Virtual reality could just be the next big thing in online casino games. Try your hand at VR poker today and get a jump on your future competition.
If you’re looking for new ways to practice your poker game, you’ve got to try your hand at VR poker. Virtual reality could just be the next big thing in online casino games, so by getting used to the controls and creating a stellar VR-based bluffing strategy, you can be ahead of the game.
Read on to learn everything you need to know about the state of VR poker right now.
What Is VR Poker?
VR poker uses virtual reality technology to play poker online with real people, including friends and family or total strangers. All you need is a VR headset and accompanying console or computer, and then you can play different kinds of poker for free.
And virtual reality, of course, refers to putting a headset over your eyes and immersing yourself in a realistic but digital world. Using controllers connected to the same device as your headset, you can move around the space and interact with, carry, or throw objects, all with the same motions you’d use in real life. You also have a handy microphone in these VR headsets so that you can use your voice to interact with the environment, like you might in other games, or talk to other people in your game lobby, like the pals you’re going to play VR poker with.
How To Play VR Poker
Let’s break down the different steps it takes to join the VR poker craze, including the tech you need, where to find the games, and how to make the most of your experience.
1. Purchase a VR headset
The Oculus Quest 2 is a major leader in the VR market right now. This headset (and it’s “Go” predecessor) is produced by the makers of Facebook, so you have to have a Facebook account in order to register your device, buy and play games, rack up points and prizes, as well as save in-game progress and stats. These headsets can run you $299 or $399, depending on the extra features you want.
Now, you may already have one of these VR headsets:
You can also play many of the VR poker games discussed in this article using these devices, but make sure to always check the specs for each game just in case.
2. Download popular VR poker games
Once you turn on your VR headset, you can browse on the game store or, if you’re on PC, on Steam for one of these VR poker games:
PokerVR: This is a free online poker game with options to create private lobbies with friends, enter into public lobbies to play real people, or enter tournaments against real people for great prizes.
PokerStars VR: This free-to-play game is made by the official PokerStars website, so you can expect fantastic graphics and the possibility to play against popular Twitch streamers and players of other levels.
3. Create your avatar
Load up the game and create your character. Many of these games allow you to choose from wicked hair styles, crazy colors, silly outfits, and wacky accessories. Some VR games even have life-like speaking movements and facial expressions that activate when you talk, making you feel even more immersed.
4. Play with friends
Get your friends who have VR headsets to download a VR poker game, and start a private lobby with them anytime you want to play. You can even make this game your new poker league.
5. Join a tournament
Many online VR poker games host regular tournaments where players join public lobbies and compete for top spots on the leaderboards and in-game prizes. PokerVR organizes championship tournaments with free-to-enter qualifier games, Twitch poker streamers as your opponents, and a live-streamed Main Event.
Or, you can join a public lobby anytime you want to play.
6. Buy or wait for more chips
If you lose all your chips, you can either buy more chips from the game’s store, or you can wait until the game loads more chips into your account, which many online VR poker games do every few hours or once per day.
You often get a certain number of chips to start off when you create an account, sort of like an online casino bonus. For example, PokerStarsVR gives you 35,000 and PokerVR gives you 30,000 when you enter one of their tournaments. Some games also replenish your chips once per day or every few hours, typically at a set amount each time or letting you play a minigame, like spinning a wheel, to earn a randomized amount of chips.
You can also pay a few dollars at a time to top off your chip stack. For example, you can get 500,000 chips for $2.99 from PokerStarsVR.
VR Poker Tips
Now that you know where you can find games, use these tips to refine your use of the controller and develop a great strategy.
Make sure the space around you is clear. You do have to move your arms a bit when reaching for your chips and tossing them into the pot. So clear the space around you to make sure you don’t knock anything over.
Practice with your friends first. Before playing more serious games in public lobbies, get to know how the controls work for picking things up, checking, and selecting bet amounts. That way you know what you’re doing on a technical level and can focus on getting to know your opponents.
Stay focused. Eliminate distractions in the real world around you, pay attention to everyone’s betting and other habits, limit your side conversations with other players, and ignore the bells and whistles. Do all of this if you want to take public games seriously and practice for the big leagues.
Create a table persona. When you’re designing your character, think about the first impressions you want others to have of you. Do you want them to be intimidated, or do you want them to underestimate you? Whichever you’re going for, you can style your avatar with wacky or normal hairstyles, clothes, accessories, and gimmicks.
Consider ignoring the “fast check” tell. When a player checks immediately without taking a moment to determine if they should bet, this may indicate that the player lacks some key decision-making skills. However, in VR poker, this and other timing tells may not be as helpful to read since everyone is a bit more conscious of their timing.
Keep a close eye on betting habits. In the first few hands, note how everyone around the table bets and identify whether you’re playing with a wildcard or a skilled card shark.
Watch their hand movements. Even in VR poker, you can get an idea of a person’s cards by the hand movements they make when reaching for their chips. For example, if they instinctively reach toward their chips on the turn or river, they may have a strong hand and be excited to bet.
Pay attention to players peeking at their cards often. Some VR poker games are so realistic that, whenever you want to check your cards, your character physically lifts the cards, so other players at the table can see each time you do so. That said, check for players who check their hand after each card flip — they may not be very experienced. And if a player checks their hand after the first look pre-flop and post-flop, they may be verifying the strength of their hand.
Pros of Playing VR Poker
Here are some of the benefits to playing VR poker:
Meet New Players
While you can set up private lobbies for you and your friends, you can also make new poker friends who you can then set up regular games with. And, you may even land yourself in a lobby with a VR poker streamer.
Have Lots of Fun
There are many unique and silly features within a VR poker video game that allow players to interact in ways they can’t in real life. Many games feature extravagant and distracting costumes and appearance features (which can actually come in handy) and interesting settings and locations.
Improve Your Strategy
Whether you’re playing against someone you know or someone you’ve never met, you can use VR poker to test some online bluffing strategies you’ve been cooking up. You can also meet other poker fiends of varying levels. This allows you to test your skills in identifying and overcoming playing weaknesses and strengths of other players.
It’s important to note, however, that VR technology has yet to allow people to play with real-money wagers and winnings. But, there are some games, like PokerVR, that host tournaments where you can win prizes like gift cards, swag, and even a brand new VR headset.
When you’re done playing VR poker for fun and refining your online poker strategy, head to your favorite online NJ casino to wager and win real money. You can also play video poker, slots, and more.
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