Online Poker: 4 Major Technological Innovations We Can Expect

In 2017, market research marketplace Research and Markets published an astonishing report titled “Global Online Gambling Market – By Type, Device, Region – Market Size, Demand Forecasts, Industry Trends and Updates (2016-2022). In this report, the marketing intelligence firm suggested that the global online poker and gambling market would grow from $44.16 billion in 2016 to a massive $81.71 billion by 2022, equivalent to a compound annual growth record (CAGR) of 10.8%.

In the report, the firm explained that the online poker industry has a huge amount of room for growth and has not yet reached maturity. A significant factor in this growth? The increasing development of technological innovations as online poker platforms create new features and solutions, appealing to newer poker players. Here are several technological innovations that we can expect in the online poker industry.

Mobile Satellite Tournaments

In the industry, satellite tournaments are a big part of the online poker tournament scene, recognized for their ease of accessibility, which is what makes them so popular. These types of poker tournaments allow players to play against lower-skilled poker players in particular as you work your way up towards more experienced players. This allows players to get to grips with the tournament system and learn the rules of games such as Texas hold’em, Omaha hi-lo, seven card stud and other poker games that they may not be familiar with. Satellite tournaments are also considered to be highly accessible because of their low stakes, as they are specifically well suited for players who only want to risk a small amount of money.

The accessibility of satellite tournaments also means that it is ideal for mobile gamers in particular. According to Statista, there will be more than 5.07 billion smartphone users by 2019. Smartphone users are known for their interest in casual gaming and they will, therefore, prefer the low-stakes of a satellite tournament, that they can focus on and spend little effort on when they are traveling, for example. Mobile gamers represent a large area for growth for the online poker industry then and so the development and availability of mobile satellite tournaments through poker apps and on mobile browsers will appeal to them specifically.

Greater Use of VR

A person wears a VR headset made out of cardboard via Pexels

A person wears a VR headset made out of cardboard via Pexels

Virtual reality headsets such as the PlayStation VR, HTC Vive, Oculus Rift, Samsung Gear VR, and Google Cardboard have been used to provide a variety of experiences across PC, mobile devices and games consoles like the Xbox One from Microsoft since hitting the market. Games like Star Trek: Bridge Crew have let players live out their science fiction fantasies, and action-packed PS4 exclusive The London Heist is as entertaining as a blockbuster movie. There have also been less traditional experiences such as Everest VR which features the thrilling mountain peaks and Facebook’s Oculus Rooms which is a social experience.

Key to the interest and entertainment factor is that VR headsets are able to be so incredibly immersive; something which the online poker industry is well-versed in. It means that the two technological industries can work well together. By developing online poker platforms for VR headsets, players can be transported (through virtual mediums) to a casino, letting them check their hands of cards and put chips into the middle of the table as though they are actually sitting at the table themselves.

Live Casino Becoming Standard

Speaking of ways to immerse online poker players and helping them to feel even more connected to the gaming experience at hand, live casino is also steadily becoming the standard in the industry. In traditional online poker platforms, players see animated or text-based interfaces. There way be animated avatars and the dealer may be an unseen computer. Although this sort of gaming is still hugely entertaining and is largely still a great way to play cards, live casinos just build on this experience by adding real-life components into the mix.

For example, in a live poker game, you will be able to see a live dealer; a real human person who deals the cards in front of you. You will then be able to interact with the game at hand using a well-designed user interface (UI). As is the case with online poker platforms created for VR headsets, live casino technology allows you to feel like you are right there, in the casino, even though you haven’t actually left your living room (or wherever else you have may be playing from).

Artificial Intelligence Development

A VICE News video detailing the increased use of poker playing bots

Artificial intelligence (AI) has many potential, useful applications including use in virtual assistants and smart speakers such as Siri used in the iPhone and Alexa in the Amazon Echo, as well as Nest, the learning thermostat that uses AI to heat and cool the user’s home based on how they use and adjust the thermostat. In traditional gaming, we have also seen AI influence character behaviors, such as enemies that dive for cover or teammates that provide support during battle.

Although discussed a lot less, the online poker industry could also benefit greatly from developments in AI. Specifically, use of AI in online poker could allow players to test their mettle at the best, also helping them to better learn the game. Some of the best poker players in the world have been beaten at the game by AI systems such as Libratus, which indicates that AI opponents may be the toughest that you’ll get to go against. It also indicates that there is a chance to learn from them; for these AI opponents to show you where you’re going wrong, or to think more strategically about how you place your bets, or just to teach you the rules of the game in general. While it wouldn’t be very pleasant to actually lose money against these AI-controlled players, the learning opportunity there is significant.

The online poker industry is one that is borne out of technological advancements including the increased power of devices and the increased speed of global Internet connections. As such, the industry regularly produces new innovations for players to enjoy and the improvements listed above are just the tip of the technological iceberg.