For quite a while now, poker gaming has been in a little bit of a lull, at least in the U.S. The bustling online industry was largely put to rest throughout the country a number of years ago; console-based poker games never really caught on; and apps have been hit or miss. That’s not to say there aren’t a few popular poker games here and there, but the genre doesn’t exactly have an identity, let alone prevailing, go-to titles.
With all of that said, the near future for the genre looks bright. A mix of rising gaming platforms, new technologies, and a slow-but-sure resurgence in online poker enthusiasm around the U.S. is paving the way for some fresh, entertaining options. As of now, we’d expect them to look something like the following.
High-End Multiplayer Steam Downloads
Steam is the internet’s preeminent platform for video game downloads of all kinds, and it’s actually home to a fairly active and deep poker category. Said category doesn’t necessarily have the best reputation as of now, in part because some of the more “hyped” games have fallen flat. Most notable in this regard was Poker Club, a hotly anticipated title that ScreenRant’s review called “all bluff and no bluster” following its 2020 release. When you take the time to dig a bit into Steam poker offerings though, you’ll find that there are excellent, robust multiplayer experiences in between the disappointments. These games — Prominence Poker, Poker Championship, Poker Night 2, and more — combine the look and feel of popular 2000s-era PC poker games with the online competition of internet poker sites. And as the gaming world moves ever further into online downloads and multiplayer emphasis, we expect options like these to gain more popularity.
Resurgent Online Sites
Despite the perception some hold that “online poker” has been totally decimated in the U.S., there are actually still a lot of platforms that actively cater to American players. Poker.org list of sites and apps, states that platforms like 888poker, Zynga Poker, and PokerStars are still available to people who want to play poker with friends (or against strangers) online. Access can vary from state to state in terms of whether or not one can play for real money, but the platforms are active. And with more state governments reconsidering and adjusting poker bans, we expect to see these same platforms expanding their offerings in the years to come — effectively resulting in a resurgent online poker gaming scene.
Video Game Mini-Games
It is also quite clear that the future of poker video games will involve increasingly sophisticated mini-games within other video game experiences. In just the last few years, the release of Red Dead Redemption 2 and the introduction of casino DLC for Grand Theft Auto V have brought us some legitimately wonderful in-game poker content. And with Grand Theft Auto 6 in development, we expect to see more casino play in the near future. Even if this is all limited to Rockstar titles, it will give millions of players the chance to play poker within their favorite games. But it’s likely something other companies and other game franchises will imitate as well.
Virtual reality will play a role. Almost as soon as this technology emerged as a gaming medium, many identified poker as a potentially ideal fit — a popular game with multiplayer potential that wouldn’t be too demanding in terms of world-building or motion controls. It took a little time for good poker games to emerge in VR, but at this point there are several of them. Poker VR is a satisfying basic experience, and VRFocus.com’s list of features for PokerStars VR will give you a sense of just how impressive these games can be (with everything from sit-and-go tournaments to expansive avatar creation). Simply put, VR poker is already on the rise, and will do much to define the future of this gaming genre.
Considering all of the above, we see poker as an emerging force in the gaming world. It won’t be long before there are several well-known, popular options across mediums and platforms.