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World Series of Poker: Tournament of Champions Review

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Developer: Activision Publisher: Activision
Release Date: September 19, 2006 Also On: PC, PS2, Xbox and Xbox 360

My interest in poker dates back many years. While I’m only 18, I’ve been exposed to the game since my early childhood. My dad often held poker games at our house on Saturday nights and I would often end up downstairs, watching them play. Just like I soaked up video games and chess, I quickly learned the basics of the game. I wasn’t the best at betting, but I remember one night filling in for my dad when I was seven or so years old and managed to win a few bucks for him. Now that I’m old enough to hold a credit card, I’ve been playing on some of the free poker sites just to gain experience. I don’t have much of a background with poker video games, but I thought I would give World Series of Poker: Tournament of Champions a try.

I’m not going to give this a real lengthy review, because this is a poker video game afterall, but I’ll cover what I need to. World Series of Poker provides all of the bells and whistles that a poker video game should have on a console on a handheld platform. I’ve seen a lot worse from poker games before and they’re comparatively the same price. The fact that a poker game is in your hands instead of on the television screen though is probably the biggest plus. You’re meant to hold the cards in your hand. You get a better illusion of this with a PlayStation Portable versus a PS2 on a television.

The career mode is where you will spend most of your time, if you’re the single-player type or don’t have Wi-Fi. It’s pretty basic fare with an assortment of different tournaments that you enter. There’s not really much to differentiate between the tournaments other than entry fees, pot limit, the number of players, etc. You have three different difficulties to choose from and your main and obvious goal is to win money and win tournaments. If you wade through all of the dealing, betting and whatnot, you’re looking at a long event, otherwise it should take you at least an hour. Overall, plenty of tournaments and the length of each makes the career last a long time.

World Series of Poker is easily the best poker game when it comes to user interface. The menus are sleek and easy to navigate, while the players don’t look as retarded as they do in some other games. For the PlayStation Portable, this is just about what I would expect and it probably outperforms Crave’s World Championship Poker for the PS2. The commentary is decent, but this isn’t a football game either. My biggest complaint about the sound is the coughing that takes place in the room every couple minutes. It tends to get very annoying, so I just turn the volume off.

When it comes to computer AI, World Series of Poker offers a mixed bag. While I have found myself on the losing end of pots due to boneheaded overconfidence, the computer can be downright stupid at times. The computer seems to like to call with a pair quite often, so if you have anything better (3 of a kind or higher), depending on their betting habits, you can usually figure out how good of a hand you’re dealing with. The problem is when they bet with a pair of twos or threes and you think they have you beat and fold with a good hand.

Whether you are a poker veteran or a newcomer to the game, World Series of Poker is a good game to own on your PlayStation Portable. The single-player isn’t all that comprehensive, but the online Wi-Fi multi-player more than makes up for it, which has been lacking in many poker games to date, including on the DS. At $29.99, you couldn’t ask for a more reasonable price on what could easily be the best poker game you will ever play.

Graphics: 8
Sound: 7
Gameplay: 8.5
Creativity: 7
Replay Value/Game Length: 9.5
Final: 8.1
Written by Kyle Review Guide