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If a national championship works for Texas hold'em, it could work for Three Card Poker, or so Shuffle Master Gaming hopes.
Shuffle Master on Monday announced plans for a national Three Card Poker championship. The company hopes the tournament will attract a following the way the World Series of Poker and other televised Texas hold'em tournaments have.
Through its subsidiary, Shuffle Up Productions, several regional qualifying events are planned, with the championship scheduled for Nov. 27-Dec. 2 in Las Vegas. More than $2 million in prize money will be awarded during the weeklong event; the winner will take home $1 million.
Shuffle Master, which supplies automatic card shufflers, table game system components and specialty table games to casinos, formed Shuffle Up Productions in January to shop a small-screen version of its licensed products.
Although it's smaller in scale compared with the World Series of Poker on ESPN and Travel Channel's World Poker Tour, the Three Card Poker championship is a way for Shuffle Master to build the identity of a relatively new casino game.
Three Card Poker is a stud poker game played on a blackjack-style table. Players are dealt three cards and may bet against the dealer, bet on the value of their own three-card hand, or bet both. Bonus payouts may be received for certain hands when wagering against the dealer.
Shuffle Master has placed more than 1,200 units of the game, which was introduced about a decade ago, in casinos throughout the United States and foreign gaming jurisdictions.
"Three Card Poker is king of all specialty table games," Shuffle Master Chief Financial Officer Richard Baldwin said. "The tournament offers us an opportunity to promote our brands outside of the traditional way. We think these tournaments will be highly successful and will create a new business model for the company."
The first qualifying regional event started Monday at the Mohegan Sun casino in Connecticut. A second regional event is planned for the Flamingo Laughlin in September. Baldwin said the company hopes to host 20 regional tournaments before the championship.
Shuffle Master hired Southern California-based LMNO Productions to produce a multisegment television program on the tournament to be aired in early 2006. No cable network or time frame as been chosen.
The national championship will include a series of qualifying rounds in which the players who advanced from the regional tournaments will compete for a seat at the final table. The event will also include two re-entry rounds in which players who did not advance can compete for one of two additional final table seats.
Shares of Shuffle Master, which will announce quarterly earnings Thursday, rose 81 cents, or 2.85 percent, Monday to close at $29.26.
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Shuffle Master Hopes New Card Tourney Builds Cachet is republished from iGamingSuppliers.com.