Game Over Online ~ Poker Night with David Sklansky

GameOver Game Reviews - Poker Night with David Sklansky (c) Interplay, Reviewed by - Seth Gecko

Game & Publisher Poker Night with David Sklansky (c) Interplay
System Requirements Pentium 100, 16MB Ram
Overall Rating 70%
Date Published Monday, October 4th, 1999 at 08:06 PM

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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 players.

    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' collection.


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