Sunday, April 29, 2007

PokerTek, Lightning Poker Still Duking It Out

This electronic poker table war seems to be heating up in a hurry. PokerTek, which just a week ago announced a huge deal with Harrah's, came forward this week with another announcement of a private share sale that generated an additional $13 million in operating capital for the company. The official release states that the stock was "placed" with an investment-group block led Magnetar Capital and Greenway Capital. It's no big surprise that PokerTek's stock price jumped by about 50% following the announcement; cash infusions have a way of attracting investor attention.

Over at Lightning Poker, they just signed a deal with the Commerce Casino in Los Angeles. Commerce is a big poker venue and a great step for Lightning Poker, though their own release also includes the mandatory hyperbolic overkill: "Lightning Poker is thrilled to install our tables at the preeminent poker destination in the world, Commerce Casino," said Brian Haveson, Lightning Poker CEO.

They should get an award for that one, dontcha think? Commerce ain't bad, but still....

Anyhow, don't wave good-bye to traditional, live-dealer poker tables just yet. Most of the venues adding these tables are simply increasing their overall poker offerings, and in many cases a shortage of quality dealers is a factor in the decision. The increase in poker tables within casinos, overall, far outstrips the number of new electronic tables currently installed or announced, meaning that there's more demand for real poker dealers, not less. Electronic-table installations are making noise, but it's an auxiliary noise. When Bobby's Room at the Bellagio goes electronic, you'll know that live-dealer poker is a thing of the past.

I doubt that's going to happen any time soon.

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