Poker Night with David Sklansky is a collection of five different
table poker games featuring excerpts and tips from the industries
leading authority on the topic, David Sklansky. Poker is a game of
skill. The best poker players are those who are able to read their
opponents and play off their emotions, or lack thereof. Some might
argue that the only true poker game left is No Limit Hold ' Em. If
you simply play your hand, you don't have much chance to win. Is
Poker Night with David Sklansky successful in recreating the kind
of tension involved in a true game of poker? That's what we're
here to find out.
Poker Night features five different table poker games. They include
Hold 'Em, Omaha, 7-card Stud, Draw and Dealer's Choice. Throw
in endless variations on number of open seats, betting limits,
raises per betting round and wild card selections, and you've got a
decent amount of replay value. Upon loading up Poker Night,
you'll enter a selection screen, where you'll get to choose between
5 different environments to play in, with appropriate sound effects
for each one. Here's a quick rundown of those environments:
Galactic Poker - Players from around the universe gather
for a hand.
Las Vegas Casino Poker - Where the high rollers come to play.
Dodge City Poker - Gambling, wild west style.
Liberty Poker - Care for a game of cards with the military folk?
Tuesday Night Poker - Bring your own beer.
The diversity is a nice touch, but the environment you choose to
play in has very little effect on the game itself. Aside from the fact
that players in Las Vegas Casino Poker and Galactic Poker tend to
bet more than in any of the other environments, I found very little
difference besides the background and characters around the
table. After selecting an environment, you're then asked how much
money you want to bring to the table. You begin with a payroll of
$10,000, and the object of the game is obviously to build up that
amount as high as you possibly can. Select your preferred game of
poker and deal the cards, it's time to gamble!
One of the highlights of Poker Night is the little tips and excerpts
that are provided by David Sklansky himself, whenever called
upon. This is a great little feature for those poker players who
might not be familiar with strategies and modes of play. For those
who feel they know all there is to know about poker, you'll be best
to turn off this option. Aside from the excerpts provided by David
Sklansky, each of the 24 different opponents available in the game
has their own distinct voice and comments. You'll also be treated
to ambient sounds and other sound effects throughout the game.
I won't touch much on graphics, since obviously gameplay is the
main issue in a title like this. The graphics, while unspectacular,
provide a sound environment to play poker in. The interface is
solid and easy to use, and the background graphics are also well
done. The characters are represented by tiny wallet size pictures.
Unfortunately, there is no character animation. It would have been
a nice touch to actually have the characters react to the cards
being dealt, their own hands, and their opponents. The kind of
interaction that occurs around a real poker table is hard to
recreate, yet imperative to hardcore poker players. In this
instance, it obviously caters more to casual and desktop poker
As I mentioned before, Poker is a game of skill. It's hard to
translate the kind of interaction that goes on between players
around a poker table, on the PC. How do you bluff a computer
opponent, other than with cash wagering? How can you tell if a
computer player is bluffing? How can a rounder, reel in a ringer?
In this respect, it's impossible to read or play off your opponent.
What Poker Night does effectively, is recreate the strategies and
odds calculations that occur in a hand of poker. It plays, it thinks,
but it doesn't feel. Poker Night is obviously catered to casual poker
players. Those looking for a solo hand of poker between
assignments. Those looking to play a few friends over the Internet.
Those looking to gamble away a few thousand dollars that they
might not necessarily have in real life to lose. It's a fun game of
poker, and with the amount of variety available, Poker Night with
David Sklanksky a nice addition to any casual card players'