poker iPhone apps
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World Poker Tour Texas Hold'em! starts promisingly, with a slick, World Poker Tour video giving way to a clear, nicely built menu all topped off with a welcome voice over from the Poker Ambassador himself, Mike Sexton. But there pretty much ends the positive things I have to say about the game.
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.
World Poker Tour Texas Hold'em! starts promisingly, with a slick, WPT video giving way to a clear, nicely built menu all topped off with a welcome voice over from the Poker Ambassador himself, Mike Sexton. There pretty much ends the positive things I have to say about the game.
Unlike the other two, WPTTH! is seemingly intended as primarily a platform for online free-play, but it also offers an offline AI mode, and that is the mode I mainly explored. You have a decent amount of options as to what sort of table you want to play at: you play anything from six-handed down to heads-up, with limit, pot limit and no limit games available and a choice of blinds from 5/10 to 5K/10K. The variable blinds act presumably a difficultly setting, although I found that the level of play was so infuriatingly bad at the lower levels (think sub play-money tables online) that often the lower level games were harder to beat than the higher ones and certainly more demoralising. However, what is even worse than the level of play in the dreadful 5/10 game (new players for goodness' sake don't mould your style after these total donks) is the almost unbelievably annoying interface.
The table layout is more similar to the kind of thing you'll be used to if you've ever played online (and let's face it, who hasn't?) with small, mildly animated sprites sat round an oval table seen as if from above and behind the (invisible) dealer's back. As the cards come out, the first thing you will notice, is the ridiculous sound that accompanies each fold, which is enough to set ones teeth on edge - and as such is a microcosm of the whole experience.
At all but the highest blind levels the play ranges from moronic to unspeakably dull, with mass limping, min raises into massive pots and endless checking to the raiser, all par for the course.
When the action arrives at you, two tabs appear in the bottom right hand corner, you press one to check/call (depending on if there is a bet to you) and the other to raise. When you select raise, a giant brass wheel appears beneath the table, which is supposed to make scrolling through your possible bet sizes quick and easy. In reality the wheel is tediously slow to use if you scroll carefully along it, and if you flick it, it is far too sensitive and the value you're selecting zooms all over the shop. Give that often what you want to do is 3 bet or bet half or all the pot, it would be far simpler and more sensible if those common bet sizes don't form the basis of the bet interface. The one mildly pleasing aspect of the interface is the way that you fold your hand by flicking your cards away, but given that this same mechanic is employed far more reliably in our next game, we can hardly lavish too much praise on it here.
At all but the highest blind levels the play ranges from moronic to unspeakably dull, with mass limping, min raises into massive pots and endless checking to the raiser, all par for the course. The worse aspect, by far, however, is the strange way the game deals with the end of hands. It handles showdowns very poorly, with the whole board being dealt before any cards are shown (an inaccuracy that, to be fair, Poker Superstars III also shares) and then, the cards having appeared for a millisecond, it cuts away from the table to a screen simply listing all the cards held and the win/loss of each player in the hand. It's a frankly bewildering and absolutely unnecessary way to deal with the most exciting element of hold'em poker. Another oddity is the fact that if, for example, everyone folds to a raise pre-flop, you get to see not only the raiser's cards, but also what the board would have been if it had been dealt - another totally unnecessary, clunky feature, which increases a sense of unreality, and can only serve to lead learning players into bad habits.
If you're looking for a game with a straightforward interface and an enjoyable, challenging AI against which to sharpen your game, with World Poker Tour Texas Hold'em! you couldn't be further from in luck. Even if you want it mainly for the multiplayer mode, and the online community that grows up around it attracts a decent standard of play (which I doubt it will), this dreadful app will still be one to avoid given its extreme clunkiness. It's frankly a total waste of an eye-watering £2.39.
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