There are a lot of poker games out there in the wild. When I first downloaded Fresh Deck Poker, I thought to myself, just another online poker platform. This is far from the case. With over a million downloads from the Google Play Store, Fresh Deck Poker, by Idle Games is a social, graphically stunning, multimedia experience. The only thing missing is the cigar smoke rising in the room. Also, the wonderful thing about the game is it’s free, so no need to mortgage the house.
Although the game tries in various ways to get you to pay real money, such as customizing your avatar, or acquiring a lot of money to play, the game can be played completely without ponying up from your piggy bank. You can also pick an avatar based on your level in the game from tokens you have accumulated. If you don’t pick an avatar, you start off with this pink Android looking creature. Admittedly the pink happy Android does look a little out of place with the more savory looking Avatars, but it’s nice to experience the satisfaction of getting a real cool avatar after getting a few matches under your belt.
Playing the Game
Game play is Texas hold’em style and you can stay at the table as long as you like. Even if someone leaves the table, the game server will just push another player into the game. When you first start, you enter the game with 5000 dollars. Not bad for a day’s work! You then proceed to play with the other live players at the table. Game play is controlled by the server, when it comes your turn, you have a finite amount of time to check, bid, raise, or fold. The game will also pre-prompt you, just in case you already know what you want to do before it gets to your turn, which speeds up gameplay for everyone.
When it comes your turn, you can choose to bid. Bidding is accomplished with a slider control that figures out an amount to bid based on the percentage that the slider moves. I actually found the slider a bit cumbersome once I had a large accumulated a large stash, for example over 100000 dollars. In fact, by the time I managed to slide to the amount I wanted to bid, sometimes I would be kicked out of the game for taking too long. Although, I suspect they are encouraging you to bid big (perhaps to end the game) I had wished there was a keypad option to just enter my bid, or perhaps a fine control option on the slider.
As far as graphic design, animation and other user experience, the game is fantastic. Large buttons make it easy to not fat finger your move, and all the amounts are clearly marked, both on the table and at the bottom of the screen inside the buttons. Everyone’s playable dollars are clearly marked above their avatars heads, so you know what you’re dealing with in capital advantage. Sounds affects also serve as useful prompts.
As you play, you find that you level up for different achievements in the game. Higher levels give you access to newer avatars and perhaps better players. Since you are not playing with real live dollar bills, you can experiment with strategy in the game, both with bluffing and bet sizing. Of course there is a tendency for some players to continuously force you to drain your stash since they have such large winnings to start with and they really have nothing to lose. But the great thing is, you can get lucky and increase your own capital holdings with better hands and better strategies.
Also a nice feature in the game, is the slow players only have a certain amount of time to react before they are pulled out of the game, so you are not stuck waiting for people at the table to react.
The game has a chat feature that lets you trash talk at the table, while your cigar is burning to a small ember. I’m not sure there is any moderation, but I found my experience to be polite. Also, it was kind of cool to see some chat messages show up in other languages. Although Fresh Deck Poker is multicultural, the motivations of the game remain the same for everyone and that is take the other guy’s(or gal’s) money.
If you are an avid poker player, as I am, you will quickly get hooked by Fresh Deck Poker. When I was done playing for the first time, I found that I’d stayed up until 3:00 in the morning wondering where the heck the time went. Of course if I was playing poker in a real casino, since there is no clock, I probably would have kept going until I collapsed or went broke, whichever happened first.