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Best of Vin Narayanan

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Electronic heads-up poker coming to a bar near you

7 July 2007

Watch out Golden Tee. PokerTek has you squarely in its sights.

PokerTek unveiled its automated World Series of Poker heads-up table at the WSOP this week. And it's been drawing rave reviews.

"I can get addicted to this," said one woman who was playing at PokerTek's booth at the Gaming Life Expo. And if the always full tables at PokerTek's booth are any indication, PokerTek has a hit on its hands.

Poker pros definitely love the game.

"This is so cool," yelled Antonio Esfandiari as he played Phil Laak in the table's glitzy inaugural match.

"This is the biggest revolution in poker," World Series of Poker commissioner Jeffrey Pollack added.

The table itself is easy to use. There are three buttons on either side of the table. One is used to look at your cards, which are revealed on screen with the classic poker "squeeze." The other two are used for betting, checking, folding and revealing cards – depending on the on-screen prompt. A giant trackball increases and decrease the bet sizes.

Esfandiari and Laak mastered the mechanics so quickly it seemed like the friendly banter between the two players never stopped. In fact, the only time either of them were at a loss for words was when Esfandiari openly wondered what Jennifer Tilly saw in Laak (Tilly and Laak have been dating for sometime).

Other pros that have played on the table have fallen in love with it as well, said PokerTek president Lou White. "How can I get one for my home," is the question they all ask, White said.

Unfortunately for the pros, PokerTek is focusing on the coin-operated market now. They'll have to wait until the average consumer can play them first.

Challenging Golden Tee

For the last decade, the coin-operated entertainment market has been dominated by Golden Tee. The popular golf game has been played by millions of players on over 100,000 units since it debuted in 1990.

But after years of remarkable dominance, Golden Tee is dipping some, White said. And he thinks the coin-op market is ready for a new game.

"We think we're the next Golden Tee," White said. And the games are destined "for bars around the world."

"Each table is outfitted with bill and credit card readers and games will cost $2 per player," White said.

The tables have also been outfitted with wireless modems, which will allow sponsors and advertisers to deliver targeted campaigns.

PokerTek has signed exclusive distribution deals with 8 of the top 10 game distributors in the U.S., White said. They will be receiving test tables within the next few weeks, White added.

Distributors will then test the tables with their customers before ordering more.

The tables have already been tested by bars in Charlotte , N.C. , White said. And they were well received, so he's expecting plenty of orders.

Mass production of the tables will take place in Taiwan.

Electronic heads-up poker coming to a bar near you is republished from CasinoVendors.com.
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Best of Vin Narayanan
Vin Narayanan

Vin Narayanan is the managing editor at Casino City. When he's not writing or editing stories, he likes to play Chinese Poker, Badugi, Razz and any other "non-traditional" poker game. He also thinks blackjack is his best game and loves game theory.

Before joining Casino City, Vin covered (not all at the same time) sports, politics and elections, wars, technology, celebrities and the Census for USATODAY.com, USA WEEKEND and CNN.

A proud graduate of Michigan State University, Vin can be found on most nights and weekends trying to find a way to watch the Spartans play football or basketball.

Vin Narayanan
Vin Narayanan is the managing editor at Casino City. When he's not writing or editing stories, he likes to play Chinese Poker, Badugi, Razz and any other "non-traditional" poker game. He also thinks blackjack is his best game and loves game theory.

Before joining Casino City, Vin covered (not all at the same time) sports, politics and elections, wars, technology, celebrities and the Census for USATODAY.com, USA WEEKEND and CNN.

A proud graduate of Michigan State University, Vin can be found on most nights and weekends trying to find a way to watch the Spartans play football or basketball.