The Global Gaming Expo is just a week away. Last week I discussed some facets of professionalism when trying to market your games. This week, I’ll begin to discuss some of the games that will be on display at the Scientific Games display. If you take a closer look at the games, you’ll see they are a blend of games from the inside, games from the outside and even some blended sources. I don’t know of any table game company that hasn’t promoted games from outside inventors. The key is a successful game. The source of the creativity is just not a primary concern.
This year’s Scientific Games display will have a variety of games from blackjack variants, to poker-based games to blackjack sidebets. Some are brand new, others have been around for a year or two. The emphasis will not be on their large catalog of existing hits – Three Card Poker, Ultimate Texas Hold’em and Mississippi Stud among others. If you want to check those out, you can hit most any casino floor in the country.
A couple of years ago, Scientific Games (while it was still Bally Technologies), struck a deal with Geoff Hall, the inventor of Blackjack Switch and Free Bet Blackjack, to acquire his patent for the Push 22 rule. This rule causes all player non-busted hands (except a blackjack) to push when the dealer busts with 22. This is quite punishing to the player, giving several percentage points back to the house. But, the goal was not to increase the house advantage, but rather spice up the game of blackjack to make it a bit more exciting. This has led to several variations of games where the player can do things while playing he’s only dreamed of.
In Blackjack Switch, the player plays two hands and can switch the second cards of the hands with each other. In Free Bet, the player gets free double downs and splits. He doesn’t have to put any more money down, but gets paid if he wins these hands. The end result is games with paybacks over 99% and very much in line with regular blackjack.
Thus, it should be no surprise Sci Games is continuing down this road with other variations that take advantage of the Push 22 rule. I’ve already written about one of these games – Zappit Blackjack. In Zappit, the player can discard his first two cards (only once) if he is dealt a 15, 16, 17 or 18. Some of you may wonder why would you want to discard a 17. But 17 is not a strong hand for the player. At best you push if the dealer doesn’t bust. Even an 18 can be a marginal hand, especially facing a 9, 10 or Ace.
A second Push 22 game will be on display as well. It is Deal and Reveal Blackjack. In it, the dealer will reveal his hole card if it is a 2 to 6. If he has a 7 through King, then blackjack plays per normal. If he has an Ace, he will check for blackjack. If he has a 10 or Face, he will discard it and get a new hole card. He will only discard one hole card, so if the second one is a 10 or Face, his blackjack will play. Also, if the player hits to 21 it is an automatic win.
Free Bet Blackjack is already growing in popularity quickly. Zappit is already on field trial. Deal and Reveal may be there soon, too. The Push 22 rule has changed the field dramatically in terms of blackjack rules. The rules of these games add a lot more excitement to the game as the average hand becomes more in play for the player. While some were concerned if the Push 22 rule would be accepted, it appears the answer is, yes. In the end, the paybacks are very similar to blackjack, yet a much more lively game has ensued. I would look for more variations in the coming years.
Also in the blackjack arena are three relatively new sidebets. They are King’s Bounty with Dealer Envy, TriLux and Blazing 7’s Progressive. The King’s Bounty is an existing sidebet. But, the Dealer Envy has been added, which puts a portion of the winnings directly into the dealer toke pool. This way, instead of making the occasional wager for the dealer, the dealer gets paid along with the player.
Trilux is similar to Pair Plus with the player’s two cards and the dealer’s upcard. Well, to be more accurate, I guess I should say it is like Flush Plus. The pair has been removed from the paytable, which allows the other hands to be paid higher. This can be offered with a Lucky George option that is essentially the same as Dealer Envy.
The biggest name in this group is the Blazing 7’s Progressive. A truly successful blackjack progressive has been hard to come by. Some have had mild success, but none have been able to take over the field. Blazing 7’s might be the one to change that. Capitalizing on what was once Bally Technologies’ very successful Blazing 7’s slot machine, this sidebet pays for the player’s two cards and/or dealer’s upcard if he has a 7 or two 7’s or three 7’s or suited 7’s. The more 7’s the better!
Next week, I’ll cover some of their entries that are poker-based. A couple of the titles have been seen before and a couple are brand new.
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