Virtual Reality Poker: Traditional Gaming About to Welcome a New Player

Poker

Poker” (CC BY-SA 2.0) by YLegrand

The gaming industry is changing and there’s one main culprit: virtual reality. After Oculus Rift and its peers hitting the market earlier this year, the general public’s perception of what’s possible in the gaming arena changed. Seeing early offerings like Crytek’s The Climb has generated a huge amount of buzz around the VR market. In fact, such has been the early interest in the future of gaming that analysts at Digi-Capital have predicted that the market will be worth an impressive $120 billion by 2020.

As a testament to the market potential of VR, one of the latest gaming sectors to be touched by these new innovations is poker. Since the turn of the millennium online poker has become a global industry worth more than $6.7 billion. Through a combination of tournaments, cash games and deals designed to help recreational players ante up, games like Texas Hold’em have become extremely popular with millions of gamers.

The Convergence of Two Worlds

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In fact, over the last two years the convergence between traditional gaming and the poker industry has shown there are common denominators between the two. Twitch streamers and professional gamers such as Bertrand ‘ElkY’ Grospellier are now dipping into the poker industry, but what’s even more interesting is the recent interest by casual gamers.

Following Facebook’s unveiling of Oculus Room, players are now starting to see the potential benefits of virtual reality poker. Although Oculus Room is still in its early stages, poker will be one of the gaming options available which means a whole new demographic will soon be able to experience the thrill of a game many have enjoyed for more than a decade.

While that may sound like an innovation for some, the reality is that VR was always on the cards for the online poker industry. A look through some of its recent changes not only shows a shift towards a more “gaming/entertainment” vibe, but greater interaction.

Operators Lay Foundations for VR Revolution

Take, for example, 888poker and its online and mobile platforms. Using their webcams, players can log into a table that allows them see their opponents in real time. In addition to a new level of interaction, sites like 888 have also upped the entertainment factor in games such as SNAP.

Part of the so-called “fast-fold poker revolution” that swept across the industry in 2012-2013, SNAP poker is now available on the operator’s mobile app and essentially takes players to a new table (and therefore hand) each time they fold.

Increasing the dynamism and immersion of online poker has not only made it more appealing to casual players (as opposed to hardcore pros) but a viable target for VR developers. In essence, these innovations have laid the foundations for VR poker and Facebook has clearly picked up on that. Although Oculus Room will be more than poker, the fact it’s been included in the mix is a sign that the game is now considered mainstream gaming entertainment.

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