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Aug 18, 2016

5 Ways that Virtual Reality Will Change Poker

By RTR Dennis

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While smartphones and tablets have changed the method for playing online poker, the game itself has largely remained the same. You check out the lobby for games, click your table/seat, and play your hands.

But based on how more companies are prepping for virtual reality (VR), it seems like only a matter of time before online poker becomes part of this movement. That said, let's discuss 5 potential online poker changes that will likely arise through VR technology.

1. You'll Choose Tables Differently

The current method for selecting tables at an online poker room involves visiting a lobby, scrolling through a list of games/tables, and choosing a game with an empty seat. It's been this way for well over a decade, and we don't expect this aspect to change any time soon. But once VR technology becomes more consumer-friendly, you can expect a different scene, one in which you walk into a virtual poker scene and look out over dozens of tables. You'll proceed to walk around the casino and look for empty seats at your preferred game and stakes.

2. Live and Online Poker will Blend Together

Continuing on the first point, we'll see live and online poker blend together in many respects. 'Live' tournaments could be held in a VR environment, where you'll be sitting with other players (avatars) at what appears to be a real table. Mics will allow you to chat with fellow players too, just like you would in a live tournament/cash game. Of course, nothing will replace the experience of visiting a real casino and playing in a poker tournament. But you're going to see more of these live/online hybrid events in the future.

3. Interact with Players Differently

As mentioned above, VR poker games will eventually allow you to chat with opponents just like we do now in live games. This will negate having to communicate through chat boxes and webcams, the latter of which isn’t taking off in online poker. Of course, the potential problem with this is online harassment, especially in a VR environment. Google has already been experimenting on ways to prevent trolling, though, by enacting personal space restrictions. This would of course limit your movements around the virtual casino; but it could also be remedied by only having players confined to their personal space once the tournament begins.

4. Touch Your Chips

The standard drill in online poker is that you click how many chips you want to bet, then your chips transport from your stack into the pot. But Google's experiment with virtual poker dogs have already shown how you'll be able to pick up chips yourself and put them into the middle. Additionally, you'll also hold your own cards, rather than have them laying on the table in front of your like in current online poker games. When VR technology gets really advanced, these actions will be more effortless and feel like you're actually picking chips and cards up at a real poker table.

5. VR Will Create a New Poker Lifestyle

Online poker rooms have never fully replicated the experience of being a poker pro. After all, you can't stay at hotels through an online poker room or go hang out after a tournament. But as PKR has experimented with in the past, VR will give you a more-realistic feeling of staying in hotels and mingling with fellow players. Imagine getting 'drinks' at the bar with fellow players, dining with them over a fake comped meal, or hitting your virtual hotel room after a long day in a VR tournament.
What we've discussed above is just a broad view of some of the changes that we'll likely see as VR poker becomes more viable. And odds are that these new experiences will go a long way towards attracting more recreational players to the virtual felt.