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Automated Poker Tables The Future of Gaming

Monday, August 18th, 2008

If you do a blog search on Google for poker tables you will likely bombarded with blogs about automated poker tables.  At $30,000 a pop these tables are not likely to replace your Saturday night home game poker tables anytime soon, but they are making large in-roads with casinos and cruise ships.
The appeal for these poker tables is two fold.  The casinos like them because there is less management involved and no dealer to pay for.  Brian Haveson, CEO of Lightning Poker, notes that, “Running a poker room and managing the dealers is a very daunting task in a big poker room.  Keeping all of those dealers scheduled and moving them around and changing them is a very difficult process, so a lot of them welcome the electronic tables from that standpoint.”
Additionally, casinos benefit from the ability to deal faster.  The casinos take a small piece of every hand dealt.  The more hands dealt the more money to be made for the casino.  When you couple decreased cost with higher revenue it is hard to argue against the automated table from a casino perspective. 

While that sounds good in theory what about the players.  It doesn’t matter if new technology has all the bells, whistles and promises of a better tomorrow if people simply choose not to use it. 

We conducted a rather unscientific and ad-hoc poll of players from around the Internet via blog comment and forums.  For the most part people seemed to like the automated table because it was efficient and they were able to get the hang of it rather quickly.  Many from cruise ships said they would prefer a dealer, but an automated table was better than no table. 

Conversely, patrons of local casinos noted that the automated tables were often full and the most difficult to get a seat at. 

Some theories on these observations has included that cruise ship patrons may not live near a casino and therefore not have the chance to participate in a live game, but can play poker on-line which is similar to an automated table.  Casino regulars may supplement or derive all of their income from poker so the ability to play more hands may yield more income. 

When asked what kind of players like automated tables Haveson noted that, “We’ve noticed that it’s more of younger demographic, Internet players who are used to the speed of Internet poker.”

When confronted with the question of automated table dominance Haveson theorized, “I think there is always going to be a place for dealered poker.  I don’t think we’ll ever be more than 50 percent of the tables in poker rooms.” 

Perhaps automated tables are not the complete future of poker tables just another option players can use to enjoy themselves while perfecting their poker skills.

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