Electronic poker tables have been popping up all over the globe, and it seemed to be just a matter of time before the innovation reached Las Vegas.
Excalibur Hotel and Casino, an MGM Mirage property, recently installed 12 PokerPro electronic tables, completely replacing its old 12-table poker room. It’s the first poker room in Nevada to have electronic tables, and will serve as the official trial site for PokerPro in the state.
At Excalibur, there are no more chips, no more cards, and no more dealers. So, in a city that is used to change, where construction never stops and casinos change more times than the superstitious guy at the poker table asks for a new setup, what will the reaction be?
According to Chris Halligan, CEO of PokerTek, the company that produces PokerPro tables, it’s been great.
“We were looking for someone who viewed this innovation as a way to attract new players and invigorate their poker business,” he said. “Once we met with the Excalibur people, we knew they were the right people.”
PokerTek now has more than 250 tables in operation all over the world, dominating the E-table market. As in every new market that PokerTek enters, there is a trial period that takes place. Halligan said that field trials usually take about six months.
With, perhaps, the future of PokerPro in Nevada hanging in the balance with the results at Excalibur, PokerTek is taking steps to ensure its success. Durning the first few months of the new poker room’s operation, $500 freerolls are held at 9 a.m. every day. Whether it is the free money or the attraction of the electronic tables, the seats are selling like hotcakes. Every day, all 60 seats for the tournament are reserved within an hour of registration being opened.
There is no set tournament schedule right now, but the Excalibur plans on running a few events a day at low buy-ins. Cash games are available, inclluding regular games at $0.50-$1 and $1-$2 no-limit hold’em, and $2-$4 limit hold’em. Occasionally there are $2-$5 no-limit hold’em games, and $3-$6 and $4-$8 limit hold’em games. Seven-card stud and Omaha variations, including pot-limit Omaha, also are offered. The rake is capped at $3 per hand at every table at all stakes.
While PokerPro tables provide fast, error-free play, there are some vocal critics of the transition.
“Personally, I don’t think it is good for poker. It would put a lot of people out of work,” said Orleans Tournament Supervisor Marlin Berland. “Why bother coming to Vegas to play poker on a machine? You could stay home and play on the Internet.”
Berland said that he hopes that electronic tables don’t catch on, and he doesn’t think they will. However, it seems as though PokerTek has plans to expand, pending successful field trials.
“We have had a lot of inquiries about opening rooms elsewhere in the city,” said Halligan, “but right now, our focus is on satisfying the conditions of the field trial and making Excalibur as successful as we can.”
For more information, call the Excalibur poker room at (702) 597-7625.