for the first few years of its existence. Now it is a monster hit.
Three Card Poker also had an advantage today’s games can never have – it had virtually no competition. Back then, it meant removing a useless blackjack table. Today, it likely means removing a game that has been performing well, hoping this new game will perform even better. That’s a lot riskier for the casino.
Those who are in the industry and whose primary job is to invent games understand the process of success is a slow one. A few years ago, I analyzed a game for Shuffle Master (since acquired by Bally Technologies, which was acquired by Scientific Games) called Deuces Joker Wild. The original version I analyzed might have been a bit different than the current version, but the essence was still the same. This game was showcased at the Global Gaming Expo in 2015 and was on display again last year. Four or five years after it came to be and two years after it was showcased the number of live tables is in the realm of a couple dozen.
Is it a huge success? Not yet. Will it be? Very possibly. This despite the fact it didn’t go to hundreds by the end of the year and it is unlikely to ever come close to where Three Card Poker is – which is roughly 2,000 tables. Scientific Games will be overjoyed if over the next few years it continues to climb and gets to 100-200 tables and can hold steady or continue to grow slowly.
A base table game at peak can lease for $2,000 or more per month per table. At 100 tables, this is $200,000 a month or $2.5 million per year. In the earlier stages, the lease per month is far lower. So, imagine how absurd it sounds when someone with a game idea that has zero tables in the casinos tries to claim within a year it could be earning 5 to 10 million dollars per year when the entire industry (table games) might be only $200-300 million.
Never mind the cases where the idea that is being pitched is downright awful.
DJ Wild Poker is a relatively simple variation of the game of poker. As you might guess, Deuces and a Joker are wild and can be used as any card. The player makes an Ante and Blind wager as is common in many games today. The player is dealt five cards face down as is the dealer. The player must either Fold, forfeiting his Ante and Blind, or Play 2x his Ante. The better hand wins.
The dealer always qualifies. The Ante and Play pay even money and the Blind pushes if the player wins with Trips or less and pays per paytable with a Straight or Better.
The game also has a relatively easy strategy, almost up there with Three Card Poker. Fold a Pair of 3’s or less. Play a Pair of 4’s or better, with the one exception being a Pair of 4’s with a 3 in the hand, which is folded. The game has a payback of just under 99%, which is quite strong for a game with such little strategy.
In a few more years, there might be 100 of these games out there or in the far larger category of games that didn’t make it. What it definitely is not, is a game that had hundreds of tables in the first year or two. I know this to be a certainty because no game has ever done this, nor is any game very likely to ever do this.