If you like to play Texas Hold’em, then you will probably like this game.
This game is simple. If you never played Texas Hold’em, or never watched the World Championship of Poker on ESPN, do not be afraid that you will be lost in the rules. The player is dealt two cards that only he or she can view. Then the dealer will deal a total of five cards in the center of the table. The player must then make pairs, straights, flushes, etc using any 5 of those 7 cards. For the most part, the game is just like regular 7-Card Stud except the first three cards are turned over at one time.
Camera movement, graphics, and screen layout are the most important elements when playing a card game. Luckily, there are two views to choose from when at a table. The default option starts the camera view of the table as the entire screen, where all players’ bets can be seen at one time. After the first few cards are dealt, the camera will pan to a close up view of each individual player when their turn arrives. I found this closer up view to be inconvenient as you could not see your opponent’s chips. Planning a strategy is difficult when you cannot see anything. However, in the options menu, a continuous panned out camera angle can be chosen. The view displays everything you need simultaneously and clearly. “R” can be also be tapped to switch between the two views on the fly.
There are two modes of play: Career and Quick Play. Quick Play just places you in a game and is more of an exhibition match. Sit Down Table and One Table Tournament are the two types of Quick Play. Sit Down Table will have the player select his bet increments while One Table Tournament will choose the player’s buy in. Career Mode is self-explanatory. The player will play in one tournament in hopes of getting to the next one. However, it is a major pain when you have to write down a 20 character password if you want to come back to the same game you played after you turned the power off. Lack of battery save costs this game some major points.
The developers created a decent version of Hold’em but the game lacks the options to fully engross the player. There is no option for a gamer face or icon, no deck themes, no background changes, and no option to select which musical track you want to listen to while playing. Also, I feel that the computer A.I. places their bets a little slowly. Speeding up the game play could not have hurt. Plus, if the player wishes to pause the game, or change the view of the table, they have to wait until their turn comes up. These instances may be a minor inconvenience, but they will surely annoy the player over time. And forget about playing this game will other GBA users. There is no multiplayer option of any kind. Not even pass the system. For shame.
Importantly, the sprites are colorful and easily seen on the GBA screen. The music lacks quantity, but the pleasant gambling theme suits the game well. Surprisingly, a narrator will call the game. “The flop is,” The turn is,” and “Let’s play some Texas Hold’em” are about the only thing the male voice will announce, but it helps guide the player along each game. The voice over can always be turned off in the options menu if one so desires.
Not that Texas Hold’em Poker does anything wrong, there just is not a lot of content. I understand that this game is a budget GBA title, selling for half the price of a normal GBA game, but more options would have greatly benefited this game. Plus, you can only play Texas Hold’em and not a single other card game. If you like Hold’em, then a purchase of this game is acceptable considering the lower price point and handheld status. However, if you are looking for a solid card compilation, then pick up Telegame’s Ultimate Card Games. It has more than a dozen card and casino games all in one pak. Plus, that game supports up to four players with only one game pak.