Tuesday, December 12, 2006

PokerTek and the PokerPro Poker Tables

This past Saturday night in Vegas found the blogger community at the Imperial Palace for a party and hands-on demonstration of the PokerPro poker tables from PokerTek. These tables are automatic electronic versions of the Hold’em Poker tables found throughout Las Vegas. With these tables, no dealer is needed. Players get their ‘chips’ by putting money into an account and receiving a card that can be swiped at their seat at the table.

Each player at the table has his own touch-screen that allows him to bet, check or raise when it is his turn to act. Hold cards can be checked by cupping your hand over the cards on the screen to reveal upturned corners. Remove your hand and the cards return to only showing their backs. The big screen in the middle of the table shows each player’s chip count and bet amount.

The game that was running on the 10 player table this night was a quick tournament. The blind structure was crazy, but that was to promote rapid play so everyone got a chance. It can be restructured for any style of tournament or cash game.

The general consensus among the bloggers that I spoke with liked the tables. A few objected to the way the table raced off chips between levels. This was a minor thing to me. Most loved the way you could show either or both of your cards from a winning hand, and so this feature was used to taunt opponents liberally. The interface made it too easy to fold your hand when a check was available. More than one player folded their hand when no bet was required. That is probably an easy fix that won’t get made, but we’ll see. I don’t see this table replacing many human dealers, but it will have a place for micro-limit games and sit-n-go tournaments that are now too expensive for human dealt games.

A bigger potential hit was the heads-up version. This was a small table with 2 player consoles and a screen a little bigger than the old Pac-Man bar tables. This table saw a ton of action as the bloggers played king of the hill style. If PokerTek makes a coin op version for “amusement only,” they could put one or more of these babies in every bar and pool hall in America. It was that fun. This table could also open up the ability to play heads-up tournaments since casinos can afford to have dealers running such small games.

Thanks to Becca Bernstein and the gang from PokerTek for lots of fun, food, drinks and a look at a likely part of poker’s future.

11 comments:

Ex Pro said...

This is a great review of the tables. However here is one objection that I have to them. That is that money will force them on the poker public. I think casinos will love the fact that they wont need to pay dealers for sitting around, or guessing how many to schecule. They will want to give them a try. Many of the advantages that live poker gives to a good player are taken away. Just looking at a player is a lot less information then looking at a player act with their cards and chips. So this is what I see happening. They bring a few in and the regulars wont play. All the new players will play or people who have only played online. Now although there are many great online players, there is a lower percentage then at live games. So these games will be full of softer players. That will force regulars to play. And then the savings that the casino sees will make them buy more. Eventually replacing all dealers. I really do think they would be great for heads up or SNG’s. Just as long as they stay out of the live games, more power to them.

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