I like poker! Actually scratch that, I love poker and specifically No Limit Texas Hold’em. For me it is the perfect mix of strategic play, learning statistics and getting into somebodies head psychologically. When I was taught to play, I was told it is rarely about the cards, but more about the personalities on the table.
So when I got a chance to get on to Pure Hold’em from VooFoo Studios I was happy to see how they handled this noble game.
In terms of presentation, mechanics and the like, it is extremely well done, it looks lovely and the idea of placing you at the table, whilst not new, does a great job of immersing you into the game. You can style the cards and table to your heart’s content and the game moves at a really good pace.
In fact, there is nothing technically I can find wrong with it, you have a mix of pickup games and tournaments, that mix in an XP system that lets you earn credits to play with. As a simple poker simulator I can recommend it.
This is a solid game and VooFoo Studios can add another successful simulation to their repertoire, along with Pure Pool, Pure Chess and Backgammon Blitz. They have proven themselves master of the table game and I hope to see more in the future…Pure Draughts anyone? No? Just me then!
But here I have a major problem with Pure Hold’em and let me reiterate, it is nothing to do with the job VooFoo Studios have done, they can hold their heads up high. However, poker does not work as a videogame, it shouldn’t be one because the two main aspects of it are removed in this form.
What makes poker such a fine game, is that there is a huge amount of risk. You buy-in to a game and have real money on the line. This could be at a cash game, where you take in whatever funds you have, or tournament type tables, where you buy in a certain amount and everyone has the same amount of chips at the start.
Both work because you have risked something to play. Personally I stick purely to tournament rules, as I find cash games can often be weighted poorly to those with the bigger funds and less to lose. I made the mistake once of entering a cash table and it destroyed my play style, thus never again.
Anyway, the point is you have a real investment in the game and this just doesn’t come through in games like Pure Hold’em, because nothing is real, there is no real risk, no real investment. Believe me I understand why there cannot be, but for me it is like playing soccer professionally but removing the officials and not bothering keeping score.
Sure there is online poker where real money can be wagered, but again this, whilst having the risk involved, removes the other major element… reading and reacting to real people.
I am not talking just about whether they fold a hand, raise, call, working out if that half pot raise is a ploy, or if that all-in move is one of confidence, or one to get others away from the hand. I am talking about reading your actual opponents.
You see you may only take a single glance at your cards and barely take in what has been put down on the flop, turn and river, because you are working the hand in a different way, you are studying what other players are doing at any one moment, what they have done before, how does that line up with this hand. Does this player always try to make a move from the 4th spot? Or is this new and does that mean he has something?
It can be watching their hands, facial expressions, the way they look at their cards, the way they put chips in, the time they take, how much they talk, or do they go quiet for a reason. You only get all this sat at a live table with real people with something to lose or gain.
I don’t begrudge people who want to play for fun, nor those who want to play online for real, but for me it means that this is but a small fraction of what makes poker…well poker.
It’s a great tool for teaching people how to play, learning hands, the base techniques and such, but this is only for fun and not for poker enthusiasts unfortunately.