World Poker Tour: Texas Hold 'Em Review
Posted by Jon Wahlgren
For a portable poker game, World Poker Tour: Texas Hold 'Em could've been great. It uses probably the biggest licence in the game in a faithful way to how the tournaments are shown on TV along with a pretty meaty single-player component and a few nice touches. Unfortunately, it also makes some really dumb mistakes that drag it down.
Like, oh, not allowing you to save mid-game. So if you're looking to go through the game's two tours through the US and the rest of the world, totalling over a dozen tables and each with their own special "superstar" player (who come with preset play style traits, like being lucky or aloof), you'll have to do it one full game at a time. There's no way to pick up and play a few hands, advance a little and quit playing until when you next have some time to kill. It's inexplicable why a save-and-resume feature was left out. Sure, you can close the DSi lid and suspend the game, but then you can't do or play anything else on it until the game is over. There is also no tracking of statistics.
It's a shame because WPT adds a few nice touches to the poker formula otherwise found on DSiWare. Players create a simple avatar that sits around the table in each game, which provides a surprising connectivity that you just don't get from, say, having only names on the screen. You're also able to choose your seat among the table's six chairs, which can influence your position in blinds. And, much like the televised games, you're given odds in the form of percentage for how big a chance your hand has at winning. Gamble accordingly! If you don't know your straights from your flops, the instruction manual does a nice job of explaining poker rules, and there's a light tutorial to show you how to use the interface.
The presentation comes with a few quirks of its own that don't seem too bad at first but start to become annoying after a while. In-game, everything you do is done by a combination of dragging and tapping to, we suppose, simulate being at a real poker table. For example, to raise a bet you have to drag the corresponding chips onto the table; not so bad until you want to raise $200 and only have a stack of $25 chips. To fold, you drag your hand onto the table and click the context-sensitive touchscreen button. Every action seems to have one click or drag too many, which unnecessarily slows things down. And depending on player placement, the interface can obscure the winning hand from being shown, which can be kind of annoying if you just lost a particularly brutal hand.
In addition to the tours, you can play Single Tournament and Single Match, the latter of which allows you to customise all manner of things like players, limits, blind sizes and increments, whether buy-ins after knockouts are okay, and a whole bunch of other stuff in case you don't care for the default rule set. Again, you can't save mid-game in either of these. The AI is pretty competent and able to put up a good challenge, and after a while you'll begin to pick up on opponent play styles (as well as any digital poker game, at least). The use of avatars helps a lot with differentiating them and identifying their tactics as well.
Multiplayer boasts up to six players who each have a copy downloaded on their DSi's. A lack of Download Play is disappointing, but it's unfortunately becoming par for the course for DSiWare.
World Poker Tour is a decent poker game let down by its clunky interface and an inability to save mid-game. It may have the best (and so far only) licence on the service for poker, but the overall package doesn't live up to it. At the rate DSiWare has been going, you should have another, hopefully better, option coming in down the line to put your chips on.