With the influx of card and parlor game adaptations hitting DSiWare, it’s odd to see that poker, arguably the most popular competitive card game in town, is so underrepresented. Seeing this gap, Hudson has leaped in with High Stakes Texas Hold ‘Em, doing exactly what it says on the tin.
The whole package couldn’t be more basic. You take on three computer opponents in single-player mode and raise, bluff and check your way to the top. Choose the blind size, your starting funds and you’re off. Leaving the table gives you the option to save and resume later in case you’re on a hot streak and the game tracks what types of hands you play.
There’s no real in-game tutorial for those that don’t know their pairs from their straights; that’s relegated to the game manual -- although there is a handy-dandy reference chart of all possible hands but one button press away at all times.
Apart from some decent 3D animations that pop up from time to time, the visuals are on the same basic level as Windows Solitaire. And you’re going to want to turn the sound off. There is exactly one loop played ad infinitum, and it isn’t even very catchy.
Poker just wouldn’t be poker without some friends, and High Stakes allows four players to link up locally and scam each other. It's a shame there's no real online mode since it would add a good deal of longevity for those who can't scrounge up friends to play with whenever you feel like playing. In order to play locally you’ll all need a copy of the game, and at 500 points each it kind of kills the value.
High Stakes Texas Hold ‘Em is a poker game. As such, you can play poker. Poker poker poker. With a lack of online multiplayer it's a tough sell to those without DSi-bearing friends, and even still can't be fully taken advantage of until a 2000 point total investment is made. At that point, you’d all be better off buying a 300 point deck of cards and a few bags of Funyuns. We hear life has some really cool photorealistic visuals and built-in voice chat too.