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Future of Casino Poker May Exclude Live Dealers

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PokerTek electronic poker tables save casinos money, but will the big time players be willing to accept a touchscreen instead of a felt table?

"There are two trends converging, poker and cost-effective technology, both are really a huge hit right now with the casinos," said David G. Schwartz, director of the Center for Gaming Research at the University of Nevada Las Vegas.

Seat 10 players around one of the company's PokerPro tables and the number of Texas Hold 'em hands played per hour goes up by 50 percent over a dealer-run table, said PokerTek CEO Lou White. That means an increased "rake" for the casino and eliminates the cost of a dealer's salary and benefits.

Players get more action and don't have to tip a dealer, either. As White puts it, "Poker players want to play more hands."

PokerTek has collected endorsements from poker stars like Doyle Brunson and Johnny Chan, but will have to win over players like Harold Schmidt, a 40-year-old from Fredericksburg, Va., who busted out of this year's World Series of Poker on the first day of play.

"I like the chips and you know, I like to have people play with the chips and do tricks with the chips," Schmidt said Friday. "Here, what are you going to do, tap your fingers on the screen?"

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