UKIPT Nottingham: PokerStars to trial new hole card technology

ps_news_thn.jpgAnyone who has followed poker over the past few years knows that PokerStars has been at the vanguard of technology in both the online and live environments. The world's largest cardroom continually raises the bar with the breadth and popularity of its online games, while landmark tournaments across the globe - on the EPT, LAPT, NAPT, APPT, plus countless regional tours - set the gold standard in live competition.

And tomorrow, on the UKIPT in Nottingham, PokerStars will unveil yet another technological innovation. The team that brought you the unrivalled and immensely popular EPTLive and NAPTLive broadcasts will do the same for the final table of the £300 freezeout side event at UKIPT Nottingham.

The difference? For the first time, all hole cards will be visible to online viewers thanks to the cutting edge in poker technology. It involves infrared barcodes, machine algorithms and secrets invisible to the human eye.

We're going deep behind the poker face, people. Here's the full story, courtesy of this week's press release from the PokerStars camp:

"PokerStars.eu continues to champion innovation with the announcement that it will be trialling revolutionary poker tournament broadcast technology at a United Kingdom and Ireland Poker Tour (UKIPT) side event at the Dusk Till Dawn Poker Room in Nottingham during live webcast coverage on Sunday, May 16.

Perlego, developed by Press Association Sport, is an innovative automated card recognition system which enables television viewers to see all players' hole cards automatically during a broadcast. Each card has an encrypted infrared barcode on its back which is invisible to the human eye but which can be decrypted by machine algorithm, reading the face-down cards the moment they are dealt.

The system also reads the community cards. The technology does away with the need for specialised tables with hole-card cameras, manual hand transcriptions and slow TV graphic generation, allowing for near-real-time poker tournament broadcasting. UKIPT Nottingham will be the first time the technology has been used during 'live' coverage.

Though notably, the broadcast will be subject to a critical 15 minute delay. Viewers can watch the live webcast on the UKIPT website at //www.ukipt.com.

Whether or not hole card information should be displayed during live events - subject to a deliberate delay - has been a much-debated topic over the years but PokerStars is keen to see whether, using secure technology, live coverage is enhanced for viewers if they are given hole card information and can see one step deeper into the decision-making processes of players.

Jeffrey Haas, Spokesperson for the UKIPT, said of the trial: "This is a very exciting opportunity for us to test a new technology that could revolutionise the way we broadcast our live events. Our primary consideration is the integrity of the event - which is why there is a 15-minute delay on the broadcast,"

The broadcast will show the final of the £336 buy-in No Limit Freezeout tournament (Event 6) at UKIPT Nottingham, the final table of which starts at 8.15pm on Sunday, May 16.

PokerStars.eu has been at the forefront of developments in live coverage of poker events since the celebrated EPTLive service kicked off at the European Poker Tour event in Dortmund, Germany, in March 2007.

"We know some players will be up-in-arms over showing their hole cards and decisions for every hand of the final table, as they may consider it drilling too deeply into their game - which is why we are testing this for a side event and not the UKIPT Main Event," Haas said. "For many reasons surrounding trust and transparency, there was a lot of controversy when hole-card cameras were first introduced in 1999 on the Late Night Poker programme shown on Channel 4 in Britain, and now they are not only commonplace but integral to the excitement of televised poker.

"This could be the future; however for now it is very much still a trial and we are keen to gauge our players' and viewers' reactions to this technology. We therefore welcome comments on the broadcast, which will be shown on www.ukipt.com."

Press Association Sport Head of Broadcast Services, Neil Chambers, stated, "This is another opportunity to show the real value that Perlego can bring to the poker broadcast world. I am delighted to be working with PokerStars to deliver the viewer a unique near real-time poker experience."

Dusk Till Dawn Managing Director, Nick Whiten, commented, "This is a big step for us at DTD; we're looking forward to seeing how well the trial works and what players' reactions are. Hopefully this is a technology that will become standard at DTD in the future."

The webcast will feature commentary from UKIPT Tour Host Nick Wealthall as well as special guests including Team PokerStars Pro Julian Thew, TV Presenter Michelle Orpe and other top pros.

Full details of the broadcast are as follows:

Sunday 16th May 2010 - www.ukipt.com
Event 6 Final Table (£300 + £36 No Limit Freezout Two Day Event)
Broadcast to commence at 20.15 BST

dusk_till_dawn_nottingham.jpg

Dusk Till Dawn, home of the UKIPT in Nottingham

Howard Swains
@howardswains in UKIPT