Online poker variants like Texas Hold ‘Em once attracted swarms of social gamers. But while online betting has boomed since the 2000s, the uptake of online poker has slowed.
Now, casino sites are looking at new ways to appeal to poker rookies – young gamers yet to experience the thrill of an online poker tournament. For these fledgling players, poker has plenty to offer; they just haven’t realised it yet.
Introducing virtual reality (VR) poker is one option for casino sites. With the potential to deliver more immersive casino experiences, could VR help poker broaden its allure?
Why VR makes sense for poker
Poker is traditionally a social game where you interact with other players. The game’s social aspect adds a dimension of fun because you get to observe your opponents and gauge their reactions.
Lacking face-to-face contact, online poker is more about mathematical probability and less about human psychology. The emphasis on odds doesn’t bother long-time poker fans, but for those new to the game, the lack of social interaction could be a put off.
This is where VR comes in. VR technology generates an illusion, tricking your brain into thinking that you’re somewhere you’re not. Just chuck on a VR headset and you could find yourself in a virtual casino lobby alongside other players.
How far the technology can be pushed remains to be seen, but companies like Mega Particle are already creating immersive VR casino experiences. Their app even lets you create a lifelike avatar that mimics your facial movements when you speak!
The growth of VR poker
For now, SlotsMillion is the only site to brand itself a real-money virtual reality casino. Since 2015, SlotsMillion has offered the chance to play popular slots in a VR lobby. Poker hasn’t featured (yet).
SlotsMillion might be alone for now, but VR headsets are getting cheaper and more accessible. The likely result: more people open to VR experiences and a bigger market for casinos to reach.
As VR online games become lucrative, we could see more casinos experimenting with the technology. As a game that benefits from the social interaction VR facilitates, poker seems an obvious choice for game developers.
How payments could work at VR casinos
VR won’t just change how we play poker online, it’ll change how we pay for it. Because if you’re on a winning streak at a VR casino, you won’t want to leave the VR experience just to top up your account.
With digital wallets like Skrill already helping players make smooth in-game deposits, it seems payments are only going to get faster and more secure with VR. In the future, hand gestures, voice commands and iris scans are just some of the ways we could be authorising deposits.
How VR will help poker connect with new audiences
If you’ve been playing online poker for a while, you might be happy with its current format. But for newer players who haven’t tried the game, the VR version could have a certain appeal.
Whatever your level of poker, VR will offer an opportunity to experience the thrill of a casino without travelling to the real thing. Plus, there will be a level of social interaction that online poker rooms don’t yet reach.
Of course, whether you’re at a virtual casino or not, Skrill will be there to help you deposit, withdraw and send money at speed.