Photo by Moto "Club4AG" Miwa >> CC 2.0
After another strong performing year for poker, online and live, we can begin to look forward to what the new year might bring for the game we love. Now that 2019 has started, we can look back at the past twelve months, in which records were broken, including new games were launched, new names came to the forefront of the community and Justin Bonomo going on the heater of a lifetime to surpass Daniel ‘KidPoker’ Negreanu at the top of the all-time money list. All in all, though, nothing really that special or unique happened in 2018 but its safe to say that it was a bumper year if nit an exhilarating one. What then, can we expect from 2019?
Poker’s Biggest Ever High Roller Tournament
First up is the PCA, otherwise known as PokerStars Caribbean Adventure. This takes place immediacy after the PokerStars Players NL Hold'em Championship (PSPC) and both events take place at the Atlantis Resort and Casino in the Bahamas in January. The field for the PSPC will be made up of recreational and professional players alike and if you want to participate in this tourney, you will need to stump up the hefty $25,000 buy-in fee. Alternatively, such is the prestige of this first time event, that people have been falling over themselves all year long to win their entry with the organisers and hosts giving away a host of qualification tickets, referred to as Platinum Passes, over the past 12 months. Once out in the Caribbean, there is a total of $9 million in prizes up for grabs which includes $1 million added to first place and helps to explain why the PSPC is expected to go down in history as the biggest-ever High Roller tournament poker has seen. That is quite away for 2019 to get started. It’s worth noting too that it was actually last year’s $100,000 buy-in High Roller that kicked off Justin Bonomo’s heater when he finished second to Cary Katz and collected $1,077,800 for his runner-up finish. Might you be joining him?
Get your poker face ready.
Elsewhere, the same poker room will provide the first taste of realistic Virtual Reality poker in 2019 too. VR promises to be the next technological advancement within the industry and aims to give players the opportunity to meet in a brand new virtual reality dimension. PokerStars VR will be a free play (play money) immersive game which can be accessed through Oculus Rift, HTC Vive and Steam. In the game, players can play with their cards and their chips just as they would in live poker environment. Players will also be able to chat in real time, read opponents’ tells and interact with in-game props such as champagne, cigars and confetti guns. The game, which also features voice commands, has been developed by Lucky VR exclusively for PokerStars and will also utilise Twitch broadcasting, video streaming and social media integration. In game action can take place in saloons, yachts and what looks to be a Macau style suite. Players can customise their characters and even stream live sport on to virtual TVs as if all of the poker action wasn’t enough.
Lastly, I would expect the current trend of cryptocurrency poker to further strengthen its foothold on the poker industry. Sure, there is already a boom happening with cryptocurrencies, but not everyone is comfortable with, or even understands, crypto. Currently, it is only a small proportion of the poker community but this is likely to grow as the volatile currency combusts in value, dipping and peaking as it goes. With launch upon launch of new blockchain casinos, poker rooms and coin, a spike in ownership is to be expected. In addition, more and more poker rooms are offering crypto as a deposit and withdrawal method. In addition, e-wallet providers like Skrill and Neteller are now capable of converting BTC into pounds, euros and dollars meaning there is added reason for player investment. To that end, BTC friendly sites and BTC dedicated rooms in particular should see the traffic grow and the action, in turn, heat up giving us even more to look forward to in the coming year.