While attending a Cutting Edge Tables Games Conference in 2015 to promote my
Poker For Roulette side bet, several of the break out session presenters
were using the same clip from Vegas Vacation, where Clark and Cousin Eddie go to that odd casino that
had games that are 'a little different'.
The final game played at that casino, is shown here. While simple in nature,
"Pick A Number" used no device to determine the winner, and no device to indicate what
number was selected by the player. 'Ripe for cheating by the dealer' is an understatement.
'Rigged from the word go', is more like it.
(There's so much to love about that scene: Clark trying to fake out the dealer, the dealer who
is indifferent to the point of looking bored, and Eddie's reaction at the end.)
Despite the absurdity of the game, seeing the same clip multiple times in one afternoon,
made me wonder: Is there a way to make a fair version of the game, with a reasonable house edge?
The desire to make it a pick from 1 to 10 like in the movie, doesn't afford a lot of flexibility
with the payouts and house edge. Expanding it to picking one of the 13 ranks of cards lowered the edge
a bit, but did nothing for the flexibility.
Then, when walking thru a casino, I passed a Sic Bo table that was closed. The basic bet of just
picking a single value, and getting varying payouts based on the number of times it hit, intrigured me.
The myriad of additional bets got my wheels turning.
After spending some time with Excel, the concept of using a standard deck of 52 cards, and
picking three cards, was exactly what I needed. With the multiple payouts available for a single
bet, it's easy to come up with multiple pay tables, each with a comfortable house edge. Picking
three cards also introduces the option of a Three Card Poker style side bet.
Then I borrowed a concept from craps to have a player determine everyone's fate by selecting
the cards used, with that same player continuing to pick the cards on successive hands, whenever a
'good' hand is revealed.
I then added a jackpot when one of the rarest three card hands is followed by another of
those rare three card hands, and Pick A Card was born.
After years of showing the game to anyone who would listen, it was suggested that locking up
the bet after the rare hand appears to see if it repeats, was not a great idea. Eventually I realized
that if we just look at a fourth card, the jackpot can be resolved quickly and more easily, and gets
paid more often, albeit at a lower amount. Both versions are on the math page, for comparison.
A discussion of this game is on the Wizard Of Vegas forum, where I go by my former stage name, DJ Teddy Bear.
For the record, at that Cutting Edge event, two sessions focused on customer service, both
using the scene from Vegas Vacaion where Clark Griswold was back at the Mirage, ready to play against
Wallace Shawn as Marty, the dealer with somewhat unorthodox ideas of his own.