As poker has exploded in popularity over the last few years, it has wormed its way into all forms of media, including video games. As well as video games based entirely around poker, there are also games that have included poker as a side-game. These typically revolve around Hold’em or Omaha, but in years to come we’ll surely see this replicated with games of Open-Face Chinese Poker. But for now, we can make-do with these top picks:
Red Dead Redemption
One of my close friends, and a very good poker player, was actually introduced to the game of Texas Hold’em via Red Dead Redemption. This may sound strange, but as far as graphics, gameplay and even AI was concerned, Red Dead Redemption pretty much nailed it. It was actually very fun to play poker on this game and you could play it in saloons around the game world, allowing you to feel like Wild Bill.
As well as being realistic, Red Dead Redemption can also help you to learn the game. The friend who became hooked on poker because of Red Dead Redemption had never played poker prior to playing this game. Within a couple of days he fell in love with the game and after weeks of play, and realizing that he was winning time and time again, he took his play to online poker rooms and became one of the best players I know. It goes to show that video games really do matter, at least that’s what we can keep telling ourselves.
Dead Rising 2
In the second game in the Dead Rising series, there were two instances in which you could play poker. The first was back at the hideout, where you could play strip poker with some of your fellow survivors, practicing your skills. The second instance was in the casino, inside a televised poker room with some professional players. Here you could play for big money with some big players (styled on real poker professionals) as zombies battered down the doors and tried to get inside.
Although not perfect, the poker on this game was playable. The AI was not the best and was very easy to beat if you knew what you were doing, but once you made it to the big game, if the cards didn’t go your way then it could get very frustrating very quickly. That’s the beauty of a computer game though, as you could just save before you played and if you lost, then you could just load that save and try again. If only real life and real poker events worked that way.
Poker Night 2
Poker Night 2 includes some popular video game characters, such as Ash from Evil Deal 2 and Claptrap from Borderlands. However, there is nothing going on here but poker. Typically, video games focusing entirely on poker are not up to much. They are made on the cheap, not expecting to sell many copies and therefore not putting much effort into development. However, that is not the case with Poker Night 2. This is a great game, very entertaining from start to finish.
Not only is it accurate in regards to the poker, but the exchanges between the characters are also fun and make for a great experience overall. What’s more, Poker Night 2 isn’t centered just on Texas Hold’em like so many other games. It also includes a pot limit game of Omaha.
To top it off, Poker Night 2 is very cheap. In fact, you can pickup a copy from Steam for just a few dollars. Don’t expect the earth though, and certainly don’t expect to find anything other than a poker game.
World Series of Poker
This is an officially licensed game and there are a few appearances by professional players, but that’s where the positives end for World Series of Poker. Simply put, there are some major flaws with gameplay and you will struggle to find any of the pros. They are certainly in the game, but you will struggle to run into them. This game is available on a number of consoles, including PC. It is a few years old though, created with the first Xbox and the Gamecube in mind. That should give you an idea of how the graphics fair in this game and unfortunately, the gameplay is just as sub-par.
Whilst there is little here for a big-time poker or video game fans, players who enjoy watching the WSOP on ESPN, and absolute beginners will get a kick out of this.
World Poker Tour
This is one of the better and more in-depth poker games available right now. This is the only game on the list that introduces an RPG element, therefore eliminating the simplicity of what is in effect just a simple game. You can create your own player and fix him or her up as you please. There are also a number of pros in the game, including Phil Laak and Antonio Esfandiari, and these players are quite common, which means you will not struggle to find them or play them.
If you are new to the game of poker or you are looking to improve your skills beyond the basic level, then there are a number of tutorials to help you.
Stacked with Daniel Negreanu
This is probably the best poker-only game on this list. Daniel Negreanu is the biggest poker celebrity and with his own TV show, as well as many appearances on others, it is no surprise to learn that he now has his own video game. There is a poker school that can teach you the basics and the more advanced areas of the game, and there is also an advanced and intuitive AI which makes the level of play far more advanced in this game than it is in any of the other games on this list, and possibly in any other poker game currently on the market. If you want a true test of your abilities, something that will mimic the play of amateurs and professionals alike, then this is the best game for you.