Over the last couple of weeks and months, I have read a few articles that have the notion that virtual reality (VR) is the future for poker and online casinos.
While these articles raise some good points, most notably that the live and online experience can be merged so that we’re playing in some hybrid heaven by having the casino experience without having to leave home.
However, people stating that VR will be the future as a fact are quite frankly deluded.
Please stick with me on this, and all will be clear.
There many advanced poker tools and software that can help you in playing, and the idea of VR has always been intriguing to me, not because of my desire to have an Oculus Rift but because it is a piece of tech that has tried to be perfected for nearly 100 years.
Yes, the origins of VR stretch back that far and have still yet to hit proper mainstream popularity. Modern VR is still in its infancy, but do you really believe the idea that it is the future of poker and casino gaming? I would not bet on that.
You would think with the recent lockdown and current coronavirus pandemic, this would have been a perfect opportunity for VR poker and online casino gaming to take off.
One of the major pros, as stated, is that VR can merge the live and online experience of poker and casino gaming, something we all missed when we were all cooped up.
We’ve all seen how popular online home games have become but VR in poker at least hasn’t taken off.
Why is this? Is it because the options of where to play VR poker are still limited, or is it because it will be a novelty and nothing else.
Keeping on the COVID-19 theme, you have seen how hard it is to get people to wear a bit of cloth over their mouths. Are you really expecting the same people to wear a headset for hours on end? Come on now, let’s be realistic here.
Let’s look at the trends of the past, things like XBOX Kinect and Playstation Move died an almost instant death, and furthermore, you’re advised to only use a VR headset for short periods of time. How can anything be the future of something if you are advised to use it sparingly?
Don’t get me wrong. I take no issue with anyone who wants to play some blackjack or poker hands with a VR headset, different strokes for different folks and all that.
But if you think 55-year-old Steve from down the road is going to drop a couple of hundred dollars on a headset and controllers so that he can limp in with his aces, then you are crazy.
These are all points that have been neglected in articles and show the short-sightedness of VR proponents.
For me, to be classed as the future for something, you need the average/casual player to partake in it. This isn’t likely to happen in the online betting and gaming sphere.
Obviously, organizations like PokerStars, who are starting to invest heavily in VR so that they can offer their player base something different, would love for me to be wrong, but if we’re using history as a guide and a rule of thumb, then I’m sorry guys, but that is unlikely to happen.
No other serious poker sites such as PartyPoker are looking at this direction, so I think we will not see this technology emerging any time soon into the poker world.
Where can you play VR poker and casino games?
The most notable company that allows you to play VR poker is with PokerStars. I have had a go myself, which is why my words aren’t unfounded.
It is fun, I am not going to lie about that, but I only lasted 30 minutes and had to call it a day.
Have I played VR poker since? No. Do I have any desire to? No.
I don’t understand what the catch is. WOW, big woop, you can smoke virtual cigars, customize your avatar and throw a rubber duck at another player.
If I wanted a cigar, I’d get a real one. If I wanted to customize myself, I’d change my outfit. Have I ever wanted to throw something at another player? Oh, okay, you got me on that one.
While I see this to be fun for learning how to play strip poker game, I do not see this technology standing tall in conventional poker or even gambling.
Pros and Cons
I’ll spare you the spiel of long paragraphs weighing up the pros and cons of VR and give you a quick breakdown:
Can merge live and online poker and casino gaming
You have a more holistic experience than just being sat at the computer
Online games could have the chat and banter that exists in a live setting
Still nowhere near as good as playing live
Can only use for short periods of times
Tech is still not where it needs to be yet
Still niche, so don’t know how a niche product is going to transform what is already a niche hobby
Final Thoughts: VR and Online Poker
Do I think VR will be the next big thing in poker?
No. Not a chance. If it were the case, you’d see the streamer pros be all over it at this point, as well as the biggest names in poker and online casino gaming.
After all, if these companies are investing some serious bank into the tech, then you can be sure to expect the ambassadors to shill it, but I still think we’re a while away from being loosey-goosey at the virtual felt.
Also, I’ll admit this is completely anecdotal so bares little relevance when looking at the big picture.
I have a 12-year-old brother obsessed with gaming who has a top of the range VR set, but it mostly collects dust.
So, if those younger than us want very little to do with VR at the moment, then do you honestly think the poker player pool at large will adopt this tech?
I really do not want to come across as an old man who shouts at clouds, but I do think I speak for most when I ask online poker sites and casinos, please stop with the gimmicks and just give us a good and fair rake back system.
That is what we want more than anything, and we have been telling you this for years.
So instead of chasing new tendencies, just dedicate your time to learning actual strategy or even join a poker training site to brush up your skills. Then, if this technology catches up and attracts recreational players, you will be ready to hammer on them.
Calum is a Sport Broadcast graduate and PR & Communications professional. He is also an avid poker player who’s always looking to see how poker in the UK can be improved, as well as trying to deliver great content for poker enthusiasts.