Tic-A-Tac Poker, from Treemo Labs, cleverly combines one of our favorite childhood pastimes with the much more adult game of poker. This game surrounds its simple premise with a wealth of options and a full-fledged online community, making it one of the better values on the App Store.
This game starts with two basic ingredients: a 3×3 tic-tac-toe grid and a standard 52-card deck. You are offered these cards one by one, and the object is to slot the them into the grid in such a way that they form three-card poker hands horizontally, vertically, and diagonally–kind of like a Magic Square for the casino-going set. The rarer the poker hand, the more points you earn; you also get bonus points for racking up a large number of hands.
Tic-A-Tac Poker’s options and variations proliferate rapidly from this starting point. For instance, in the basic game, you can set how many cards you’re allowed to discard without placing during each round (ranging from six to zero).
There are also two other game modes. In Draw Poker, you play a game of three- or five-card draw poker against the computer; then, when you win a hand, you get to place a card on the tic-tac-toe board. Poker Challenge feeds you various timed challenges, like making a three-of-a-kind and a flush, while allowing you to shuffle through the available cards.
In every case, you’re going up against the skills of the entire Tic-A-Tac community, which is easily accessible from inside the game. There are online scoreboards for every single game variation, and the game records everything from how many games you’ve played to when you played them and where!
Furthermore, there’s a full community infrastructure, including friends lists, bulletin boards, and private messages. We are not sure that this game in particular is interesting enough to warrant all of these communication media, but it’s very cool nonetheless, especially if Treemo starts to add other games to the community.
Tic-A-Tac Poker is missing a few features: it has no music of its own (although it’s iPod compliant), and it’s strictly a one-player affair. Regardless, the game has far more breadth than you’ll usually find for $1.99 on the App Store, and its community stuff is second to none. We recommend it to those looking for a cool card puzzle game.