Shuffle Master sets the table!

Nov 25, 2003 2:37 AM

If you like Three Card Poker and Let it Ride, you’ll like the new house poker games from Shuffle Master.

Shuffle Master Gaming this year showcased nine new games, eight of which are currently playing in casinos.

Shuffle Master’s Three Card Poker, with 1,000 placements, is the most popular specialty table game in North America; Let it Ride is third with 650 tables. Caribbean Stud, marketed by Mikohn and DP Stud, ranks second with about 800.

Among Shuffle Master’s newest poker-style games are Four Card Poker and Crazy 4 Poker. In both, players get five cards to make four-card poker hands. They compete against the dealer and against a bonus paytable.

"So a four-card straight is a straight and a four-card flush is a flush," said Roger Snow, table games designer at Shuffle Master. "You get a lot of strong hands. Anyone who’s played poker knows it’s a lot easier to pull a four-card straight than a five-card one."

Four Card and Crazy 4 Poker let players "triple down" against the dealer ”” betting three times their ante wager when staying in the game. This is a very favorable rule, and it differs from Three Card Poker, where players may only match their ante.

"Tripling down is huge," Snow said. "When you have a good hand, you can really fire away. In Crazy 4 Poker, players win the triple down 91% of the time."

Snow designed these games for maximum volatility.

"They’re games for aggressive gamblers," he said. "There are a lot of huge swings””you can win a lot in a hurry."

Four Card and Crazy 4 Poker are played in the following jurisdictions: Nevada, Washington, Mississippi, Indiana, Iowa and California.

In addition to its poker games, Shuffle Master also has side bets for baccarat and pai gow poker.

"Both are in the market and are doing extremely well," Snow said. "We’re picking up installs every month."

The baccarat side bet is Dragon Bonus. It pays when the selected hand (Player or Banker) wins by a large point margin””the higher the margin, the higher the payout. The top award is 30 to 1 for a nine-point win.

"We’re getting great feedback from casinos," Snow said. "We’ve had this game in the market since January and we’re very happy with the results."

The pai gow side bet is called Pai Wow Bonus. It considers three of the cards remaining once the dealer distributes all pai gow hands. If those three cards contain a pair or better, players win. The top hand is a mini royal (Ace-King-Queen suited), and it pays 40 to 1. The Joker is wild in Pai Wow Bonus; players can use it as an Ace, or to complete a straight or flush.

"It’s Pair Plus for pai gow," said Snow, referring to the popular side bet in Three Card Poker. "It has a great hit frequency, and everyone is rooting for the same thing. There’s great camaraderie."

Players get frequent wins and the house gets speed.

"Pai gow poker is already the slowest table game out there," Snow said. "Plus, 41% of the hands are pushes. The last thing pai gow needs is a side bet that slows the game down. Pai Wow Bonus is the fastest side bet out there."

Dragon and Pai Wow are played in California, Mississippi, British Columbia, Detroit, Louisiana, New Jersey and Indiana. Snow expects Nevada approval in the next month or so.

"That’s the big one," he said. "When we get the green light in Nevada, these games should really take off."