THE ELECTRONIC AGE
Automated table games versus live dealers
By John Grochowski
Without doubt, traditional table games with live dealers, real cards and real chips are the way most of us love to play. But some of us cross over into automated games, whether fully automated (card images on a table screen, electronic wagering on a screen and sometimes virtual dealers in animation behind the table) or semi-automated (usually real dealer and cards, electronic wagering.)
Some players who have played both the traditional way and on automated tables share their stories in this edition of Table Talk.
I enjoy the blackjack game with the big console and the hot girl dealers on video because the rules are fair as far as blackjack payoﬀs, doubling down, etc.
I used to play BJ almost exclusively, but at the level I played, ($5/hand, sometimes a slight increase) I was never comped or even given any kind of oﬀers or “points” for my play while my wife always got oﬀers for slot play. I started playing video poker and regressed to penny slots,too.
But with the blackjack slot, I can play a fair game AND get point credit. It also helps me polish my skills so that when I DO play at a live table, I am conﬁdent I still play with proper basic strategy. AND I can play at the $5 level ($3 in some places) even on a weekend when live table limits are beyond my budget.
You won’t believe this, but I actually saw a big argument over a payoﬀ at an automated table. It was one of those blackjack games with the animated dealers. I kind of like them because where I play, I can play for a lot less money than at a live table.
There was a hand where the dealer strung out one of those long 19s. She must have had ﬁve, maybe six cards. I lost. I think I had 18.
The gamed moved on to start the next hand. That happens really fast in those games. As soon as the cards are dealt, the payoﬀs are already made. The rest of us made our bets, but one man was sure he should have been paid. He’s hitting buttons, call buttons I suppose, and swearing a storm. He ﬁnally screamed, “STOP THIS STUPID THING!”
Someone in a suit came over to calm him down. The guy cashed out and they left together. I don’t know where they were going or how it was resolved, but I’ve never seen the game make a mistake, and I play a lot. The guy probably really lost his bet, but was he mad.
The roulette is what I like to play on video. Really, for me there’s no comparison. It’s much easier to bet on your own terminal and not reaching over other players. I’m not very tall and I can’t always reach the places I want to bet, so I’m forever asking the dealer to place my chips for me.
Also on the video betting, you can touch the screen and see what all the past results have been. Not just the last 18 numbers like on the board at the tables, but all the trends for red and black or the columns or anything.
My friend Jeanine says she doesn’t like the wheel being on video, but I showed her where we were playing there was a real dealer and wheel, and you got a video of that streaming to your own screen.
We all adjust to change, don’t we? I’ve changed from records to cassettes to CDs to downloads for music. This is just another change, and a pretty good one I think.
I’ve tried some automated tables, mainly roulette, but they seem so much less social. If I want to play alone, I can play the slots.
I keep hearing how convenient it is to play automated. I guess it is convenient. I was even at one table where you could switch back and forth and play roulette and craps and maybe something else at the same time if you wanted. Not me.
But when I’m playing roulette, I want to talk to the people. Yes, you reach over each other to bet and sometimes get in each other’s way, but it’s all friendly. One of the best times was when this woman won a couple of bets and a few of us started betting her numbers right with her. We had a nice little roll and made some money together. You could have sworn it was a craps table with the cheers and high ﬁves.
That doesn’t happen very often, but it doesn’t happen at all at an automated table. Heck, I don’t even see what the other players are betting. Everybody wins or loses and they make their bets for the next spin, and nobody even talks to each other.
I’ve played automated blackjack with a live dealer and with just a video dealer, and I’ll tell you, it’s a lot more fun with a live dealer. It’s nice to have someone there who will ask you your hometown and a little about yourself, all the little things that dealers do to make players feel welcome. Sometimes you get the grumpy dealer who just pushes cards out until break time, but a good, friendly dealer helps the automated betting games just as much as the regular games.
I don’t mind electronic betting too much. It’s fast and it’s accurate. But when I’m at those tables, sometimes I feel like I can’t ﬁgure out what to do with my hands. I’m a chip stacker and riﬄer from way back.