PokerStars Vying to Create Poker 2.0 with Fusion and Virtual Reality Innovations

November 9th, 2018 | by Kaycee James

PokerStars is vying to change the face of online poker and take players into new realities with two major software releases.

PokerStars VR

PokerStars has released two major updates, including the first version of its virtual reality software. (Image: PokerStars)

Following the unsuccessful trial of Unfold Hold’em earlier this year, PokerStars has announced the launch another new variant. Known as Fusion, the game will combine Hold’em and Omaha in a unique way.

New Take on Poker Classics

Although mixed games with a round of Hold’em and Omaha have been available online since the early noughties, Fusion Poker is different. As per the November 7 press release, the game plays out in the following way:

  • Pre-flop, players are dealt two hole cards and the action plays out in the same way as Hold’em.
  • Post-flop, active players are dealt a third hole card.
  • On the turn, active players are dealt a fourth hole card.
  • On the river, remaining players have to use two hole cards to make the best five-card hand as they would in a game of Omaha.

Although PokerStars Fusion Poker is a unique offering online, it does share similarities with two old-school variants known as Crazy Pineapple and Irish Poker.

The former plays like Hold’em but with three hole cards pre-flop, one of which has to be discarded on the turn. The latter, starts as an Omaha hand but ends as a Hold’em hand.

Online Poker’s New Reality

24 hours after announcing the launch of Fusion Poker, PokerStars Virtual Reality (VR) went live. First announced in September, the software (see video above) is compatible with Oculus Rift and HTC Vive and features a variety of features, including customizable environments and Twitch streaming options.

Commenting on the release, Director of Poker Innovation and Operations at PokerStars Severin Rasset said the software is the company’s first real effort to embrace the latest tech trend.

“We wanted to venture into the world of virtual reality because we believe it is an exciting avenue of technology to explore and something that our players would appreciate,” Rasset said in the November 8 press release.

According to market intelligence firm SuperData, VR revenue is set to top $19 billion by 2021. With video game developers like Rocksteady Studios already having hits, PokerStars will be tapping into market that’s already gained a mainstream following.

At this stage, PokerStars VR is only available in free-play mode via Steam, the Oculus Store and Viveport. However, as the software evolves, the long-term aim is to use VR technology to create real-money online poker version 2.0.


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