Casino game inventor tips his hand

A retired Hollywood movie mogul now living in Johnson County is hoping to spin a hit TV show and more from his patent-pending casino game invention, BlackJack Extreme.
The card game – a blend of blackjack and poker strategies – is as intriguing as its inventor, David C. Thomas.

Thomas’ lengthy resume as a producer, director and location manager includes such films as “Kansas City,” “The Howling,” “Mask,” “Marked for Death,” and his latest and perhaps last effort, “Lenexa 1 Mile,” which premiered this year.

“I don’t see myself making another movie,” he said. “That’s way too many 17-hour days standing around staging gunfights and car wrecks. This is a lot more fun,” Thomas said of his first dip into the fast-moving waters of the gambling industry.

Thomas and Internet marketing guru Mark Koetting have formed BJX Entertainment LLC and are simultaneously pitching BlackJack Extreme as a TV card-game show, an online or live casino poker room game and an electronic game joining slot machines and video poker on casino floors.

“This is very ambitious to move simultaneously into three major industries,” Thomas admitted. But he’s confident that, given a chance, the game will catch on.

“It’s fast. It’s fun,” he said. And, he added, BlackJack Extreme is even more sociable than standard blackjack or Texas Hold ’em.

“We think casinos are evolving into amusement centers rather than gambling halls,” Thomas said. “We are offering casinos a new roller coaster for their park.”

The non-house-banked game pits players against one another as each takes a turn as “dealer” raking in fellow players’ losing bets but also paying off the winners. There are a couple of rounds of pokerlike betting and permissible bluffing on each hand. Players and dealer can also “surrender” poor hands under that blackjack option rarely found in casinos.

The house, which provides the actual card-handling dealer, takes a small fee from each hand, much like the house rake from the pot in a live poker game. The game is not yet being played in any casino. Thomas said that authorities have approved it for private card club play in California. Thomas and Koetting also are seeking a ruling from the National Indian Gaming Commission to authorize the game in tribal casinos. And they soon will be knocking on the doors of Midwestern casino general managers seeking backers for state approval of the game.

If players flock to the game, its future could be bright – as in bright television lights.

Thomas also is tapping his industry connections to break onto the small screen with a BlackJack Extreme game show that probably would feature a few of his Hollywood star pals.