Latest games take
G2E’s center stage

Nov 13, 2006 4:10 AM

For the past couple of weeks, I’ve alluded to the many games that I analyzed over the past year that will be on display at the Global Gaming Expo (G2E) starting today at the Las Vegas Convention Center. Today, I will discuss some of these games in more detail.

Leading the pack is Headstart Hold’em Keno, invented by John Feola of New Vision Gaming and distributed by Planet Bingo. The game starts with five predetermined 2-card pocket hands. These hands are Big Slick (unsuited A-K), Royal Family (Suited J-Q), Diamond Girl (suited 8-9), Speed Limit (Pair of 5s) and Mr. Lucky (unsuited 2-7). The Player wagers on which of these starter hands will wind up with the highest hand after the five community cards are dealt.

The Player will be paid if he wagered on the winning hand. The payout will depend on the hand ranking of this hand and the specific hand wagered on. This game is targeted for the keno parlor and to help out the sagging revenues that have plagued this area of the casino for many years. It can also be used in the bingo room. Dave Forman of Planet Bingo will be happy to give you a walk through at their booth. Having played the game for hours, I can tell you it is quite addicting and far more exciting than traditional keno. I’m told numerous casinos have already expressed interest in Headstart Hold’em keno. I would not be surprised to see this one in casinos real soon.

If keno isn’t your game, then you may prefer Headstart Hold’em Video Poker. Similar to the keno version, this game consists of far more strategy. The same 5-card starter hands are used. The player initially must wager on ALL five hands. After the first three community cards are dealt (the flop), the player must decide to raise or fold each of the five hands. He can raise or fold any or all of them.

If the player raised the winning hand and it wins with at least three of a kind, the player wins. Again, the payout will depend on the ranking of the hand and which hand actually won. Headstart Hold’em Video Poker will have a payback very similar to video poker. Both versions also have a Flop Bonus wager, where the player is paid if the 3-Card Flop is at least a pair. The Video Poker version will not be at the show, but you can play both versions at

Shuffle Master

One of the highlights of the G2E is the Shuffle Master display. As one of the leaders in table games, they generally have a very popular booth (it might be the female dealers too!). I had the pleasure of performing the analysis on many of Shuffle Master’s new games. Here are highlights:

Two new versions of Three Card Poker are being introduced. The first is Progressive Three Card Poker, which features a separate $1 sidebet that pays on three of a kind or better. If dealt a mini-royal (Suited A-K-Q) of spades, the player will win the jackpot. Any other mini-royal is worth 25% of the jackpot. The average jackpot should grow to nearly $4000 before it is hit.

The second version is Three Card Poker World Championship. The Pair Plus paytable has been altered slightly so that if the player is dealt a Mini-Royal he will win an entry into Shuffle Master’s annual Three Card Poker World Championship Tournament, with a top prize of $1 million dollars. This version of Three Card Poker is very similar to Shuffle Master’s Let It Ride Tournament version that was very popular about a decade ago.

Fortune Pai Gow Poker has also been enhanced with a progressive jackpot. Unlike most progressive wagers, this one allows the player to bet any amount they wish. Most of the payouts continue to be on a traditional odds payout basis. Players will win 10% of the progressive jackpot if dealt five aces, and the entire jackpot if dealt a 7-card straight flush. Because the game also contains an Envy Bonus (everyone wins a little if someone hits a top hand), it pays to play at a full table. Depending on the paytable in use, the payback at a full table can be as high as almost 97%. The progressive jackpot here can be life altering. The average full jackpot should be about $120,000. It can easily climb well beyond that.

Ultimate Texas Hold’em, which was introduced at last year’s show and has been very successful over the past year already has a cousin. Bad Beat Texas Hold’em has a slightly different betting structure and a bonus if the player loses a four of a kind or better. In Bad Beat Texas Hold’em, the player makes two initial wagers. After seeing his pocket cards, he can check or bet an additional unit. After the flop, he again can check or bet an additional unit. After seeing the final two community cards, a player who has wagered on one of the two prior optional wagers can either check or again bet an additional unit. If he has not wagered on one of the prior optional wagers, he must wager an additional unit now or Fold, forfeiting his initial two wagers. Like the original, this game boasts a payback of over 99%. But, in fairness, it is NOT an easy strategy to master.

Gaming Entertainment

Ya Awada of Gaming Entertainment will also be showing three new games. The first is a blackjack sidebet, 21 or Push. In this sidebet, the player wins if he winds up with any 21, including blackjack or if he winds up pushing with the dealer. As far as I know, this is the only blackjack sidebet that affects the strategy of the game. Because the player is paid for a push, it greatly alters the value of a push in determining when to hit and when to stay. Make sure you learn the new strategy before playing. The combined payback of blackjack and the sidebet with proper strategy is just over 98%. If you use regular blackjack strategy, it will be 96%.

Next up for Mr. Awada is Mini Pai-Gow Poker. In this version, each player is given six cards and must make a 5-card hand and a 1-card Hand. The player must win both hands in order to win even money on his wager. If he wins won and loses one, it is a push. Most ties are a loss for the player. If the player and the dealer tie on the 1-card hand with an ace, it is treated as a push. If the player has the joker as his 1-card hand, it wins over any dealer card. There is also a sidebet that pays the player based on the best 5-card poker hand that can be made from his six cards. The player wins with two pair or better.

The final entry by Gaming Entertainment is Double Down Baccarat. This is a whole new twist on what can sometimes be considered a dry game. The player makes an initial wager and then sees one card from each of the Player dand and the Banker hand. At this point, the player may double his initial wager. Unlike blackjack, this does not limit the number of cards that can be drawn. The rules for drawing cards are unchanged from traditional baccarat. If the player wins, he will be paid even money on all of his wagers, unless he wins with a 9, in which case the Double Down wager wins 2-to-1. The house wins all ties, except ties of 9. In the event of a tie of 9, the Double Down wager is a push and the original wager is paid even money. If the player wagers on the Banker hand, he wins the same amount, only he will pay the traditional 5% commission on all winnings.

If you make it to the show, check out these games and the many others that will be on display. You never know which will be the next big hit. I’ll report back on some of the ones I liked in the coming months.