Updated: Nov 20, 2021
Written by: Jordan Barton
Futuristic, virtual reality (VR) technology got off to a slow start. Headsets were expensive, and the graphics weren't realistic enough to draw in mainstream attention. But recent improvements mean it's finally entering the mainstream consumer market. In fact, over 58.9 million Americans will use VR every month by the end of 2021, and you can now play countless titles such as simulators, horror games, and, more recently, poker on VR. So, here's more on why VR is the future of poker.
VR is the next logical step for poker-related tech
Poker’s history goes as far back as the 10th century. Since then, it has seen various technological innovations, from hand-cranked card shufflers to video poker. At the turn of the century, the poker boom saw the rise of online poker, automated poker tables, and live-streamed poker events on platforms like Twitch and YouTube. Due to the novelty of the technology, VR is the direction in which poker will arguably evolve next. With its ability to combine, and even enhance, the best of online and offline poker, VR can attract new players and re-engage those that have become bored with the game. Some companies are even looking to disrupt the industry by launching extended reality casinos, which VR poker will be a huge part of.
VR is better and more accessible than ever before
Back in the day, you’d have to shell out over $800 just for a clunky VR headset, with full-blown setups costing more than $1,600. Today, a high-end headset like the Oculus Rift 2 costs just $300. Modern PCs can also handle VR, so you don’t need to buy specialized equipment. Poker is taking advantage of VR becoming mainstream, with games like Poker Show and Poker VR now easily available on gaming platforms like Steam. This is not only renewing interest in poker but also attracting new enthusiasts to the fold, especially among millennials and Gen Z.
VR makes online poker more immersive
Old VR graphics, like those on Second Life and RaceRoom, used to be unrealistic and could even cause motion sickness. Today, however, VR’s improved graphics and added special effects can provide more immersive experiences.
Some poker games like Poker Show can even simulate the sights and sounds of Las Vegas, while others like PokerStars VR have detailed avatars that can display physical tells. You’ll be able to identify a semi-bluff, which is a poker term for when a player doesn't have a high-value hand but is trying to get you to fold. Or, if you see a player constantly double-checking their hand, you can assume they have a good one. To complete your immersive VR poker experience, you can even sip virtual beverages or trade high-fives with other players.
VR poker games are flourishing right now, especially as casinos continue to battle with challenging restrictions due to the pandemic. Their graphics and player features can help you get into more serious poker games, or even substitute those kitchen table poker sessions you used to hold with friends.
If you’re looking to join in on the trend and experience the future of poker, check out our guide on best VR headsets to get you started.
This article was originally published in VR Trend Magazine, a bi-monthly publication that gives a voice to the VR community. Visit our Patreon page to subscribe to the print or digital edition. To become an investor in VR Trend Magazine, visit our Kickstarter page.