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Creator of new table game

Pat Patera

Hundreds of new games jostle for space on the casino floor each year, but only a handful make it to market.

A game creator in Reno made it part way through the process and hopes for a win.

Rick Lopez, vice president and senior partner at Rolled Up Gaming Inc., won a silver award in a best new table games competition presented by Reno-based Raving Consulting Co.

His entry, called “3 Hand Hold ‘Em,” brings Texas Hold ‘Em to table pits. It’s played with cards on a blackjack style table.

Lopez works a day job as an account executive in sales at Aristocrat Technologies a job that requires long drives and provides lots of time to think creatively.

It’s daunting to introduce a new table game on casino floors, says Lopez.

First comes finding a sponsoring casino to submit the game to the state gaming board. Submission must include all the numbers and statistics the mechanics that make a game go and determine payoffs and

profits.

The gaming board tests the math theories, or asks that they be proved. Then comes a 90-day field trial. If all goes well, the game finally goes before the board for approval. Only then can it go statewide to be

played in casinos.

A field trial in under way at Harrah’s in downtown Reno. The beta test run winds up end of this month, and the game goes before the board in December.

Even then, there’s no guarantee of success, says Lopez. About 250 games are submitted every year but only 5 percent make it to market.

The payoff for Lopez would come from licensing fees, which generally range from $400 to $1,200 per month per game. The fee would be reduced at casinos running the game on multiple tables.

Lopez got the idea some years back while working at International Game Technology. He watched as a

roommate designed a game called 21 Madness, and thought, ‘I could do that.’

“I came up with the game first and a theory that the math would work,” says Lopez. He hired a former physics professor at MIT, now living in Reno, to do the math.

More than a year ago, while playing in a poker tournament at Grand Sierra Resort, Lopez happened to tell fellow player Shawn vanAsdale about his game idea. VanAsdale, a patent attorney, became a partner in

Rolled Up Gaming and patented the game.

But during development, Lopez found himself dealing with self-doubt.

“Any time anyone is developing anything, you have a tendency to second-guess yourself,” he says. “You wonder, ‘Will others say, why would you want to play that?'”

But whether 3 Card Hold ‘Em is a hit or not, Lopez says he’s got more games in the hopper.


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