|Sitemap | Casino Articles | Poker Articles | Sportsbook Review||Change site language:|
For decades, one of the best things about Artichoke Joe's in San Bruno has been the cardroom's friendly dealers. But recently, ol' Artichoke Joe's invested in a new type of poker table that doesn't require dealers at all: an automated table from a company called Lightning Gaming.
The table, dubbed Lightning Poker, mixes the speed and accuracy of Internet poker with the stare-down drama of playing live games. Using real money from a debit card, players sit around a table and play with virtual cards and chip stacks that appear on video screens. A software program running on a computer in the center of the table deals cards and collects bets, eliminating the need for a human dealer.
At Artichoke Joe's, General Manager Joe Willson says the table is used mostly for games of Omaha, a form of poker that involves four hole cards instead of two.
"We put this game in here because most dealers don't like dealing games like Omaha," says Willson, noting that particularly with Omaha Hi-Lo, determining winning hands and dividing pots can require some complicated calculations. Players "are happy because we've got Omaha, and dealers are happy because they can stick to Hold 'Em, which is an easier game to deal."
Other benefits to automated tables: fewer misdeals, no incorrectly chopped pots, no betting out of turn. The speediness of automated games benefits players and cardrooms alike; players see more hands in a given hour, and cardrooms collect a larger per-hand rake.
The technology behind automated poker tables has been making the rounds with the likes of PokerPro, a similar table from PokerTek, Lightning Gaming's top competitor. Black Oak Casino in Tuolumne and the Folsom Lake Bowl and Casino in Folsom (Sacramento County) each have PokerPro tables.
These other casinos use the automated tables all the time. But at Artichoke Joe's, the Lightning Poker table is fired up only intermittently. Willson says the table is used for regular Omaha games almost every Wednesday night and occasionally for "sit-and-go," or single-table, tournaments.
Playing poker at one of these automated tables is a bit surreal. Is the game the same as it is on a regular table? Of course. Does strategy differ? Not at all. Still, during a recent session of $6/$12 Omaha Hi-Lo Split on the Lightning Poker table at Artichoke Joe's, I missed the inimitable white noise of plastic chips clinking in players' hands.
Conversation was eerily absent, too. At other tables in the cardroom, players interacted with their dealers - pleading for good hands and cursing the bad ones. But at the Lightning Poker table, the crowd was so quiet that during one particularly bad stretch of cards, I nearly fell asleep.
The bottom line: Lightning Poker is worth trying at least once. Just make sure you put your name on the list for a human-dealt game, too.