The future of the online poker room


The poker room is constantly evolving. Having already made a hugely successful transition from physical casinos to laptops and mobile phones, online poker is a thriving virtual game space filled with millions of players. And now the rise of virtual reality offers games developers the opportunity to evolve online poker even further, taking players and spectators closer to the action than ever before.

We chatted to Jeffrey Lande from Lucky VR to get his thoughts on why virtual reality poker is such an exciting prospect.

online poker

Poker is a game of excitement and emotional involvement for pros and amateurs alike.

It’s an enduring game because it’s fairly simple for anyone to pick up the basics and play. The more you play, the more you realize how deeply complex the game really is. Every time you play, you encounter new opponents, situations and dynamics that make every game unique.

Poker can be played for fun with friends at home, or for millions of dollars in a Las Vegas high roller room against sharks. It can be an emotional roller coaster with highs and lows that can change at the turn of a card. It’s a game where skill is the most important factor but where even an amateur can beat the best in the world. You can play as aggressively or timidly as you want, and yet both can be winning strategies. Most people who really enjoy poker say they intend to play it in some way for the rest of their lives.

Playing online breaks down daunting social barriers.

Online poker made the game accessible to the masses. Millions of people who would never have stepped foot in a casino can suddenly play and learn about the game from their home. It’s quite intimidating for a new player to sit at a live poker table whereas online, the barrier to entry is much lower and much less daunting.

Poker online works so well because an online poker room benefits from network effects: the more people that play, the better the service becomes. More players online means larger guaranteed prize pools, with more action from a variety of games of all types and stakes. It offers something that would never be economically viable in the physical world.


“More players online means larger guaranteed prize pools, with more action from a variety of games of all types and stakes. It offers something that would never be economically viable in the physical world.”

Many of the social aspects of live poker are lost when playing online.

Current online poker platforms break the game down to its core mechanics, making it more impersonal than live poker. Social aspects of a live game, such as talking to your opponents or reading body language can make poker so great but are lost with current online platforms. Most recreational players want to have a fun, interactive experience while playing.

Virtual reality poker promises to be an engaging and immersive gaming experience.

It combines all the social and fun aspects of a live poker game with the convenience of playing online. More immersive player interactions will allow players to make friends (and enemies) at the virtual reality poker tables and will cause a much deeper level of engagement than is currently possible. A virtual reality poker game will not just mimic a live poker game but also augment it in many ways to improve social interaction, with customizable avatars and interactive props.

Virtual reality will take you right to the table, and closer to the pros.

The spectator experience in VR poker will allow for a closer and more engaging viewing experience than before. You might be able to watch a final table in VR stadium style seating, cheering and interacting with thousands of other fans. You’ll also be able to have more meaningful interactions with famous pros than you would in a chat box on Twitch. Instead you’ll be able to interact with them as if you were meeting in person. You’ll be right at the table, spectating high stakes games in real time as if you were one of the players. VR is going to take spectating to a whole new level of immersion.


“A VR poker game will not just mimic a live poker game but also augment it in many ways to improve social interaction, with customizable avatars and interactive props.”

poker_avatars

Being more accountable ‘in-person’ means players are less likely to misbehave.

Trolling will always exist online, making moderation necessary. However, being more present, visible and accountable in VR means most players are less likely to step out of line. In an anonymous chat room people can say things they normally never would in person, but VR brings us closer to that ‘in-person experience’ where people are better behaved. Substantial anti-trolling methods exist in VR to ensure your ‘personal space bubble’ is not violated. In a real live poker game you sometimes encounter people you wish you could put on mute. In VR, that will be possible.

Virtual reality poker needs time to grow and develop.

The initial player pool will be small, as headsets are currently expensive. You won’t see the same type of large guarantee tournaments, different game variations and stakes available on current online poker platforms, as there aren’t enough users yet to support it. Online poker software has had decades of development but VR poker software is brand new with bugs to be solved and more advanced features to be implemented.

Casual online players want a fun and safe experience.

Online poker, in general, is moving towards a more casual player-friendly ecosystem. Recreational players want a fun experience and want not be preyed upon by multi-tabling sharks. A balanced and sustainable ecosystem is necessary, either from new luck-based formats or by the sites themselves building in protection. Poker bots and training software continue to improve and protecting the games integrity is of utmost importance. VR solves a lot of these problems by catering to the casual player, offering real opponents they can talk to and a fun experience they will enjoy coming back to.

Online poker will evolve to include elements of video games.

I predict that in 20 years almost all online poker and casino gaming will be played using VR or AR and will most likely include more video game-type elements. People will look back at online poker today and think how primitive and boring it was in comparison. It will be very exciting to see how it evolves.

Jeffrey

About the Author: Jeffrey Lande is the founder of Lucky VR, a virtual reality casino software development company based in Toronto, Canada.

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