Shuffle Master to debut new games

Oct 5, 2004 11:59 AM

Shuffle Master will showcase 11 table games, including two new ones, at the Global Gaming Expo (G2E) this week.

The Las Vegas-based supplier is the leader in specialty table games. It owns three of the top four poker-style games in the market (Three Card Poker, Let it Ride, Four Card Poker) and two of the top three side bets (Royal Match, Fortune Pai Gow).

"We’ve got some heavyweights," says Roger Snow, Shuffle Master’s product manager and developer of new games. "It’s one thing to have a single established game, but we’ve got a whole pit of them."

Like most suppliers, Shuffle Master uses G2E to unveil new stuff. This year, the company will pull the sheet off three table-game products: two games — Hi-Lo Stud Poker and 6 Card Poker —and a twist on Fortune Pai Gow.

The new games combine big risk with big reward. Hi-Lo is a paytable game — a la Let it Ride — that pays for really good and really bad hands, while 6 Card Poker is a head-to-head game vs. the dealer.

"I like them both," says Snow. "They’re great action games. If I had to choose, I’d pick 6 Card — but it’s a close call."

Hi-Lo Stud Poker looks a bit like Let it Ride, but the game play — not to mention the math — is much different. In Let it Ride, players win if they have a pair of 10s or better, which happens 24% of the time. In Hi-Lo, players win if they have a pair of 7s or better, or if they have 9-high or worse. That happens 37% of the time.

"And hit frequency is only part of it," Snow says. "In Hi-Lo, your average bet is three times what it is in Let it Ride. This is a whole different game for a whole different player, a more aggressive player."

While Hi-Lo is a paytable game, 6 Card Poker pits the player against the dealer. Players ante, receive their cards and decide whether to play or fold. This structure is tried-and-tested: Three Card Poker and Four Card Poker and Crazy 4 Poker use it.

But here’s the cool part: In 6 Card Poker, the higher your hand, the more you can bet. Depending on your hand, you may risk 2x, 6x, 10x, even 20x your ante.

"It gets pretty wild," Snow says. "There’s no game out there that lets you fire away like 6 Card. You may see someone catch a monster hand and then run off to the ATM to get some more ammo. It’s bound to happen."

Shuffle Master will also debut a new version of Fortune Pai Gow Poker, the No. 1 pai gow poker side bet. It plays just like regular Fortune Pai Gow, but with a twist: Payouts double if the dealer has less than a pair.

"Let’s say you’re dealt a flush," Snow says. "You’re guaranteed a 6-to-1 payout. But if the dealer turns over pai gow (no pair), you win 12- to-1. This just adds a little excitement, a little drama."

In addition to the games mentioned, Shuffle Master will also show Big Raise Hold’em, Casino War and Dragon Bonus.

Snow, who designed seven of the 11 games Shuffle Master plans to unveil, expects the company’s booth will generate a lot of excitement.

"If you want to see slots, you go to IGT, Bally or WMS," Snow says. "If you want to see pachinko machines, you go to — well I don’t know — but if you want to see table games, you come to Shuffle Master."