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Best of John G. Brokopp

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Adding Fun and a New Element of Strategy to Video Poker

6 September 2006

Video poker, in spite of being founded on Random Number Generator (RNG) principles, i.e., luck, is actually a game of skill on the secondary level. Once a player sees the results of the luck of the deal there's an element of skill and decision making prior to the luck of the draw.

For many years, the expansion of video poker remained a relatively untapped field of exploration. Product development revolved around the base game, with the first major advancement coming from International Game Technology (IGT) in the form of the multi-play, multi-hand units followed by such variations as Spin Poker and Multi-Strike Poker.

That all changed at last year's Global Gaming Expo in Las Vegas when a new generation of video poker products was unveiled by several manufacturers, including WMS Gaming's World Series of Poker Final Table Bonus, which is now available, and IGT's soon-to-be-released World Poker Tour Multi-Strike Super Video Hold'em.

But by far the most intriguing example of taking the skill factor associated with video poker to the next plateau comes from IGT with Opponent Poker. It's an imaginative and highly entertaining crossover game that creates an experience of playing live poker against opponents without stepping over regulatory boundaries.

You can play Opponent Poker as a single-hand game if you so chose, but for an additional bet equal in amount to your own hand, you can play against two animated opponents and have the opportunity to win credits not only from your own winning hands but also theirs if you beat them.

The game begins with the same starting cards for all three hands. Your opponents' hands are played by the computer using near-optimum strategy in regards to what cards are held. Prior to making your own decision, you can see this result and in the process not only hone your own skills but add a new dimension of strategy to the traditional game.

For example, if you've never had the opportunity or the inclination to learn correct video poker playing strategy, with Opponent Poker you will have your own tutorial. Just pay attention to the cards your opponents are holding and you'll know what the near optimum strategy was for the hand as dictated by the computer.

When you hit the deal/draw button, each hand uses an independent deck and simultaneously you see the results of all three hands. If you have the high hand you'll win those credits plus the credits of one or both of your opponents who are also holding winning hands but of lesser value.

In the event your winning hand ties your opponent(s), you'll win the credits from your own hand, plus those credits along with the credits from your opponents' hands will go into a pot that's digitally represented on the screen. The pot will continue to grow in this manner until there's a clear winner. You have the option at any time to take your third of the pot as winnings without being forced to gamble them.

According to John Daley, Director of Video Poker & Barcrest USA for IGT: "You can obviously use whatever strategy you want to play, but if there's a big pot you might not hold the three-to-a-straight that near optimum strategy is forcing your opponents to hold. Instead you might hold a face card because you're hoping just to get a paying pair and win the pot if the others fail to hit the straight."

You have your choice of six animated opponents to play against by merely touching the screen. They are all quite amusing, a little side show in itself if you pay close attention. One character, for example, drums his fingers on the table with a bored and impatient look on his face if you take too long to make a decision.

Opponent Poker will make its debut this fall in Nevada casinos. Soon thereafter I'm hopeful the games will find there way around here.

CASINO NEWS & NOTES:

I came across a terrific Website for video poker players: www.videopoker.com. It contains a treasure trove of information about games from Action Gaming and IGT, the world's leader in the most popular and widely played video poker games. The site includes complimentary demo games, playing tips, an explanation of pay tables and even a state-by-state list of details about video poker inventories at every casino. Membership is free by completing and submitting a simple online registration form. Opponent Poker will soon be added to the list of demo games on the site.

John G. Brokopp

John G. Brokopp's gaming column appears in Chicago Sun Times (Chicago, Illinois), The Times (Northwest Indiana), The Quad City Times (Davenport, Iowa), The Courier News (Elgin, Illinois), The Gazette (Southwest Suburban Chicago) and Senior Wire (Denver, CO). He's also a regular contributor to The Colorado Gambler, Midwest Gaming & Travel, Casino Player and Strictly Slots. John possesses 28 years of experience as a professional handicapper, publicist, freelance writer, and casino gaming correspondent. He is also the author of two very popular books, The Insider’s Guide to Internet Gambling and Thrifty Gambling.

Books by John G. Brokopp:

> More Books By John G. Brokopp

John G. Brokopp
John G. Brokopp's gaming column appears in Chicago Sun Times (Chicago, Illinois), The Times (Northwest Indiana), The Quad City Times (Davenport, Iowa), The Courier News (Elgin, Illinois), The Gazette (Southwest Suburban Chicago) and Senior Wire (Denver, CO). He's also a regular contributor to The Colorado Gambler, Midwest Gaming & Travel, Casino Player and Strictly Slots. John possesses 28 years of experience as a professional handicapper, publicist, freelance writer, and casino gaming correspondent. He is also the author of two very popular books, The Insider’s Guide to Internet Gambling and Thrifty Gambling.

Books by John G. Brokopp:

> More Books By John G. Brokopp