Welcome to the Global Gaming Expo (G2E) 2017! There is little doubt my bread and butter (video poker and table games) is not what most people are talking about this year.
I’m guessing most of the talk will once again be about skill-based gaming. Ironically, video poker and table games are in fact skill-based gaming and have been around for decades! So, I feel completely comfortable talking about them in my column while still being cutting edge!
Today, I will preview some of the table games that will be on display at the Scientific Games booth. In the coming weeks, after I get to see some of the other companies’ games, I’ll review those as well.
As Shuffle Master got bought by Bally Technologies, which in turn was purchased by Scientific Games, the number of table games on display has not decreased, it just became a bit harder to find them within the booth. But, there should be about 12 live tables in their booth, showing both new games and some more recent entries. What you won’t find is their established games. If you want to see those, head on out to the Venetian floor where you’ll find them all in abundance!
Helping to prove that if you want to create a new table game, you should focus on poker-based and/or blackjack derivatives, Scientific Games is featuring What the Flush! Poker, DJ Wild Poker, Zappit Blackjack and Zombie Blackjack. Three other games will be derivatives of baccarat and pai gow.
I’ve written before about Zappit and Zombie Blackjack. Both of these games were created by Geoff Hall who created the Push 22 concept in blackjack. When the dealer busts with 22, all non-bust, non-blackjack player hands are a push. This is a significant advantage for the house that can be offset with a variety of fun rules to liven up the game of blackjack.
In the case of Zappit Blackjack, the player gets to throw out his first two cards if he has a hard 14 through 18 and get two new cards. He can do this only once per deal. The strategy is fairly simple and the player plays a lot fewer stiff hands.
Zombie Blackjack is a bit more complex. When the player busts, his hand is not definitely a losing hand. If the dealer has a 7 through Ace upcard, a player bust is turned into a “coffin wager.” If the dealer busts with a 23 through 26, the player is paid even money. If the dealer does not bust or busts with a 22, the player’s wager is lost. So, since you shouldn’t be busting often with a dealer 2 through 6, most player busts keep the player in the game. Not only might he not lose his wager, he might win! Both of these games have competitive paybacks at about 99%.
DJ Wild Poker has been out for a year or two now and I also have written about it in the past. It is a relatively simple game. The twist is the Deuces and a Joker are wild. Other than that, it is pretty straight forward. The player makes an Ante and Blind wager up front. The player gets five cards, the dealer gets five cards. The player either plays at 2x his Ante or he Folds. Highest hand wins even money on the Ante and Play. The Blind will push if the player wins with Trips or less and will pay per the paytable if he wins with a Straight or Better.
This is a common Scientific Games wagering method. The strategy is relatively simple and the payback is right about 99% as well. I’ve often wondered if a Wild Card game could survive in the casino as the hands are a little harder to read for some players. But so far this game has been received well and may be on its way to being a superstar.
Their other poker-based game is the answer to Galaxy Gaming’s High-Card Flush. High-Card Flush was introduced several years ago and I immediately liked it. I don’t know which game will be bigger in the long run, but my vote for best name goes to the new entry – What the Flush! Poker.
When the game was brought to me to analyze, my reaction was “no way, you did not call this game WTF! Poker!” But, they did! It could be the best name for any game on the casino floor!
As the name indicates, the game is all about Flushes. Who gets the larger Flush? The player or the dealer?
The betting structure is a bit more traditional. The player makes only an Ante wager to begin play. He then gets seven cards. The dealer will get eight cards, with one turned up. Now, the twist. In WTF! Deuces are wild (there is no Joker). If the dealer’s upcard is a Wild Card, it is discarded. So, if the dealer’s upcard is the most powerful one he can get, he loses the card and plays with only seven cards.
This will happen just over 7% of the time, so it will not happen often, but again, it happens when the dealer would have his greatest advantage. Also, helping to level the playing field is if the player has a 5-card Flush, he can wager 2x his Ante. If he has a 6- or 7-card Flush, he can wager 3x his ante. Anything less than a 5-card Flush and he can only wager 1x his ante or he must fold.
The strategy is a bit more complex here as when you have a 3-card Flush you have to take into account the dealer’s upcard. The payback is a solid 98.5% and the game should be far less intimidating than a full poker game.
If you’re at the G2E, stop by the Scientific Games booth and check out these games as well as the others. While you’re there, look around for me. I’ll be wandering the floor looking for table games. If you find any of interest, drop me an email at [email protected]