For most VR is about taking yourself into space exploring alien planets or transporting yourself straight into a zombie horror apocalypse. The idea of a virtual reality poker table probably isn’t on the top of your excitement list, yet the combination of poker and VR is an incredibly exciting prospect when you consider the possibilities.
Playing online poker is exceptionally popular, with a suspected global 40-60 million of us regularly playing on our smart devices. However, playing online lacks the experience the player would get from playing at a live poker table, where things like tell-tale bluff ticks can become apparent. VR seems like the obvious next step for poker companies in order to keep their audiences engaged by giving a more realistic experience. Just imagine, the monthly boy’s poker night could now become as easy as everyone setting up their VR at the same time. Perfect for friends who now live far apart or can’t easily get out the house due to young families.
And it’s not just for the regular online player that VR could become an integral tool, these days even the biggest poker tournaments play their first few rounds online, with just the finals played in person. By implementing these rounds as VR, participants would get a much more fulfilling experience and may even get to play alongside future stars. Plus, it would be far easier to get some of the biggest players from across the globe to play more tournaments if VR can be used as they can be played anywhere in the world without the need for any travel or expense.
There is a lot of money to be made from good investment in VR poker, especially when you consider how much simpler it is to design a VR poker experience than it is to design a complicated shooter or world experience. It’s estimated that online gambling is set to grow by 800% by 2021 something that will take the industry, worth around $58 million last year, to a massive $520 million. Of course, the expense of VR technology can be off-putting to the general public at the moment, however with more and more VR headsets being designed and with technology expanding, it’s thought that the price will begin to drop. Indeed, having a VR headset is set to be as commonplace as a smartphone, so it’s reasonable to think that a casual online poker player is just as likely as a hardcore gamer to own a VR headset in the future.
So why aren’t tech companies clambering to get VR poker on the market? Well, actually, there are a few offerings on the market, it’s just that the technology is very young at the moment. Casino VR poker is currently the most popular, and is slowly being picked up by poker players. The game allows you to build your own avatar and play at table and shows your arm/head movements as you do them – which is a big step up from just playing online. Unfortunately, it’s still not possible to see face movements, as the technology isn’t there yet, but you can pick up clues to how good someone’s hand is by seeing how often they check it. It’s all very subtle, but it gives a clear insight into just how good VR poker has the potential to be.
Although it may be hard to imagine VR poker as commonplace, you only have to look back at a timeline of the game to see just how far it’s progressed since the 1800’s. Indeed it was less than 20 years ago that the first game of poker was even played online so the evolution of the game into VR is only natural. Will 2017 be the year that VR poker finally booms? It’s hard to say, but one thing’s for certain: as platforms such as Casino VR continue to invest in the technology, the boom can’t be far away. Here’s hoping.