Looking around the table full of chips to my other three players, I do not trust anyone. I raise the edge of my letters a little with one hand, revealing enough to see what I'm working on, while the other puts a cigarette in my mouth. The cowboy who carries the beer to my right takes out a lighter and with a movement of the wrist he invokes a flame, which extends to ignite my smoke. I give my approval with my thumbs, while he keeps the lighter and continues to return his beer. I have to watch that.
Once again I check my cards, comparing them with those at the center of the table. My hand is good, but I can not give anything away, not the old woman with the extravagant sunglasses, the bearded gentleman sucking on a coconut cocktail and, of course, not the drunken friendly drunken cowboy. I take the cigar that burns slowly from my mouth and hold it with my right hand while I raise $ 200 of chips with my left hand and throw them on the table.
Gradually, my opponents begin to drop their cards on the table, doubling as expected. they would. I am victorious Placing my cigar in the mouth of a rubber duck that is sitting on the table, I take out a wad of money and "I make it rain", sliding the bills across the table. The expert in bearded cocktails takes out a bottle of champagne and passes it to me. I uncork it in a flurry of bubbles, pointing at my opponents and letting the foam cover them in turn. This is how it feels to be a great gambler.
The curious thing about this experience is that I do not sit in a luxurious casino in Las Vegas, but in a plastic chair in the middle of EGX 2018 at the NEC Birmingham. with a VR headset attached to my face. The mysterious opponents? Only other attendees who play the game on the other side of a separator. I can hear them cursing me, they clearly do not realize how close I am.
Morality, movement and money
I hate gambling. Maybe it's due to negative family experiences or the fact that I can not understand the concept that people can spend thousands with the hope of winning only once. That does not mean that he has not dabbled. When I was a young teenager, I was often scolded in French for starting small poker games in which my classmates and I played anything we could find in our pockets, often batteries, loose change and stationery. I was good at poker, but as I grew up I did not succumb to the appeal of playing for real money.
Needless to say, when I agreed to see a preview of PokerStars VR, the virtual reality version of the online poker software used by the mammoth gambling site, I was very excited. "Morally, I do not agree with this," I told a friend in the EGX press room, waiting for an immersive, virtual reality version of real-world gaming. "It could be very dangerous."
However, within a few minutes of reaching the cabin, my fears began to diminish. "It's free to play," the developer told me. "You do not play for real money."
It's hard to imagine how this concept works for a modern online poker game, but it actually offers something special: the pleasure of playing poker without the monetary consequences, because the driving force is socialization.
PokerStars VR sees you playing poker with no limit online poker with other people, and each person creates their own avatar and can chat in real time with other people at the table. Due to the immersive nature of the VR, and the excellent attention to detail of the development team, players can capture the attention of others simply by paying close attention to the behavior and movement of their opponents; hands. It's almost like being in the same room.
The realistic nature of the movements is initially very strange, since, with the movement controls, you can control almost all the parts of your hands, up to the fingers and the thumbs. It's something that takes a while to get used to, but once you accept how close the real-life movements are, it almost becomes natural. For example, take the thumb up for the players: squeeze the fist with the trigger and then pull out the thumb with the analog lever of the corresponding hand. With time it becomes a habit.
I could talk about the poker elements of PokerStars VR, but it's quite simple and by no means is the drawing aspect of this game. Actually, the best part of PokerStars VR are accessories and customization. Players can wear their avatars, broadcast shows in the game and make use of virtual elements and activities such as ordering food and drink, sharing sushi, smoking and much more. At one point, our group called a collection of rubber ducks and proceeded to try to see who could throw them successfully into the pool that surrounded us (and make them float). These accessories provided an additional layer of fun on the real poker game itself and added a sense of reality to the game itself (even if it is strange).
In addition to these accessories, there are five exotic virtual games. Reality settings for players to experience: Macau 2050, The Macau Suite, The Saloon Showdown, Monte-Carlo Yacht and The Void.
"PokerStars VR is an opportunity for us to take this incredible technology and bring something totally unique to poker players," says Severin Rasset, director of poker innovation and operations at PokerStars. "Poker is about interaction, it has been bringing people together for more than a century." We are very excited to invest in the next generation of the game and give players the opportunity to come together in a new dimension of virtual reality.
Fun and games?
While I enjoyed immensely In my time playing PokerStars VR, there were times when the immersive nature of the game scared me.This is potentially because, although the game is currently Free and we played just for fun, the team told me that they would consider adding a real money option in the future if the players wanted it, it could also be partly because I really enjoyed it, wanting to play more games in each hand.  The captivating game is great for fun, but when you add a game element and real money, things start to get dark and complicated. It could blur the lines between the real monetary value and the digital currency for those who play.
My personal hope is that PokerStars will choose to keep its virtual reality title free, just by introducing microtransactions for additional accessories and virtual activities, because that's where the strength of the game lies.
PokerStars VR is currently in closed beta but a commercial release is planned for the end of 2018. The title requires an HTC Vive or Oculus Rift headset and motion controllers with tracking.
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