World Poker Tour: Texas Hold'Em 2 (multiplayer)

Poker is hugely popular on mobile, but here in Europe this popularity is entirely based on playing against mobile-controlled opponents, with the sort of simple AI that's necessary when you're squeezing algorithms into a limited-size Java file.

That's fine for games that you play on the train or sofa to practice your skills, and there have been some slick titles offering a decent challenge along the way (the latest being Glu's head-to-head World Series of Poker Pro Challenge).

But it's not the same as playing against real people. While American mobile gamers have had multiplayer poker titles for a while now, us Europeans have had to look on with envy. However, Hands-On Mobile has just launched a multiplayer version of its World Poker Tour: Texas Hold'Em 2 game with operator 3 UK.

Before we review it, a warning. For the moment, it's only available on 3. The version of WPT2 on other operators is the single-player version, which we reviewed recently. Hopefully this multiplayer one will launch on other operators soon, though.

The multiplayer game looks and feels like the solo version – in fact, its Practice Mode basically is the solo version, with a choice of free play and scenario gameplay. Check the previous review to see how that works, but suffice to say, the game runs smoothly and is fun to play.

But clearly, this version is all about the multiplayer. You can choose an avatar for your character, with the neat option of being able to buy new avatars with your virtual money, ranging from $250 up to $10,000 models. It's a neat way to show off to other players just how rich you are in the game.

You can also set up 'Quick Text' for use in the game, which enables you to chat with opponents (by which we mean taunt in a "I bluff so smart, yo' momma won't recognise yo' chip stack" stylee). You can spend a good hour or so coming up with suitably silly lines before even playing.

Once logged on, you can check your global ranking, or tweak your buddy list, to which you can add specific players by entering their usernames – a good way to keep track of people you've enjoyed playing against, as well as real-world friends.

You can choose between Free Play or Tournament while online, with the former pitching you onto a table, while the latter enters you into, yes, a tournament – if the table's empty when you start, other players soon filter in, with up to six on a table at once.

The good thing is that despite only being available on one UK operator, WPT2 ties in with the global community, including its large base of players in the US. We found no problems getting people to play against, even in the morning UK time.

Hands run fast, assuming you're on a 3G connection at the time of playing, and it adds a new level to the gameplay trying to second-guess your human opponents. On a general note, since this is play-for-fun, people do tend to play a bit more riskily than they would if it was real-money poker, so don't expect the strategies you learned in poker books to necessarily work.

Meanwhile, Hands-On has put thought into possible pitfalls of multiplayer mobile poker. For example, what happens if you get a call while playing? Well, your character will call the current hand you're in, before leaving the table at the end of it, so you don't lose money or end up leaving your opponents waiting for you to stop gabbing.

In short, World Poker Tour: Texas Hold'Em 2 is outstanding, thanks to the slick multiplayer features (there's also a version playable on the web, which is a first as far as we know). If you're on 3, it's a must-buy, and hopefully we'll be able to say the same for other operators soon.

World Poker Tour: Texas Hold'Em 2 (multiplayer)

Excellent poker game with well-designed multiplayer mode making it an essential purchase
Stuart Dredge
Stuart Dredge
Stuart is a freelance journalist and blogger who's been getting paid to write stuff since 1998. In that time, he's focused on topics ranging from Sega's Dreamcast console to robots. That's what you call versatility. (Or a short attention span.)