The Inside Straight by Joe Awada | As everyone knows, the Excalibur two weeks ago became the first Nevada casino to install automated poker tables in its poker room.
The 12 tables from PokerTek are dealerless and completely computerized with players using individual touch screens and a large common screen in the center of the table.
Wanting a hands-on experience, I dropped by the poker room on Friday to give the tables a test run.
Overall, I enjoyed playing on the electronic tables. Mastering the options – buying in, betting, folding, raising, etc. – is relatively easy, and the poker staff is very helpful in indoctrinating new players.
In speaking with fellow players, I was surprised to find that most of them not only endorse the tables, but said they hoped other poker rooms around town would follow suit.
The poker staff also mentioned that the response so far in the trial run has been very positive. They said the head count in the poker room has increased since the installation of the PokerPro tables, and that the following seems to grow day-by-day.
For my own experience, someone who has played live cards practically all my life, there is a little adjustment. At first, a lot of your concentration is on mastering the controls, but that’s a relatively quick learning curve.
I played in one of the low buy-in cash games and found the atmosphere pleasant and relaxed: translated, this means most of the other players are recreational and not very serious.
I played for awhile with my chip stack bouncing up and down, until I finally was dealt pocket aces. I raised about five times the big blind and got just one caller.
The flop came ace-6-6, giving me a full house, aces on top of 6’s. I made the same bet and my opponent raised me an equal amount.
I, naturally, re-raised all-in and he called.
When the cards were revealed, the other player had a single 6 in his hand, giving him trip 6’s, which at that point wasn’t good enough against my full house.
Anyway, the turn was a harmless 10, but the river revealed a shocking – you guessed it – 6, giving my opponent quad 6’s and knocking me out of the game.
Nonetheless, I think Excalibur has found a nice alternative to traditional poker. If you’ve never been to the resort, the poker room is located in the center of the casino, not far from the sports book.
The poker room currently offers free roll tournaments and low limit games of no limit Texas Hold’em, as well as Seven Card Stud and Omaha.
Incidentally, one of the features of the PokerTek table is the ability to replay the last hand on your individual screen.
Unfortunately, no matter how many times I replayed that last hand, I kept getting beat on the river! I guess computers can only go so far.
Lounging at Hard Rock
Last week, I also had the chance to visit the newly-opened Poker Lounge at the Hard Rock. We talked about this a month ago, and the room is everything it was forecasted to be.
The poker lounge is a beautiful room with its own bar/lounge and many other player-friendly amenities. Players are becoming familiar with it and the action so far has been good.
Hard Rock will host a grand opening this Saturday. You can expect a lot of celebrities and top poker players to be in attendance.
I realize getting in and out of the Hard Rock is a chore with all the construction, but it’s worth the effort. If you like poker with a Hard Rock beat, check out their new card room.