Weekly Poker Update: April 12, 2021

Poker Update Text NFT

If you’ve been following along with the technological news in the last few months, you might have heard that the latest craze in the blockchain world that also fuels cryptocurrency are the collectibles known as “non-fungible tokens,” or NFTs for short. It appears that poker might be diving into this brave new world. The World Poker announces this week that they are getting in on the NFT game with what are called WPT Moments, with the hope that enthusiasts of real money Texas Hold’em and other forms of the game will drive up their popularity and value.

WPT Hope NFTs Are Okay

NFTs are essentially digital collectibles which are traded using blockchain technology. The blockchain ensures that each one of these collectibles—which can be anything from digital art to a piece of video— are unique. That’s where the “non-fungible” part comes into play, as even though there can be two tokens that represent the same thing, they are not necessarily interchangeable in value.

The craze has really heated up in the sports world with the skyrocketing value of NBA Top Shot tokens. These tokens take basketball highlights that are then giving a kind of serial number (which can have an impact on the value).

NBA Top Shot Tokens

People can then buy these tokens in “packs” via occasional drops sponsored by the league, or they can buy them from people who have already purchased them on the secondary market.

Like trading cards, the value can be affected by a number of things. It can come from the fact that the highlight is a particularly memorable one, or it is attached to a player whose performance on the court has suddenly improved. Or the value could be tied to the scarcity of the release, in simple supply and demand fashion.

Poker and Tokens

In terms of the World Poker Tour moments collection, it appears that the idea will be similar to the Top Shot format.

The WPT has announced that some of the first moments will be auctioned off, and there will also be information about token drops ladled out during the World Poker Tour television show. As a matter of fact, the drops will come as the WPT show switches to a cash game format instead of the usual tournament action over the next month or so.

The World Poker Tour teamed up with a blockchain company called Theta Network. It seems to be a good fit since Theta is focused on blockchain media applications. They’re no flash in the pan either, as the value of their coins have risen considerably lately.

The question now becomes whether or not this launch into the NFT world will be successful. There are many who might not understand the logic behind the whole thing. First of all, these moments will likely be video clips that can easily accessed off the internet for free.

Yet that’s also true of the Top Shot highlights. Take a look at the value of some of those NFTs right now and you might be dumbfounded. People are paying thousands for a particularly juicy dunk, blocked shot, or buzzer-beater.

How Valuable Are Poker Moments?

Which brings us to the next question about poker and NFTs. Obviously, with the NBA, those who buy the tokens are getting some kind of action on the video. But what will they get from the poker moments?

Obviously, they’ll be tied to big poker tournaments and events from the recent or even distant past, but which ones? Will the World Poker Tour be restricted to only showing moments from their brand? Or will they be able to dial up a moment from something like a particularly famous World Series of Poker, for just one example?

Then, there’s the issue of being able to choose moments that have some sort of impact.

For many people, the best parts of watching poker are the moments of contemplation, where a player stews over a big decision trying to come up with the right play. Think about the way that Doug Polk fretted and eventually decided on the fold on High Stakes Poker last month, all while Phil Hellmuth waited patiently in the hopes of a big score that never came.

How do you capture something like that in a video clip of a few seconds? Will the moments be limited to just that moment when cards are laid on the table? If that’s the case, a lot of the specialness of them might be lost, for the very reasons mentioned above.

Of course, some people might not care about any of this and will just be interested in finding value.

There is no law that says you have to be a poker enthusiast to collect poker NFT’s, just as non-basketball fans can buy Top Shots. Many will just look to get involved for the arbitrage aspect of it, buying and selling the WPT moments as if they were stocks rising and falling in value in an effort to make profits out of the difference.

Waiting on the Drops

All should soon be revealed, as the first drops could be coming in the very near future. And the World Poker Tour is definitely starting big. Their first series includes moments tied to the late, great Mike Sexton, universally beloved in the poker world and sure to bring some attention from diehard poker fans.

Will the WPT Moments go the way of Top Shot, sending poker fans into a frenzy in search of the best tokens whenever they appear on the market? Or will it be another CryptoKitties, an earlier digital collectible that soared in value but then plummeted to the depths.

Perhaps it will land somewhere in between, perhaps not as valuable as Top Shot (at least initially) but with the kind of legs that make this a long-term thing.

Pro Poker Player Mike Sexton

One thing is for sure: The World Poker Tour and the poker realm in general seems to be getting on board the NFT train at the right point, while it’s still hot and before it gets oversaturated.

And since poker has done so well within the digital world in the past year with the stunning rise in popularity of online poker tournaments and events, there might just be an audience willing to partake. If these moments are executed correctly, it could mean a sudden boom in poker popularity along with a new income stream for tech-savvy fans.