Poker and RFID!

I came across an interesting article in the RFID Journal through a reader service I belong to called RFID NORDIC Daily News. It really caught my imagination: using RFID in international poker matches! The article in the RFID Journal is entitled, “RFID Gives Pokertronic Its Strong Suit” and is by Rhea Wessel and published on January 7th.

Pokertronic are a German company based in Regensburg, who were founded in 2008. They are a joint venture with AniMazing GmbH. The company offers services and solutions enabling the filming and broadcasting of live poker tournaments. One of these products and services is an RFID-enabled poker table that, according to the company, makes it easier for casinos, poker clubs and television-production businesses to provide spectators with a look into the hands of match competitors.

The table comes in 2 forms: a regular rounded rectangle and a bean shape. It is a retrofitted wooden and leather poker table that can accommodate 10 players. One RFID reader and 11 reader antennas are incorporated into the table, and each playing card is embedded with a passive 13.56 MHz RFID tag containing an NXP Semiconductors Mifare RFID chip. The tag is flexible, and does not change the feel of the playing cards. The company resells the RFID playing cards, which it purchases from a playing-card manufacturer. The whole combination sells for €7,500 ($9,760).

So how does it work? Uwe Kerscher, Pokertronic’s CEO describe the process in the article as follows, “The reader beneath the table reads the cards’ tags and transmits the information saved on those tags to the computer system. The transmitted information is encrypted and includes each card’s face value and suit, such as the queen of diamonds. The encrypted data is fed into software created by Pokertronic, to evaluate the cards and generate a graphic illustration of each playing hand, much like those seen on televised sports events”.

Is this just theory or has it actually been used? The answer is yes, it was used to broadcast live matches in October 2010 at the European Poker Championships, held at the Grand Casino Baden, near Vienna, Austria. Sales of the table are slated to begin early this year.

I always knew that RFID would find a use in the most unlikely places!

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Simon Holloway is Practice Leader (Process Management & RFID) at Bloor Research. Simon’s IT background spans some 20 years as an IT consultant specialising in IS/IT strategy planning, information management, corporate data and process modelling, business process reengineering, software selection and project management. He has worked in IT organisations that include Solidsoft, Microsoft, Sun Microsystems, Forté Software and Redfern Consulting where he has built up a reputation for his ability to provide translation between the business and IT worlds. He has also worked for a variety of industry and service based organisations including: Cadbury Schweppes, PITO, British Airways, Glaxo and Scottish Widows. Simon joined Bloor in 2007 and now holds the Business Process brief.