The latest digital craze to take the world by storm is NFTs (non-fungible tokens.) These digital assets may have seemed like a gimmick when they first came out, but people started paying them serious attention when a digital collage titled “Everydays — The First Five Thousand Days” by Beeple, sold on auction for $69 million in March 2021. Since then, NFTs have gone mainstream as artists such as Pak, Xcopy, Hackatao and others embrace the new format and create unique digital artworks that routinely sell for millions. Outside of the art world, NFTs are appearing in various industries: Music (Kings of Leon brought out an NFT album last year,) fashion, real estate, gaming and sports, and online poker. In fact, NFTs are rapidly adding a whole new level of interest to the world’s favorite card-based mind sport. Let’s investigate the intriguing topic of poker NFTs.
What are NFTs and how do they work?
The easiest way to understand how NFTs work is to look at their history. Back in 2017, American studio Larva Labs developed a series of collectible digital characters called CryptoPunks. There are 10,000 different CryptoPunks to collect, each one of them unique, but how to stop people from simply copying them to sell? To prevent this, Larva Labs used blockchain to provide collectors with NFT. These cryptographically unique tokens provide holders with proof that they own the one true copy of their specific Crypto Punk.
Unlike fungible tokens such as Bitcoin, NFTs can’t be exchanged on a like-for-like basis. If you send someone a CryptoKitty (to mention another popular collectible NFT series) and receive one from another person, you’ll receive a completely different blockchain-based digital kitten from the one you had before. This means that each NFT has a unique scarcity-based value. A huge number of marketplaces exist, including OpenSea, Rarible and SuperRare, where you can pay in crypto-currency for the NFTs of your choice.
Collectible moments in poker history
The first poker player to issue NFTs was Tony G, the wise-cracking legend who became a European Member of Parliament before making a dramatic comeback with two stunning victories at the 2021 Super High Roller Series in Cyprus, where he won over $1.5 million in cash. Tony G’s NFT cards on the Lympo platform celebrate his famously outlandish table talk, bringing to life trademark catch-phrases such as “Ace from space,” “Date with an eight,” “We are all winners here” and “On your bike!”
The next big poker name to enter the scene was the World Poker Tour (WPT.) In 2021, WPT partnered with Theta Labs to create NFTs with different levels of scarcity (Common, Rare and Legendary) featuring some of the best poker moments of all time. If you bought the Legendary Scotty Nguyen card, for instance, you would be one of only 100 people able to replay the moment when Nguyen defeated Michael Mizrachi in the WPT World Poker Open on January 23, 2006. Needless to say, the value of the scarcer NFTs has increased dramatically with time.
Soon after WPT brought out their NFTs, poker icon Phil Ivey partnered with crypto platform Ethernity Chain and creative studio Impossible Brief to launch the Royal Flush Collection, which focuses on the legendary player’s career achievements. The concept is based on the fact that it takes five cards to make a royal flush. As a result, you can buy five different NFTs: Ace, King, Queen, Jack and ten. Collectors who complete a royal flush have a unique opportunity to be one of eight players to compete at the same table as Phil Ivey, as part of a charity tournament to be held on a luxury yacht in Miami in 2022.
Play poker online with NFTs
The collectible nature of NFTs makes them a natural fit for video games. In Fortnite, for example, you can get NFTs for skins and weapons that nobody else can own. You can see this trend at work in Polker, the revolutionary platform that offers a completely new way to play poker online. Polker is built on Unreal Engine 4, the same engine that powers popular games such as Fortnite, Street Fighter 5, Dragon Ball Fighter Z and Final Fantasy. This enables developers to provide a virtual poker experience in a beautifully detailed, animated 3D metaverse. Rivals, opponents and poker friends can arrange online poker tournaments or simply hang out and interact. Some may discuss poker tournament strategy, while others may organize classes on how to play poker for beginners – the scope for creative interaction is endless.
Polker is completely free to play, making it a safe environment to learn to play poker. All players have to do is choose a theme element (Fire, Ice, Water, Air and Thunder) and start playing poker to win NFTs and level up until they gain the status of Ultra-Rare Element Dealer. There are also NFT medals to be earned by completing missions, NFT cards to be unlocked and standard, rare and ultra-rare NFT holograms to discover on daily quests.
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