Online poker has moved on considerably since the early days of 2D table graphics and clunky Windows software.
Online poker has moved on considerably since the early days of 2D table graphics and clunky Windows software. Nowadays, players can juggle multiple tables, play on their smartphones and tablets, and interact with their opponents in increasingly inventive ways.
That said, this popular online activity can go much further, and it’s virtual reality that will really take things to the next level. Imagine online poker where you can look around the room, stare into the eyes of your opponents, and really embrace the psychological aspect of the game. It’s all coming – and some of it’s already here.
The virtual reality marketplace is projected to grow exponentially over the next few years. The existing VR hardware market, already valued in excess of $6 billion, is expected to grow to over $40 billion by 2020. This is technology on the cusp of the mainstream. All kinds of industries will tap into this growth – and online poker is a really natural fit.
The rise of virtual reality isn’t all about the Oculus Rift and HTC Vive. Smartphone-based virtual reality is truly booming at the time of writing. In fact, in terms of sales numbers, the Samsung Gear VR was the best-selling VR hardware product of 2016 by a large margin, selling just over 4.5 million units.
This popularity is easy to understand, given that products like this offer consumers an easy way into the VR scene with a low cost of entry and far less need for technical knowledge to get everything set up. And now there’s another new development on the scene, with the news that there’s an HTC Vive setup coming that doesn’t require a PC to operate. It’s being released in China initially, but an expansion into the global market seems likely.
Plenty of Options for Poker
This growing wealth of VR options means everything’s in place to facilitate casino realism for those who have access to the hardware. All the online poker companies need now is a solid install base so there are consistently enough people online to play this style of poker.
This will take some time, but it’s not far off. In the meantime, poker sites aren’t resting on their laurels. A good taste of what VR poker will be like comes in the form of the face2face games already available on 888poker. These use a piece of technology you’ll find in almost every home – a webcam. The site’s “poker cam” tables use players’ microphones and webcams to move things far closer to a real life game. You can see your opponents, learn their “tells,” and speak to them in real time, rather than settle for the impersonal nature of a chatroom window.
Webcam poker like this is a huge step forward for the online game, and offers a realistic taste of what we can all expect when VR headsets become common in our homes. And however futuristic that may sound, sales figures suggest that that day isn’t as far off as we might assume.