Are electronic poker tables the way of the future for land-based casinos? Ontario’s OLG Slots have recently introduced electronic poker tables across a number of their OLG Slots casinos in an effort to offer dealerless poker in their slot and electronic table games only casinos.
For casinos, poker has traditionally been an expensive game to offer when you calculate the revenue generated per square foot of casino real estate versus the floor space taken up by other games such as slots or a blackjack table. Add unionized dealers’ salaries and benefits to the equation, the fact that poker profitability decreases drastically for tournaments with fixed buy-in fees versus cash games, and it’s no wonder most casinos would much prefer to add more slot machines to their floor space.
One trend that has come up in many casinos is to replace live dealers with electronic poker tables. While this may not be considered by many to be poker the way it should be, especially since the customer has already made the trip to the casino, unfortunately, we may see more of this trend in years to come.
OLG Slots already have a number of electronic blackjack and baccarat tables occupying their floor space and this new addition to the family is meant to expand their offering into poker.
Some of the advantages and cool features of electronic poker tables versus live dealers from the perspective of the casino and for poker player are:
– more hands are played per hour as a result of not having to wait for shuffling and pot distributions, and the game keeps moving as there is a maximum of about 45 seconds to make a decision
– no tipping by the player and no salaries to pay for the casino
– no splashing the pot
– instant info on pot size and stack size, for good players this is a detriment and takes away some of their advantage
– never any question about the proper placement of the dealer button and small blinds, big blinds are instantly posted
– ability to view showdown odds
– ability for player to view previous hands
– ability to view session statistics and tournament statistics since players are given a unique card with a PIN code to identify their profile
– no mistakes
– rabbit hunting which may or may not be frowned upon depending on the player (rabbit hunting to ask the dealer to reveal the next card that would have been dealt had they stayed in the hand after a pot is won without a showdown – it gives the losing player an idea of whether they would have won or not had they stayed in the hand)
Electronic poker tables also appear to encourage more loose calls because a virtual chip stack indicated by a number doesn’t have the same presence as a large stack of chips on the felt.
The biggest con is that it just doesn’t feel like real poker. Many players want to see cards being shuffled and dealt in front of them. If someone has to make a trip to the casino to sit in front of a terminal to play poker, then why can’t they just stay home and play on their computer?
Electronic poker tables can be found at the following OLG Slots at Georgian Downs, Rideau Carleton Raceway, Western Fair District, Woodbine Racetrack, Sudbury Downs, Mohawk Racetrack.
Electronic poker tables were actually introduced by the Montreal Casino in Quebec when they originally rolled out their poker room due to some labour disputes over dealer compensation but the casino eventually got rid of them in favour of using live dealers.