While video poker remains king in Las Vegas’ local casinos, there really hasn’t been an earth-shaking development in the game since multi-hand games were launched in the late 1990s.
That could change with a new game called Maximum Poker, developed by Alex Stefan, inventor and owner of Atlas Gaming in Las Vegas.
On the surface, the game looks just like Double Bonus Poker. And, in fact, it plays the same way and offers the same payout table.
But Maximum Poker offers much more, if the player chooses to accept it. First, the player can activate an inset screen that reveals a progressive bonus for hitting an in-sequence royal flush, commonly called a "reversible royal."
On a quarter machine, the progressive would start at about $100,000 and increase until hit, according to Jack Zwerner, Stefan’s partner and consultant.
"It’s possible the progressive could hit at a quarter- or half-a-million dollars within three weeks," Zwerner said. "Currently, most reversible royals pay $12,500 on a quarter machine, which is absolute robbery."
In addition to the in-sequence royal pool, the player can activate a second bonus meter that reveals another progressive for the "Best Hand."
This second progressive can be set up to include other video poker players, who will vie for, say, 90 seconds, against each other, playing for the best hand.
If two or more players tie with the best hand, then another round kicks off with the progressive increasing accordingly.
"It’s the two-tie, all-tie feature," Zwerner said. "This way, you can consistently lose in each round and still participate and ultimately win the jackpot in a subsequent round."
The game is also set up so that the inter-player rounds can be played by "virtual" players, that is, computer-generated players rather than "live" players.
However, Zwerner acknowledges that any server-based slot system, such as the one suggested by a virtual player system, isn’t currently certifiable under Nevada or most other commercial gaming jurisdictions.
Nevertheless, Maximum Poker has received an informal and non-binding "thumbs up" from the state’s Gaming Control Board, at least in terms of its concept. Zwerner added that the game is patented and will soon be submitted to regulators for formal licensing.
In the meantime, the developers of Maximum Poker are negotiating with IGT over possible licensing or distribution agreements.