Poker is a game of luck - everyone knows this. You can’t skilfully get the dealer to hand you a pair of bullets every round, or strategically manoeuvre your chair so that you don’t ever pay the blinds - you just play the cards you get.
Yet, despite this, there’s still a few on the professional circuit that can seemingly get the better of lady luck time and time again.
No one knows this better than ‘The Poker Brat’ Phil Hellmuth - 11 times winner of the Poker World Tour, Poker Hall of Fame inductee, and notoriously combative competitor prone to smack-talking and mocking his less-skilled opponents.
It’s ironic then that the game that bears his name feels subdued in comparison to the competition.Raise 'em
The aim of High Stakes, as with all Poker games on mobile, is to rise up the ranks, winning big money tournaments by bluffing, baiting, folding, and raising your opponents.
The game is laid out a lot like an online Texas Hold ‘em tournament poker table, in that the competitors you’ll be playing against are represented by player icons, have numbers at the end of their names, and look a bit drab and emotionless.
This internet-style feel to the game carries through to play itself, with competitors often invoking the dreaded countdown timer as they think about their next move.
These pauses in the action can be partially skipped by using the left soft key, but the game still moves at a slow pace compared to rivals, even when ‘skipping’ AI turns.Hold 'em
One aspect that other poker games should take note of, however, is how High Stakes handles making your own decisions.
Instead of a menu or fiddling around trying to get the exact bet you want, High Stakes uses an intuitive directional system, so hitting up on the joystick or ’2’ on the keypad instigates a bet, while down or '8' folds.
It’s a shame you can’t line up your moves in advance of your turn, especially as you’ll have plenty of time to do so given the pace, but in general it’s a far more direct way of making your choice.You tell 'em
Along with the 10 tournaments on offer, High Stakes also offers up a Coaching mode with a virtual representation of the man himself.
While the odds calculator is always a fairly interesting thing to learn, Phil’s frank contributions won’t be much use to those who’ve played a fair few hands in the past.
It’s quite fun learning a few more of the terms for hands (5-10 being Woolworths, fact fans), but if you already know about position play and bluff calls, then there’s not much here for you.
Phil Hellmuth’s High Stakes Hold 'Em is certainly not a bad poker game - the AI opponents are decently varied in their play, and the option of learning a bit more about the game will no doubt appeal to beginners - but a little more glamour, pace, and variety is needed to win the ultimate prize.