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Best of John G. Brokopp

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Four Winds Poker Room manager embraces PokerPro

12 March 2008

When Glenn Arana came on board as poker room manager at Four Winds Casino Resort in New Buffalo, Michigan last year, he was placed in charge of a venue far different to what he was accustomed.

Instead of a room with live dealers, real decks of cards and traditional poker chips, Arana was asked to run a fully-automated operation using PokerTek's innovative PokerPro tables.

The installation at Four Winds includes 19 tables, 15 of which are full-size and engineered to accommodate up to 10 players. The other four are "two-seaters" designed for one-on-one "heads up" play.

"The trend toward PokerPro is continually increasing," Arana told me. "We're making a lot of loyal customers who have turned from traditional gaming to totally just loving the automated style."

PokerPro is engineered to accommodate a large video display built into the center of the table for the community cards, and smaller video terminals at each player position. The individual screens display each player's hole cards and chip total. The screen can be seen only by the player sitting in front of it.

"PokerPro is so much less intimidating (than a traditional poker room)," Arana said. "Everybody plays poker at home, but walk into the casino and you're a little apprehensive. You know how to play but you're not really sure when to bet. With the PokerPro system you can only bet at a certain time, so you can't make mistakes."

Imaginative features associated with the game simulate traditional play. For example, when you are ready to look at your cards, simply cup your hands around the cards and the corners "flip up". Take your hands away and the corners flip back down.

Just as a table with a live dealer, the PokerPro automated system "burns" a card prior to each round of betting. It also shuffles, deals, splits pots and generates side pots instantly. The electronic shuffler is certified by Gaming Laboratories International as a mathematically random process.

The appeal appears to be universal. Seasoned players like it because the speed of play increases the hands dealt per hour by 50 - 60 percent over a traditional table. Beginners are attracted to the technology because playing is so easy. Your screen prompts you when it's your turn to act, even telling you what your options are.

Tournaments are offered seven days a week at Four Winds. Multiple table tournaments start at 10 am and 7 pm. The buy-in Sunday through Thursday is $50, Friday and Saturday $100. There are also "sit and go" tournaments offered 24/7. The call "shuffle up and deal" is announced as soon as 10 players sign up for this single table tournament.

Many poker rooms offer perks to players based on the number of hours they play. At Four Winds players reap benefits for the number of hands they play.

"If you play 12,000 hands in our room you are invited to our Four Winds Invitational," Arana explained. "One of every 10 players invited wins a $10,000 World Poker Tour seat of their choice. It's a tremendous reward program for a poker player. You don't see that in most poker rooms."

CASINO NEWS: GSN, The Network for Games, is the new home of the World Poker Tour. The first of 23 two-hour episodes in the program's sixth season will air Monday, March 24, at 8 pm with the Mirage Poker Showdown. New hostess Layla Kayleigh will be making her debut joining veteran WPT commentators Mike Sexton and Vince Van Patten.

The Mirage Poker Showdown will be followed by two-part coverage of the Bellagio Cup. In addition to stops at casinos from coast to coast, this year's tour goes international with a stop that includes the WPT Spanish Championship at Casino Barcelona in Spain (June 2).

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