New table game cashes in
on poker craze

May 11, 2004 5:31 AM

As the popularity of poker rages across the country, fueled by TV coverage and the World Poker Tour (WPT), casinos can cash in on the craze with a new table game called World Poker Tour All-In Hold’em.

Developed by Lakes Entertainment through a license agreement with World Poker Tour, WPT All-In Hold ”˜Em will give poker fans the same kind of excitement and drama that they have seen on their television sets. Players can even strategize their betting and experience the rush of making an "all-in" raise or bluffing for a big win.

Unlike live poker, however, in which players bet against each other and the casino supplies the dealer in exchange for a percentage of the pot, the new table game is played against the house, just like other bankable games like blackjack and Let It Ride poker.

Lakes Entertainment owns about 80 percent of the World Poker Tour, and its founder, Lyle Berman, is a world-class poker player who is in the Poker Hall of Fame.

Berman said he is convinced that the company has a winning hand with All-In Hold’em.

"In the casino business, there is only one thing more important than providing your players a great experience," Berman said. "And that is the odds must favor the house, which this game does."

Berman added that the new table game can provide a new attraction for promotion and advertising — and "it will bring to your tables people who want to have the fun, but may not have the skill to play high stakes Texas Hold’em with a table of more experienced players."

In WPT All-In Hold’em each player is required to bet the blind ante on every hand. That’s the ticket into the game. Then the player has other betting options, including an optional bonus bet on the hole cards. For example, two red aces pays 50-1, while a pair of deuces pays 2-1.

Once he or she has seen the hole cards, a player can fold, raise the blind ante by betting five times or even 10 times the ante bet (placed in two easily visible marked circles in front of each player.)

Then the action turns to the dealer, who will fold and pay off the bets, or call. If the dealer qualifies to play on (based on specific rules), the play continues with the flop, turn and the river. If the player’s best five-card poker hand beats the dealer’s, the player wins his ante and the raise bets.

Says David Sklansky, noted expert and author of The Theory of Poker: "This is a casino-style Hold ’Em game that gives both expert poker players and novice casino players an equal shot at winning. The game delivers the feel of playing on the World Poker Tour, without any fear or the intimidation of raising into a player like me who just might come over the top, all-in, with a stone cold bluff. WPT All-In Hold ”˜Em gives players of any level the challenge, drama and excitement of high stakes poker.

"Furthermore, this game gives players a real shot at winning," he continued. "In fact, the rules of the game make it highly possible for any player to win, because, unlike the Tour, should you make a mistake, you still don’t have much the worst of it. What you do have is dramatic decisions within every hand you play."

In addition to its involvement with the World Poker Tour, Lakes Entertainment currently has development and management agreements with four separate tribes for four new casino operations, one in Michigan, two in California and one with the Nipmuc Nation on the East Coast.

In addition, Lakes Entertainment has agreements for the development of one additional casino on Indian-owned land in California through a joint venture with MRD Gaming, which is currently being disputed by the tribe.