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Best of John G. Brokopp

Gaming Guru

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Computerized Poker Table Blazes New Frontier

20 September 2006

The popularity of playing poker on the Internet, in spite of the fact the $2 billion dollar a year industry exists in legal limbo, is a phenomenon that may fuel the appeal of a new computerized poker table that meets all the requirements of federal statutes and state gaming regulations.

The innovation is PokerPro, which eliminates the need for a live dealer and real cards and chips. Developed and marketed by PokerTek, Inc. of Charlotte, NC, it won the Platinum Award (first place) for the Most Innovative Technology Product for 2005 presented by Casino Journal at the Gaming Technology Summit held last May in Las Vegas.

Earlier this year the company signed a three-year contract with Carnival to provide the electronic poker tables for its cruise ships. Last June, Hollywood Park Casino, one of the three largest card clubs in California, agreed to install six PokerPro tables for a 90-day trial period.

PokerPro's growth has just begun. Just recently, Seminole Hard Rock in Florida brought two of the tables into its spacious live 50-table room. Additionally, two Oklahoma casinos, including Buffalo Run Casino in Miami and Osage National Million Dollar Elm Casino in Tulsa, each introduced two of the high tech tables to their card room venues.

The virtues of the table even attracted the attention of Aristocrat Technologies, Inc., one of the world's leading manufacturers and developers of electronic gaming devices, which led to the company obtaining the exclusive rights to offer the PokerPro System to gaming venues across the globe with the exception of the United States and Canada.

I contacted Brad Johnson, Aristocrat's vice-president of marketing for the Americas, to get an idea of the potential impact of computerized table gaming on the industry. He hinted that poker may be the only the beginning:

"I think what you'll eventually see in the future is the ability to have players play against one another on electronic games, creating a whole new realm of gaming. This type of product will start to move gaming in a little bit different direction and open up a lot more possibilities in the future."

The table is regulation size, but specially engineered to accommodate a large video display terminal in the center for the board cards and smaller screens at each player position. The individual screens, which display the individual's hole cards and chip stacks, are engineered so they can be seen only by the player sitting in front of them and not from the sides.

There are some imaginative video features associated with the game that simulate traditional play. For example, when you are ready to look at your cards, you place your hands over the bottom right portion of the screen and the cards are revealed by "squeezing" out just as you can do with real cards.

An electronic "shuffler", certified by Gaming Laboratories International as a mathematically random process, is used in the game. Just as in the real thing, a card is "burned" prior to each round of betting. PokerPro shuffles, deals, splits pots and generates side pots instantly.

Players love it because PokerPro eliminates dealer errors and the need for tipping. Casinos love it because it reduces overhead and increases revenue by dealing 50 to 60 percent more hands per hour than a manual table.

At the present time the only game offered on PokerPro is the world's most popular, Texas Hold'em, but according to company CEO Lou White, Omaha will soon be available as well as more games as the market dictates.

Arguing that Poker Pro takes the human element out of live poker is hypocritical in light of the game's popularity on the Internet. If anything, Poker Pro makes the virtual world come alive.

John G. Brokopp

John G. Brokopp's gaming column appears in Chicago Sun Times (Chicago, Illinois), The Times (Northwest Indiana), The Quad City Times (Davenport, Iowa), The Courier News (Elgin, Illinois), The Gazette (Southwest Suburban Chicago) and Senior Wire (Denver, CO). He's also a regular contributor to The Colorado Gambler, Midwest Gaming & Travel, Casino Player and Strictly Slots. John possesses 28 years of experience as a professional handicapper, publicist, freelance writer, and casino gaming correspondent. He is also the author of two very popular books, The Insider’s Guide to Internet Gambling and Thrifty Gambling.

Books by John G. Brokopp:

> More Books By John G. Brokopp

John G. Brokopp
John G. Brokopp's gaming column appears in Chicago Sun Times (Chicago, Illinois), The Times (Northwest Indiana), The Quad City Times (Davenport, Iowa), The Courier News (Elgin, Illinois), The Gazette (Southwest Suburban Chicago) and Senior Wire (Denver, CO). He's also a regular contributor to The Colorado Gambler, Midwest Gaming & Travel, Casino Player and Strictly Slots. John possesses 28 years of experience as a professional handicapper, publicist, freelance writer, and casino gaming correspondent. He is also the author of two very popular books, The Insider’s Guide to Internet Gambling and Thrifty Gambling.

Books by John G. Brokopp:

> More Books By John G. Brokopp