John Grochowski

John Grochowski John Grochowski John Grochowski John Grochowski John Grochowski John Grochowski John Grochowski John Grochowski John Grochowski John Grochowski John Grochowski John Grochowski

Ultimate X has been an enormous video poker success — the leader in that segment of multi-hand games that requires an extra bet to get a bonus feature.

It’s a success worth building on, and International Game Technology is looking to do just that with Ultimate X Bonus Streak and Ultimate X Spin Poker. Along with Flip and Play Poker, they were highlights among the new video poker games at the Global Gaming Expo in Las Vegas.

All are from IGT, which manufactures and distributes roughly 95 percent of the video poker games you see in casinos.

I received a guided tour through IGT’s new games from Trevor Lynch, product manager for video poker. Ultimate X Bonus Streak is available in Triple Play, Five Play and Ten Play formats. Each has a 10 credit per hand maximum bet — five credits for basic play plus five credits to buy the bonus feature.

As in Ultimate X, winning hands bring multipliers for subsequent hands. There are exceptions: The smallest-paying hands, Jacks or Better and two pairs, do not bring multipliers on Bonus Streak.

Here’s the part players will love. You don’t just get a multiplier for the next hand — you get a streak of multipliers. Non-wild card games, three of a kind, flushes and straights bring multipliers on the next three hands. If it’s a full house or better, you get a five-hand streak.

Not only that, the multiplier increases for each hand on the streak. When you have the maximum streak, multipliers are 2x, 3x, 4x, 8x and 12x — that is, payoffs on a winning hand are doubled on the next play, tripled on the one after and so on.

If you have a winner during the streak, it increases payoffs for the remainder of the streak to 12x.

“This is really ingenious by our math department,” Lynch says of the multiplier increase. “They say it’s the hardest problem that they’ve worked on in several years.”

Lynch thinks Bonus Streak, like original Ultimate X, will have its biggest appeal at low coin denominations.

“We feel Ten Play nickels is the sweet spot,” he says. “Of course, if people want to set it up higher, that’s up to them. Players will be really invested in earning these multipliers. It’s going to be hard for them to walk away because you’re constantly triggering a streak.”

Ultimate X Spin Poker is just what it says. It puts the Ultimate X multipliers on a Spin Poker format, where the cards are on spinning reels.

“This is chocolate and peanut butter,” Lynch says, seeing a delicious combination. “Spin Poker has been a great brand for us. Ultimate X has been a great brand for us. If you think of it as nine lines, think of it like nine-play — a 90-credit maximum bet and you’re awarded multipliers.”

Flip and Play Poker, available in single-hand as well as multi-hand formats, creates extra winners.

“It’s basically like a nudge feature in a slot machine,” Lynch says. “If I’m one card away from a winning hand on the deal, it will nudge my card up or down one rank to make that winning hand.”

With a Jack and two Queens as the starting hand, the Jack flips with a split flip display, as if the card was hinged in the middle, and each half flips to reveal a third Queen. Players have the option of rejecting the flip if it gets in the way of a desired draw.

“It’s my favorite game of the show,” Lynch says, “because you get so many great starting hands.”

Look for John Grochowski on Facebook (http://tinyurl.com/7lzdt44) and Twitter (@GrochowskiJ).

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