John Feola has been in the business of crafting casino table games for 20 years, but he still struggles to understand which games will catch on and which won’t.
“With table games, you’re guessing,” said the 56-year-old North Reading, Mass. resident and operator of New Vision Gaming. “Trying to launch a new game is difficult.”
This year, New Vision Gaming introduced Boston 7 Stud Poker to New Jersey, a variation on Boston 5 Stud Poker. Players get seven cards instead of five. The object is to get a better poker hand using the best five cards.
Feola hoped dealing more cards to the player and varying how the bonus wagers are handled would make the game more attractive.
The game so far has seen mixed results in Atlantic City. Gamblers have dropped nearly $1 million on the game with casinos winning about $140,000, or about 15 percent, according to the Division of Gaming Enforcement.
The first casino to pick up the game in Atlantic City, Trump Taj Mahal, dropped it from its offerings four months later. Only two casinos now offer the game in Atlantic City — Resorts Casino Hotel, which picked up the game in July, and Tropicana Hotel and Casino, which began offering two tables in September.
Feola, who also introduced Imperial Pai Gow to the casinos, said the game has proved more popular in other markets, such as Missouri. Other casinos in Atlantic City are likely waiting to see how the game fares before deciding whether to pick it up, he said.
“The game has to prove itself,” Feola said. “It’s just the nature of table games.”
Games can experience wide fluctuations in their win percentages from month to month. For instance, Trump Taj Mahal won more than 15 percent of what gamblers dropped on Boston 7 Stud Poker in four months. However, in just one month — July — the casino won only $3,000, a small fraction of the $324,000 that customers dropped on the game, according to the DGE.
John Grochowski, who writes a Gaming Guru column for The Press of Atlantic City, said casinos often change up their table game offerings to give gamblers different looks and more variation.
“They’re always trying to keep the pit fresh,” he said. “If it doesn’t perform well, they’ll take it out.”
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