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Poker Superstars III is a fast, well presented and enjoyable iPhone poker experience. At times limited by its format and haphazzard AI, it still manages to be a good choice for the novice/improving player looking for some poker glam to brighten up their lunch break.
I've been looking at poker iPhone apps in some detail the last few weeks. With the rise of televised Poker it is perhaps unsurprising that the three big poker games in the App Store are all Hold'em based and bear the branding of a successful TV franchise: World Series of Poker: Hold'em Legend, World Poker Tour Texas Hold'em! and Poker Superstars III.
In Poker Superstars III you have the honour of being invited to take part in a season of the show alongside Antonio Esfandiari, Kassem 'Freddy' Deeb (whose name is incorrectly spelled 'Kassam' on the player info screen), Eli Elezra, Jennifer Harman, Jeff Shulman, Mimi Tran, Cyndy Violette, Ted Forrest, Todd Brunson, Barry Greenstein and the Hollywood actress turned WSOP bracelet winner Jennifer Tilly (also misspelled as 'Jennfier', oops). While this opposition is certainly world class, they are perhaps not the most well known personalities in the game, and it is certainly interesting to note the absence of Daniel Negreanu, Phil Hellmuth Jr., Gus Hansen and Phil Ivey who all played in the third season of Poker Superstars, but presumably command too high a fee to have been included.
As the latest inductee into the illustrious setup, you can choose whether you'd like to hone your skills in a Single Round (a six-handed sit-'n-go) or take on the challenge of the whole season. In Season Play you battle through six elimination matches (which award points depending on where you finish), then hopefully through the playoffs and semi finals to the grand final. The initial games are six-handed, but as you progress you play four-handed and then heads-up as you close-in on the title.
Poker Superstars III is a fast-paced, clearly presented and enjoyable poker experience.
The layout of Poker Superstars is clear and bright, and the decision to follow in the footsteps of the previous releases on other formats and have simple photographs of the players faces rather then animated avatars seems to me a wise one. The interface is also simple and well laid out, with the necessary information about blinds, any action that has occurred and the size of the pot all clearly displayed in sensible places. As the action comes to you, four boxes appear on the screen allowing you to fold, call, raise or shove all in.
When you touch on the raise box, a clear screen appears showing a poker chip that you then slide along to increase the amount you wish to raise by. The touch controls are all pretty crisp and generally things are positioned so that mistakes are unlikely to occur. One oddity is that the boxes are ordered 'Fold', 'All In' 'Raise' and 'Call' from left to right which seems to make less sense than say 'Call', 'Raise', 'All In' 'Fold'. One slight annoyance is the amount of nagging tutorial information that appears on the screen when you first start out, but this soon clears once you've played a few rounds.
As for the quality of play, well you definitely shouldn't expect the standard to reflect that of the actual players concerned. However, seeing as they are some of the world's best, this is neither surprising nor particularly undesirable. That having been said, it is slightly disappointing that there is only one difficulty mode and no obvious variation in tactics or playing style across the different characters.
I found the AI to be relatively easy to beat - winning the first season I played in - and observed several trends that you would be extremely unlikely to find recommended in any decent sit-'n-go guide. I very much doubt I would be able to steal five sets of blinds in a row with the lowest stack on the table if I actually played with Greenstein, Brunson, Harman, Shulman, Elezra and Forrest. Or that Ted (or any profitable player) would call for almost his whole stack with K4o, with a larger stacked player behind him, when I shoved an A 4 9 rainbow board after having raised pre-flop from under the gun (I had 99, and correctly suspected Elezra had AK).
Overall, Poker Superstars III is a fast-paced, clearly presented and enjoyable poker experience, if slightly limited by its pretty restrictive format and questionable AI. However, given that it's currently on sale in the App Store for 59p, I'd say it was a good choice for the novice/improving player looking for some poker glam to brighten up their lunch break.
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