New Hold 'em's hot

Jul 17, 2001 5:18 AM

A new specialty table game ”” Hold ’em Challenge ”” began an exclusive three-month run at Bally’s last week. And the early returns have been positive.

Boasting a miniscule 0.2 percent house advantage, the lowest of any comparable game, Challenge was invented by poker legend David Skalansky. Marketed by Shuffle Master Inc., the game allows players to pick one of three hands. Side bets can also be made.

“It’s a thinking man’s game and it’s difficult to play perfectly,’’ says Roger Snow, table games product manager for Shuffle Master. “But the potential payoffs are high.’’

The table seats seven players and Bally’s reports that those spots have been full since the game debuted on the Fourth of July. After the 90-day trial is concluded, state regulators will examine the betting and payoff results, conduct hearings, and determine suitability for licensing.

Snow says Shuffle Master plans to introduce Challenge to the California market sometime this summer.

In related news, Shuffle Master’s 3-Card Poker continues to enjoy big increases in play. A year ago, there were 185 of the games in operation worldwide. Now there are 485.

“It’s the fastest growing game in the country,’’ Snow says.

3-Card Poker, purchased by Shuffle Master in 1999, trails the company’s Let It Ride (702 tables worldwide) and Caribbean Stud (1,000-plus). Caribbean Stud, distributed by Mikohn Gaming worldwide and DP Stud in Nevada, enjoys particular popularity on cruise ships.