Poker is a game of human expression as much as it is about technical skill and plain luck. That’s why PokerStars VR gets a special seat at the table; it delivers the kind of social interaction you expect from a game of real-life poker. In some cases, it uses VR to go well beyond your average round of cards—like playing in futuristic Macau and setting off table side fireworks. And we’re happy to say PokerStars VR is out now on Rift, so you can start placing your bets today.
To hear more about what PokerStars VR is doing differently, we reached out to PokerStars Creative Manager Manuel Bevand.
What makes PokerStars VR different than other immersive poker games out there?
Manuel Bevand: The key difference is how authentic the poker experience feels. Everything from cards and chips to props (fun objects players can toy with), behaves exactly as a poker player would expect. Poker is a very social game, and we’re working hard to make sure player interactions feel natural and comfortable. We’re going all in on props and interactive environments so there’s always something to do.
Poker is about subtle plays. How does this game handle player nuance, like tells and bluffs?
MB: There’s a lot of subtle interaction with other players and the environment. For example, we’ve built the game’s information display system so players need to look around the table for information about bets, opponents, and so forth. This gives observant players a big advantage in figuring out their opponents’ plans. We give players the ability to show one card to their opponents and pick up on their reactions. Tells that work in a live poker game also apply here, like double-checking cards when a flush draw is possible, or glancing at chips when the flop comes before a big bet, etc.
How did you simulate hand movement, like peeking at cards, using the Touch controllers?
MB: We’ve tried to simulate the live poker experience as much as possible, while following the accepted conventions for Touch controllers. Someone who’s played even a little bit of live poker can pick up the game very fast. A lot of work went into hand movement during play, like grabbing chips, peeking at cards from multiple angles, going all in with a natural “push” gesture, etc.
Poker is social to the core. How do players interact with each other in PokerStars VR?
MB: There’s so much you can do: fist bumps, high fives, sharing virtual food and drinks, lighting another player’s virtual cigar, grabbing a wad of cash and making it rain on the table, and much more. Players can also take funny pictures and selfies with our in-game camera.
What locations and settings can players expect to see in the game at launch?
• Macau 2050: A futuristic re-imagining of Macau by night
• Macau Suite: An opulent yet intimate and relaxing environment
• The Showdown Saloon: Play in a classic Wild West saloon
• The Monte-Carlo Yacht: Take to the high seas
• The Void: Play with no distractions
Can you talk about the game’s activities, like ordering food and chomping on cigars?
MB: We have dozens of interactive props like wacky card protectors, flare guns, fireworks, pet ducks and donkeys, the list goes on. Beyond the authentic poker play, some of the most hilarious moments in the game come from the props. It’s sometimes like improv theatre combined with serious poker. We’re essentially providing a big sandbox for players to express creativity and humor during a game’s natural downtimes.
How do you sell PokerStars VR to a serious poker player who’s never tried playing in VR?
MB: Players enjoy socializing and playing live, all while decrypting their opponents’ strategies using different clues. With PokerStars VR, we’re giving them exactly that—an authentic, social poker experience with competitive and community elements.
Are there unexpected things players can do in PokerStars VR they can’t do anywhere else?
MB: Playing in PokerStars VR, you’ll have the chance to play against some of the top poker players in the world with PokerStars Ambassadors at the tables. They may even end up on a big poker stream or video. There will be plenty of other surprises and special promotions, partnerships, and events that will delight poker experts and newbies alike. Come play with us!
At launch, players can expect to find the fan-favorite Poker variant, Texas Hold’em. Look out for tournaments and other variants, like Omaha, to debut soon. When you're ready to hit the tables, try PokerStars VR today.
— The Oculus Team