Are you desperate to get a holiday gift this year for that poker buff you know and love? Well, several tech companies are giving you new options this year.
Firstly, our friends at WPT enterprises have lent their name to their first video game. World Poker Tour TV Games is a stand-alone game that plugs directly into your television, and does not require any other hardware to work. This game comes with a 45-minute World Poker Tour DVD tutorial hosted by Lou Diamond Phillips. The unit retails for $25, and has several play modes, including ones that simulate a home game, a satellite, and a WPT event. Players can play against each other, but must pass the console each time it is their turn to act, and hope their opponent hasn't "accidentally" hit the button to reveal his opponents cards.
For a more fully developed video game experience, Crave Entertainment offers up its "World Championship Poker" for PS2, and Xbox. The Xbox version offers online play complete with leaderboards, and a community of players to compete against, live. One unique feature of the game is its use of the "EyeToy" technology, which actually allows users to see the reactions of the other player sitting in their living room (both users need Eyetoy hardware to make this work). One wonders if that feature will ever make its way to proper online play? Do we really need to see each other in our underwear?
Finally, the people at Bicycle offer up "Casino-Texas Holdem". This is a very base holdem game, with not many frills. One thing that is notable and amusing about this game is the players ability to earn "comps" for frequent play. So, after playing for 5 hours, you can have a hot dog sitting next to your character as you play. As with any simulation program, the play is not very challenging, save for the true beginning player. This package includes dozens of other casino games, so if you need to get your "Caribbean Stud" fix, this may be your answer.
While these games provide some entertainment value, as well as some competition, one must ask - Is there a market for these games when you can essentially get the same experience for free on dozens of online gaming sites? I suppose there are people out there who would feel less threatened by a video game on Xbox than they would by playing online, even if the games are free. Also, no PC is needed to play any of these games. Still, one must wonder if games like these can thrive with so many options available to play real poker against real people for free. Only time will tell.