Virtual Reality: The Future of Online Poker?

The last 15 years has seen the game move into a virtual world of sorts with the arrival of online poker, but with that platform beginning to stagnate, the next huge step forward may now be here. We are talking about a seismic shift from virtual, to virtual reality.

Video has recently come to light showing “Tonkaaaap” beta testing Bolt Casino virtual reality poker.

Players can move around the casino and interact with each other away from the poker table, and can take part in a number of other games, or watch others playing at the tables. Players are required to wear the “Oculus Rift” virtual reality headset which allows them to bring up menus and instantly import items to the table such as cigars, toy dump trucks and even a rifle, which can then be interacted with. They can also be thrown at an opponent if your cards aren’t going the right way.

The experience

Everything about this virtual reality game is captivating, and it’s amazing how large the step towards real casino play is. Each player has a set of floating hands which move in the same way as the player’s own hands in real life, picking up chips, high fiving opponents and doing just about anything else. Obviously the very nature of the game means that multi tabling is impossible, and HUD’s, bots and scripting are also ruled out. In many ways, this strengthens the appeal of this product when it comes to the recreational masses, and that could prove an important advantage.

Marketability and sales projections

The recreational appeal of this product certainly raises the exciting prospect of everyday gamers taking an interest and former players getting excited about poker again. Poker is in dire need of fresh life being breathed into it, and this product may be able to do just that – but it will take time.

Headsets will be expensive at first, and early player liquidity will be seriously low, but if players love the product it could gather serious momentum as the technology becomes more affordable and widely available. Goldman Sachs have made a prediction that 35,000 headsets will be in circulation in 2018, with 95,000 projected for 2020. The hardware market could end up being worth as much as $2.8 billion, and if that’s true, a new dawn for poker could be on its way.

Article by Craig Bradshaw

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