Tuesday, June 03, 2008

Dealerless Poker Tables

One of the things on my list on my LA trip was to try a Lightning electronic poker table (or a PokerTek). But I noticed an odd thing: both the Bike and Commerce (some of the largest poker rooms anywhere) had the tables, but NOBODY WAS USING THEM.

In both casinos, the Lighting tables were set up for $34 + 6 SnGs. There was no list, and other than people randomly resting and chatting near them, nobody was even interested in them.

I don't think this is a problem with the operation of the tables.

I think it is a tactile issue. Handling chips and cards is just part of the game.

For example, imagine one of your best days ever at poker. You had a mound of chips in front of you, right? For me, I think of the day I won almost $700 in the Garden City 6/12 and had over 400 $2 chips stacked in front of me.

I made the 25-chip stack arrow with a second floor.

It was a great day.

Now, imagine all those chips are just a number on a screen in front of you... It's a little bit less fun, huh.

Of course, it's all about economics. If there are enough financial reasons to play at an electronic table (games not offered live, significantly less rake, etc.) people will do it, but I suspect the rake will need to be near-free for it to happen.

The tactile aspect of poker is just too important to most players.

Hmmm... I wonder what it'd take for the Bellagio 'Big Game' to be played at an electronic table. I suspect PokerTek would have to pay Doyle, Patrik, and Jennifer over $100 an hour to do it...

Although I'd love to have a heads-up table at my house for little heads-up matches after my home game is over. Dealing heads-up is just so tedious. It wouldn't even have to keep track of bets, just deal the cards, the turn, the flop, and the river.

In a previous life (A.K.A. bachelorhood) I was an arcade game collector. I had my collection up to one (a Neo-Geo one-slot MVS rig with a number of games) before I got married and shipped it to Washington state. But there's a lot of cocktail tables out there, and they'd be perfect for a little heads-up console if I added a cheap monitor and an old computer. Hmmm...

The last thing I need is another project to be left unfinished and ultimately abandoned...

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