World Poker Tour: Hold 'Em Showdown

Lady Gaga wasn't lying – poker really is all about managing your facial expressions.

It's something I tried to school into myself during a recent tournament with friends, taking to winking at my fellow players every time I sneaked a look at my hand.

Sadly for me, it didn't result in my rivals buying my bluff, but rather scored me an unwanted date with 'Big Barry', recently released from prison and looking for a new bunkmate.

World Poker Tour: Hold 'Em Showdown naturally can't convey the thrill – or, in my case, pure fear – that results from playing a poker face in the middle of a game, but it does come with one element most of its competitors are lacking: sound.

Happy talk

It's amazing how the mere addition of speech – delivered via the shortest of audio samples detailing each player's next move - lifts the experience as a whole. Coupled with some excellent presentation, it's clear World Poker Tour: Hold 'Em Showdown is no cheap card game cash in.

It doesn't, however, stray too far from the path, offering what is a standard rule-set during play.

Games are available either as one off contests – Los Angeles, Las Vegas, Atlantic City, New York, San Francisco, Bahamas, and Paris the venues on offer – or via full on tournaments.

After you've chosen your seat (or, more specifically, where you fit in in the order or play), players begin to make their moves, your own options brought up by a simple mini-menu in the bottom left of the screen.

With your own 'hole' cards already on the table, the additional 'community' cards all players have to work with then start to build – the flop, the turn, and the river cards all detailed by further commentary-like sound clips – before the final showdown reveals everyone's respective hands.

People power

What makes World Poker Tour: Hold 'Em Showdown truly engaging, however, is the ability to lead rival players down the garden path during the midst of all this.

The reactions to your moves are often genuinely unique from one character to the next, some responding in kind to any aggressive moves you make, others preferring to steadily bet their winnings away step by step, almost without realising it.

The real challenge comes from trying to crack the players intent on folding whenever play gets heated, and – with up to seven AI controlled characters sat at each table – this is a task that will likely bring you back to World Poker Tour: Hold 'Em Showdown time and again.

Indeed, it all adds to what is undoubtedly what is one of the most believable hold 'em sims on mobile to date. World Poker Tour: Texas Hold 'Em Showdown might not be able to replace a real life contest, but it certainly injects a much needed dose of personality into the mobile mould.

World Poker Tour: Hold 'Em Showdown

A smart, sophisticated Hold 'Em package, World Poker Tour raises the bar when it comes to simulating the ins and outs of poker play
Keith Andrew
Keith Andrew
With a fine eye for detail, Keith Andrew is fuelled by strong coffee, Kylie Minogue and the shapely curve of a san serif font. He's also Pocket Gamer's resident football gaming expert and, thanks to his work on, monitors the market share of all mobile OSes on a daily basis.