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i-Table May Bring Human Touch to Online Blackjack

Oct 13, 2010


People have been playing computerized blackjack games their computers since the 1970s.

With the popularization of the internet, people began playing online in the late 1990s. However, many poker players felt these games were missing a human touch. Playing these games felt more like playing Pac Man or Space Invaders than playing a casino table game.

This is changing as online casinos are beginning to offer “live dealers”. Shuffle Master’s new product, i-Table, may soon be among the products which make this possible.

Like iPokerChips which provides virtual poker chips to iPhone owners, the i-Table provides virtual poker chips to casino owners. However, the i-Table is a lot bigger and heavier and suitable for more games.

i-Table is an electronic table intended for pit games, such as baccarat, poker, and blackjack. The dealer shuffles and distributes physical cards, as he would in any casino game. However, rather than fumbling about with chips, which is slow and prone to human error, the i-Table will award the appropriate credit to each player. This will improve both efficiency and security and Shuffle Master suggests this technology may increase the number of hands played every hour by 30%. Additionally, as physical chips are removed from play, the opportunity for theft is virtually eliminated.

Moreover, i-Table software understands both a player’s cards and the player’s bets. This will enable casinos to record import information regarding wins and loss, as well as analyzing their skills and provide player rankings. Armed with this knowledge, casinos can better assess who are the high-rollers and VIP customers. Important to casino security, the table will also be able to identify card counters from each player’s hand and betting history.

The current model of the i-Table has 6 player stations, each equipped with a touch screen, which are arranged to have a similar size to a standard blackjack table. An additional interface is provided for the dealer. If the players will be playing baccarat or blackjack, the dealer uses a standard shoe. However, if a specialized poker game such as Ultimate Texas Hold’em or Three Card Poker have been select, the dealers can use the i-Deal, another Shuffle Master device.

Casinos benefit not just from more efficient play, but also from reduced labour, as the pit will require less supervision and fewer plerks.

Currently, the i-Table is only being offered for brick and mortar casinos and not at all suitable for mobile gaming, however mobile gamblers are already enjoying games with live dealers and no physical chips. It may be considered a safe bet that either Shuffle Master will take the initiative to port their own technology directly to this environment, or third parties will start licensing patents and software from Shuffle Master to facilitate the production of new live dealer games.

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