Poker is famously known as a game where the success rate depends approximately 20% on the cards you get and 80% on your skill at mind games. Being able to get into your opponents' heads and read their habits has been touted as the pinnacle of poker experience and the dividing line between a casual and a pro. In Poker Club, the world’s most famous card game goes from the cassinos to the Nintendo Switch, putting the barriers of distance and technology once again between players.
The Good - Let’s start with a small blind
To a novice, poker can seem pretty daunting with all the rules and intricate strategies, not to mention having to memorise which hands are great and which ones are less than stellar. A big strength of Poker Club is how easy it is to always have access to the information you need at any point through the helpful UI. It’s fairly easy to just hop into a table and start playing, taking small breaks to familiarise yourself with some of the rules as you play.
And speaking of tables, Poker Club also takes the time to give some pizzazz to the play. Card games aren’t exactly visual spectacles and Poker Club is definitely not winning any awards for best graphics, but the given background context of playing high stakes poker in a hidden club, a high end cassino or the back room of a rundown pizzeria in the single-player campaign certainly helps one get into the mindset of rising through the ranks and making it big through their skills. The ambitious 200+ player tournaments that can be hosted on the online modes also have their own sense of grandeur. Who doesn’t want to be a grand champion and make out like a bandit with millions in poker chips?
Among single-player and big tournaments, there are plenty of other ways to play poker within the game. There are multiple variations of the card game in real life and Poker Club attempts to tackle plenty of different ways to play poker - specifically, Texas Hold’em variations - giving players more than enough opportunity to explore the possibilities of the card game.
- Clear guides for novice players
- Fun context to games
- Plenty of game options
The Bad - Is there grime on this table?
As said before though, poker is a game about mind games. It’s not as if Poker Club is the first iteration of the game to be played online but it bears knowing that the aspect of managing to profile and read your opponents is very much different through the Nintendo Switch than at a physical table. The very few tells possible to be transferred through the game are quite limited to what can be shown through online play: you can see how often your opponents check their cards and how long they take to make their decisions. And of course, sometimes things, such as latency and lag, can throw off someone’s perception of other players. You will be able to learn the mechanical rules of the game - but the interpersonal skills will not be transferred elsewhere and there’s really nothing that Poker Club offers to make up for the lack of certain aspects of social play; often times, there is just the feeling that there is something missing that’s not provided. Certainly not the serviceable but otherwise lackluster and oftentimes ugly graphics for player avatars.
Poker Club is also an entirely online experience. It’s impossible to play on the road or in a flight since you always need to be able to “Connect to the casino”, as it were, which is a shame as a quick game of poker anywhere would be great practice even with the somewhat clunky online functionalities. And after all - isn’t being able to play at any point the entire point of the design of the Nintendo Switch, and handheld consoles in general? The player is not even allowed to play the single-player mode without internet connectivity which makes it very clear where the folks at Ripstone were placing their chips.
- Lack of interpersonal aspects
- Lackluster, often ugly graphics
- No offline options, ever
Final Score: 6/10
Overall, it’s...it’s fine. Poker Club is definitely not the ultimate way to play poker virtually as I certainly feel like there’s much more to the card game than is being explored here but to a novice, it will serve as a more than satisfactory introduction and even make for some addicting hours as one finds their footing among the cards before they find another way into the big leagues. It’s worth it as a dip in the pool and for the occasional practice rounds into different game modes, or even for casual games with friends, but the stakes are certainly higher on other tables. Fold!
Thank you for checking out our Poker Club Switch review, thank you to Ripstone Games (Plan of Attack PR) for providing the review code and thank you to our $5 and up Patreon Backers for their ongoing support: