PokerStars Virtual Reality In Trials

PokerStars has announced its ground-breaking Virtual Reality poker is now in user trials, in preparation for a full commercial release.

PokerStars has announced it is testing a virtual reality version of its online poker software, in anticipation of a full commercial release.

The world’s largest online poker site says that PokerStars VR is a free-to-play “authentic and immersive social poker game” enabling players to experience realistic environments, handle chips and cards like they would in real life, size-up their opponents and chat in real time.

At the moment, there is a multiplayer No Limit Hold’em version in a closed beta with about a hundred invited players testing the game using Oculus Rift, HTC Vive and Steam.

PokerStars VR was previewed at EuroGamer, Birmingham, the UK’s largest games event, attracting a lot of attention. The company say the system was developed with Lucky VR, and features intuitive controls, voice command controls, integrated Twitch broadcasting, video streaming and social media integration on Oculus Rift.

PokerStars VR takes the online poker experience to a new level, going far beyond just the poker game, allowing players to dress, socialise, entertain and chat using their avatars – all while streaming shows or sports, ordering simulated food and drinks, and even chucking things around, smoking a cigar and “owning a pet donkey.”

Of course, its not all frivolous fun, as the system also gives players the ability to study statistics and suss out their opponents’ behaviours. Apparently, players can earn free chips by spinning a virtual wheel every day, and  there are five realistic locations available including Macau 2050, The Macau Suite, The Showdown Saloon, Monte-Carlo Yacht, and The Void.

Director of Poker Innovation and Operations at PokerStars, Severin Rasset, commented:

“PokerStars VR is a chance for us to take this amazing technology and bring something totally unique to poker players. 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.”

Though virtual reality has been around for a long time in some form, it is only recently that the technology has matured to the point where there is a compelling balance between realism, usability and cost.

No doubt other iGaming businesses are watching PokerStars VR with great interest, as it looks like it may be the breakthrough moment for virtual reality, that could lead to everyone scrambling to offer realistic, thoroughly immersive VR experiences across the full spectrum of casino games and sports betting.

The way in which PokerStars VR is adding other interactive features and game play, beyond the central game, also highlights how the boundaries between online gambling and true video games are rapidly blurring – something that will no doubt add to the apprehension regulators are beginning to express.

PokerStars VR was showcased at EGX 2018.

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