Dealer-less poker tables? Electronic alternative is faster — and you don’t need to tip

Players could sit at “one giant iPad” for a game of Texas Hold ’em, with other games such as electronic blackjack available during the down time. The electronic poker table automatically computes the players’ chip stacks.
Players could sit at “one giant iPad” for a game of Texas Hold ’em, with other games such as electronic blackjack available during the down time. The electronic poker table automatically computes the players’ chip stacks. Jackpot Digital

A Vancouver company has developed what could be a game-changer: poker tables with virtual cards — and lots of action. The tables can also be programmed to offer other electronic table games, horse or sports wagering to poker players who have folded for that particular hand.

“Picture players sitting at a table that’s basically one giant iPad,” says Jake Kalpakian, CEO of Jackpot Digital. “And it’s faster game play, which generates more money.” (Dealers don’t have to count out chips or shuffle cards, for example.) Jackpot Digital already has a contract with Carnival Cruise Line and will install the machines in U.S. poker rooms later this year, although none yet in South Florida.

Good Texas Hold ’em players fold as much as 90 percent of their starting hands, which makes for a lot of down time. Walk into any poker room and you’ll see players fiddling with their phones, snacking, or even reading a book. In any poker room at a site that offers horse racing, you’ll probably see some players studying the daily charts.

The Jackpot Digital table game, called Jackpot Blitz, takes cash or tickets (like slot machines), and users can click away from the poker game when they’re not in a hand.

The big challenge I see is that players are used to touching cards. And there’s a certain distrust among old-school players of anything electronic. But that’s countered by what I think is a big plus: with no live dealer, there’s no need to tip after each winning hand. That $1 or more on each win stays in my chip stack, instead of bleeding into the dealer’s box.

Kalpakian stops short of predicting that most existing live poker games will be replaced by electronics. But fully automated poker tables could easily be part of a mix, he says. “It really fits anywhere in terms of game and operation,” he says of PokerPro. “You get all the benefits from both a player’s perspective and an operator’s perspective, so we think that’s a good marriage.”

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Columnist Nick Sortal AL DIAZ adiaz@miamiherald.com

Hard Rock Big 4

The Big 4 event at the Seminole Hard Rock Hotel & Casino wrapped up Tuesday, Aug. 15, with the final tables of four tournaments running simultaneously.

The action was spectator-friendly, with eight all-ins in the first 30 minutes. The Big 4 was also taped by Poker Night in America, to eventually be shown on CBS Sports Network.

Martin Kozlov of Melbourne, Australia, won the main event, collecting $754,083.

Joe Kuether of Las Vegas made the final table in the main event and also in an $1,100 buy-in, and shuttled from table to table. He was short-stacked in both, and went home within about 90 minutes, finishing ninth in the main event ($75,413) and eighth in the other ($15,749).

The Seminole Hard Rock now moves its focus to its first-ever hosting of the World Series of Poker Circuit Series, Sept. 21-Oct. 2. So from 4:30 p.m. to midnight Saturday, in addition to $1,000 high hands with rollovers, will be seats in the WSOP-C main event (worth $1,675) added to high hand winners at 6, 8 and 10 p.m. At midnight, the high hand winner also receives into the WSOP-C high roller event (worth $3,250).

SUBHED: Coming up

▪ Magic City Casino offers Bingo Bonanza at 3 p.m. Sundays. Slot players who accumulate 50 points between 10 a.m. and 3 p.m. receive a free card for 10 games of Bingo.

▪ Miccosukee Resort & Gaming calls it “Friends With Benefits.” Patrons with players’ club cards who bring a new signup to the venue receive $10 in free play. The new guest gets $30 in free slot play.

▪ Frankey’s Sports Bar at The Village at Gulfstream Park is showing the Floyd Mayweather-Connor McGregor fight at 9 p.m. Saturday. Admission is $25. Food and beverages are extra. Call 954-464-2333.

▪ The Seminole Hard Rock Hotel & Casino in Hollywood has a Tommy Bahama Backpack Cooler Giveaway from 1-4 p.m. Saturday. Players who earn 10 comp dollars playing slots from midnight to 3 p.m. can pick up the gift between 1 and 4 p.m. at the ballrooms.

▪ The Isle Casino in Pompano Beach has “Take it or Leave it” case giveaway from 6-11 p.m. on Saturdays. The top prize is $10,000. Additionally, 10 winners will be randomly selected on the half-hour to win $200 in free slot play.

▪ The Casino @ Dania Beach now has free poker tournaments at 7 p.m. every weeknight. The guarantees are $3,000 on Mondays, Tuesdays and Thursdays, $4,000 on Wednesdays and $10,000 on Fridays. Although the original chip stack is free, players may buy more chips or buy-re-entries.

▪ The seventh annual Thomas A. Magill Texas Hold-em Tournament is at 7:30 p.m. Saturday at Mardi Gras Casino. Entry is $100, and includes a buffet in the casino’s French Quarter restaurant. (Dining-only is $25.) Visit hallandalebeachpal.com or call 954-457-1466.