Does the world need another mobile poker game? It's a crowded market to say the least, with the most recent impressive titles being Glu's World Series of Poker Pro Challenge and Hands-On's multiplayer World Poker Tour Texas Hold'Em 2.
Any publisher wanting to get in on the action has a tough challenge on their hands. However, Digital Chocolate is relying on its Cafe connectivity to do the job for Cafe Hold 'Em Poker.
While it doesn't necessarily offer much new in actual gameplay, if you already own one of the previous Cafe games, there's a strong incentive to make this your poker title of choice, so as to keep on earning points and showing off trophies in your virtual cafe.
As ever, we won't go into the minute details of how Cafe works here, since you can read that in our Cafe Solitaire review. Suffice to say, it revolves around creating an avatar character, and then playing various casual games, earning new items for your avatar to wear, while also signing friends up to play in your virtual establishment.
Key to the Cafe concept are the trophies you can win in each game, and then show off to virtual visitors. For Cafe Hold 'Em Poker, there are three to pursue.
You get the Poker Masters trophy for winning the Career mode's Poker Masters tournament, while the Poker Rounder trophy comes from playing five Hot Seat games (we'll explain these in a minute). Finally, if you earn a whopping 50,000 points playing the game, you become the proud owner of the Poker High Roller trophy.
That's the connected aspects dealt with, so how about the game? Well, Cafe Hold 'Em Poker ties in really well visually with the overall Cafe concept, since it uses the same isometric viewpoint and avatars as the main cafes do. Players sit round a table, with the cards overlaid on top in a clear and neat way.
As a side-note, you might expect Cafe Hold 'Em Poker to be a full multiplayer game, enabling you to play against real people and their avatars. It's not, though: the connectivity extends only as far as seeing how your poker points total compares to other players via the Online Scores option.
Anyway, there are three game modes here. Instant Play pitches you straight into a poker game, where you to set the buy-in, number of players, difficulty and format (e.g. No Limit, Fixed Limit or Pot Limit).
Meanwhile, Hot Seat mode enables you to play against friends by passing your handset around. We're not entirely sure this works for poker, as we much prefer being able to see our cards and chips at all times. Still, the incentive to play it comes from that Poker Rounder trophy (although you could just play against yourself, presumably).
The best mode is the Career Mode, though, which keeps a running total of your winnings as you play in five tournaments of increasing difficulty, leading up to the Poker Masters. Once you've beaten that, you unlock a Cash Game Tables section, where you get to challenge your virtual rivals in the game's Ranking Table.
There's certainly plenty of depth to it, although in the earlier tournaments we found the virtual players relatively easy to read and then outplay. We stand by our acclamation of World Poker Tour Texas Hold'Em 2's multiplayer thrills, but if you're already immersed in Digital Chocolate's Cafe world, Cafe Hold 'Em Poker is a top-notch title.