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New Game Capitalizes on WSOP Popularity

16 August 2006

A new game with a popular theme that resonates boldly with gamblers and at the same time introduces the bonus round concept to video poker play is now available.

World Series of Poker (WSOP) branded machines featuring a "Final Table Bonus" that WMS Gaming rolled out at last year's Global Gaming Expo in Las Vegas are popping up in Harrah's branded casinos nationwide, including the Chicago area.

Harrah's, owner of the WSOP, has a 90-day exclusive on the games but they will soon be available in other casinos.

The game's debut coincides with the 2006 World Series of Poker at the Rio All-Suite Hotel & Casino in Las Vegas. The competition is highlighted by the No-Limit Texas Hold'em World Championship, which began July 28. On August 10 play at the final table began for a first prize estimated at $11.5 million.

Final Table Bonus video poker plays like regular five-card draw variations of the game. The twist is the side bet you make on a bonus hand consisting of two additional cards that are dealt from a 52-card deck separate and apart from the base game.

If the bonus hand you are dealt is a pair of jacks, queens, kings or aces you enter the exciting bonus feature in which you are pitted against nine animated opponents one at a time in a game of Texas Hold'em.

You play your first opponent using the bonus hand you were dealt. However, in this and all the rounds in which you play, you have the option of discarding the hand and replacing it with two new cards dealt from a fresh deck. You can do this a maximum of two times for each round.

Once you accept your two-card hand, your animated opponent is dealt two cards from the same deck. The game begins, starting with the "flop" (three community cards appear on the screen), followed by the "turn" (one more card) and finally the "river" (fifth and final community card). The game automatically updates the winning probability percentage for both you and your opponent.

The highest poker hand using any combination of each player's two hole cards and the five community cards wins the hand. If the player defeats or ties his opponent, he advances to the next round and a new opponent using a fresh deck of cards.

The object is to defeat as many opponents as you can. The pay table for the Final Bonus feature follows (all wins multiplied by the bonus bet): 1st – 650, 2nd – 350, 3rd – 225, 4th – 150, 5th – 100, 6th – 50, 7th – 25, 8th – 15, 9th – 10 and 10th – 5.

There are other enticing bonus components: For example, if the two-card bonus hand you are dealt includes an ace, any winnings from your base game hand will be tripled. If you're dealt a pair of aces, any winnings are multiplied nine-fold.

Also, the game may randomly trigger a "free seat" in the Final Table Bonus round even if your bonus hand doesn't qualify.

If your base game is Double Bonus, any four-of-a-kind payout will be doubled if you also get into the bonus round. In Double-Double Bonus, you receive four times the payout on any four-of-a-kind if you also get into the bonus.

Finally, the player wins a "Bad Beat Bonus" of 10,000 times the bonus bet if he loses with four-of-a-kind or higher.

The bonus round is really fun but it's tough to enter, which can make the game both frustrating and expensive. The odds against being dealt an ace or a face for the first card in your bonus hand are 3.25 to 1. The odds against matching it on your second card are 17 to 1.

Harrah's Joliet in Illinois brought in a bank of eight one-dollar units in June but they lasted less than a month and were replaced with a quartet of quarter games. The $10 bet per hand on the dollar version, including the bonus wager, was apparently too costly for recreational gamblers and not appealing to serious video poker players. The quarter game has a $2.50 max bet.

The concept of bringing the World Series of Poker brand to casino floors and a bonus component to video poker sounds exciting, but whether it has staying power in this particular format remains to be seen.

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