Gambling has always been an incredibly intriguing part of life. The actual possibility of actually losing your bet gives a high which some people live on. For others, risk is a word they will never be associated with, so they stray away from anything which involves a gamble.
Casinos, along with betting platforms, are the main gambling hubs in today’s day and age. Many people visit casinos once in their lifetime to experience themselves the thrill of it all, but clearly it is not everyone’s cup of tea, so their adventure with gambling ends there. For those not adventurous enough to visit a casino then, there are alternative ways to get a taste of it, mainly through gaming. One such title which is sure to provide the same feeling of a casino is surely Ripstone Games‘ latest, Poker Club.
Poker Club, as the name might imply, is a game which revolves around the world-famous card game, and specifically Texas Hold’Em. For those unfamiliar with the format of this iteration of Poker, it basically is a format where players are given two cards each, and 5 “common” cards are shared between all the remaining players once people have folded or placed their bets. The best combination from the remaining players will win the pot and all the chips in it. It is definitely one of the most entertaining forms of Poker to watch, and one which entails a lot of strategy in it as well.
From the get go, Poker Club shows that it aims for the players to go higher through its campaign mode, the PCC Tour. As seen in the image above, there are plenty of game modes to go through but the PCC Tour is placed strategically as the biggest and first option in the menu.
This tour includes the different table settings that the game provides, such as freezeout, where a player is eliminated once they run out of chips, cash buy-ins, where players can keep buying in the game or exit and cash out whenever they like, and duels, where players will compete only against single opponents at a time, with the aim of knocking out everyone and come out as the last man standing. The last iteration is pretty much like another game’s tournament where there are only two sides competing, so the format is pretty straightforward to learn.
The PCC Tour starts with you creating your own avatar, immediately giving some personality to the game as you get to distinguish yourself from the competition. Unfortunately, there isn’t much to help differentiate yourself, so all the avatars end up very similar to each other unless there’s sex or racial differences. As you play further you get to unlock more customization items, mainly for attire, so you’ll get to look different the more you play and win.
Getting on the table, the opponents are all online players, which is already a bit intimidating as you are facing other players and their styles here. The game is pretty straight forward – two blinds, and the others will get to call, raise or fold depending on their cards or the size of their guts. Obviously bluffing will very much be in the picture here so you have to take that into consideration.
As seen above, the camera is pretty much a first-person shot from your character’s point of view, making the experience a very personal one indeed. You can look at other players to see their name and status, which will get forward on the right side of the screen to help you identify who is who on the table.
You have two prompts in the bottom middle of the screen, one is to check your own cards and the other to look at the common cards, which may not be very visible depending on where you’re placed on the table. This gives players clearer vision to make their decisions and coupled with a long timer you definitely get to think well before you make your decision. In fact, the timer may be a tad too long, as apart from the time itself you have an additional timer which counts down, after which if you have not made your move you automatically fold.
Bluffing in the game is further supported with the option to show your cards after winning a hand, making a statement for future hands for others to keep in mind. Will others take the hint you are a bluffer and play more aggressively, or will they be afraid you have done it on purpose and still be reserved? Putting an element of mind games with showing your cards is definitely a risky tactic as it may backfire, but it is yet another feature of the game, although the game itself recommends to only show cards when you had a legit hand, just to make people fear that when you commit to a hand, you have decent cards.
On the downside of this game, one could maybe list the slow pacing of each and every game mode, as like mentioned previously there is ample time for a player to make his move, but when high stakes are on the line, you need to make your decision carefully, meaning this time limit is not necessarily a bad thing. The customisation features are definitely lacking, but we are not here to have the best looking character but to earn as many chips as possible.
All in all, Poker Club is a great entry point into learning the game and practicing. It has all the required features and much more to stand out from the competition, providing an amazing experience which feels very lifelike, including the fact that you are playing against actual human players and not AI. The price point of the game is another huge incentive, as the game is only £19.99 and features no micro-transactions, as explained in a press release just before game launch. Will you take the gamble with Poker Club?
Check out the game on Steam here.
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