Gaming Slots and electronic gaming

Shuffle up and deal

Written by Pai Yao

This article first appeared in the May/Jun 2015 issue of WGM.

Gaming, lottery entertainment and technology giant Scientific Games will be one of the more prominent exhibitors at this year’s G2E Asia with its Bally, Shuffle Master, and WMS brands taking center stage. They’ve provided us with a sneak peek of some of their brand new offerings which will be on display at Macau’s longest running trade show in May.

The gaming industry isn’t short on innovation. While baccarat continues to dominate the landscape of Macau’s casinos, take a walk around the main gaming floor of any reputable property and alongside other trusted favorites such as blackjack, roulette and stud you will inevitably find a few new games – or variations on the classics – testing the waters.

Most of the time, the lifespan of these new games is limited with players quickly drifting back to the games they know. Occasionally a success story is born. Which brings us to G2E Asia, to be held from 19 to 21 May at the Venetian Macao.

One of the great things about gaming trade shows is the opportunity to preview or even play all of these new games and among the busiest this year in that regard is Shuffle Master with six new table games to be unveiled at G2E Asia. These include two new blackjack variants with some innovative side bets, a non-commission baccarat variant and three different poker games. Let’s take a look.

Free Bet Blackjack

Free Bet Blackjack is a simple variation on traditional blackjack except players are given the option to double down or split for free. Traditional blackjack requires players to match their original bet if they wish to do either – normally risking twice as much as they had but winning twice as much when the cards fall their way. In Free Bet Blackjack, players are still paid on winning hands as if they had matched their original bet without actually having to do so which means players are paid out at 2 to 1 instead of the usual even money.

There are a few caveats to the free bet option – players can only double down if their first two cards total 9, 10 or 11 and cannot split a pair of 10s, Js, Qs and Ks. However, players are allowed to re-split or double down for free after their first split provided the same criteria are met. Blackjack pays 3 to 2 just as in traditional blackjack.

Free Bet Blackjack also offers two side bet options including “Push 22” which pays at 11 to 1 whenever the dealer busts with a total of 22; and “Pot of Gold” which is directly linked to the free double down or split options. The dealer places a special coin next to the player’s original bet plus an extra coin for each additional free split or double in that particular hand. If the player placed a bet in the “Pot of Gold” side bet box prior to the hand starting, they will be paid out on that bet on a sliding scale with the more coins collected the better.

Payouts start at 3 to 1 for one coin and progress all the way up to 1,000 to 1 for seven coins in a single hand.

Blazing 7s Progressive

Blazing 7s is a side bet option to go with traditional blackjack. It is also one of the simplest side bets to follow, with players paid out on a sliding scale based on the number of 7s in their hand. A single 7 in the first two cards dealt pays 2 to 1, two 7s pays 25 to 1 and three 7s should you be lucky enough to hit pays 200 to 1.

A player can also win the progressive jackpot with three 7s of the same suit or 10 percent of the jackpot with three of the same color.

Fortune 7 Baccarat

This is a version of non-commission baccarat which comes with two side bet options. The base game is the same as standard baccarat with two minor exceptions – banker wins are not charged commission and banker bets are a push if banker wins with a three card total of 7.

Players can also bet on one or both of the Fortune 7 and One Up side bets. Fortune 7 offers lucrative odds of 40 to 1 and pays when banker wins with a three card total of 7. One Up pays 9 to 1 when the player wins by one and 30 to 1 when the player specifically wins 1-0.

DJ Wild Poker

DJ Wild is similar to Caribbean Stud in that each player is dealt five cards and plays against the dealer, with the lure of a progressive jackpot plus an optional side bet. The difference is that a 53-card deck is used including one joker, with the joker and four 2s all wild!

The aim of the game is simply to make a better five card poker hand than the dealer. Before each hand, the player places an equal bet on both Ante and Blind and after viewing their cards can either fold or choose to continue by betting 2x their Ante bet on the Play bet.

If the player’s hand beats the dealer’s hand, the player is paid at even money on both their Ante and Play bet. The blind is a push unless the Player has a straight or better in which case they are paid according to the strength of their hand. For example, a straight pays even money, quads 4 to 1, a Royal Flush 50 to 1 and five wilds 1,000 to 1.

Players also have the option of placing a wager on the Trips side bet before each hand which pays out on a sliding scale if the player makes trips or better. Again, the stronger the player’s hand the better the payout with natural hands generally paying more than hands made using one of the wild cards. A straight flush pays 30 to 1 when using wilds but 200 to 1 when made naturally and a Royal Flush 100 to 1 using wilds but 1,000 to 1 made naturally. Five wild cards pay 2,000 to 1.

Ultimate Texas Hold’em

Ultimate Texas Hold’em is designed to match as closely as possible to the real thing with players dealt two hole cards they then use in combination with five community cards to make their best five card hand. Again, the aim is simply to beat the dealer. Like DJ Wild, players place an equal bet on Ante and Blind before their cards are dealt, however a decision on whether to play doesn’t have to be made immediately. If the player likes the look of their hole cards and chooses to play before the flop, they can bet up to 4x their Ante. If not, they can check and wait for the first three community cards to be dealt. Players can bet 2x their Ante if they choose to play at this point or check again and wait for the final two community cards to be dealt, at which point they can only match their Ante if they wish to play. The other option at this point is to fold.

Optional Trips and Pairs side bets are available with the Pairs side bet based on the player’s first two cards. There is also a progressive jackpot.

Ultimate Three Card Poker Face Up

Ultimate Three Card Poker is one of the easiest poker table games to play. Each player plays head to head with the dealer with the best three card hand the winner! Like DJ Wild and Ultimate Texas Hold’em, the player places a bet before the hand is dealt on the Ante and the Blind. Once you receive your three cards you can either fold, therefore losing your Ante and Blind bets, or play by placing a bet in the Play box. If you hold a pair or better this bet can be up to 3x your ante.

If the player holds the winning hand, their Ante and Play bets pay even money. The Blind bet is a push unless the player’s hand is a flush or better in which case it pays on a sliding scale depending upon the strength of the hand, with a three-card straight flush paying 8 to 1 and a “Mini Royal” paying 100 to 1.

Side bets include Pairs Plus, which pay out if the player’s hand includes at least a pair, and 6 Card Bonus which combines the player’s three cards with the dealer’s three cards to determine a winning hand.