Poker players who don’t want to leave home can take part in Season 2 of the PokerStars VR Metaverse Poker Tour this weekend. [Image: PokerStars VR via Steam forums]
A poker trick that requires no travel
If you’re looking forward to a poker tournament this weekend, but don’t live near a casino, you can log into an online poker room, but even then not everyone not live in a jurisdiction where online gambling is legal. Plus, while online poker is fun, it’s not like the real thing. Enter the PokerStars VR Metaverse Poker Tour, whose second season has just begun.
yes, a virtual reality poker round
Yes, virtual reality poker. And yes, a virtual reality poker round. If that sounds weird, well, it sort of is, but it’s free and it’s poker and as someone who’s played PokerStars VR it can be fun.
Season 2 kicked off on Thursday, but the current stop, Macau (or “Macau”), runs all weekend. There are nine events on Friday, starting mid-afternoon ET. They all cost virtual tokens; PokerStars VR starts all new players with 10,000 and of course you can win more playing other poker games. Players also have the option of purchasing more chips, as is usually the case with free online or mobile poker apps.
Saturday and Sunday offer more than a dozen events each, including Saturday’s $5 Million Main Event and Sunday’s High Roller Event.
Not exactly like the real thing, but still fun
PokerStars VR has been around for several years and is available on Oculus Rift, Meta Quest 2, Meta Quest Pro, and HTC Vive (I also think original Meta Quest users can play it, but don’t quote me on that). As my son has a Meta Quest 2, I spent a few hours in the PokerStars VR poker room and can honestly say it provides solid entertainment.
Although I suspect the Metaverse Poker Tour games are a bit different, don’t play PokerStars VR if you demand serious poker experience. Most people who participate in cash games, and to a lesser extent tournaments, are just there for fun and most don’t seem to really know what they are doing. If you like games where most players see the flop, this is for you.
you can peek at your cards, throw your cards in the mud and manipulate your chips
No matter how good the game, it’s quite nice to feel like you’re sitting at a real table, watching and talking with (if you choose to have your voice chat) all of your tablemates. Using the controllers, you can peek at your cards, throw your cards in the mud, and manipulate your chips. There are also loads of “throwaways” and silly trinkets you can play with at the table – I’ve had someone pass me a virtual beer a couple of times.
As mentioned, the current stop on the Metaverse Poker Tour is in Macau, which is specifically the futuristic “Macau 2050” environment. PokerStars VR also offers the Macau Suite, Saloon, The Void, Monte Carlo, Arena, Space, Spies and Cyber environments. As you would expect with a VR poker game, you can also equip your avatar with all sorts of “skins” and outfits.
The new helmet promises even more
I didn’t get a chance to try it out, as the headset costs $1,500, but the new Meta Quest Pro has PokerStars VR as one of its launch titles. And it looks like one of the new features on the device would make the Metaverse Poker Tour even cooler.
It naturally has more power and better graphics capabilities than its more affordable predecessor, but it also adds the ability to do mixed reality on top of virtual reality. With mixed reality, the real world can be integrated into apps, instead of confining you to the virtual world inside the headset.
Most of the time you want to stay completely immersed in virtual reality, but for something like PokerStars VR, mixed reality could be really fun. As stated by Flutter Entertainment, the parent company of PokerStars, options include: “partial immersion which brings objects or spaces from their physical world into the game via editable ‘pass through windows’ and full mixed reality which allows players to bring basic virtual game elements into their own world.
From there, it looks like you can actually sit down at your kitchen table (or a poker table if you have one) and see the players, cards, and chips sitting around the table with you. When you lay your hands on your real table, your virtual hands will be on the PokerStars VR table. This perk costs $1,500, but if you’re already considering buying the Meta Quest Pro, the PokerStars VR experience will likely feel more real to you.
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