I recently had the opportunity to go on a cruise. My plan was to take a one-week break from poker. I was so looking forward to it and the week-long cruise on the Carnival Legend to Grand Cayman, Cozumel, Belize and Roatan was just what I needed. Total fun in the sun without poker was not to be, however.
WhenD and I drove down to Tampa from Atlanta. Just across the Florida line on I-75 in Jasper, Florida there is a sleepy little card room called Hamilton Jai-Alai and Poker. These small poker rooms inhabit many of Florida’s Greyhound race tracksand jai-alai facilities and are a wonderful break from the “big casino” type rooms. Poker games here are often juicy and sometimes more comfortable than a poker room belonging to the larger corporation casinos. We bought a souvenir poker chip at the gift shop that included casino stuff. I was able to pick up a complimentary copy of Card Player Magazine. As we continued our drive, I read an interesting article about electronic poker tables.
Now, remember I said that I was looking forward to a break from poker and we had only stopped into the poker room to get a chip. Well, it turns out that Carnival’s Legend has a casino on board which opens up daily while the ship is in international waters. With the casino, of course, comes poker. In this case it was a variation or innovation which is an electronic poker table called PokerPro. In other words, there was no live poker table and dealer to host a cash or tournament game.
WhenD and I walked through the casino on the first evening and came across the PokerPro table. There were two gentlemen seated and waiting. I understood at once that, like me, here were two poker-holics looking for some action. I sighed because I knew there would be poker on the cruise and I would be giving in to the inevitable. Mostly because I was curious about this machine that did not require a dealer.
In order to play on a PokerPro table you have to visit the cashier. The cashier will use a separate computer/register and assign you a PokerPro Account Card. This card has your name and an identification number on it. Once the card and account with a PIN number have been created, the cashier can load any amount of money you choose onto the card.
You are then ready to go. There are 10 seats with individual monitors that are raised in at an angle in relation to the horizontal table. Each monitor has a slot for the PokerPro Account Card. Insert the card, type in the PIN, select the amount you wish to buy in for and you will be dealt in the next hand. The game played, of course, is NL Texas Holdem. The two hole cards are dealt face down on your personal monitor. The flop, turn and river (the board) is spread along the community moniter covering the majority of the center of the PokerPro table. The individual monitors are supposed to be touch screen. At this table the touch screen was not working very well. To compensate for this, we the players learned to use the edge of our PokerPro Account Cards to “tap” the screen and this seemed to make the touch screen monitors work better or in a quicker fashion.
To view their hole cards, a player cups his hand over the top edge of the cards on the personal monitor and the edges of the cards lift for viewing. The rest of the hand is played in traditional poker order with the dealer button following the small blind and big blind .
PokerPro Tables have the ability to offer the popular poker games such as Hold-em, 7-Card Stud and Omaha.
PokerTek Inc. out of Charlotte N. Carolina is producing the PokerPro tables. CEO of PokerTek, Chris Halligan says that there are more than 230 PokerPro tables in operation worldwide as of today. PokerPro claims that the benefits are: more hands per hour, no dealer mistakes, an accurate rake and not having to pay a dealer. This produces the results of more profits for the casino.
The Excalibur Hotel in Las Vegas has installed 12 PokerPro Tables in August. The immediate result was that 40 dealers were out of a job. MGM Mirage, who owns the Excalibur, claims to have relocated those dealers. The Casino du Montreal in Canada sports 25 tables already and there are 12 tables at Trump Plaza in Atlantic City.
Proponants of PokerPro are claiming that electronic tables are the future and a viable option when casinos and poker rooms are trying to attract new poker players who maybe intimidated by a traditional poker room. They claim that it can be related to an internet style of play with the personality of a live table game which may be attractive.
Either way, I expect to see more of these machines popping up in the future. These tables will eliminate not only a dealer but holding cards as well as poker chips. Like them or not, technology and innovation always lead the way.