Poker, untouched by human hands: no cards, no chips, no money and no dealer. That may be the future of the game that has mushroomed from Friday nights at the kitchen table to a world-wide attraction.
Theres no question that the Internets adoption of online poker games, triggered by the worlds interest in the World Series of Poker, has created a poker popularity that no one could have foreseen a dozen years ago.
Now PokerTek Inc. (PTEK) has taken the game to another level by developing a poker table that has become an international favorite.
Prior to sitting at a dealer-less table, players bank their gambling money at a separate kiosk. They then sit around the table and receive their cards on a private screen in front of them with the common cards displayed in the center. Electronic betting takes place with the winners paid off electronically, as well.
The cost of playing (known as the rake) is automatically deducted from the amount wagered. However, players are not required to tip the dealers since no dealers exist.
A successful tournament in Montreal with some 240 players and only four live administrators proved the systems ability to handle such events. The tables are being operated in the U.S., Canada, Macau, Panama, Germany Australia, South Africa and just last week in Bulgaria. They also are popular on cruise ships.
Still nothing in Las Vegas, so far, but with casinos looking to reduce payroll costs, and players attracted by the no-tip savings, it seems like its only a matter of time.