Virtual Reality Comes To Online Poker With PokerStars VR

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Virtual reality poker is now a reality thanks to PokerStars.

PokerStars has revealed a new, cutting-edge virtual reality online poker product that brings together elements of live and online poker.

“PokerStars VR is a chance for us to take this amazing technology and bring something totally unique to poker players,” Severin Rasset, Director of Poker Innovation and Operations at PokerStars said in a press release. “Poker is about interaction. It’s been bringing people together for well over a century. We’re really excited to invest in the next generation of the game and to give players the opportunity to meet in a brand new virtual reality dimension.”

The press release goes on to say:

“PokerStars VR allows players to come together from all over the world in a virtual card room where avatars not only interact around the game, but can dress to impress, socialise, entertain and chat as if in the same room. They can do this while streaming shows or sport and enjoying a variety of virtual items and activities such as ordering food and drinks, sharing sushi, throwing items at each other, or even owning a pet donkey and smoking a cigar (or a cigar-smoking pet donkey if that’s on the wish list).”

Full launch is still a way off

It will be a while before the general public has a chance to give the new VR games a try. The game is currently in a closed beta testing with around a hundred invitees playing and testing the game.

PokerStars plans a full commercial release in the future.

According to PokerStars, it doesn’t have any plans for a real-money rollout at this time. For the foreseeable future, the VR poker game will only be available as a free-to-play social game on Oculus Rift, HTC Vive and Steam. PokerStars is exploring other VR platforms such as PlayStation VR.

Since words really don’t do it justice, here’s a look the trailer for PokerStars new VR product:

Plenty of bells and whistles

PokerStars VR, worked hand-in-hand with Lucky VR to create “visually stunning locations, jaw-dropping physics, and ground-breaking levels of interactivity.”

The VR platform has intuitive controls for easy gameplay and responds to voice commands, such as verbal all-ins.

PokerStars VR is a fully immersive experience that allows players to:

  • Study your opponents, pick up on their tells, and chat in real time
  • Handle your chips and cards, just as you would at a real-world poker table
  • Keep the table fun with interactive props and toys, summoned in an instant

There’s also loads of integration.

If you’re using an Oculus Rift, including Twitch broadcasting, and the ability to access your desktop, or any streaming video, while you play.  The ability to stream an NFL game or watch a movie while you’re playing VR poker could be one of the biggest selling points.

Players can also choose from five distinct venues, such as The Saloon and Monte Carlo Yacht seen below.

PokerStars VR is in the experimental phase

Because VR is still an emerging technology, and a somewhat costly one, the market for a VR poker game is fairly small.

Unlike PowerUp or some of the other poker variants Stars has rolled out in recent years (Showtime, Unfold and Fusion) this isn’t an app that can be downloaded, or a new game in the lobby.

To play VR poker you need two things:

  1. Some level of interest in VR or emerging technologies.
  2. A financial commitment. A Rift or Vive will run you around $500, and you’ll need a gaming computer capable of supporting it.

Stars believes there is an existing market for VR poker that can support the game until VR’s popularity and usage increases. That market is VR gamers and early adopters within the poker space.

“Poker players are tech savvy and they’re engaged in entertainment,” Rasset said.

PokerStars understands the real opportunities in VR poker is still in the future.

“We believe VR is a mainstream medium that hasn’t emerged yet and it’s somewhere we want to be,” Rasset went on to say.

As such, Stars isn’t trying to capture or activate some existing market. Rather, VR poker is an opportunity to get out in front of a product that will almost certainly be mainstream down the road.

As Rasset explained:

“It’s something we wanted to explore and it’s something we believe is going to be a mainstream medium in the future. It’s a great portal for us to engage with customers and it’s a brilliant medium to play around with.”

“Figuring out what works and what doesn’t for poker in a new medium like VR takes time to get right. At this early stage, we’re able to constantly innovate the product and run experiments while the market is still nascent. Engaging with VR users early on, developing great VR software and building a brand within the space will be invaluable once VR becomes mainstream.”

- Steve covers nearly every angle of online poker in his job as a full-time freelance poker writer. His primary focus for OPR is the developing legal and legislative picture for regulated US online poker and gambling.
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