Is the future here?
In the last few months, I’ve had a couple of live poker experiences that have gotten me excited about live poker again. There is nothing like the live experience of being able to interact with your opponents and look into their eyes during critical decisions. The social interaction simply makes poker more fun. However, online poker spoils you. When you are dealt 60 hands an hour and can play multiple tables at once online, live poker can seem excruciatingly slow at times.

Ever since I started playing online poker, I have not found much enjoyment in playing live cash games. They are just so slow! Poker is a game of patience, and it isn’t fun waiting hours for the right time to exploit your opponents. On the other hand, I still love the excitement of live tournaments compared to online tournaments. There is nothing like the experience of playing for big money in a live setting. Online final tables lack that same excitement, and you lose the ability to see how your opponents are handling the pressure.

While in Vegas, I played the Deep-Stack Extravaganza series at The Venetian. It was the first time that I had ever played a live tournament with automated shufflers. Wow, what a difference! The action was so much quicker. After playing at The Venetian and then going over to the Rio for the World Series of Poker, I found that the difference was like night and day. The automated shufflers make the game a lot better.

Every year, I hear things from the people at Harrah’s about how they are working on improving the structure. I will give them credit that this year, the structures were much better than in previous years. Going forward, the one simple thing that they can do to improve the structures is add automated shufflers to the tables. I’d like to see the stats of how many hands are dealt per hour with an automated shuffler compared to a dealer shuffle; even just 10 percent more would be a tremendous improvement. Harrah’s, add automated shufflers to the WSOP!

As I said previously, I don’t enjoy live cash games much anymore. However, I have had two live cash-game experiences in the last few months that have changed my mind.

PokerTek is a company that makes PokerPro electronic poker tables. I’ve seen these tables in Melbourne, Vegas, and recently on a cruise ship. These tables are basically like online poker, except that they are in a live setting where your opponents are sitting around the table with you. The action is fast, yet with the live social interaction, the games are very fun.

I had the pleasure of playing pot-limit Omaha (PLO) in Vegas on one of these tables. Wow! Think about a game like PLO, in which the dealer must deal out four cards to nine players. Everyone must keep track of the pot size to know how much to bet. These tables make all of this automatic. Your cards are dealt in seconds, the table shows you the maximum pot-size bet, and you don’t have to tip a dealer. Although I haven’t played a split-pot game, I would imagine that the action is very quick in splitting up the chips.

I also recently returned from a cruise where there was a PokerPro table onboard. All I had to do was insert my cruise card, and I was able to start playing $1-$2 no-limit hold’em. The action was incredible, as most of the players were inexperienced tourists. These tables make the game easier for beginning players, as they guide the players when it is their turn to act. The action is much faster than it is with a traditional dealer. All of the players seemed to like the electronic table, and were having a good time.

These tables are the future of poker. Poker players want to play poker — and the more hands they can play, the better. These tables provide fast-moving games with the social atmosphere of a live game. The next time that you’re in a poker room with electronic poker tables, be sure to give them a try.

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