Review: World Poker Tour (Game Boy Advance)

In this review, we shuffle up and deal in the Game Boy Advance game World Poker Tour. We find out how well this gambling game plays.

This game was released in 2005. It is one of a number of Poker related games on the system.

The game doesn’t have much in the way of story other than that it is based off of the real life poker tournament event, the World Poker Tour.

Once you fill out your name, you have a few options available for you. You can enter a quick draw game, play in a cash game, try your hand at a satellite tournament, of jump right into the action in the main tournament mode.

Quick draw is just a single table event. Most of them are free, though you only get cash by eliminating every other opponent. On top of it all, bankroll payouts are quite small.

The upshot here is that there is little risk, so you can get a feel for how the AI plays. On top of it all, you have four different game modes. You have the classic No Limit Hold ’em, Limit Hold ’em, Crazy Pineapple, and Omaha High.

No Limit Texas Hold ’em features blinds. From there, players get two cards each (hole cards). A round of betting follows suit. From there, a flop of three community cards is shown. Players can use none, one, or both of their hole cards to complete the best five card hand possible. A round of betting ensues. From there, a turn card is revealed. An additional round of betting ensues. Finally, a river card is revealed. This follows a final round of betting. Best five card hand wins.

Players can bet as much as they like or fold (hence “no limit”).

Pot limit operates just like no limit, only bet sizes are limited. This slows down the busting out of players, but also tends to limit how big the pots get.

Crazy Pineapple is an interesting variation of Hold ’em. Players are dealt three hole cards instead of two. The caveat is that, before the turn, players must discard one of their hole cards before continuing. After that, the game operates just like Hold ’em.

Omaha high is a much more common variation of poker. Players are dealt four hole cards. The thing to remember is that two hole cards must be used to complete a poker hand. The rules can allow players to misread their hand more often, but bigger hands are more than possible given that players have more options available to them with twice as many hole cards.

Cash games (under the name “Casino”) are just like poker competitions. The only difference is that players can leave at any time and keep whatever they happen to have. This is generally an interesting way to build up a little bank roll if you happen to run a little low. All four poker games are available in Casino mode/cash games.

Satellite tournaments are basically smaller versions of no limit Hold ’em tournaments. The thing to remember is that the only game available is No Limit Hold ’em. Entry fees are smaller, but bank roll rewards are bigger. Great for filling in bank roll gaps to get into main tournaments.

Finally, the career tournaments mode is the main mode. Initially, you simply go from tournament to tournament as the calendar progresses. If a player does well, they can earn a large amount of bank roll. Additionally, high place finishes will also earn Player of the Year points. If you make it to the end of the season with the most Player of the Year points, you basically win the game and unlock all tournaments for you to play again at ant time. Just remember that the entry fees are generally high compared to other modes, so you can lose a fair bit of bank roll if you’re not careful.

Satellite and main tournaments are multi-table tournaments. Like every other game mode, you play six handed. As players get eliminated at your table, other players from elsewhere in the tournament fill in the gaps and play continues. Aim for a high place finish. While winning a tournament is quite nice, sometimes, just making it into the final table generally ends up being a successful accomplishment as well.

General strategy to keep in mind here is that it can be tricky to bluff players off of hands. Especially early on, players may end up calling you with nothing as well. So, you have to keep in mind what you can beat at showdown. Players moving all-in with 8 4 offsuit without connecting happens. The problem is that players can also move all-in with pocket kings pre-flop as well. So, the standard land-mine dodging applies here.

Also, making final tables means you unlock various celebrities – some more well known than others.

Generally, this game is a bit easier than most poker games I’ve played. I don’t know if there are mechanisms in place to make sure you have a good shot at a final table, but I know I’ve hit ruts while playing conservatively only to suddenly get a hot streak, score much-needed double-ups, and climb all the way to the table chip leader. As long as you don’t make bad calls like calling an all-in with a pair of deuces on the river with flush and straight possibilities on the board, you’ll probably do fine, really.

I think it would have been nice to have more than no limit hold ’em tournaments available in the game. It is nice that a few other games were included in the game, but they end up being just small distractions to the main tournament. I’ve personally never played Crazy Pineapple before this game, but it was an interesting variation to poker in general.

My big problem with this game is the betting system. You either hold up or down while betting. Heaven forbid that you choose to move all-in late in a major tournament. It is actually impossible sometimes to do that because you won’t reach that option while holding up before time expires. If it was more like Vegas Stakes where you could at least move a selector around on the digits, it would have made a world of difference. As it stood in the game, it is heavily flawed and poorly thought out. It only works early on in tournaments.

Additionally, the games ability to figure out what is and isn’t split pots isn’t perfect. Sometimes, I’m not complaining about a buggy system. Other times, I’m annoyed at it. It seems to revolve around the third highest card in the hand. If the top two high cards are technically a tie, then the game assumes it’s a split pot. At least, I think that is the problem because split pots didn’t come around often enough for me to notice a distinct enough pattern.

Still, it’s not a bad poker game. I’ve certainly played worse out there. While the inclusion of different games is nice to see, they were confined to small events and distractions to the game. The game focuses heavily on no limit hold ’em. A serious flaw is the betting system as well. Also, split pots seem to be a bit buggy. So, while an interesting poker game, it’s not exactly perfect.

Graphically, this game is a bit hit and miss. The chips while betting just look like bizarre lines. Also, if you win a tournament, one of the characters heads look weirdly shrunken for some reason. Otherwise, the cartoon characters don’t look bad. The inclusion of the occasional pictures was a nice touch as well. Special effects, though, are very basic. In my view, the menu’s could have been a bit better as well. So, an alright effort, though not particularly amazing.

Audio, unfortunately, it a bit lacking in this game. The main problem with the audio is the music. Every time there is an all-in and call, there is a short track that plays. This single track is all you’ll really hear for the most part save for the menu music. Although it’s actually quite good, the fact that its one of the only tracks you hear does make for some repetitive play. Sound effects are OK.

The commentary is OK, but they do get a bit too excited over just about every hand. I’ve heard them get excited over hands like 9 3 off, 10 7 off, and 10 5 off – hands you really should muck under most circumstances. The commentary does break things up a bit, but I think they get a bit too excited over some of the junkiest hands.

Overall, if it’s poker you want, it’s poker you get. I you are a huge fan of no limit hold ’em, this game has that in spades. AI is definitely a little easier, so it is a bit more friendlier to players newer to the card game. Unfortunately, the betting system is almost fatally flawed. While a few other poker variations are available, they are confined to small corners of the game. Graphics are OK, but audio is a bit hit and miss. So, it’s a reasonable game, but it does have its flaws.

Furthest point in the game: completed a season and earned over $200,000 in bank roll.

General gameplay: 19/25
Replay value: 7/10
Graphics: 7/10
Audio: 3/5

Overall rating: 72%

Drew Wilson on Twitter: @icecube85 and Facebook.

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