Multi-games all the rage

Nov 25, 2003 2:52 AM

Video poker has been the mainstay of many local casinos, but it didn’t really begin to reach epidemic proportions until the late 1990s.

That’s when an inventor named Ernie Moody pioneered a multi-hand concept he called Triple Play Draw Poker.

The new game allowed a player to play three hands at once (on a 15-coin max play) by dealing three rows of five cards. The first two rows are dealt face down, and the bottom row is dealt face up. The player then chooses the cards he/she wants to keep from the bottom hand, and those cards automatically appear in the corresponding spaces in the top two hands. After hitting the Draw button, the player gets three different draws from three different decks. So if a player holds three-of-a-kind from the bottom deck, he/she has three different chances to get four-of-a-kind.

"The game blew the lid off of all of our projections," said Moody, who formed Action Gaming, Inc. to extend the product line. "Triple Play had tremendous play appeal and generated instant acceptance from video poker players all over Nevada. Players liked the fact that when they were dealt a big hand like a Royal Flush, they got paid three times as much as on the older, single-hand video poker games. Many players have told me that after playing Triple Play, they can never go back to playing regular video poker."

Triple Play Draw Poker has since given birth to Five Play, Ten Play, Fifty Play and even Hundred Play Poker (one hundred hands at a time). And Moody continues to develop other poker variations like Flex Play Poker, Millionaire Triple Play Poker, and Chase the Royal.

On the heels of Moody’s successes, IGT in 2001 put together a Video Poker Business Development group to concentrate resources squarely on the video poker product.

"The fact that IGT is focusing on video poker is a powerful message for the marketplace," says Mike Fields, director of the group. "Look at what happened for gaming systems, ticket out, game design or wide-area games after IGT put its efforts into those areas. We’re focusing now on something that hasn’t seen a lot of change, energizing a part of the casino floor that has been relatively underserved."