The Man Versus Machine Debate – Poker Style
Since the dawn of the computer age, technology has slowly creeped into nearly every facet of modern life. Computers can now do in minutes what it's human predecessor would take a full day to do. With the advent of electronic poker tables, the computer age may soon be creeping into card rooms, and taking jobs from dealers.
One of the major criticisms of online poker is that you can't see your opponents – you can't look into their eyes, or watch their mannerisms as they bet – both key elements of successful live poker play.
Over the last two years, we have seen the advent of electronic tables like Pokertek's 'Poker Pro' model, which not only deals the cards (electronically), but actually has its own waiting list kiosks, where players can do nearly everything they need to do to play poker, without any human needing to be involved at all.
These tables have been in use at a few selected casinos, and after initial resistance, it seems players are saddling up. The Hard Rock Seminole in Florida has used the tables, and Seminole Poker Manager Henry Funke has called the tables 'the wave of the future'.
So, can these tables catch on? Top tournament director Matt Savage thinks so, but thinks the change may not all be for the best. "Yes, [electronic poker tables] are definitely viable – which is unfortunate for those that work in the poker industry like dealers and floormen. However, they take away much of the skill in poker in my opinion. Chip tells and betting patterns are a big part of the game at the highest levels and I do not want to see that change."
So, what about the dealers? One would assume that all dealers would see these as a threat, a prospect that Funke says is not completely true, as he mentioned in an interview with Casino City Times "What we're running on them now are things that dealers don't mind not having to deal. These tables are very efficient at running low-limit, single-table tournaments, and they're not really affecting the dealers in their take-home pay."
So, maybe these tables can find their niche in the poker world, and everyone can live with the transition. Kathy Raymond, former Director of Poker at Foxwoods, and now Director of Poker at The Venetian, agrees the single table use is currently the most practical.
"I had considered the purchase of a few of these tables while still at Foxwoods Casino." Notes Raymond "My thought being that they would work very well when spreading satellites or single table sit and gos"
Having played at one of these tables, I can say the experience does fall short of the 'true' poker experience, however I would also say that if I was trying to satellite into a smaller event, or was looking to play 'fun poker' for small stakes with friends, I would consider playing at an electronic poker table. Maybe these tables have a place in poker's future, without diluting the experience that is a primary reason many people travel to their local card room to play.
Ed Note: No need to travel when you can play at home at Titan Poker.