Hit the High Seas with Poker Tek



Automated poker tables may soon become a staple of Norwegian Cruise Lines. As many vacation goers head to the Caribbean, Alaska, and other destinations in the coming months, Poker Tek PokerPro tables could become a signature of the floating cities. The company signed an agreement with the popular cruise line to install tables on the Norwegian Pearl for a 90 day test period.

An article that appeared in the Charlotte Business Journal explained why automated poker tables have become so popular: “The system is designed to boost casino revenue by increasing the number of hands per hour and reducing the labor costs of poker rooms.” In many other areas, local, state, or tribal laws prohibit the actual use of plastic playing cards, making automated tables the only solution.

Norwegian Cruise Line has a total of 11 ships that transport tourists to some of the most luxurious destinations on Earth; on each vessel is a casino. Poker Tek offers two different versions of its automated table. The first is PokerPro, which is a standard 10-handed table. Cards are dealt in the front middle of each person’s monitor and according to the company’s website, each table can generate 50% more revenue in Texas Hold’em games and 100% more in Omaha.

Poker Tek also produces a Heads-Up Challenge table, which is specifically designed for two-man play. It comes complete with a bill and coin acceptor and a monitor can display the action to a gathered crowd. Poker Tek markets the World Series of Poker branded tables to bars and other entertainment establishments around the world. In August, the Excalibur in Las Vegas opened a 12-table poker room featuring the PokerPro. In December, the casino rolled out Pot Limit Omaha using the automated system.

Poker Tek is traded on the NASDAQ Stock Exchange under the symbol PTEK. At the close of business on Friday in the United States, it traded at $1.40, up $0.10 on the day. It has wavered in a wide range over the past 52 weeks between $1.20 and $8.54. It last traded above $5 in August before falling to its current level. According to Yahoo Finance, Poker Tek has a market cap of $15 million and a one year target estimate of $2.38. At the beginning of December, the company received approval to move its shares from the NASDAQ Global Market to the stock exchange’s Capital Market. The reason for the shift was the failure by Poker Tek to maintain shareholder equity of at least $10 million.

During the third quarter of 2008, the most recent financial filings available, revenue increased by 299% to $4.3 million year over year. Poker Tek claimed this change was “due to increases in both license and service fees and product sales.” The company sold 331 Heads-Up Challenge tables during the quarter, including its 1,000th unit, which was installed in The Moon Saloon Tavern in Phoenixville, Pennsylvania. The Heads-Up tables were rolled out in November of 2007, meaning that 1,000 were sold in less than one year. Other outlets for the North Carolina-based company include the Valley View Casino in San Diego (California), Boomtown Casino in Bossier City (Louisiana), and the Monte Carlo in Budapest (Hungary).

Robert Perry, the Vice President of Sales for Norwegian Cruise Lines, commented in a press release, “Our previous installations on cruise ships have proven to be profitable for our customers and well-received by their vacationers abroad. PokerPro allows cruise ships to offer an extra amenity to their guests in a cost-effective manner.” Poker Tek tables will compete with a bowling alley and rock climbing wall, among the many diversions available for guests on the Norwegian Pearl.

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