World Series of Poker Texas Hold'em
Is the mobile world ready for online, WSOP-licensed poker?
To deal with the glut of poker titles on the market, mobile publishers looking to break into the space have lately taken to developing a product that fulfills a specific poker niche, even though poker itself is already a niche mobile gaming genre. There's poker games that focus specifically on heads-up play, Gameloft's aptly-titled Sexy Poker series, and the strange, fantasy-themed Era of Eidolon: Badaz Poker, to name a few.
When Glu Mobile decided to enter the poker fray, the company took a decidedly different route. They acquired the largest license (World Series of Poker) for an undisclosed but undoubtedly pricey amount, and then set to work building a poker game that would do everything that their niche competitors did, and do it better. Besides allow you to play against goblins and other baddies in some weird, poker-RPG hybrid like in Era of Eidolon, I suppose.
The game's Quick Play option allows you to dive (quickly, of course) into a match, with the pot limit, opponents, and other variables set randomly by the computer. Much more impressive to me is the game's Solo Play option. This allows you to customize what kind of poker experience you want. An eight-person game with a bet limit could stretch on for a long, long time. If you just have a few minutes to kill you can hop into a no-limit head-to-head or three-person match, which could be over in just a few hands. Online Play is also featured, but as the game isn't yet live, there isn't much (IE any) human competition out there yet.
Your bankroll carries over game to game, and online, so there's incentive to play "correctly" instead of going all-in every other hand. A cool extra are the other game-wide stats that are tracked as well. After spending a little time with the game I can now see that my best hand was an aces over tens full house, and that my showdown success rate is just 44% (I'm not a great poker player).
Glu insists that their opponent AI is unmatched, and comes in a variety of styles and personalities, but during my time with the game so far I've seen situations like everyone, all eight players, going all-in on a hand, only to find that most of them weren't holding anything - not even a pair. I'm willing to give Glu the benefit of the doubt however, as the AI is supposed to ramp up over time, and professional poker superstar Chris "Jesus" Ferguson (who happens to hold a Ph.D in Artificial Intelligence) consulted with Glu on how the game played an the AI reacted.
Based on what I've seen so far, I think it's safe to say that World Series of Poker: Texas Hold 'Em is the most full-featured mobile poker title I've played. The table flexibility, licensed poker stars, online play, and fluid, in-game action looks like it will make this game a winner.
Check Modojo later this month for a full review.