GBA REVIEW: WORLD POKER TOUR

I've done a whack of reviews on various gaming games, by that I mean gambling. You see, I am a gambler in the true sense of the word. I'm not professional by any stretch but I do play in real casinos with real money and I have read a lot of books on the subject including plenty of strategy guides. I am by far the site's ultimate authority on gambling. I am also broke.

If there's one bit of advice that I can impart to causal or potential gamblers, it's that if you're playing against the house, you are eventually going to lose. That's a scientific, mathematical fact. It's not even up for dispute. The odds are in favor of the house for every single game it contains. Poker,on the other hand, is a different phenomenon. You're not playing against the house with predetermined odds, you're playing against other individuals. Make no mistake, it still boils down to getting the right cards but there is also a huge human factor to the game that allows for a broad range of skills to be put to use that can't be used in a casino.

Unfortunately, World Poker Tour on the GBA does not feature flawless human interaction. It's merely simulated and not very well at that. One of the main skills that a poker player can acquire is psychology. Knowing how to read the other player and psyching him or her out. These are called "tells" and "bluffs," respectively. By using psychology, a skilled player can circumnavigate his way through the game without great cards. Due to the aggressive nature of the AI in this game you won't be able to put these skills to use. Nor will you be able to develop them. You will have players call you with cards that they should have folded on before the flop. This is not realistic poker.

Casual gamers will get some enjoyment out of the game but the lack of depth puts it in the "novelty" category. Experienced gamblers might get an hour out of it before they start twitching for some real action.

I don't have to go through the rules of the games, there are some handy tutorials available on all games, though they aren't interactive which is a bit of a bummer. First of all I should address the price of this game. At twenty bucks you can't really expect much and you don't really get much. At best this game will introduce you to the various poker games such as Omaha, Pineapple, Double Flop Hold 'Em, Super Hold 'Em, Billabong, Tahoe and Shanghai. But it's undoubtedly Texas Hold 'Em that is the star of the show and you'll be able to take part in a simulated tournament like you see on TV.

Career mode simulates a pro's progress through the dog-eat-dog world of tournament poker. Create your character and set him loose on the felt. The opponents get tougher as you climb the ranks. The more games you win, the better locations you will play in and the more money you will amass. This can be displayed by outfitting your character with various bling bling accessories. A variety of game styles are available including quick draw, satellite and casino.

If anything, World Tour Poker is easy to play. The interface couldn't be more accessible and I give the developers credit for making this painless. The graphics and sound effects are at a minimum which is acceptable except that there's no way to gauge a player's emotions. There are just some things that can't be properly simulated in a videogame.

As I've said in other poker reviews, you can download programs and play online for free, against real players. And the best part is that you don't have to play for real money. But if portability is an issue then you might want to ante up for a copy of World Tour Poker.

System: GBA
Dev: 2K Games
Pub: 2K Games
Release: Oct 2005
Players: 1
Review by Cole
RATING (OUT OF 5)
OVERALL
3.0
GRAPHICS
2.5
CONTROL
3.5
MUSIC/FX
2.0
VALUE
2.5