All-star video poker
4 December 2014
When I’m looking for a video poker game, the first thing I do is to check out the pay tables. If I see high pay tables, I play, and if I see low pay tables, I move on to other games.
I don’t stop to worry about how the pay tables got there and who set them up, but it’s a concern for casino operators who are always looking for ways to save time and money.
International Game Technology, which dominates the video poker market with a share estimated at 95 percent, has moved to ease set-up with its All-Star Poker II and All-Star Poker III units. Both come loaded with options for players. You touch a tab on the screen to select game families, and then within the families choose specific games. For example, Ultimate X is a game family, and if you chose it, you can then choose among games such as Jacks or Better, Bonus Poker and Double Double Bonus Poker. Same deal if you choose the Triple Play/Five Play/Ten Play Poker family – after selecting the family, you can pick the game.
All-Star II is loaded with eight game families, and All-Star III adds five more. There are game options within each family, and casinos can offer multiple denominations, too, so players might be able to select nickel, dime and quarter play on the same machine, or quarters, half dollars and dollars.
Put that all together, and there is the potential to offer hundreds of games on the same machine, when you consider quarter Deuces Wild Triple Play a different game than dollar Deuces Wild Triple Play.
Each of those games needs a pay table. Each All-Star II and All-Star III unit enables the operator to select high, medium or low pay tables. Set-up could be as simple as selecting medium as a default, and be done with it. But what if the operator wants a mix, with some games set at high pay tables as a customer attraction, and others at low? That can be done on a game by game basis.
Such customizing can be time-consuming, and it could take 45 minutes to an hour to set up a machine. But IGT speeds the process by enabling operators to store the information on a USB stick after they’ve set up one machine they way they want it. Then they can take the USB stick to multiple machines, and quickly set them up to the same pay tables.
As players, we don’t see the process, but it’s a good thing for us it exists. When you see a machine that has 9-6 Double Double Bonus Poker (99.0 percent with expert play) or Not So Ugly Deuces Wild (99.7), even though the rest of the machine is populated by low payers such as 7-5 Jacks or Better (96.2) and 6-5 Bonus Poker (96.9), we can be happy there’s an easy, fast way to customize instead of just defaulting to all low-payers.
All-Star III and the multigame GameKing 8.3 have the new Game Launcher. It’s a plus for those who like to switch between games. Once you launch a game, you can switch to another one, and when you switch back the previously played game will come up instantly. You don’t have the seven- or eight-second wait that usually comes with a game change.
For fans of video poker games with bonus multipliers, IGT has added a couple of new choices. Hot Roll Poker plays off the Hot Roll touchscreen dice-rolling mechanism that has been so successful in bonus events on IGT slot machines. In the video poker version, at random times you’ll see a pair of dice on the cards. You touch ’em, they roll and the total gives you a multiplier for your next hand. If you draw a winner to go with a big multiplier, it can pad your credit meter in a hurry.
Another is Barnyard Poker, a multi-hand game where you can see your potential multipliers grow in animation on the side of the screen. You start with a little pig and a little cow, and depending on the hands you draw, the animals grow. Once they get to randomly selected size, they grow and explode multipliers onto your games.
And if you’re looking for big money, there’s Super Times Pay Mega Progressives. IGT has had success in New Jersey with wide-area progressive jackpots on Triple Play Poker and Spin Poker. Now Super Times Pay Mega Progressive is designed for the interstate links between New Jersey and South Dakota, New Jersey and Nevada, and the national Native American link. Any royal flush that comes with a 10x multiplier on the Super Times format wins the progressive prize, which starts at a rollover value of $50,000 on quarter games and $200,000 on dollar machines. Without multipliers or progressives, royals usually pay $1,000 for a max-coins bet on quarter games and $4,000 on dollar games, so this one is sure to bring out the jackpot chasers.
Look for John Grochowski at www.casinoanswerman.com, on Facebook (http://tinyurl.com/7lzdt44) and Twitter (@GrochowskiJ).
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