It is time for the Global Gaming Expo 2015 and my annual table game preview. As I spend most of my time working on games for Scientific Games (previously known as Shuffle Master), that’s where my preview will focus.
According to my sources, there will be 11 “newish” table games on display at the Scientific Games booth.
I say “newish” games because these are not all brand new games. But, they will not be highlighting their many classic games like Ultimate Texas Hold’em, Three Card Poker, Let It Ride, etc. The focus will be on games never seen before at a G2E or games that have only been around for a couple of years (or recently purchased by Scientific Games).
There will be games in a variety of categories –Poker-based, Pai Gow-based and Blackjack-based. In the Pai Gow arena, there will be Commission Free Pai Gow Poker and Fortune Asia Poker. The former plays like standard Pai Gow poker but the commission has been eliminated by taking a hand the player would normally win and turning it into a push.
Fortune Asia Poker throws a wrinkle into the process by having the Player break his 7-card dealt hand into THREE hands: a 4-card hand, a 2-card hand and a 1-card hand. The player must win 2 out of the 3 hands to win the wager (no commission). Like in regular Pai Gow, the Dealer wins copies (identical hands) and with 1- and 2-card hands, these will occur more frequently.
In the blackjack arena, we have the less than new, but very popular, Free Bet Blackjack. I’ve written about it multiple times in the past year. The player gets “free” double down and split opportunities. The dealer pushes on 22. A more exciting and slightly lower cost version of blackjack.
The second entry is a brand new game called Zappit Blackjack. Hate getting dealt 15’s and 16’s? Even get frustrated getting dealt a 17 vs. a 10/Face? Well, now you can zap your hand if you get a 15, 16, 17 or 18 on the first two cards. You get a brand new 2-card initial deal. The “price” for this is the dealer pushes on 22 like in Free Bet and Blackjack Switch. The player gets better hands on average. Overall payback is similar to regular blackjack (and Free Bet, etc.). Standard Push 22 strategy applies after you decide to Zap or not. So, you need to learn this new piece of the strategy, but it is pretty easy to learn.
There will also be a variety of blackjack sidebets on display. After all, what would any blackjack table be without a few sidebets? Many will include the Dealer Envy (also called the Lucky George on some versions) where the dealer gets a portion of the winnings as a toke.
Next up are the “poker” variants. I use that term somewhat loosely, because not all of these are pure poker, but more closely resemble poker than anything else. A few years ago, Galaxy Gaming came out with High Card Flush, a game that relies on Flushes and Straight Flushes only. Pairs and other sets are meaningless.
This has led to more games that rely on only some of the usual poker hands, including Flushes Gone Wild. The player goes head to head against the dealer with only Flushes counting. The twist, as the name implies, is deuces are wild, creating larger Flushes for a more exciting game.
The game utilizes the Blind wager as in many Scientific Games table games. In this case however, the player is not paid based on the rank of his hand but on the margin of victory. Hands rank first by the number of cards in the Flush then, if two equal-sized Flushes, the ranks of the cards.
Another game in this arena but even a little further out there is Picture Perfect. The goal is to get the most picture (face) cards. To help out, the Aces, 2’s and 3’s are removed and replaced with extra J’s, Q’s and K’s. The player plays against the dealer. Hands rank by the number of picture cards.
Thus QQJ will outrank KQ as there are three face cards in the first hand. If two hands have the same number of face cards, the specific ranks will be used. This is similar to the ranking system in Flushes Gone Wild.
More true to poker is DJ Wild Poker, which I believe made its debut last year. It has performed well in the past year and is back! DJ Wild is a relatively simple 5-card poker game where the player goes head to head against the dealer. No community cards. No qualifying.
The dealer gets the same number of cards the player does. The fun is in the wild cards. The game uses a 53-card deck with deuces and jokers wild, and uses the common wager formula of an Ante/Blind/Play but the Play wager is 2X the Ante.
There will be other games on display that I am not as familiar with (yet). I’ll try to write them up after the show. If you’re going to G2E and have interest in table games, take a look at these. And if you see something interesting, feel free to email me: [email protected]
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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. Email: [email protected].