When we think of the best games to play on consoles, poker usually doesn’t come to mind. Indeed, statistics show that (as of 2018) the most popular video game genres are action, shooter, role-playing, sport, and adventure. And for the most part, popular console activity reflects these statistics; these categories cover a vast majority of mainstream games.
At the same time, however, we know that as its own branch of the gaming world, online poker is extraordinarily popular. Recent data suggest that some 60 million people are playing in the U.S. alone. And of roughly 19 million estimated online gamblers in Canada, reports from the gaming industry and Canadian Gaming Association indicate that 59% play online poker.
Given these numbers, you’d expect poker to have a more prominent place in console gaming. As it turns out, however, despite a relative lack of publicity for such games, there are actually some excellent opportunities to play poker on PlayStation and Xbox devices. Below, we’ll look at four games, in particular, that should satisfy poker fans.
Pure Hold’em offers perhaps the most satisfying solution to the perceived lack of console poker games. It came out in 2015 for Xbox and PlayStation devices and provides a poker experience that is both visually beautiful and satisfyingly simple. As one review put it, Pure Hold’em does nothing more than try to deliver a “simple but solid round” of Texas Hold’em. In other words, it’s not overly concerned (as so many poker games are) with distracting graphics, ads, special features, and so on. You just log in, start with 1,000 chips, and start playing –– either against an AI or against live players online.
Available for Xbox, PlayStation, and Windows devices, Prominence Poker takes the opposite approach to Pure Hold’em. It’s not that the poker mechanics aren’t sound, nor that the game doesn’t look good. But Prominence is built largely on extra features and elements. Surrounding the core Texas Hold’em play is a sort of vaguely Grand Theft Auto-like criminal underworld, which you essentially navigate with your play. The goal is to build your “rep” and “prestige” as you play against increasingly tough criminal factions –– and ultimately “The Mayor,” who runs the shady town of Prominence. All of this makes for more of a complete video game, and the sense of atmosphere is actually a lot of fun, for those who want it. Additionally, once you’re done with the solo missions, there are online games and tournaments to enjoy.
Pokerist Texas Hold’em
Pokerist is best known as a social poker game for iOS and Android users. Accordingly, one write-up on the best poker apps specifically praised it for being one that “lets friends connect” no matter where they’re located –– as well as for having top-tier graphics and for facilitating extensive just-for-fun gameplay. While these features first helped the game to prominence in app form though, Pokerist is now available on PlayStation as well. On this platform, it functions as a robust online poker option, wherein you can enter tournaments, connect with your friends, and chat with other players (through your unique character avatar). And as a sort of added bonus, there are also a bunch of other little casino games you can play, from craps to slots (earning yourself in-game cash and chips as you go).
Red Dead Redemption 2
Finally, there’s Red Dead Redemption 2 –– a beloved console title we’ve reviewed in the past. This title is primarily an action-adventure epic set in the American West. Within the game however, there is extensive poker content that fans of the game will appreciate. Through your character, you can visit five separate locations (as well as camps) where you can sit down and play Texas Hold’em. The games aren’t too lucrative ($5 and $10 buy-ins), but they nevertheless make for a fun way to earn some extra cash for your in-game needs. The Hold’em mechanics are solid, and there’s just something fitting about playing cards (either against AI or opponents in Red Dead Online) in the Old West setting.
As you can see, there are more quality poker options on major consoles than you might expect!