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New Wrinkles on Other Table Games

25 January 2005

The last two weeks, we've checked out new games based on blackjack and Texas Hold'em - the table games with the biggest presence at the Global Gaming Expo in Las Vegas.

But that's not all there is in the world of new table games. Let's look at three new non-blackjack, non-Hold'em games.

Will we see them in the Chicago area? Not immediately, but when we do, it's likely to be in Indiana. With no legal limits on the number of gaming positions, Indiana casinos have a lot more leeway to try new games.

House Way Pai Gow Poker, New Vision Gaming: Pai-gow poker carves out a loyal niche wherever it's played, but many casinos don't offer it. The reasons are simple: Too many hands end in ties, and play is too slow as players set their seven cards into a five-card high hand and a two-card second-high hand.

New Vision, which also markets the Boston Stud Poker game that was introduced to this area at Majestic Star in Gary, tries to speed things up with House Way Pai Gow, a game that adds a bonus bet to boot.

The game moves faster because only four hands are dealt - one dealer hand and three player hands - and the dealer sets all four according to the house way. Players make no decisions as to how the five-card and two-card hands are set.

Each player has three betting spots, one for each pai-gow hand. Players may choose to bet on any or all of the player hands to beat the dealer. The house takes a 5 percent commission on winning bets, giving the house the same edge of 2.4 to 2.8 percent it has on regular pai-gow poker.

Players have the option of making a separate bonus bet on any of the hands they make a regular wager on. Several pay tables are available - all start at 2-1 for a straight, and most top out at 500-1 for five Aces. One pay table pays 1,000-1 on the five Aces, which include the joker in this single-deck game.

Stanley Ko analyzed the bonus bet and found house edges ranging from 6 percent on the best version - the one that pays 1,000-1 on five Aces - to 9.11 percent on the worst.

Bullseye!, Hot Streak Gaming: The developers of this dice game are local - well, nearly so. Hot streak is in Sycamore, about 70 miles west of Chicago. The game is easy to learn. Play starts with the dealer rolling a single die to establish the house target. Players then may wager on any of the other five numbers, betting that their Bullseye will hit before the dealer's.

After bets are placed, the dealer rolls again. If the roll is the dealer's number, players lose. If it's a player's number, that player wins even money. If it's anything else, the bets stay in action and the dealer rolls again, up to a total of six rolls after the target has been established. If the player's number doesn't show up in any of the six rounds, the bet loses.

Players who win on rounds 1 through 4 are paid even money. Those who win on rounds 5 or 6 are paid 2-1. Any player who wins on round 1 has the option of forgoing the payoff and going for a double hit. If that number comes up again, the player gets an extra payoff - 2-1 on round 2, 3-1 on round 3, 4-1 on round 4, 5-1 on round 5 or 10-1 on round 6. However, if the number doesn't repeat, the player loses.

Hot Streak passed out an analysis of the game from Gaming Laboratories International's math department that puts the house edge at 3.74 percent if players try for double hits, or 3.29 percent if they don't.

Card Craps, Red Door Gaming: Played with a 48-card deck that consists of the Aces through 6s from two standard decks, Card Craps takes all the betting options of traditional craps and puts them in a card game at a blackjack-size table.

All the familiar craps bets - pass/don't pass, come/don't come, place numbers, the field, hard ways and more - are here, along with one extra feature. Bets are on two-card deals. If the dealer turns up an Ace and a 6, that's a 7 that's a pass-line winner if it's a comeout or a loser if a point's already been established.

There's one extra feature, necessary to give Card Craps wagers the same odds as their equivalents at the dice tables. Two cards of the same suit are a "No Call." All wagers hold until the next deal that turns up cards of different suits. All wagers, that is, except for a wager on No Call. That pays 3-1.

Red Door passed out an analysis by Ko, who as proprietor of Gambology is hired to analyze many new games. The house edges will sound familiar to any craps veteran - 1.41 percent on the pass line, 1.52 percent when placing the 6 or 8, 16.67 percent on any 7, and so on.

Card Craps is meant not only to be an alternative for veteran craps players who want to sit down for a while for a relaxed version of the game, but also for novices who are intimidated by the dice table. There are fewer players per table at Card Craps, the pace isn't quite so frenetic, and the player can relate easily to a single dealer instead of a boxman, stickman and two dealers.

Still, whether this game can carve out a niche will depend on whether enough players used to rolling the dice will be willing to bet on a turn of the cards instead.

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