Earlier this week I wrote about the changing face of poker as technological advances thrust our beloved game further away from the tables and ever-more firmly in the palm of our hand. During my investigation, I was quite amazed to read testimonials from more experienced players who attribute strategy in the game changing, with the rapid development of technology and its subsequent devices. Technology is changing a game that has existed since the early 1900s – and not everyone seems happy about it.
In the grand scope of things, the biggest changes to poker as we know it today came through the internet boom of the noughties. Standard continuation bets which, before the millennium, took up 60%-70% of the pot were suddenly dropping in size across the board – leaving many players forced to switch up their play or get left behind by the younger generation. And that’s not necessarily a bad thing.
Since the start of the millennium, the number of multi-millionaire superstar high-stakes players that have risen through the ranks amidst the internet age has bee n phenomenal. Suddenly, young internet stars like Tom Dwan and Phil Ivey were duking it out on the tables with old school legends like Doyle Brunson and, the late, Dave “Devilfish” Ulliott.
But it makes sense: Make poker more accessible for the masses and, surely, more would shine. This chain of thought started me in a direction and I was interested to see where else technology could take the game and how it could raise further massive brands like Ivey and Dwan. While these poker powerhouses are absolutely some of the finest in their field of all time – they hardly fit the bill of your stereotypical poker player.
Online poker doesn’t go unnoticed, either. In early 2011, a mysterious high-stakes player began making a name for himself on the PokerStars online client, capturing the attention of the poker community unlike any other recent event. Isildur1, who turned out to be Swedish PokerStars pro Viktor Blom, remains one of the most discussed online poker player since his rise and fall and subsequent head-to-heads with Tom Dwan, Dan Cates and Daniel Negreanu.
Other areas of gambling, too, are prospering from the rise in internet betting. Sports betting has reached an all-time high since the mobile boom of the last decade and bingo websites are bringing a whole new generation online with advertising that specifically targets casual-playing women.
The future of gambling is, somewhat, unsurprising. Casinos in the US are rolling out traditional forms of gambling that are failing to attract the young, desirable clientele they’re looking for. Slot machines, craps tables and other seemingly archaic ways to throw money down the drain are on their way out – with some casinos installing tattoo studios and other fancy attractions.
Fresh technology for smartwatches is bearing promising potential in the slot machine market that could see the traditional “one-armed bandits” make something of a comeback. Using Siri Voice activation, apps for Apple smartwatches could wield something futuristic – but a poker app would require an aesthetic design unrealistically efficient.
Virtual reality masters Oculus Rift have a casino game that looks very promising from the videos on its website. An initial look would appear that a player can virtually sit at a poker table without ever having to be there, being able to see your opponent’s own body language and movement. The software also supports games including blackjack and could be further developed to include more games like the ever-popular roulette.
Regardless of your particular choice of poison on the casino floors, the big question is whether the accessibility of gambling is necessarily a good or a bad social struggle. While, yes, the ease-of-use when it comes to these applications fosters those aforementioned huge stars, you do wonder about those that never make it.