If you regularly play traditional or live poker online, you may have heard people discussing poker NFTs. While some of you may know all about the NFTs – the latest craze from the cryptocurrency world – many people are still getting up to speed with this new offering.
Join us as we take a look at what NFTs are, what they have to do with online poker and whether you should consider investing in them.
What are NFTs?
To begin, the term NFT stands for Non-Fungible Token, or more simply, a token that represents a unique digital item. Currently, NFTs are typically associated with images, but they can be used for a variety of other digital file types, including videos and audio. For example, a painting is considered a unique piece of art, even though it’s possible to get copies of many famous pictures for cheap or free. Most NFTs are kept on the Ethereum blockchain (a blockchain is a type of decentralized digital ledger) but should not be confused with Ether, the cryptocurrency of the same blockchain network.
NFTs have been making headlines around the world due to the incredibly large amounts of money some people have been paying to acquire an NFT or part of one. For example, a digital artist who goes by the name of Pak recently sold an NFT called “The Merge” to a group of almost 30,000 collectors for an incredible $91.8 million. Many artists have reacted positively to NFTs as a way to sell their works, but in many cases, there is nothing stopping an individual from making a copy of the work, whether it’s an image, video, or audio file.
What do NFTs have to do with online poker?
NFTs currently have little to do with online poker and online poker tournaments, but there are two main reasons interest in NFTs has spiked in the poker community and industry.
The first is simply bragging rights. Wealthy poker players have splashed out on expensive NFTs like CryptoPunks to show the world they have so much money that they can afford to buy exclusive NFTs. Many of the world’s top poker players are happy to spend nearly $500,000 on 8-bit profile CryptoPunk images, as well as large sums of money on other NFTs, like Bored Apes.
The second is more industry-focused, with companies and individuals in the poker industry exploring ways that they can use NFTs. For example, renowned poker player Tony G started selling his famous catchphrases as NFTs, while poker companies are looking at ideas like in-game virtual avatars, as well as poker trading cards and trophies that are all unique and could enhance the overall experience of playing poker online.
Time will tell whether these ideas become a reality in the poker industry or if they’re simply a trend that will eventually disappear.
Should I invest in poker NFTs?
Whether you want to invest in poker or other NFTs really boils down to how much disposable income you have and whether you are willing to “gamble” on NFTs sticking around and increasing in worth. Some investors and financial advisors believe it’s a bubble or fad that will fade away, while others disagree.
In the Time.com article “3 Experts Explain Why NFTs Are So Popular, and What They Mean for Crypto Investors,” financial advisor Doug Boneparth shared how buying NFTs can be complicated, how NFTs are prone to scams and can vary in value way more than traditional stocks or bonds. (Interestingly, these are some of the same criticisms leveled at cryptocurrencies.) Another expert in the article, Humphrey Yang, also believes that there’s currently too much inherent risk in NFTs right now.
Others believe that NFTs will mature and become a key part of the way people interact with digital goods on the internet. In the same Time.com article, another of the three experts, Laura Shin, stated how she believes that NFTs are here to stay.
However, no matter what you think about NFTs, there’s no doubt that they are risky. This makes them a digital commodity you should not be spending your money on if you cannot afford the NFT to degrade in value. For example, “Earth,” an NFT that was minted by famous musician Grimes, declined from $7,500 to $1,200, showing just how volatile this type of purchase can be.
There are also growing concerns about the environmental impact of NFTs. Numerous media outlets and financial investment sites such as The Verge, Investopedia and Wired have covered how minting and selling an NFT consumes large amounts of energy, which may come from fossil fuel sources. In the Wired article “NFTs Are Hot. So Is Their Effect on the Earth’s Climate,” artist Joanie Lemercier discovered that the sale of an NFT he had created consumed 8.7 megawatt-hours of energy (two years of supply for his entire studio) on its own. Again, this was the case when the owner sold the NFT online.
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