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Best of John G. Brokopp

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IGT Banks on Core Games to Expand Video Poker Empire

28 October 2009

Many gaming device manufacturers have tried but none have been able to make substantial inroads into taking market share away from International Game Technology in the video poker sector.

The key to IGT's strategy to expand video poker was when they realized the strength of the core family of games it created, including Bonus Poker, Double Bonus Poker, Double Double Bonus Poker, and Triple Double Bonus Poker.

Rather than continue experimenting with gimmicky new themes, some of which were doomed to failure, IGT began developing products that incorporated enhancements to the existing games.

What's more, they applied the technology not only to single-hand games, but also its incredibly successful Triple Play, Five Play, and Ten Play formats.

The results include Super Times Pay Poker, Ultimate X Poker, Quick Quads Poker, Good Times Pay Poker, Big Times Draw Poker, Random Rewards Poker, and soon to come, Draw Poker with the Dream Card.

In addition to capitalizing on the broad appeal that the base games have among video poker players, there is one other important aspect the new games share: They feature bonus payouts that require "buy-a-pay" betting, or wagering one extra credit per hand to qualify.

Getting video poker players to feel comfortable betting additional money per hand to fund the bonus aspects of the games was crucial to their success in order to make the units profitable for casino owners.

The attraction of getting multipliers and bonus payouts on premium hands apparently is the great equalizer, because the new games are really taking off.

With Super Times Pay Poker, players are randomly awarded a multiplier of from two-times to 10-times the standard win.

Howard W. Stern, a noted video poker authority, reports that Super Times Pay in the Double-Double Bonus game format has an optimum player return percentage of 99.256 percent when the pay table is 9/6.

"Majestic Star I in Gary has had 9/6 Jacks Super Times Pay available at the quarter level for about four years," he said. "The payback on this game is just over 99.82 percent. The main problem is that there are only two such games available there, which makes it very hard to get on one."

He also noted that Super Times Pay 9/6 Jacks is available in $1 denomination within the "All Star" format machines at the Grand Victoria Casino in Elgin.

Stern cautions that some of the newer IGT games can be a far more expensive wagering proposition than the standard formats.

"Be aware that some of these games, including Ultimate X, Good Times Pay, and Big Times Pay require 10 credits per line rather than six,' he said. "Ultimate X is by far the most difficult game to play well; think of it as Multi-Strike on steroids."

Also, if you wish to learn how to play some of the games at the expert level, be prepared to doing some serious homework.

"Multi-Strike requires knowing four strategies," Stern revealed. "Ultimate X requires knowing 81 strategies for the three-line version and 360 for the 10-line version according to gaming math guru Mike Shackleford."

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:

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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