It’s not hard to see the appeal of modern video games. Whether it’s the graphics, the enormous worlds, or the ease of online play, there is an enormous range of factors which make this age one of unprecedented enjoyment. Despite the technological marvels of today, however, it’s important to remember that not all games rely on the biggest explosions, the highest poly-count, or the best physics simulations.
There are many not traditionally video games which have stood the test of time because of their base appeal. The fun in these comes from the ease of understanding the base game, and the difficulty which is found in mastering the highest levels of play.
Poker is one such game, having been a mainstay in worldwide gaming for generations. So, what are the best ways to enjoy this game, and on which devices? We investigate, so you don’t have to.
Retro Poker Gaming
As you might expect with a game so simple to replicate digitally, poker was a popular gaming topic even on early consoles. The biggest of these early efforts was Casino Kid on the NES. Released all the way back in 1989, Casino Kid employs the use of various casino games, including 5-card draw, in order to rank up, and defeat the evil casino King.
Naturally, extremely graphically limited by today’s standards, Casino Kid none-the-less still offers a surprisingly accurate poker experience, for those players lucky enough to track a copy down.
On the portable front, owners of the classic Game Boy have High Stakes Gambling, released in June of 1992. This game has secret agent Pete Rosetti undercover as a gambler as he attempts to use his poker skill to bankrupt the Mafia. Perhaps not the best method of fighting crime, High Stakes Gambling includes the ability to cheat, which can help give the edge on the unscrupulous cheaters against which you play.
Luckily enough, these Mafioso’s won’t gun you down when you win, so feel free to play as dirty as you possibly can.
In terms of retro Windows gaming, look no further than Casino Tournament of Champions from Capstone. Hitting shelves in 1995, this is one of the biggest entries of older casino gaming, coming with slots, video poker, blackjack, roulette, craps, baccarat, and a huge seven forms of poker.
If you own a Windows 95 system and count yourself as a poker enthusiast, then you owe it to yourself to play this game. It’s a little clunky by today’s standards, sure, but in terms of sheer range, it puts an enormous quantity of even the most modern games to shame.
Modern Digital Poker
The most obvious way in which people can play modern poker is through the hugely popular world of real online poker games. As an actual professional product, these cover all of the bases that fans would expect. From the classics of 5-card draw to the modern phenomenon of hold’em in all its incarnations, websites and services like 888 Poker and Bet 365 have risen to the top through their convenience and quality.
Of course, not all players will have the benefits of a constantly online or reliable connection, in which case, installable programs can fill the gap.
For players into a more professional setting to help emulate the real deal, we would recommend World Series of Poker 2008: Battle for the Bracelets. While the name might make players think the game outdated, rest assured that this is absolutely not the case. Probably the most accurate representation of high-level professional poker, this game even includes professional players such as Scotty Nguyen, Johnny Chan, and Phil Hellmuth, just to name a few.
For those after a more stylised and humor-based poker game, consider Poker Night 2 from popular studio Telltale Games. Released in 2013, this game has a cartoonish graphics style which utilizes cross-overs from popular series to add a bizarre and hilarious table of fellow players. Included here are Sam from Sam & Max, Brock Samson from The Venture Bros., Ash Williams from The Evil Dead, and Claptrap from Borderlands, with GLaDOS from Portal as a dealer.
Working off the interplay between characters who have no business appearing in the same universe, this game is a must for video-game enthusiasts wishing to bridge the gap between traditional video games and the world of poker. These often go on sale in packs with other games from Telltale as well, so be sure to keep an eye out and you might be able to pick a copy up on the cheap.
For a more current game, and one which runs on PS4 and Xbox One as well as Windows, players can turn to Prominence Poker from Pipeworks Studio. This game borrows more from the idea of the seedy underbelly of poker-gaming, with players working their way from dark backrooms to the big hands of upmarket gangsters.
One of the biggest positives in this Prominence Poker is the availability of online play. While not forced or necessary, it’s nice to have a relaxed environment where players can gain a few hours’ experience or work on their strategy against real opponents, before moving onto a real competition.
While many of the above games will have mobile versions, or at least will work on modern mobile systems, there is one dedicated mobile release which seems too odd to ignore. Sexy Poker, from Gameloft Montreal, is certainly an unusual one.
The opponents in this game are represented by anime girls, with winning hands removing an article of clothing. If you like anime girls, then maybe check this out, Who are we to judge?
Whatever your choice and what style of gamer you are, there is undoubtedly something for you. The choice and legacy of poker video games mean that no base goes uncovered, so players will always have somewhere to turn. At the very least, most of these give you valid and transferrable experience in the base-elements of the game, so time spent within will come back to aid you at the real tables, whether online or in person.