The game of poker has been revolutionised by the internet. Once the preserve of steely eyed pros, online poker games have lead to every Tom Dick and Harry getting in on the act. Take on Sue the housewife from Croydon nowadays and you'll be lucky to go home with the shirt on your back.
Perhaps fittingly, then, Gameloft has looked to the internet to give its new N-Gage poker title a boost. Which is a good job, because otherwise this is the same Java game that we reviewed more than 18 months ago.
As then, the single player mode sees you working your way up the poker pecking order, the stakes increasing as you progress. Along the way you'll receive tips from Gus Hansen, the Danish Poker whiz who lends his name to the game, though as you also play against him I think there's a slight conflict of interests there. Maybe the whole 'bluffing' thing's making me paranoid.
Control is very simply handled via a context-sensitive icon at the bottom left of the screen, each command corresponding to a direction on the thumb-pad. A stab of 'A' lets you peek at your hand.
While the AI can prove a little dopey, it does throw the odd surprise in here and there. You can often bully the computer into submission by some freakishly heavy bets, but occasionally it'll call your bluff and clean you out. It's nice to be kept on your toes, and it makes for a slightly more realistic game.
Still, if you want the real deal you'll have to venture online, which the game allows through the N-Gage Arena. Provided you can find a game, it's an excellent feature, and it certainly goes a little way towards making up for that lack of improvements elsewhere.
You see, Million Dollar Poker mostly falls into the trap that World Series of Poker did - the heinous (but all-too-common) crime of a lazy java port. The online element bumps it up a notch from that effort, and if that's the main thing you demand from your N-Gage games you can probably add an extra point to the score.
As a package, Million Dollar Poker sits somewhere between World Series and Cafe Hold 'em. With the considerable sweetener of online play, though, it's well worthy of consideration for any sociable poker fan.