Bally Technologies makes big push for table games at G2E
October 07, 2014 3:08 AM
by Elliot Frome
It should be little surprise the largest display of new table games at G2E belonged to Bally Technologies, which bought Shuffle Entertainment this past year.
Besides the three games I mentioned last week (Match’em Hi-Lo, DJ Wild and Go Fore It), Bally had several other games on display. Included in this was Solitaire Stud, which was shown last year, but has been tweaked a bit.
Solitaire Stud puts the Player’s hand against the Dealer’s hand with the winner being the one who has the longest “solitaire” Straight (a Straight alternating between Red and Black cards).
At the Bally booth we also saw some of the crossover as a result of the merger. A new sidebet for Blackjack was shown called Blazing 7’s, which borrows from Bally’s very popular slot machines.
The Player is paid if either of his first 2 cards are a 7. If both of them are a 7 he is paid more and yet more if his first hit card is a 7 as well. Through the years, no one sidebet for Blackjack has been able to dominate, so now the Players have another option.
John Feola of New Vision Gaming was displaying two new games at the show (at the Catco Gaming booth). Last week I discussed Hold’em 3 Bonus. John also had Packs Poker on display. This is a very simplistic Texas Hold’em Poker game that seemed to draw a fair amount of attention.
The Player and the Dealer each get 5 cards. The Dealer also deals three “packs” of 2 cards. The Dealer flips the first pack and compares the Player’s hand to the Dealer’s hand. High hand wins – but the Player must achieve a minimum hand to get paid.
This is repeated for the other two packs. There is no decision making and the game plays fairly quickly. While a lot rides on the strength of the Player’s 5 cards, the final strength of the hand is greatly impacted by the three packs of cards. You can learn more about Packs Poker and John’s other games at newvisiongaming.com.
This year, there was a new player in the table game space. They are not a new company in the industry, however.
American Gaming Systems (AGS) has decided to get into table games. At the G2E, they had four games on display. Two of the titles were War Blackjack and War Baccarat. Both of these games operate using similar mechanisms.
The Player and Dealer essentially play War (one card poker) with the first card dealt to each. If the Player wins, he can parlay his winnings from this initial bet onto his main wager.
A third title was In-Bet which is essentially Acey-Deucey. The goal is to have the Dealer’s card be in between the Player’s two cards. So, if the Player has a 5 and an 8, you want the Dealer to turn over a 6 or 7.
Lastly, they had a poker variant called Criss Cross Poker. This is a paytable-based Poker game, where the Player gets 2 cards and there are 5 community cards dealt in a crisscross pattern. The Player has two chances to win using either the 3 horizontal or 3 vertical community cards.
The last few years, there have been very few (if any), independent game inventors at the show. This year there were at least two “newbies” that I saw. Being the new kid makes their job a bit tough. I think their game ideas may make the job even tougher.
Full Color games had fully developed games (based on blackjack and baccarat) using their unique deck of 55 cards. There are 5 colors (instead of suits) and the cards are numbered 1 thru 11. The white cards (one of the colors) are negative counts in both of the games. So, if you have a Red 4, Blue 5, Purple 3 and a White 6 – your point total would be 6 (4+5+3-6).
They apparently have a strong following for their social media solitaire game using these cards. I’ve written extensively through the years about the issues of using items that are not readily available to the casino. They were handing out free decks of their cards to probably show that this was not an issue, but casinos want their decks of cards to have their logos on the backs and they have concerns about keeping tabs of different inventory of cards for different games.
I found the blackjack game to be fun, but I also have some concerns if using negative numbers will be a bit much for some Players. I think they have their work cut out for them, but I wish them much success and I tip my hat to them for thinking out of the box.
A second company, GDC Gaming, went down the same path, but had not fully developed games based on their new decks. They had some ideas on how the cards could be used in existing games and felt the varied decks offered numerous opportunities.
Their first deck was a “split deck” of 104 cards. There was a top half and bottom half of each card in the deck. While I can see some possibilities of this, it was not clear how in a practical sense this would be much different than using two decks of cards.
The one exception would be the ability to match a specific top half to its matching bottom half. The other deck concept was a 65-card deck that had a fifth suit. Their particular symbol used all four suits together with the intention that the new fifth suit would be wild. I have seen other inventors try something similar (I’m reasonably certain my father worked with an inventor on such a game).
The problem they ran into was the one I mentioned earlier regarding casinos’ hesitance to have these alternate decks in their inventory. I would hate to be sitting at a standard blackjack table when this fifth suit accidentally popped up.
I applaud the novel attempts at new game ideas and I think it is important to the industry. I just think they have a very steep hill to climb. A good part of me hopes they are successful because this would open the door to many new game ideas. That said, I think the quicker path to success in the table game industry is to stick with a standard deck of cards.
All in all, it was a great show and I look forward to the G2E 2015!
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Elliot Frome is a second generation gaming analyst and author. His math credits include Ultimate Texas Hold’em, Mississippi Stud, House Money and many other games. His website is www.gambatria.com. Contact Elliot at ElliotFrome@GamingToday.com.