Lou White is the co-founder of PokerTek ventures, a business that specializes in developing and marketing products for the gaming and amusement industries.
One of PokerTek’s toys is called PokerPro, a 10-seater automated poker table and software application designed to increase revenue, reduce expenses and attract new players into poker rooms by offering interactive poker that is fast, fun and mistake free.
During the recent Asia Championship of Poker (ACOP) in the City of Dreams Casino in Macau, Pokertek struck a deal with PokerStars to install a number of PokerPro tables in their PokerStars LIVE Macau poker room.
So how did the relationship with PokerStars develop?
“The best way to use the technology is to go into specific markets to help solve specific problems. As it relates to poker in Macau the problem they have is a restriction on the number of poker tables they can host because of governmental rules. This makes it virtually impossible for the poker economy to grow at the lower limits,” Said White.
‘So our new tables in the PokerStar LIVE poker room attempts to solve those problems. It’s going to allow the poker economy in Macau to now grow naturally.”
Are we going to see PokerPro tables in other PokerStars LIVE card rooms in Madrid and London for example?
“There is nothing specific that I would like to talk about, but in some regions like the European poker economy, the problem they have is labor costs. The impact to the poker player is they are playing games that are raked 10% and sometimes even uncapped. The organizers have to do that because the labor costs are so high. So you will see PokerPro expanding in certain regions, but only if there is a certain problem to be solved in that region.”
What has the feedback been like?
“We launched right before the APOC so it was fantastic. PokerStars has six large tournament festivals per year at the City of Dreams and they are going to continue to grow. A lot of poker players won’t go to Macau because there is no cash game action for them. Now they have a new portfolio with a whole new set of games at lower limits that were never before available.
“During the last APOC we ran a strong $10/20HK ($1/2) PLO game every single day. Once the locals learn Omaha they are going to like it a lot more than NLHE. The Chinese are a very smart bunch of people. They quickly learn the right way to play NLHE. but it’s no fun for them because of the way they approach gambling, but PLO is much more down their street.”
Are we ever going to see a World Series of Poker (WSOP) Bracelet Event played out exclusively on Poker Pro tables?
“I have a dream to have the following WSOP event: One day, one bracelet, one million dollars. It’s 10 Poker Pro tables, $10k buy in capped at 100 players played out in a single day – winner takes all for the bracelet. PokerPro can have the exact same structure as they get with chips and cards and have it run in half of the time. Or give them double the structure over the same time period. It’s like giving them half of their life back again. It’s a dream and who knows maybe it will be realized one day.”
When machines move in, people move out, is Lou White in danger of being the most hated man in dealer staff rooms around the world?
“Remember that our company is seven years old. The first hand of electronic poker was dealt in May of 2005. At that time we embarked on this marketing strategy where we opened big 10-12 table rooms in Vegas, Atlantic City and other places, and if I could go back in time I would never have done that.
“Poker Pro is a very disruptive technology. One of our primary obstacles is exactly what you have said. It’s offensive to someone working in a poker room that our machines do what they do. I acknowledge and respect that so I said let’s step back and we looked at markets where we weren’t going to offend anyone. We are ready to go back into the mainstream but we need to do it in a way that’s not offensive. I don’t want to take the business over, instead I think there is room for us to help improve the poker economy as a whole.”