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Best of John Grochowski
Fun new table games29 November 2014
Table games are different. Blackjack and craps have been favorites for generations, and probably will be for generations more. A new game’s developer must find a casino or casinos to give it a live trial, and then the game must perform well and carve out a player niche to encourage other casinos to give it a try.
Nevertheless, new table games are introduced every year, and I stop to play a few hands of anything I spot at the Global Gaming Expo in Las Vegas. Here are a few that will tempt table games directors in the coming year.
Four Card Prime, Galaxy Gaming: In this new poker-based game, you make your best four-card poker hand from four cards, while the dealer gets six, with one dealt face up. Start with an ante, then after you see your cards you can fold, stay be making a bet equal to your ante if you have a pair of Kings or less, or bet three times your ante. If you lose with three-of-a-kind or better, you get a bad beat jackpot.
There are two optional side bets. Aces Baby is a bet the player’s hand will have a pair of Aces or Better, and Prime is a bet there will be at least four cards of the same color in the five-card starting hand. So a hand with a club and three spades, for instances, is a Prime winner.
Let It Ride and Blazing 7s Blackjack Progressive, Bally Technologies: When Bally Technologies acquired SHFL Entertainment – the company formerly known as Shuffle Master – perhaps it was inevitable that we’d see a blending of Bally’s brands with SHFL table games expertise. Blazing 7s is a Bally slot machine brand that dates back to the 1970s. The blackjack version is a side bet that pays off if your hand includes one or more 7s in your first three cards. You’ll get the progressive pot if your first two cards are 7s, and you hit to draw a third 7.
In Let It Ride Blackjack, you win the optional Let It Ride bet if your first two cards are a pair, two cards of the same suit, or a straight with two consecutive cards. The “let it ride” part is what comes next. You can either collect your winnings, or let it ride by adding them to your blackjack bet. If the dealer has a blackjack, you can’t let it ride. Just collect the side bet winnings.
War Blackjack, AGS: This is an easy one, a combination of blackjack and war. The war bet is optional, but if you make it, you and the dealer each receive one card face up, and the higher card wins. The dealer wins all ties.
After that, there’s a twist. If you win the war bet, you can choose to either collect the winnings or add them to your blackjack bet. You must take back your original war bet – only the winnings can be added to the blackjack bet.
Dragon 21, Catco: Designed to promote blackjack and keep players at the table longer, Dragon 21 comes complete with dragon imagery, a prize wheel and a gong. You read that right: a gong. The layout comes with six circles per player to place a lamer after blackjack. When you’ve filled all six circles after receiving blackjacks, you get to sound the gong that signals a spin of the prize wheel.
Tic-a-Tac Poker and Tic-a-Tac 21, GDC: Showing these blackjack and poker variations was David Hoyt, creator of the Jumble word puzzles you see in many newspapers. Gameplay is on a 3x3 grid that opens plenty of bonusing possibilities. You choose spaces on the grid for your cards to be dealt, trying to leave open the possibility of multiple winning hands. You can have three-card hands in three columns, three rows, and two diagonals, so the demo version suggested a progressive jackpot on eight 21s in Tic-a-Tac 21s.
There’ll be a learning curve, and while Hoyt can place the cards very quickly, players will have to get used to strategies and procedures. Its natural home at the beginning might be online.
GDC also showed Wild, a special 65-card deck in which 13 cards are all four suits. The Jack of Wild will have hearts, clubs, spades and diamonds symbols, but there also are separate Jacks of all suits. That opens up all kinds of bonusing possibilities for side bets and bonuses on suited hands in any card game. The company brochure suggested a Wild 21 side bet for blackjacks with two Wild cards, and even a video poker version with five of a kind jackpots. It’s a bit open-ended at the moment, but there are all kinds of possibilities.
Look for John Grochowski at www.casinoanswerman.com, on Facebook (http://tinyurl.com/7lzdt44) and Twitter (@GrochowskiJ).
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