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As a video game, World Series of Poker couldn't be any worse.

Published October 3, 2005

The bare-bones graphics are more befitting a free online game than a PlayStation 2 title. Each tournament takes place at the same table in the same anonymous casino room. Players have about three clunky animations each, and those take forever. (If you're going to fold, just fold already!) The announcers look like Teddy Ruxpin when they talk.

The sounds consist of a half-dozen one-liners and taunts from the players, and a few repetitive observations from the announcers. It's like the old John Madden football games for Genesis, where after a few plays you never again want to hear "Boom! He's on his back!" and "Where'd that truck come from!"

The controls are good enough, but it would be hard to mess up bet, fold, check and raise.

As a poker game, though, World Series is actually pretty realistic. Which is to say, I lost every single tournament I entered.

You can choose from Texas hold 'em, Omaha, Omaha hi-low split, seven card stud, seven card stud hi-low split and razz (seven card stud lowball). All of them have pretty good artificial intelligence, with a mix of conservative opponents and raise-till-you-fold jerks.

Hold 'em is really the only one worth playing, unless you're a glutton for boredom. You can skip the animations while your opponents decide what to do - though some of the games don't seem to have this feature - but even then the stud hands seem interminable. And while hold 'em can get addictive, losing against computer opponents is somehow more frustrating than losing to actual people. (World Series features online play for up to nine people, but the whole Internet poker thing probably makes that option moot.)

That Activision couldn't totally ruin the fun is a testament to poker itself. That it still decided to charge $30 for that smidge of fun is a sure sign to stay away.

World Series of Poker

PlayStation 2


Rating: E

Price: $29.99

Grade: D+

[Last modified October 3, 2005, 01:15:16]

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