A Desire to Talk: How iGaming has Become More Social

Poker, if nothing else, is a social game. Behind the bravado and bluffing there’s an interactive element to poker that’s made it one of, if not the, most popular card games in the world.

In fact, even when the game went digital and online operators began offering online poker tables, this interactive element was retained. From a developer’s point of view it would have been easy to leave out chat boxes and simply have everyone playing in their own little world. However, that would have gone against the conventions of poker and turned a lot of people off the online game.

In fact, when you trawl back through the annals of Internet history you’ll find that chat has always been important. Around the same time iGaming started to boom, the instant message service MSN chat was at its peak. Although it has since been shutdown, the network once boasted 330 million users, all of which would have at least one conversation using the now iconic chat box.

Poker is All About Interactions

Fortunately, iGaming developers didn’t overlook this part of the game and, today, you can chat to your peers regardless of whether you’re playing or not. Thanks to the handy chat box widget in the bottom left of every online poker table, players in the game or those watching from the rail can voice their opinions and have their say.

Of course, if you thought the death of MSN chat meant the death of chatting online, then you’d be wrong. This desire to be social online has continued thanks to a number of other companies. From mobile services such as Whatsapp and its 900 million users, to Skype’s 300 million socialisers, there are plenty of ways to connect with people online and that’s a culture that hasn’t been lost on the iGaming community.

But why would anyone want to talk while they’re playing poker? Well, aside from the strategic benefits of talking your opponents into making the wrong play, communication is an integral part of our psychology. When we go out to enjoy ourselves the experience is always enhanced by the presence of others. Yes, it’s possible to have fun on your own, but the psychological effect of having someone there sharing the experience with you makes it even better.

The same is true in poker. Regardless of whether you’re a pro or an amateur, the fundamental reason for playing poker is because it’s entertaining. Yes, there is money to be made, but if you aren’t enjoying yourself then no amount of money can persuade you to keep grinding.

Communication Fuelling Tech Giants

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In fact, as we’ve already said, like any other leisurely pursuit, communication has become a necessity. A quick scan of the online/mobile technology scene in 2015 reveals that the biggest companies all offer products based on interaction. From one of the original online communication giants such as Facebook, to recent upstarts such as Periscope, today’s biggest apps tap into this human desire to interact and communicate with each other.

This fact certainly hasn’t been lost on online poker developers, but what about their iGaming counterparts – casino games? In the early days of online casino gaming, this trend for communication was somewhat lost. Games such as blackjack and roulette were played in isolation as grinders tried their best to overcome the odds through a combination of logic and timing.

However, as the industry has developed and the average casino players have become more “social,” so too has the technology powering games such as blackjack and roulette. In fact, developers have now taken a leaf out of the poker world’s book and incorporated a range of social features into their products.

Casino’s Cultural Shift

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Multiplayer versions of popular games such as blackjack and roulette are now common and that means players can communicate with each other using chat boxes. Moreover, the introduction of real dealers has added another element of “interaction” to modern online casino games. For example, when you join a Full Tilt Casino live game, you’ll be able to connect with physical dealers through a combination of RFID and streaming technology.

As you’d expect, these dealers are trained to talk to everyone at the table and create an atmosphere that’s as friendly and entertaining as one you’d find inside a brick and mortar casino. Indeed, whether you’re playing live dealer versions of blackjack, roulette, baccarat or casino Hold’em, the experience will be a lot more social than it once was.

Another way in which online casino and poker platforms have “socialised” their games is by harnessing social media. In addition to learning from the likes of Facebook and Twitter, iGaming platforms have also incorporated some of their technology. In fact, it’s now possible to share your results and memorable moments inside the gaming world with the world at large. At the touch of a button you can show off your winning hands and positive results via Twitter and Facebook or even via a live Twitch stream like Dan ‘danshreddies’ O’Callaghan. All of this has added to this culture of interaction and communication.

Poker and Casino Share a Communicative Bond

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Naturally, this epistemic shift has brought online poker and casino gaming closer together. While it used to be true that the pursuits occupied opposite ends of the iGaming spectrum, there’s now a much smaller gap between the two pastimes. Why is this the case? Simple: if the main reason we play games is to have fun, then adding more interactive elements to said games will satisfy this desire.

Thanks to the advent of multiplayer games and live dealer technology, online casino gaming has become infinitely more social and the upshot of this is that more poker players are willing to cross the gaming divide and vice versa. This flow of traffic in both directions has helped to make the iGaming industry as a whole much more buoyant.

By tapping into this desire to communicate with others and by following the lead of tech giants such as Facebook, Twitter and Periscope, online gaming platforms are now more entertaining, busier and, importantly, more lucrative. A greater flow of people having a good time naturally translates into more liquidity and that results in a better environment for everyone.

Although poker and casino games might have some differences in terms of strategy and tactics (i.e. the bluffing we mentioned isn’t so much a part of casino gaming), the social element driving each discipline is the same and over the last few years this point, as we’ve outlined, has become much more apparent.


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