Remaining odds and ends for table games at G2E
October 18, 2016 3:00 AM
by Elliot Frome
I’ve spent the last few weeks covering the table games I saw at the recent Global Gaming Expo here in Las Vegas. This week I’m going to cover the remaining games.
But first I need to correct something I wrote last week. It was a typo, but I received an e-mail from one of my readers about it.
In AGS’ Chase the Flush, if the dealer qualifies and the player’s hand outranks the dealer’s hand, the Ante and Play wager will win even money (NOT push as I accidentally wrote). As my reader pointed out, if the wagers pushed in this case, the player would clearly not have a way to achieve any respectable payback.
Now on to the rest of the games.
Galaxy Gaming, which is another big name in the industry had an unusual setup. They only showed two games on the actual floor at the recent Global Gaming Expo – their successful High Card Flush and Cajun Stud, which is mostly a copy of Scientific Games’ Mississippi Stud. Neither of these games is new.
If you were interested in seeing more, you were whisked off to their showroom to see the rest of their games. I’m not really sure why they did this. It may have been a cost cutting move as the price of floor space at the Expo can be significant.
Masque Publishing was showing a new blackjack variant. Masque is the company that owns Spanish 21. Here the dealer always checked his hole card and then moved his hand to one of three squares marked Low, Mid/Medium or High based on the value of the hole card.
The ranges were 2-5, 6-9 and 10/Face/Ace. So, if the dealer has a 7 showing and moves the hand to the High box, you know he has a 17 or 18. If he has a Face up, but puts the hand in the Low box, you know he has a 12-15.
Essentially, this creates brand new strategies and each is broken down by the Low/Mid/High boxes. To offset this extra information, the game, which is called Down Under Blackjack, utilizes a slightly modified Push 22 rule.
Score Gaming had a few of their offerings on display as well. They were showing 3-Card Draw Poker, a variation on the industry standard. No real surprises here. Player gets three cards and has an option to discard one and draw one. The dealer gets four cards to make his best 3-card hand.
This game definitely adds a bit more action to the original. The dealer getting to make his hand from four cards without discarding one is a powerful advantage for the house. As such, no qualifying is necessary.
They also had a unique BJ sidebet. To begin play, the player makes a Bust Ante wager. The player is betting the dealer will bust. Once the dealer’s upcard is revealed, the player has the option to bet up to 5x the Ante. If he makes this wager (for anything up to 5x the Ante), he triggers a new paytable for all of his bust wagers.
Thus, the player is somewhat compelled to make this wager – especially when the dealer has a bust card showing.
The paytable, however, is based on the value of the card the dealer busts with. So, if the dealer has a 6 showing and then turns a Face and busts with another Face, the player is paid even money. If the dealer busts with 6 – then he is paid 10 to 1.
You will realize the dealer can only bust with a 6 when he gets to 16 and then draws a 6. Thus, it will be a bit rare. I haven’t worked out the odds on this game. I did find it a novel approach to the idea of a bust side bet. That said, it did tend to almost overwhelm the game a bit. I found myself more focused on hoping the dealer busts than making sure my own hand had a chance to win.
Last but not least in terms of proprietary games was Texas Switch. This game won Raving Consulting (Cutting Edge) Table Game of the Year in 2015.
The “gimmick” here is the player has the opportunity to discard his initial 2-card Flop for a new one. The cost of this is effectively equal to his Ante wager. I definitely had some concerns on this one in terms of player collusion. Well, until I was told the house edge was over 2%. This is pretty high for a Texas Hold’em based game against the dealer.
These tend to have very complex strategies and lower house edges. Concern for collusion may have been part of the reason the game has been put out there with such a high house edge.
I also noticed there were a large number of “random” sidebets. Clearly, there has been a proliferation of sidebets on table games. Where you used to have one or maybe two for a given game, the model seems to be heading toward throwing everything, including the kitchen sink, onto the felt.
To this end, one variation on this is a sidebet that is triggered by a simplistic event in the game (i.e. a player blackjack or the first three cards in the player’s hand being of a particular rank). The amount won is then determined by something completely random.
In one case, it was the roll of four dice in a Pai Gow-style dice cup. In others, it was a spin of a virtual wheel (i.e. on a display screen). My big concern about the latter of these is lack of clarity of the payback. Sidebets are not inherently high payback games, but at least, until now, the paybacks can be determined with certainty.
When you spin a virtual reel, you have now incorporated a slot machine-type element into the game. This means you may see what appears to be two identical sidebets that have vastly different paybacks due to the programming of the random wheel.
Even in the case of the four dice I can calculate the payback of that sidebet with 100% precision. Unless I know the probability of each of the outcomes on the wheel and these cannot change from one wheel to the next, I have no way of knowing if the payback is 75% or 98%. The Expert Player in me finds this trend disturbing.
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