New Video Poker at 2016 G2E By Bob Dancer September 30, 2016 at 3:15 pm When I go to a casino, I’m interested in “can I beat this game?” This determination includes the return on the game, do I know the strategy, what the slot club pays, and a slew of other factors. At a gaming show, my outlook is completely different. At gaming shows, one pay schedule is featured for each game, but probably 10 or more are offered. The slot director at each property will pick the pay schedule that he feels appropriate — often picking three or more different pay schedules for different denominations — and he can change them at any time. Instead I’m looking at the following: Is the game fun to play? Will it attract regulars or tourists? Or both? Does it require a unique strategy to play? If so, this makes it much harder to gain traction. Will it attract “fleas?” These are players who wait until regular players leave the machine with bonuses of some sort to be picked off. Generally speaking, these players are nuisances to casinos. IGTAny discussion of video poker games has to start with IGT. They have a very large percentage of this market and they keep bringing out new games to maintain that market share. Most other manufacturers have ceded this market to IGT, at least for this year. Magic Deal Poker This is a 10-coins per line game. It plays like regular video poker, except about 3.8% of the time, on the deal, you receive one, two, or (very rarely) three mystery cards.In general, I liked this game. It is similar to Dream Card poker, except Dream Card has one mystery card whose value is determined BEFORE the draw. You can change the dream card if you don’t like the card selected by the machine. Magic Deal has one, two, or three mystery cards who value is determined AFTER the draw. You cannot change this mystery card, although in no cases did I see a hand where the machine picked a less-than-max-value card. Dream Card has, in my opinion, obnoxious sound effects which are missing from this game. The game is not that hard to figure out. You usually play it just like regular video poker, but sometimes you must choose between four cards, three cards, or two cards. Players will make significant errors in holding cards but they will not know it. Whatever the par sheet says the hold will be for a given pay schedule, I expect the machine will overhold. Ultimate X Spin Poker Ultimate X and Spin Poker are both popular games — and this games links them well. It should work. Ultimate X is a 10-coins per line game and Spin Poker doesn’t require any additional money to play, so this game, too, costs 10-coins per line — or 90 coins overall. In regular Ultimate X, a max-coin bettor generates multipliers with every scoring hand. If he plays five coins on the last hand, he cashes out all multipliers and doesn’t earn any additional ones. In the version at the show, my only strong objection is that you can’t cash out your multipliers by betting five coins per line on the last hand you play. This is unfair. The player has paid to create those multipliers. Why should he have to leave them to the ever-present fleas? Leaving the bonuses for the fleas cuts both ways. In regular Ultimate X, any multipliers left unplayed at the end of a hand may be played off (with positive expected value) by betting five coins per line. Here if you leave multipliers, fleas must bet a full 90 coins to collect, and they may well be earning additional multipliers in the process — requiring another 90 coins bet. Bonus Streak Ultimate X This is a very difficult game to play at 10-coins-per-line. Instead of the usual multipliers you earn on the next hand in regular Ultimate X, here you earn a stream of multipliers over the next several hands. That is, you might earn a stream of 2x, 3x, 4x, 8x,12x over the next five games. If while playing this stream you receive a paying hand big enough to create additional multipliers (i.e. at least 3-of-a-kind in most games) all remaining multipliers on that line go to 12x. The stream of multipliers created by getting certain hands creates a nightmare for players to analyze. “Regular” Ultimate X is tough enough and the games overhold the par sheet values. This game will be much tougher. And the correct strategy will be very different from that of “regular” Ultimate X. I see this game only existing for low stakes for recreational players. I don’t like the fact that you can’t play off your multipliers by betting five coins per line on the last hand you play. Yes, you would be giving up some “later” multipliers, but you’d be getting a positive bet at the end of your play. Now you have to leave all those multipliers for others — who will literally be hovering nearby. Color Match Royals The premise of the game is that the hand A♣ K♠ Q♣ J♠ T♠ is called a Black Royal, paying 2000 coins, and the hand A♦ K♦ 7♥ 4♥ 2♦ is called a Red Flush, which pays a little less than a regular flush. You also have black and red straight flushes. Although I don’t know the exact strategy, it appears as though you go for “color flushes” a high percentage of the time. This makes the game very boring as you are generally trying for a hand worth 20 coins when you have to pay 10 coins to play. If you don’t go for the color flushes, you’re giving up a lot of expected value. Currently on www.videopoker.com there’s a free tutorial on how to play this game. I do not like this game very much. To me, it doesn’t pass the “fun to play” test. Super Triple Play Jackpots Generally, I liked this game — but not the name. This is a form of “Wheel Poker.” Possibly there are some patent or royalty issues I don’t understand, but using “Wheel Poker” in the title would tell players what they are getting. This game combines Super Triple Play, which is a 6-coin-per-line game where you get higher-than-usual payouts on 4-of-a-kinds (usually, depending on the game) — and Wheel Poker, where you also pay an extra coin per line and you get to spin the wheel when you receive a 4-of-a-kind. Adding these games together makes this a 7-coins-per-line game. The “Jackpot” in the title means there can be a progressive jackpot included in the game. The strategy is relatively easy to figure out assuming you have an approximately-correct figure for the average wheel spin. Still, it’s a new strategy that has to be memorized for this game only — which is a drawback. Flip & Pay Poker This was my favorite new game in this year’s mix. The game is relatively easy to understand without software, and the idea is different and interesting. This is a 10-coin-per-line game, where the machine will flip at most one card under the following conditions: One card will be flipped one rank higher or lower, and always the same rank. That is, the 8♣ will only be flipped to a 9♣ or a 7♣. This is done with a 52-card deck, so if there is a A♦ 2♦ on the deal, the 2♦ will not flip to an A♦ because there aren’t duplicates in a 52-card deck. The resulting hand must be two pair or higher for flipping to occur. The flipped hand must be higher in Expected Value than the unflipped hand. For example, if you were dealt 5♠ 6♥ 7♣ 8♦ 8♠, one of the 8s will flip to a 9, giving you a dealt straight. If you don’t like the flipping, you can unflip. Sometimes some of the flips may seem strange. For example, in Triple Double Bonus, assume you are dealt A♣ A♦ 5♠ 6♥ 7♣, the machine will flip to AA557 or AA667 or AA577. Whether the machine flips or not, good players are just going to hold the pair of aces and throw away the other three cards. Most players will not be sure whether it’s better to be dealt AA667 or AA567, given you’re just going to be holding the aces. The machine likes flipping to two pair (correctly!) but which is better is a mystery to most players and many will unflip. My only problem with the game is the machine makes the choices and many players will be unsure why choices were made. The rules aren’t all that difficult — but they’re a bit tricky until you get used to them. A player dealt A♦ A♠ A♥ K♠ 5♥ REALLY wants that king to be flipped to an ace and may get angry when it doesn’t happen. Calling over a floor person or shift manager, this person MUST be fluent with the reason the K doesn’t flip to an ace is that we already have an A♠ and the hand can’t contain two of them. This creates a training issue in the casino. EVERY floor person, slot tech, and supervisor must be up on the rules for this game. And even if the supervisor explains politely to the player why he doesn’t get four aces dealt on a hand like this, not all players will take this explanation with equanimity. Scientific Games The only other company to offer “ready everywhere now” new video poker games at the show that I saw was Scientific Games. The game is a very close copy of IGT’s Triple Play series of games, on which the patent expired not so long ago. The Scientific Games version includes Single Hand, Triple Hand, Five Hand, Ten Hand, Twenty Five Hand, Fifty Hand, and Hundred Hand games on the same machine. Players will figure out quickly that Fifty Hand is basically the same game as Fifty Play. The game titles are the same ones used by IGT, namely Jacks or Better, Bonus Poker, Double Double Bonus, etc. In two of the games, Scientific Games uses a different name than IGT does. It may have been intentional, but both times it strikes me as a typographical mistake. They used the name Triple Bonus for a game that IGT calls Triple Double Bonus. Triple Bonus is an older game based on Kings or Better and it’s very different from Triple Double Bonus. Also, they have a game called Joker’s Wild rather than Joker Wild. The pay schedules on the Scientific Games are very similar to the IGT pay schedules, except often the straight flush pays 275 coins rather than 250. This adds about 0.05% to the player and is essentially a type of bribe to induce players to try their version rather than IGT’s. I didn’t play the game long enough to get a feel for the buttons, colors, sound effects, etc. These factors will help determine whether players accept this game. At the current time, most casinos find the original IGT version of these same games to be more profitable to the casino than adding this clone. Native Games America, LLC Quad Crush (and the very similar Quad Crush2) are games legal in a few jurisdictions only at this point. The promoter predicted the Nevada license would be here in first quarter 2017 and a major casino has already signed up for a trial. This is a 10-coin game (or a 10-coins per line game in the Quad Crush2 version) where you are first dealt five cards with suits only — perhaps ♠ ♥ ♠ ♠ ♦. Since the object at this point is to get four or five of the same suit, you hold the spades and draw. There are different pay schedules for five spades, four spades, and less than four spades. At this point you are dealt five suitless cards, perhaps 3 J 4 A 9. Since this is a game based on Jacks or Better, you probably hold the Jack and Ace and draw. The game is now over and you get paid according to whichever pay schedule you are on. Many players will not realize that the correct strategy differs depending on how many of the same suit you got at the beginning of the game. This is an interesting concept — but the graphics of the game are tough to figure out. Perhaps with more “standard” graphics the game would have a better chance to succeed.