When it comes to making videogame iterations of poker, developers have two options: they can phone it in and hope the word “poker” in the title brings in the sales, or they can put in some time and effort and give gamblers the game they lie awake at night fantasizing about. Poker fans, listen up: the developers of World Series of Poker Hold’em Legend have done you proud. In fact, their game runs circles around the vast majority of its competition on the App Store.
As its title states, the only version of poker you get in this download is Texas Hold’em, but several variations are represented. The core game mode is called “Legend Career”. In it, you play through seven venues of increasing fanciness, with appropriately rising buy-ins. Do well in the lower-rung places, and you’ll be able to afford to play matches in more luxurious settings with higher stakes. Different venues offer different variations on Texas Hold’em, too.
Video introductions of the venues play the first time you throw down your chips there. Nine opponents greet you in each match, and some of them have videos intros too, giving them an extra splash of personality.
A winner is you.
If you’re not a card shark, fear not. This game is friendly to newbies and pros alike. Each variation of the game is explained the first time you click on it, and none of them are hard to grasp. During play, a bar next to your cards gives you an idea of how strong your hand is based on the information available. Some AI opponents have “tells,” which are presented as a question mark for a weak hand and an exclamation point for a killer hand. The one thing we wish the game offered is a chart that shows the hierarchy of hands.
Multiplayer is a feature many poker games strangely neglect, but not Hold’Em Legend. Here, it comes in two flavors: online multiplayer and local heads-up Bluetooth. Online multiplayer is a major attraction for this game, and we had a blast with it. Again, nine players are gathered around the table, and each player has 30 seconds to make their betting decisions or they automatically fold.
This keeps the game moving reasonably fast but gives you enough time to make your decisions. At the time of this review, the active userbase is big enough that we never had to wait long for a game to fill up, which is always nice. There’s no way to communicate to other players during the game, but with the limited screen space and the number of crazies online, that may actually be a good thing.
Watch out for the Russian stereotype.
In the heads-up Bluetooth mode, you face off against one other player locally. This worked just fine for us, but we wondered why they only support two players in this mode. It would be great if a group of people could get together and use their iDevices to face off against one another, freeing them of the need to shuffle actual cards or keep track of piles of chips.
One workaround is to have everyone click into an online multiplayer match at the same time, which will often make everyone to join the same match. It worked for us. Just don’t share your hands with each other, because that’s cheating, and cheating is wrong.
The list of extras included in this download is as long Inspector Gadget’s arm. There are seamlessly integrated online leaderboards, detailed personal stats, and a healthy number of achievements to unlock. You can even listen to your own music while you play. The graphics are clean and the interface is simple and user friendly. Whether you’re a die-hard poker fan or not, you’ll find that this is a very well-made game that’s worth the price.