The first time I played Texas hold ’em was at the Excalibur casino in Las Vegas (admittedly only a couple of years ago). It was a pretty nifty room then, set aside from the casino and brightly-lit. They’ve since moved it to a dimly-lit area in the middle of the casino, which made it harder to get away from the smoke. I’d still play there from time to time, though.
So it’s with a little sadness that I read that the Excalibur poker room will be going all-electronic later this month, with dealer-less tables. Chatting with the dealers is one of the perks of playing low-limit hold ’em, and the better ones are both good dealers and fun conversationalists. Of course, not having a dealer to tip means more profit for winning players. It still seems weird, though. The dealer is also the accountant and policeman for the table, and a good one can have a calming effect on a rowdy or out-of-control table.
I’ll be curious to see how this experiment works – will the players embrace it, or will they abandon the Excalibur to go play with actual dealers? My guess is some of each, depending on how much each player is concerned about the rake and tips.