Once a year, I travel 1,800 miles to run into some local guys.
Or so it seems. One of the pleasures of the annual Global Gaming Expo in Las Vegas is seeing the guys from Leading Edge Design --- presidentJohn Grochowski is the author of six gaming books including the "Answer Book" series -- The Casino Answer Book, The Video Poker Answer Book, The Craps Answer Book and a revised edition of The Slot Machine Answer Book. His articles cover blackjack, slots and video poker strategy as well as casino etiquette and getting the most bang for your buck in Vegas. John's website is www.casinoanswerman.com
Elvis Multi-Strike takes video slots to a new level.
and CEO Larry DeMar along with Steven DeMar and Steven Katz --- and seeing what new fun they've cooked up for us on slot machines and video poker.
Based in Northbrook, Ill., Leading Edge designs games that then are manufactured and distributed by International Game Technology, the world's largest slotmaker. Mult-Strike Poker has been Leading Edge's big hit, but in the last year a slot variation, Elvis Multi-Strike
, has had slot players all shook up.
You know the Multi-Strike format. In video poker
, it's a four-level game, and on the Elvis video slot it's three levels. A winner or free ride on level one brings a second worth double payoffs, then four times payoffs on level three and eight times on level four.
As always, I ran into both DeMar brothers and Katz at the IGT booth, but it was Katz who got me first to show off Leading Edge's new product.
The success of the Elvis game got the Leading Edge brain trust wondering, Katz said: Were the customers playing because they liked the Multi-Strike format on the slots, or because they liked hearing their favorite Elvis songs in the bonus rounds? Stop at a bank of Elvis Multi-Strikes sometime, and you'll know the King is always rockin' at one machine or another.
Here comes the test. A new slot game called Multi-Strike Triple Diamond doesn't have the King of Rock and Roll, but it does have a wild ride and the classic slot look of IGT's Diamonds games. With the Multi-Strike possibilities of moving up a level at a time for multiple payoffs, you're betting on a potential 100 paylines, with a maximum bet of 3 coins per line --- on pennies, this is a $3 maximum game. It is highly volatile, a gamblers' game where you can win tens of thousands of credits at once, or nothing.
That volatility, and potential for large wins, is important at penny slots, where players have to know their small coins can bring big rewards. And the Multi-Strike format is a prime tool for adding volatility to games.
Leading Edge has done just that in video poker, extending the concept in oh, so many ways:
16X Multi-Strike: The name says it all. This one adds a fifth hand, worth 16 times the first. A quarter player betting the 25-coin max and who makes it all the way to the top level would find a royal flush worth $16,000 instead of the $1,000 on level one. Even a plain vanilla pair of Jacks on Jacks or better-based games is worth an 80-coin payoff on the top level. Bigger risks and bigger rewards make for a wild ride.
Multi-Strike Super Times Pay: This one marries Multi-Strike to a popular IGT game. An extra bet makes the player eligible for a random Super Times multiplier. The Super Times multiplier --- up to five times the usual payoff --- can occur at any level. If the five times Super Times comes up at the 8x level on Multi-Strike, that means winners at that level are multiplied 40 times.
Big Pick Multi-Strike: Your top payoff is a mystery here, with a bonus event that brings to mind video slot second screens. Instead of an 8x payoff, the top level is marked with a "?" When you get there, you move to a four-level pick-'em type bonus round. You advance and pick multipliers until you hit a collect symbol. The minimum value of the top hand is 8x, but get lucky with your picks and you could have a 49x hand.
Multi-Strike Double Down Stud: The old IGT game of Double Down Stud gets the Multi-Strike treatment, and that adds some fun to a game with few decisions to make. You're dealt four cards, and before you see the fifth, you must decide whether to double your bet. The easiest video poker game around, with Multi-Strike excitement and rewards layered on top.
The Multi-Strike family is getting so large that IGT/Leading Edge also showed Multi-Strike Deluxe, a multiple-game unit that puts all the Multi-Strike games in a single box. In addition to the Multi-Strikes, the games on the units shown at G2E also included Pick 3 video poker, a game that has a small niche of loyal followers, but not enough for many casinos to put the game on the floor. By being included with the Multi-Strike favorites, it'll get a chance to develop a larger following.
And getting back to Multi-Strike for one last look, World Poker Tour
Multi-Strike Video Hold'em Poker is headed for June release. This one was shown at the 2005 Global Gaming Expo and detailed here then. The Multi-Strike concept along with bad beat jackpots, WPT logos and announcers make this a fun package to bring Texas Hold'em to your video poker screen.
Because after all, it's all about multiplying the fun.