I’ve been going to the Global Gaming Expo (G2E) for the past 15 years or so. Some years there have been more table games to see, some years less. This is from a pure quantity perspective, not quality. This year had to be the overall worst in terms of both.
That’s not to say there weren’t some good games on the floor as there definitely were. But, I don’t think there were more than seven or eight booths that had table games on the entire floor. When you consider this includes Scientific Games, AGS and Galaxy, that means the rest of the pickings were very slim. I said I would spend the next few weeks discussing the table games I saw. I’m pretty sure I can fit it all into this one column.
Last week, I previewed the Scientific Games offerings, so I will not spend much more time on those. Besides the ones I mentioned last week, they also showcased Face Up Pai Gow Poker, which is a pai gow variant where the dealer plays his hand face up right from the start. This gives the player the advantage of setting his hand to maximize his expectations based on the dealer’s actual hand.
The cost for doing this is if the dealer plays an Ace High Pai Gow the hand automatically pushes. The only strategy is to play your hand to win when you can or to at least push if you can’t win. The payback is about 98.5% for this commission free game. Beyond that, Sci Games had EZ Bacc on display (a game acquired when they purchased DEQ last year) and a few other games that have been on display the past couple of years.
Galaxy Games had a modest booth this year as they did last year. They had three of their established games on display. I’m not sure if they were doing what they did last year and taking those with serious interest in leasing their games offsite to see the rest of their offerings. As such, if they had anything new to show, I didn’t get to see it.
Masque Publishing, the quiet owners of Spanish 21 had their Down Under Blackjack on display for the second year. The game was improved this year by adding an electronic reader to the game to determine if the dealer’s downcard is a High Card, Medium Card or Low Card. In addition to seeing the dealer’s upcard, you get this piece of additional information – which can be quite valuable. To offset this, the game uses a modified Push 22 rule whereby if you are dealt 2 Gold Cards you still win against a dealer 22. I liked this game when I saw it last year. Still like it this year. But as it is not technically “new,” I still can’t say I saw anything innovative.
Over at AGS, the game that interested me the most was their new Gin Rummy based game, called Gin and Win. No alcohol is involved. This is a tough type of game to achieve successfully. I’m not sure they’ve done it yet, but then again the fact that I can’t say they haven’t is in fact a success by itself.
The game is a relatively simplistic manifestation of a casino game that is loosely based on gin rummy. The player and the dealer each get 7 cards. Each eliminates their pairs, trips and 3 (or more) card Flushes. The goal is to be left with the fewest cards possible. If the player and dealer have the same number of cards, you move the ranks of the cards.
The biggest issue I saw with this game is, in watching about a dozen hands, I caught the dealer making two mistakes, both working against the House. If I were playing in a casino for real money, I would never have said a word and I’m sure all other players would’ve remained quiet. In one case it left the dealer with three cards instead of two. If this happens too often, this might slice the House hold. There are not a lot of hands where this can happen. To be clear, the dealer did not completely miss something.
There were two ways the hand could’ve been played by properly splitting Pairs/Trips to make more Flushes that were missed. This reminded me a good deal of a dealer setting a pai gow hand wrong, but in those cases, I think the impact to the casino is a bit less – unless the dealer is making some serious pai gow errors. Dealer training and/or the use of an electronic device would help greatly. Whether or not the players take to the game will be seen over time. For the time I sat there, I found the game entertaining.
Since my general rule is to not put down games that are less than, well, good, I have not much else to write. I saw a couple of other booths with live table games. A couple were “ok,” but were games I’ve seen in the past, so I will not discuss them here and now. Some were just downright awful and I can’t see them ever making it to the floor. Or, if they get there, staying for very long. I know booths are expensive at G2E and this might explain why I didn’t see many of the independent developers showing their wares.
I did meet several of them privately who either have games in development or the early stages of being deployed. So, I know there is still innovation out there. It would be nice if there was a way for more of these inventors to show their wares at G2E. The Table Games Conference is here in Las Vegas, next month, so perhaps I’ll see more of the innovation firsthand then.