New games on the G2E table

Sep 12, 2005 12:07 AM

The much-anticipated Global Gaming Expo (G2E) takes place in Las Vegas this week and I’m very much looking forward to this year’s show.

Over the years, the casinos have welcomed new games with much more enthusiasm than ever before. That means that there will be dozens of gaming companies showing off their new games, trying to entice the casino managers to give their creation a chance.

For me, it means an opportunity to find out about games before they hit the casino floor, and a chance to network with the inventors.

I’m already familiar with several of these new games. I had the pleasure of working with their inventors to refine the game based on the mathematical analyses and computer simulations that I performed for them.

When it comes to creating games, nothing is a sure thing. Games that look great on paper and perform well on a computer can fail for no apparent reason.

That said, however, I think I had the good fortune of working on some games this year that have excellent opportunities to succeed. I should point out, however, that I have no financial stake in any of the games I’m about to describe. At most, I have my pride at stake, in hoping these games become the next big success stories.

The first of these games is called Ultimate Texas Hold’em (UTH) created by Shuffle Master. As Texas Hold’em has become popular, many of the gaming companies have tried to create a game that can take advantage of the game’s unprecedented popularity. Progressive (formerly Mikohn) Gaming introduced Texas Hold’em Bonus Poker within the past year or so, and it has begun to achieve significant success.

Shuffle Master is hoping for similar success.

In describing these games, I won’t get too involved in the math and the strategy. I’ll leave those heady topics for a later column (I hope to have a similar analysis about Texas Hold’em Bonus Poker in the near future as well).

Shuffle Master’s UTH has a relatively unique betting structure that allows the player to bet heavy if he is willing to commit earlier. The player initially bets two units, an ante and a super bonus bet. He is then dealt his two down cards.

At this point, the player may either "check" or bet four times his ante as a raise bet. The dealer turns over the first three community cards (like a "flop" in regular poker).

If the player raised, he has no further decision to make. If he has not already bet, he may now bet two times his ante as a raise, or check. The dealer then turns over the final two community cards and the player who has not already bet must either fold, surrendering both his ante and his super bonus, or bet an equal amount of his ante as a raise.

This means that the player does not have a fold decision until he has seen his entire hand. At this point, the dealer reveals his hand. If the dealer does not have at least a pair of aces, he does not qualify and the ante bet is returned, but all other bets remain in play.

If the player wins, he will win even money on his raise bets. His super bonus bet will push if the player wins, unless he has at least a straight or better, in which case the player will win according to the paytable in use.

If the dealer qualifies and the player wins, he will also win even money on his ante. If the player loses, he loses all wagers.

The strategy for UTH is somewhat complex, but by following it, the player can actually achieve a payback of over 99%, which is nearly unheard of for a casino table game.

There is also an optional side bet based on the player’s best five-card poker hand without regard to the dealer’s hand.

As there are several possible side bet paytables, I can’t speak to the specific payback that the side bet will actually offer, as it is not yet known which paytables the casinos will decide to use.

As has been the case with newer games from Shuffle Master, UTH offers the player the ability to take it to the casino when dealt a strong hand. From what I’ve heard, this game has been receiving strong interest already and would not be at all surprised to see it in casinos very soon.

A second game that I think has a lot of potential is called 2-Way Monte and comes from Ya Awada’s Gaming Entertainment in Las Vegas.

Gaming Entertainment is behind the successful game, 3-5-7. Its newest game, 2-Way Monte, is part Three Card Poker and part Pai Gow Poker. The player makes an initial wager as an ante. He is then dealt six cards, while the dealer receives four cards. The player must create two three-card hands using the hand rankings of Three Card Poker.

The player must create a high hand and a low hand, in which the high hand outranks the low hand. After setting his cards, the player must either fold, surrendering his ante or bet, which can be from one to three times the amount of the ante.

Meanwhile, the dealer will use his four cards to create the strongest possible three-card poker hand. In order to win, both of the player’s hands must beat the dealer’s hand.

This means that the player’s low hand must beat the dealer’s hand. Thus, setting the hands involves strategy similar to that used in Pai Gow poker, in which the real goal is to create a low hand that is as strong as possible, even if that means the high hand is not as strong as it could be.

The second part of the strategy involves knowing when to fold, when to bet an amount equal to the ante and when to bet three times the ante.

Lastly, if the player sets his cards so that he has at least a flush as both a low hand and a high hand, he will receive an additional ante bonus. If dealt two straight flushes, this bonus can reach 100 times the ante.

Using expert strategy for 2-Way Monte will allow the player to achieve an overall payback of just over 98%, which is also solid for a table game.

As is the norm today, 2-Way Monte also offers a bonus side bet that pays according to the players low hand. Again, several paytables have been developed and it is too early to know which ones the casinos will eventually choose. All of the paytables begin pay at a pair, which means this game offers a win frequency of just over 36%, which is very high for a side bet.

So, if you’re going to attend G2E, check out these two games. As I have only seen a handful of the games that will be on display, I’m sure there are many others that could end up being the next big game to hit the casinos. If you find one that you think is especially interesting, feel free to drop me a line at [email protected]