Poker is one of the most popular card games in the world, and around 10% of the US adult population regularly plays the game online or in a real-life setting. It has even become somewhat of a spectator sport, with over 1.2 million viewers tuning in to watch the final table of the World Series of Poker. There is no doubt that the tactical bluffing game is going to be a mainstay in popular culture for years to come, but with the technology now available could the game be made even better?
Online poker has brought the popular card game to mass audiences, and there is never any struggle to find a game on the flourishing networks. Poker sites have become more advanced and are replicating real-life games in many ways. For instance, some sites allow players to create an avatar and actually see that character sitting down at a table. They can also see their opponents’ avatars and often exchange taunts or words of encouragement. Online poker betters its real-life counterpart in many ways, as it can be played from mobile devices anytime, anywhere. Using apps such as the one offered by 888poker, players can access their accounts from a number of different platforms from iPhone and Android smartphones to iPads.
Even though online poker is booming, there are still ways in which it could be improved. Making use of progressions in virtual and augmented reality is one obvious way to take the game to the next level. VR developers have already created VR Roulette, which allows players to enter a virtual room, actually stand at a roulette wheel and place chips on the betting surface. This suggests that we could be moving towards more virtual online casino experiences in which people can walk around and play games. This is something that could work also work well in poker.
Using VR, online poker players would not need to rely on an avatar, as they could actually enter the game themselves and sit at a virtual table. This could introduce some real-life techniques to the game such as attempting to read opponents’ visual cues as to what kind of hand they are holding. Real-world and online forms of poker require players to draw on different skillsets, making the games complementary in many ways. Therefore, a combination of the two ways of playing could be exciting.
VR and AR technology could also enhance the game in a visual sense. Fantasy card games such as Hearthstone: Heroes of Warcraft and Gwent: The Witcher Card Game have shown how thrilling it can be to use animations and cool graphics within the game. In those games certain cards have magical powers, and players can watch lightning bolts and flames attack the other players’ cards. It would be foolish to change a well-established game like poker, but adding animations could possibly work when revealing winning hands. For example, when two players show their hands the losing hand could catch fire and disappear, while fireworks shoot from the winning hand.
Online slots have shown how a popular classic can be improved with themes, graphics, and cut scenes without alienating players. Maybe it’s time that games like poker started following suit.