Every fall (except last one because of the pandemic), the world’s largest gaming show meets in Las Vegas for the Global Gaming Expo. All sorts of products directly or indirectly relating to gaming are on display in the exhibit hall, including new slot and video poker games, new table games, new player tracking systems, surveillance products, uniforms, chairs, legal services, architecture firms, etc.
I specialize in video poker and other games of skill. And this always starts with IGT, which still dominates the market for video poker machines.
Ultimate X Gold:
Ultimate X Gold has been in casinos for a few years, but I have never before seen it in the gaming show.
This is the latest entry into the Ultimate X franchise of games. Although it still requires 10 coins per line to activate the bonus feature, it is considerably different than other Ultimate X games. In this version, the multipliers are earned and redeemed on scoring hands only. If you, for example, are dealt a pair of jacks, the multiplier for two pair and 3-of-a-kind will increase by one unit. If that pair of jacks turns into a 3-of-a-kind, the newly increased multiplier will apply, and then the 3-of-1-kind multiplier will return to 1x.
All multipliers remain until they are hit, and they keep increasing until they reach the maximum. In a game like Jacks or Better, where 4-of-a-kinds don’t pay much, the multipliers for the quads can go up to 10x. In Double Double Bonus, the multipliers top out at 4x. The multipliers are different for Triple Play, Five Play, and Ten Play.
Since it’s impossible to ever play off all of the multipliers (the machine will give you two multipliers should that happen), and oftentimes big multipliers abound, the game is often very tempting to play. However, you’ll always have to wing it, since figuring out an exact strategy is essentially impossible without a supercomputer and, even if you had one, an accurate strategy would be very difficult to create and use.
The mathematician for the game told me there were more than 3,000 different states (combinations of pay schedule categories and multiplier levels) for each Triple Play pay schedule, and more than 500,000 different states for each Ten Play pay schedule. Since each box can have dozens of different games to look at, each with its own pay schedule, this is a daunting task to evaluate on the fly. Additionally, the pay schedule for one denomination may well be different from the pay schedule for another, and the mix of pay schedules will vary by casino. Good luck to you!
Super Times Pay Super Stack:
This game requires 10 coins per line bet.
Once every 11 games on average, you get a multiplier (averaging 4.06) PLUS additional hands. How many hands you get depends on whether you’re playing Triple Play, Five Play, or Ten Play. There are no strategy adjustments necessary to play the game well, and this version adds about 0.2% to the payout.
This is a variant of Powerhouse Poker especially designed to take advantage of tall screens. In both games, it takes 10 coins per hand to activate the bonus feature, and on dealt paying combinations, you get more hands starting from the same hold. The difference between the games is that in Powerhouse Poker, you get a relatively few extra hands — some with multipliers. In Powerhouse Plus, you just get the hands. Instead of a hand with an 8x multiplier, for example, you get eight hands. There are no strategy changes to the game necessary and both games return approximately 0.2% more than the base game.
Hundred Play with Wheel Poker:
This game requires six coins per line to play. Whenever you receive one or more quads you get a wheel spin for each one. Wheel spins average 423 per spin. If you get dealt a quad, you should get 100 wheel spins, but what you actually get is 10 wheel spins each with a 10x multiplier. There are strategy changes necessary, but they are easy to figure with commercially available software.
Full House or Better Wheel Poker:
This game requires 10 coins per line bet. In this game, you get a wheel spin for natural full houses or better. Assuming no strategy changes, you get these spins once every 71 hands or so and the wheel ranges from 100 to 4,000 coins.
Bonus Wild Poker:
This game requires 10 coins per line bet. Periodically, you receive a bonus wild card on the deal. It’s always correct to hold the bonus wild card and you then make your decision based on the four cards you see. After the draw, the bonus wild card will become the best possible card it can — meaning that 5-of-a-kinds are possible.
Pick one of the four suits to begin with. If the first card dealt belongs to that suit, you receive a multiplier based on the size of that card. Cards in the range of 2-9 receive a 2x multiplier. Aces receive a 12x multiplier. The other cards receive multipliers intermediate between these extremes.
None of these games really blew me away. If I have to make a prediction, I’ll guess that Ultimate X Gold will succeed and remain, while the other ones, not so much. The Ultimate X suite of games has been wildly successful. How long sequels to this game will be popular is anybody’s guess.