It’s been difficult to avoid poker over the last two years, as the US goes through a second poker boom. Granted, the number of players hasn’t increased to the sort of levels we saw in 2003, the date of the original poker boom. However, the pandemic still proved to be a positive thing for the online poker industry worldwide, as people were confined to their homes and forced to find their entertainment online. Poker players who go to casinos didn’t have that option, which helped drive the industry forward.
However, poker can’t rest on its laurels. Any new providers will have to leverage technology and change habits to ensure they steal market shares. That’s why the future of online poker is so exciting: the customer base is growing, and so will the offerings from developers. What are the key areas where we can expect to see change?
Live streaming is already being used for a variety of things, such as sports events, school graduations, and video gaming. Live Sports Betting is very popular these days. Virtually any user can share real-time video this way on popular platforms like Facebook, YouTube, and especially Twitch. With nearly every event going virtual during the pandemic, Twitch users watched over 17 billion hours of content in 2020 — a far cry from 10 billion hours on YouTube and 3.59 billion on Facebook Gaming. Poker was one of the industries that benefited from this jump in viewership. Streaming poker games on more commonly used sites like Twitch ultimately made poker more accessible to watch. It welcomed to the world of poker both seasoned poker followers and curious individuals who may eventually end up becoming players themselves. That being said, poker platforms are likely to increasingly use live streaming to their advantage moving forward.
Though virtual reality poker experiences are already available on PlayStation, it seems like a mere entry point for the technology. The use of VR, and to a lesser extent AR, is becoming more widespread in games. This introduces possibilities for smart integration with online poker. For instance, watching the movements of other players, rather than an avatar on a screen, is certainly exciting. Also, for anyone who remembers the Terminator and Robocop films, the in-vision display was a key feature of their advanced technology. They had menus and HUDs that popped up in the films, and thirty years later, the same could happen during your VR poker game, with information on calculating poker odds and player’s habits. There could even be accurate reproductions of the world’s best poker rooms for you to enjoy playing in.
Crypto is a growing industry that, for some, has an uncertain future. It seems as though the world is embracing it, but for every crypto fan, there’s a doubter unwilling to believe it has a long-term future. However, there’s still room for it to penetrate the online gaming market even further. Crypto offers elements that online poker players really like. One is anonymity. Those who play for big stakes often don’t want their identity revealed, and crypto allows them to play with a shroud of secrecy. In our review of the crypto platform Bitmex, we mentioned that it’s also safer, with fewer links in the payment chain for fraudsters to exploit as well as no worries around identity theft. There are already a few crypto casinos offering poker, and we can expect to see more.
With more players come more providers, and that also means more options for gamers. Variety is a big part of poker. There are many varieties of the game, from Texas Hold’em to Pot-Limit Omaha. Some are not all that common. HORSE, for instance, isn’t a variety you’ll find everywhere. However, more providers mean more scope for diversity in the variants and game types, wager structure, payment methods, and designs. The online poker world is already quite varied, but as it grows, it will help players find a game and style tailored to their specific interests.
The pandemic introduced to the world a burst of innovation that changed our lives significantly. In poker, this has meant a slew of creativity that’s reinvigorated it and will keep players looking forward to each new development that comes along.