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New Video Poker Games

15 November 2005

Among game manufacturers, International Game Technology has been the king of video poker from the very beginning. So naturally enough, it was IGT who had the biggest display of new video poker games at the gaming industry's big fall trade show, the Global Gaming Expo at the Las Vegas Convention Center.

Opponents Poker. Big Times Draw. Ace Invaders. And the WPT Hold'em game I mentioned last week.

But WMS Gaming wants a piece of the video poker action, too. And at the expo, WMS showcased a BIG video poker game --- Tower Poker.

This is a game with a difference. In Jacks or Better-based games, including Bonus Poker, Double Bonus Poker --- in fact, the whole Bonus family --- Tower Poker is a four-hand game. In Deuces Wild, it's a five-hand game.

Just as in most multiple-hand games, play starts with one hand. After the initial deal, you decide which cards to hold and which to discard, just as on any regular video poker game.

But here's where Tower Poker departs from the usual. Any card you hold on the bottom hand goes up one denomination in the next hand up, and up again on the second hand, and once more on the fourth. Hold a Jack of hearts on the first hand, and it becomes a Queen of hearts on the second, a King of hearts on the third, and an Ace of hearts on the fourth. An Ace held closer to the bottom, though, rolls to a 2 on the next step up.

In Deuces Wild, a deuce held on the first hand becomes a 3 on the second, 4 on the third, 5 on the fourth and 6 on the fifth. Sound bad for the player, like you're losing a wild card as you move up the tower? Never fear. On the second hand, 3s become your wild card, and wild cards become 4s on the third hand, 5s on the fourth and 6s on the fifth.

Jacks or Better-based games present some interesting strategy problems. What if you're dealt 2-4-5-8-10 of mixed suits? In most video poker games, we'll throw them all. In Tower Poker, that 10 becomes a Jack on the second hand, Queen on the third and King on the fourth. So we'll keep a lone 10, accepting a weak bottom hand in order to start the other three hands with high cards.

Sometimes the Tower feature will help, sometimes it won't, but it's always interesting.

Over at the IGT booth, Opponents Poker put an extra element of competition into video poker. You can win on in the usual video poker way against a pay table, but also have the chance to compete for a pot against two video opponents. You can bet up to five coins on your own hand, and also five coins on a pot against the two opponents. They start with the same cards you do --- it's a matter of who outdraws whom.

If you beat your opponents, you not only win the pot, you win any coins their hand would win against the game's pay table. Tie, and the pot carries over until the next hand.

An intriguing game with a difference is Big Times Draw Poker. This one comes with a multiplier based on the highest card in your hand. If your high card is a Queen or King, you just get your winnings straight up. But if the high card is a Jack, winnings are doubled. They're tripled with a high card of 9 or 10, multiplied by four with a high card of 6, 7 or 8, multiplied by 6 with a 4 or 5 high, by 9 with a 3 high or by 10 with a 2 high.

How do you get a 2 high? For purposes of the multiplier, Aces are low, just as they are in a Ace-2-3-4-5 straight. A hand consisting entirely of Aces and deuces would not only be either a full house or four of a kind, it would be a 2-high hand with a 10-times multiplier.

That opens some intriguing possibilities for hands with big bonus payoffs on four Aces. In Double Double Bonus Poker, for example, where four Aces plus a 2 usually brings 2,000 coins for a five-coin bet, Big Times Draw would make that a 20,000-coin bonanza.

Speaking of Ace bonanzas, check out IGT's Ace Invaders. This is a Triple Play variation with three hands. Aces in the top hand will "invade" the middle hand, and Ace in the middle will "invade the bottom." If you have three Aces up top and there are fewer than three Aces in the middle, the Aces will cascade down the screen, giving you at least three Aces in the middle. And if you have fewer than three on the bottom, those middle-hand Aces in turn will cascade down a level, bringing winners all the way around. However, if you already have as many or more Aces on a lower level as in the hand above it, the Aces will not fall from above. Still, draw four Aces on top, and that means Aces all around.

Listen to John Grochowski's "Beat the Odds" tips Saturdays at 6:20 a.m., 2:50 p.m. and 7:41 p.m. and Sundays at 8:20 a.m., 2:50 p.m. and 10:42 p.m. on WBBM-AM, News Radio 780 in Chicago, streaming online at www.wbbm780.com

Recent Articles
Best of John Grochowski
John Grochowski

John Grochowski is the best-selling author of The Craps Answer Book, The Slot Machine Answer Book and The Video Poker Answer Book. His weekly column is syndicated to newspapers and Web sites, and he contributes to many of the major magazines and newspapers in the gaming field, including Midwest Gaming and Travel, Slot Manager, Casino Journal, Strictly Slots and Casino Player.

Listen to John Grochowski's "Casino Answer Man" tips Tuesday through Friday at 5:18 p.m. on WLS-AM (890) in Chicago. Look for John Grochowski on Facebook and Twitter @GrochowskiJ.

John Grochowski Websites:

www.casinoanswerman.com

Books by John Grochowski:

> More Books By John Grochowski

John Grochowski
John Grochowski is the best-selling author of The Craps Answer Book, The Slot Machine Answer Book and The Video Poker Answer Book. His weekly column is syndicated to newspapers and Web sites, and he contributes to many of the major magazines and newspapers in the gaming field, including Midwest Gaming and Travel, Slot Manager, Casino Journal, Strictly Slots and Casino Player.

Listen to John Grochowski's "Casino Answer Man" tips Tuesday through Friday at 5:18 p.m. on WLS-AM (890) in Chicago. Look for John Grochowski on Facebook and Twitter @GrochowskiJ.

John Grochowski Websites:

www.casinoanswerman.com

Books by John Grochowski:

> More Books By John Grochowski