Digital Poker Tables Are Not the Solution

The Plaza featured the Pokertek machine in 2015.

In this era of COVID-19, poker rooms face the challenge of finding practical solutions to operate safely and efficiently. Numerous concepts are being discussed and pondered upon, with the aim of adapting to the current circumstances. Among these ideas are the implementation of shorthanded games, the use of protective glass shields, and the incorporation of electronic tables. However, according to Nevada regulations, poker tables are currently limited to a maximum of four players, making it necessary for most poker rooms to remain closed until these restrictions are lifted.

The fascinating chronicle of Las Vegas' electronic poker room

Las Vegas used to have three electronic poker rooms, but they are no longer in existence.

Back in 2008, Excalibur decided to give it a shot by introducing Pokertek's PokerPro tables to their establishment. Unfortunately, it turned out to be a complete failure. These machines were only able to function in areas where live cards were not allowed and on cruise ships that preferred not to have dealers. Surprisingly, a few of these tables are still up and running to this day.

In the year 2013, PokerPro's digital tables made a comeback in the bustling Las Vegas market. Plaza was the pioneering location to reintroduce these captivating games, followed by Aliante Casino in North Las Vegas which also embraced these innovative machines.

Plaza PokerPro chamber - September of the year 2013.

I had the opportunity to witness the tables in both casinos and it seems that they experienced a certain degree of success. Nonetheless, the stakes in these games were not of a significant magnitude. In both establishments, they offered modest cash games and tournaments for the players. Typically, the cash games involved blinds of either $0.50/$1 or $1/$2. As for the tournaments, they ranged in entry fees from as low as $6 to a maximum of $33.

In 2016, the sale of Pokertek took place, and the new proprietor showed no inclination towards acquiring a gaming license in Nevada. As a result, the machines were promptly eliminated from both Plaza and Aliante, and they have yet to make a comeback in the state of Nevada.

The Pokertek website appears to have been neglected, with its blog transformed into an online casino promotion that has not been updated for over a year.

Digital poker games, though they possess a certain level of intrigue, function much like their online counterparts, allowing players to gauge the actions of others. Nevertheless, it must be noted that these technological devices are not suited to serve as viable alternatives for live poker experiences.

Benefits of online poker platforms

In digital poker rooms, players can find several reasons to enjoy their experience. One advantage is the absence of physical chips or cards that need to be touched, making the game more convenient and accessible. Additionally, these online platforms offer faster gameplay, allowing players to engage in more hands within a shorter period. Another benefit is the typically lower rake, meaning that players can retain a larger portion of their winnings. Moreover, there is no obligation to tip a dealer, which can be an appealing aspect for those looking to maximize their profits. Lastly, digital poker rooms manage to maintain a social element, ensuring that players can interact with others, all while minimizing the risks associated with traditional live poker games.

Drawbacks of online poker platforms

It appears that there are not many readily available devices like this for immediate installation, which suggests that electronic poker rooms have limitations that may not be suitable for widespread use.

In my view, there are certain limitations to consider even if a digital solution can quickly hit the market. Despite the absence of any evidence suggesting problems with random number generators, certain individuals remain skeptical of electronic machines.

As a digital poker room manager, my goal is to streamline operations and minimize labor requirements. By implementing digital platforms, we can eliminate the need for attendants to closely monitor every game. However, this poses a challenge as it necessitates my role to encompass various responsibilities such as overseeing player buy-ins and cash-outs, managing phone inquiries, and handling accounting duties. In this dynamic environment, I strive to ensure a smooth and efficient gaming experience for all players while effectively multitasking and attending to the diverse demands of the digital poker room.

In the realm of casino gaming, there exists a potential loophole that could lead to illicit collaboration. While minor errors in conversation amongst players might occur in low-stakes games, the scenario drastically changes in the realm of high-stakes gambling, where these automated contraptions could potentially establish a permanent residency. In such a setting, the presence of a reliable and impartial employee, like a live dealer, becomes indispensable. Their role would involve providing clarity and mediation to the management in case any disputes arise at the gaming table. However, the absence of such an objective observer creates an environment ripe for the exploitation of unfair tactics, commonly known as angleshooting.

In order to tackle this issue, one potential approach could be to designate a specific employee to each table. However, even if such a solution were implemented, there would still be challenges related to manufacturing and distribution. To cater to the Las Vegas market, a company venturing into this product would have to manufacture hundreds of these machines, all while ensuring that demand in other markets is also met.

Organizing a colossal gathering like the World Series of Poker solely relying on electronic poker machines would pose an immense challenge. Not only would it be extremely arduous to keep track of all the games, but also manufacturing a sufficient number of machines within a six-week timeframe would be utterly impractical. These devices, which would probably exceed a hefty price tag of $100,000 apiece, would simply not be a financially viable option for such an occasion. Additionally, players would be reluctant to bear the costs necessary to offset this expense, particularly considering the absence of live dealers, tangible cards, and physical chips.

Leasing machines is one possible solution that comes to mind. Nonetheless, it places the responsibility on the manufacturer or distributor to ensure that the machines are always in use. This task, however, poses a significant challenge due to the constant movement of tournaments across the country. The frequent need for installation, removal, and shipping of the devices would be a logistical nightmare. Moreover, numerous machines required for an event on the grand scale of the World Series of Poker would often remain unused for extended periods.

In this current economic climate, it's highly likely that once a treatment or vaccine for COVID-19 is found, the market for electronic poker tables will plummet. According to experts, we're still a year or two away from achieving either of these solutions. Unfortunately, that's not sufficient time to recover the costs associated with mass producing a product of this nature. Consequently, it may become unfeasible to invest in the concept of electronic poker tables, especially given the projected low demand following this momentous milestone.

Advocate for the legalization and proper oversight of internet-based poker

The answer to the current poker landscape lies in expanding the legality of online poker to all states. This solution not only tackles the problem of limited legality, which currently restricts online poker to just four states, but also addresses the issue of social distancing. By embracing online poker on a nationwide scale, we can create a better and more inclusive environment for players. This alternative avenue opens up possibilities for players from all corners of the country to engage in the game they love while staying connected and safe. With the expansion of online poker, we can bridge the gap and bring together players from different states, fostering a sense of community and camaraderie in the virtual poker world. It is a step towards ensuring that everyone has equal access to the thrill and excitement of the game, regardless of their geographical location. Additionally, embracing online poker allows for flexible gameplay, giving individuals the freedom to participate at their own convenience and pace. This innovative approach not only enhances accessibility, but also presents opportunities for growth and evolution within the poker industry. As we adapt to the ever-changing landscape of technology and connectivity, online poker emerges as a solution that addresses both legal limitations and social distancing concerns. Together, we can reshape the poker landscape, making it more inclusive, engaging, and resilient for players across the United States.

In the current four states, it is evident that improved regulation is necessary. This imperative requirement would undoubtedly enhance the efficiency and effectiveness of the companies operating within this market. Consequently, such enhancements would subsequently yield increased tax revenues, potentially serving as a compelling incentive for other governors and legislatures to consider the legalization of the game.