There are plenty of upsides to online poker. Sure, you lose the social side of the game, the smell of baize, the sounds of chips and cards being riffled. But in return, you can play in the nude, avoid the traffic on the way to your local cardroom, and you can jump from game to game and stake to stake in seconds. Above all though, online poker’s great appeal is in going from six hands an hour to sixty.
So it seemed bizarre that when Stick Pool Club, the Indian gambling app, announced that they were introducing online poker they opted to include a real live dealer/host.
In their press release for the innovation, Stick Pool Club says it has “come up with this innovative format that offers a real-world gaming experience to its users. The main aim behind this is to transform the monotonous and almost machine-like gaming behavior in order to offer a more relatable real-world opportunity for an enhanced gaming experience wherein players and hosts can interact with each other as if in a real poker-club.”
Roulette and blackjack are both commonly live streamed. In those games, players bet from home and the croupier or dealer spin the wheel or deal the cards. This gives online gambling a bit more atmosphere, and the choice of dealer and croupier frequently caters to the straight male gaze. If the advertising is to be believed, Stick Pool Club will also be doing plenty of catering.
Dealing with the dealers
The nature of online poker makes a live dealer an even more token presence than in some other games. Hole cards can’t be dealt face up or hands shared as in blackjack. Instead, both actions have to be fully digital.
So to keep games relevant in Stick Pool Club, the dealer will do more than just deal the cards. The app claims that play “includes real-world hosts’ commentary, options to exchange playful mocking gifs with opponents, club room ambiance, and personalized 3D avatars.”
That said, it is an interesting gimmick, even if it is unlikely to take off on other platforms. So far the technique has proved somewhat successful for Stick Pool Club. The app’s makers report that the average time spent at their tables has roughly doubled from 45 minutes to 90 since introducing the feature.
Stick Pool Club will be catering to more casual players anyway. As the name suggests, the app’s main feature is the ability to play 8-ball pool for money online. The app also allows users to play call break, kind of a cross between bridge and spades.
Casual players may be less bothered by hands per hour, and more enamoured of flashy gimmicks.
Like many of the online innovations to come out of India in the last year or so, it will be interesting to see which parts (if any) might be cannibalized by the industry at large.
Featured image source: Twitter