TCSJOHNHUXLEY’s Infinity Auto Dealer offers real time, real card drawingfor electronic table games
An important barrier to acceptance of electronic table games in Asian markets is that some games rely on virtual cards generated by computer rather than on real cards drawn in front of the players’ eyes. Asian players worry that a virtual card system is not as ‘fair’ as a system with real cards.
TCSJOHNHUXLEY thinks it has come up with the perfect solution—Infinity Auto Dealer. It uses real casino cards in real time in a way that can be seen very clearly on the casino floor and is also monitored by video camera. Every player on a multi-terminal game can monitor the live drawing results either by glancing at Infinity Auto Dealer directly, or watching the video feed on their own player screen.
One of two prototypes of Infinity Auto Dealer was on display at TCSJH’s very popular Access All Areas product display at Kensington Roof Gardens in London during ICE Totally Gaming 2012. The other was at Novomatic’s stand at Earls Court Exhibition Centre during ICE.
Infinity Auto Dealer uses six decks of cards continuously recycled across two random shuffle drums. Card delivery is gravity-fed rather than relying on the complicated robotic arm technology used in some real-time dealing products.
Inside Asian Gaming spoke to Luke Davis, Head of Marketing for TCSJH, during Access All Areas London to find out more.
IAG: What does Infinity Auto Dealer offer that’s new to the market?
Luke Davis: The name pretty much says it all. It’s a card dealer that runs infinitely; automatically. It’s designed to feed electronic terminals—whether for interactive casino games or Web-based games. This is for cards what an auto-wheel is for roulette.
“It came down to the industry saying: ‘Wouldn’t it be great to automate it? Find a way guys.’”
So you have 312 cards in total and you have two cartridges or drums inside the machine—one at the top of the machine and one at the bottom. As the cards feed in and drop down through the mechanism, they drop into the lower drum. That drum is rotating randomly to generate the shuffle. When that drum gets filled, you get to the cutting point of the deck. The lower drum swings up and the upper drum swings down, and the machine then sequentially drops the cards back through the process. It does that 24/7, week after week, month after month, feeding electronic games terminals.
Aren’t there already auto dealers in the market using robotic arms?
Companies have tried to do this in the past but they are big robotic machines each costing hundreds of thousands of pounds and upwards—they are not realistic products. Our product costs significantly less, albeit slightly more than an auto roulette wheel, but when you think it can continuously deal cards for hundreds of gaming terminals spread over one or multiple locations, then it’s a small investment. It has a small footprint, there’s no major maintenance with parts such as compressors or such like. It’s just very simple but extremely efficient engineering underneath.
Does it need to be on the gaming floor?
The reason it’s designed to be on the floor is because it uses real cards and the trust the players have in real cards is what makes this product unique. You can see video feed of the dealing as it takes place, or you can look up from your seat and watch it at first hand. It’s like when players see real dice tumble—they trust them more. Hybrid gaming is fantastic, but there is always going to be an element of players being wary.
How many hands per hour can the product deliver?
In excess of 70 parallel deal blackjack or baccarat hands per hour.
Is there a proven market for Infinity Auto Dealer?
The demand is being driven by customers that run our Novo Unity II platform. We sell it worldwide where we can, working very closely with Novomatic. In addition to our customers, Novomatic’s own customers have been saying ‘Look, we love the [Novo Unity II] roulette product. Players can’t get enough’. What customers wanted was [Novo Unity II] card games with that high quality of automation applied to the card drawing process. In the interim, we have been running electronic table games using our VVU [value verification unit] shoe reader. That’s just drawing manual cards over a reader that is then feeding terminals; using parallel play to speed up the game and so on. However, pro rata that means there are still the usual costs of running a traditional game because you’ve still got to get staff 24/7 for these huge pits. So it came down to the industry saying: ‘Wouldn’t it be great to automate it? Find a way guys.’
How long have you been working on Infinity Auto Dealer?
This hasn’t been a two-month project. It has been in development for a few years. However, it’s got to that point now where the actual technology is well-proven engineering-wise, and we’ve been able to do a series of bench tests and productivity tests which has involved playing tens and tens of thousands of hands solidly for months. In the real world of casino play it’s not necessarily that intensive as the system deals on demand. It’s not shuffling and then electronically storing the numbers. Every card goes through as a player calls for it.
What’s the card replacement cycle for Infinity Auto Dealer?
One deck of plastic cards will last between three and six months. The card replacement cycle wouldn’t necessarily be a deciding factor for customers, but it does highlight one of the general cost advantages of electronic and hybrid games over live dealer games—especially with baccarat where the Chinese players like to squeeze the cards.
Can the product be customised?
Absolutely. The one at Access All Areas was very simple and we kept the finishes very plain. We did that so that operators can decide how they want to customise it. Some casinos may want to give it a major presence and include fancy finishes and lighting; while others will want to treat it like a utility product and place it in a corner giving players the option to see it without sticking it in their face. The big dome on it gives people the ability to see it across 180-degrees of vision and there’s a little light that highlights the card as it’s drawn and displayed in the window. On a Novo terminal, you have a camera feed looking through the dome. So just like on a roulette wheel where you can see a winning number coming in, so on the Infinity Auto Dealer you can see the card being drawn.