Nobody would really call Poker Night 2 one of the more ambitious video games. It doesn’t set out to transport us to a faraway fantasy land (unless you count a secret bar that’s largely unpopulated and is hidden away in the back of a goods delivery warehouse). It doesn’t give you breakneck action. It doesn’t raise horrific spectres to send shivers down your spine. What is aims to do is teach you to play poker (specifically Texas Hold ‘Em) with four stars and enjoy the weird conversation.
Joining you at the table are Brock Samson from the Venture Brothers, Ash Williams (no, me neither) from The Evil Dead, Sam of Sam and Max fame and Claptrap, the robot from the Borderlands series. Oh, and the dealer? Well, you thought you’d seen the last of her after Portal 2.
The concept is fairly simple – what do famous characters do when they’re off the clock? The answer seems to be playing poker, and they’re rather liberal with their betting as well. Given that Sam and Max live in a run-down office and seem to be perpetually giving Bosco extortionate sums, I fail to see how they gather $20,000 plus with which to play, but maybe I’m just being pedantic.
It would be utterly pointless for me to explain the rules of Texas Hold ‘Em, the official reason for which is that you’re here to read a review, not an instruction manual. The unofficial reason, of course, is that I’m not entirely sure myself. I basically get how it works, though – best hand wins. This means that you can fairly reliably win every other hand if you learn which combinations are the best, and while that’s not going to get me to professional level any time soon, it does mean I’ve now got a fairly decent grasp on what happens that means I can actually understand poker scenes in gangster movies. So that’s nice.
In fact, the game has a little bit of the Red Dead Redemption problem of it being much too easy to bluff your opponents. I found that Sam folded every other hand simply because I’d put the bet up slightly above the minimum and that didn’t always just go for him either. Apparently the opponents try to bluff you, too, but being the inattentive imbecile I am, I couldn’t figure out any of their tells, so that game mechanic is up to you to try.
One nice thing I noticed, before walking away from the table having lost all my chips for the third time, was that the chatter the characters share between hands never seemed repetitive or dull. They’ve really captured the essence of the characters (especially Sam) very well and you’ll probably never be bored of it unless you play an enormous amount.
This is a short review, but not for lack of fun playing – it’s just quite a short game with not that much extra content besides branded chips and table designs, and as long as you go into it with that in mind you’ll have a pretty entertaining time. It also taught me how to play poker, which puts it ahead of 90% of things I play. Basically, it’s a decent game which we hope does well. 7.3/10.