A Quick Review of 4 Modern Video Games with Poker Mini-games
Plus one game that should have had a poker mini-game but didn’t…
Mini-games have become an indelible part of modern video games. There are many different types that share the same mini-game banner, from beating up a car in Street Fighter II to fishing for items in Torchlight II. Poker seems to be a particularly popular variant because it’s an exciting game in itself. To quote poker legend, Mike Sexton, “The name of the game is No Limit Texas Hold’em, the game that takes a minute to learn but a lifetime to master.” Here’s a quick look at a few games that include a poker mini-game.
Red Dead Redemption
This mini-game is straight up Texas Hold’em. The poker mini-game is a mix of cash games and tournaments and can be played at various locations, each with their own buy in costs. It looks like a pretty fair recreation of what a poker game would be like in the Wild West. Red Dead Redemption protagonist John Marston can even cheat at the game provided he has the right equipment. You can gather up your buddies and play it in multiplayer mode via the Liars and Cheats DLC pack.
Dead or Alive: Xtreme Beach Volleyball
There’s also a poker mini-game in what is basically one big mini-game for the Dead or Alive fighting game franchise. This time, the game is five-card draw. This game was released at the tail-end of the poker boom, which makes the choice to include five card draw a bit strange. Texas Hold’em was riding high in those days, after all. Apart from that there’s nothing much to say, except that the cards are quite lovely.
The poker mini-game in The Witcher and its sequel is particularly noteworthy since it forgoes cards for dice. Each player gets and rolls a set of five dice. After both players roll and ante up, they can choose to reroll any number of their own dice. The objective is to roll the strongest hand in two out of three hands. The hands are basically the same as regular poker, except it’s possible to get five-of-a-kind. Out of the games listed here, this takes the most interesting approach, although the side quest associated with dice poker can get hair-tearingly frustrating.
Far Cry 3
Jason Brody can participate in a number of backroom poker games when he’s not out helping the Rakyat on Rook Island. Similar to Red Dead Redemption, the mini-game in Far Cry 3 is Texas Hold’em. There are four difficulty levels ranging from practice games to expert level. Note that you can’t win any money from a practice game. Don’t write it off as just a mini-game, though. It becomes important later on in the game.
Special mention – Fallout: New Vegas
What’s a game set in a post-apocalyptic Vegas without its own brand of poker? Well, play Fallout: New Vegas and find out. It has blackjack and a blackjack-based card game called Caravan, but no poker. This is a bit strange, especially if you take the many poker-themed collectibles released to promote the game. At least you can play with your friends using the Collector’s Edition and Vault-Boy decks and the super-limited collectible Dead Money poker chip set.