Could the new Oculus Rift virtual reality headset change the way we experience online poker?
It’s not out of the question as the Rift represents perhaps the biggest leap in gaming since 3D characters were rendered for the first time in the 90s.
Poker technology has remained relatively stagnant over the last five years with many clients that, at least visually, haven’t changed very much since the late 2000s.
We’re going to take an in-depth look at the Oculus Rift and propose two unique ways the VR could be utilized in an online poker setting.
What the Hell is the Oculus Rift?
The Oculus Rift is a piece of virtual reality equipment that is straight out of a Sci-Fi novel.
The Rift itself is a head-mounted virtual reality display. It utilizes a 7-inch OLED screen with stereoscopic 3D pumped through two 1080p eyepieces.
Users will be able to look 90 degrees horizontally and 110 degrees vertically, far beyond what’s possible on a standard TV. In other words you can use your peripheral vision, just like in real life.
The unit features a gyroscope so the screen will zoom in if a player wants to take a closer look at something in a game.
All games and game platforms must be designed to work with the Oculus Rift.
The developer unit is available right now with the consumer version scheduled to launch in late 2014 or early 2015.
Why Does it Matter?
The Rift is seen as a massive leap forward in actual virtual reality.
There have been numerous failures in the past, notably Nintendo’s Virtual Boy in 1995, but it appears that technology has finally caught up with the vision.
Recently Facebook purchased Oculus Rift for $2 billion, much to the chagrin of hardcore gamers who believe the buyout will dilute the Rift’s initial intended purpose of playing video games.
Despite the frustration of gamers, it’s definitely a sign that virtual reality has officially arrived and will be used for more than just games.
Sony has also released a concept for a virtual reality headset that would work with the PS4.
Oculus Rift for Poker?
It’s certainly possible.
A virtual poker game would actually be much easier to build than a complicated first-person shooter for instance because many of the elements are static and the entire game takes place in just one room.
Before we go much farther it’s important to note that there are tons of reasons it would be pointless to make VR-enabled poker software:
- Most poker software is intentionally simple.
- There’s no point in coding incredible graphics into online poker software if it just slows down computers and makes serious multi-tabling more difficult.
- Poker clients are intended to be lightweight enough to install on almost any old desktop, laptop or tablet.
- The poker software that has incorporated 3D player avatars and even webcams hasn’t been very popular in the past.
How the Oculus Rift Could Be Utilized for Poker
The first use that comes to mind is a highly-detailed completely-immersive 3D poker game with every player captured via a motion-sensing device like Kinect.
This could potentially be the closest you’ll ever get to playing a live poker game over the Internet.
There are problems with that vision, however.
For one it might be needlessly complicated with some serious online infrastructure needed and a motion-sensing device.
The other problem is that a great deal of poker tells come from a player’s face, which would be at least partially obstructed by the Oculus Rift.
There is another potential use for Oculus Rift in a poker capacity, however.
A dual 1080p display with 90 degrees of vision could be a dream situation for a multi-tabler. If you can stack four tables on a standard flat laptop screen imagine the amount of tables you can fit on a screen that more closely replicates the human eye.
You could even stack all your cash games on one side, and then grind a tournament on the side by literally turning your head to the right to check in every now and then.
Oculus Support for Poker Coming This Year?
Interestingly poker may come to Oculus Rift sooner than you’d think. There’s an unconfirmed rumour that TellTale Games will ship Poker Night 3 with support for Oculus Rift.
The advantage is that poker would be much easier to program than more complicated activities. In fact poker could be utilized as a proof-of-concept in the future.
Imagine sitting at a virtual poker table, leaning down to take a peak at your hole cards, turning to order a drink from a waitress or seeing an all-in shove in 3D with every individual chip having depth.
Of course we will have to wait for at least a little while because the consumer version of the Oculus Rift isn't scheduled to come out until late 2014 or early 2015.