Tom Pinone
1985
Gambling: Games
£5.95
English
ZX Spectrum 48K
Undetermined

38
Chris Bourne

Not one of the great social arts, Poker, but you never know where the skill could come in handy. If nothing else, this program could help you to understand all the odd phrases that punctuate the gun fights in Westerns.

Judging by the characters that loin you at the gaming table Ducksoft's Poker is set in a very sleazy Western bar. One of the major elements of Poker, the card game, is the power of bluff, by which you fool everybody else into thinking that the hand you hold is better, or worse, than they expect it to be. Duckworth's version of poker introduces an element of bluff, as each character gets a short say while he does the business.

The game begins by asking you to input your name. Next, you are introduced to the rest of the card school. Matt Dillon, The Mayor, Black Jake and on this side we've got Billy the Kid, Doc Holliday and Joshua Smith. Molly the barmaid seems to have a soft spot for you because if you are ever stuck, and have no idea how to play your hand, you can always ask her for some advice. As you make your way past Scott Joplin at the piano try and read the page of instructions, when they aren't looking, otherwise you won't fool any of them. Put your thousand bucks stake on the table and sit down.

Black Jake deals first; he places your cards in front of you and stacks the others underneath the row of names at the top of the screen (don't be fooled by the guy's courtesy). It you like, you can get the cards sorted into order and if you can't remember what to do you can get another peek at the rules. Watch carefully now as each player takes his turn to raise the stake, to see or to fold. Because you are only a beginner you can ask Moll for a tip.

When you have made your choice, look each of the other players right in the eyes as they make up their own minds. Watch Holliday whenever he asks for a beer that means he's going to raise the stake. You can see the value of each player 's bet on top of his pile of cards. 'Black Jake says rubbish and throws in his hand' ... 'the Mayor checks his gun and raises'. If you stay in you get a chance to swap up to three cards, and if you aren't sure, just ask Moll and she'll help ya. You keep raising the pot until it's just you and Smith. You have two pairs. Queens and eights. You're ready to go all the way. When the pot reaches 180 bucks...

Smith sees you and guess what? He pulls out a pair of Kings and a pair of Tens, he wasn't bluffing after all. You started with 1000 dollars and you're 80 bucks down already. But you can see the boys' loot on the table you're not the only one to have lost an opening round. Sit back and watch the Doc deal another hand.

CRITICISM

'As the room fills with smoke and the Doc deals again I wonder, I have just fifty bucks left, can I stay in the game or should get Moll a drink? My first thought when I saw this game was, 'Oh not another Poker game', but I have to admit that this one is quite good. The graphics leave a little to be desired. The sound isn't too bad - nice rendition of 'The Entertainer' after each hand. I like the idea of trying to build up a personality for each of the players by giving them a few lines to say. I can' t help thinking that 1000 dollars is a bit too much to start with - it's harder to get rid of than you would expect, though I enjoyed trying!'

'Can't say that I go for simulated card games a great deal but l think this one isn't too bad at all. The text output from the other players is a neat idea but the problem is that one tends to spend a lot of time waiting for them to repeat phrases and fit into a pattern, which of course they do. The main display was a bit un-stimulating, the cards look fine but everything else just looks so clinical. I had never understood poker but now I think I can come to terms with a poker player or two. Interesting.

'This is one of the best of the many poker simulations that I have seen. There is a helpful barmaid who will advise you whether it is good advice or not is for you to decide. The screen display as well as showing you your cards, reveals the current rate of betting and how much money your competitors have. All the rules of poker are followed (so I'm told... Me?... know the rules of Poker- never) so it is quite playable if you like this sort of game.'

COMMENTS
Control keys: as prompted
Joystick: N/A
Keyboard play: N/A
Use of colour: very basic
Graphics: good but they lack excitement
Sound: nice one Scott
Skill levels: N/A
Lives: N/A
Screens: N/A
General Rating: A very god version of a well tried game.

60%
55%
67%
70%
65%
58%
63%

Screenshot Text

You against six, in the POKER card school. Don't try and cheat in this version, 'cos the guys round the table have all got guns. Fortunately all people shoot off hereabouts, pardner, is their mouths.