Poker Pro George Lind Sees Bright Future for Real-Money Hearthstone

George Lind2
Blizzard will award a $100,000 first-place prize in a Hearthstone tournament next month.

A unique mix of luck and skill is a big reason why poker's so popular and according to veteran poker pro George Lind III, new virtual card game Hearthstone will blow up for the same reasons.

Watch the full video interview at the bottom of this article.

Lind is a member of Team PokerStars Online where he holds the record for the most VIP Player Points ever earned on PokerStars.

In the last six months, however, Lind's been spending more and more time playing Hearthstone.

“It's kind of a silly hobby but it's a lot of fun,” Lind told PokerListings.com. “It's a feeling of discovery. I've been playing poker for more than fifteen years now.”

When Hearthstone launched its iPad version earlier this year it was the number one app and game in 34 countries in its first day. That's including the United States.

Opportunity in Hearthstone Boom

Lind says that with Hearthstone tournaments offering bigger and bigger prizes the game will be experiencing a phase similar to the boom days of online poker in the mid-2000s.

In November, Blizzcon 2014 will award $100,000 to its Hearthstone champion.

Hearthstone is similar to poker in that a novice player can compete against the best in the world and expect to win some of the time, but Lind says the structure of the game is too simplistic and makes for a low ceiling as far as advanced strategy.

George Lind
George Lind at a live poker event.

One upside, says Lind, is that the simple rules make it easy for beginners to get into and for spectators to follow.

It also means that as a competitive tournament game that people are willing to wager money on, it could be much more popular than games like Starcraft or chess where the best players always win.

Online Poker Can Take Gamification Cues from Hearthstone

Free online games have long incentivized players with achievement levels, even to the point of charging real money for in-game awards.

Hearthstone is doing this particularly well and Lind believes online poker could pick up a thing or two about how to motivate players beyond just cash rewards.

“Giving players goals that aren't exactly monetary is always a good thing,” said Lind.

“People who play video games will spend days to get an achievement that means nothing just so they'll have a star next to their name or a gold character or whatever.”

PokerStars has incorporated achievement levels into its VIP rewards program, but Lind said there's a lot of untapped gamification potential for online poker.

As far as the future of Hearthstone as a way of making money or even earning a living, Lind says the game needs to be expanded to allow for more strategic depth.

Poker succeeds because of its simplicity but also because of its complexity, something Lind thinks Hearthstone can will achieve in years to come.

Watch George Lind in the PokerListings Studio


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