I was genuinely surprised when I looked to see how many poker video games there were available on consoles these days. It seems like every genre and every possible game has numerous video game versions. Even a game like Uno has multiple versions you can play on a variety of consoles. Yet when it comes to poker, there seems to be very few poker games available and even fewer good poker games. Developer RipStone has brought Poker Club to Nintendo Switch. The developers call it the most immersive poker simulation ever made. While it does a halfway decent job at simulating poker, Poker Club is an incredibly challenging game to find any fun in.
Like I mentioned above Poker Club bills itself as the most immersive poker game out there and it does a good job at its immersion. It genuinely feels like you’re sitting at a poker table throughout your experience. This can be either a good thing or a bad thing, which I’ll get to a little later. Overall, Poker Club does a good job at presenting Texas Hold’em in a fashion that’s easy to control and easy to immediately understand. Players get to choose from a variety of different modes, like tournament play or cash tables. Once you have started a game you can view your hand, see the cards in the center, and make bets with chips just like a normal game of poker. This all works quite well and exactly as expected.
The issue is that the game presents poker in an immersive fashion but not in a fun fashion. If you choose to play Poker Club off-line with AI, you’re in for a delight of pure insanity. The AI aren’t intelligent, which means they often will go all in on a poor hand early in the game. This of course makes it difficult to practice before going online and playing with real players, as real players who know poker aren’t going to take such a silly, aggressive approach.
Another issue with Poker Club is that it is painfully slow to play. Poker is a slow game to begin with, something I’ve experienced during my time playing poker in real life. Yet Poker Club manages to make things so much worse. Essentially each player has a limited amount of time for their turn. The thing is the amount of time each player gets is an incredibly long amount of time, which means you will simply sit there for minutes on end waiting for your turn. This makes each turn around the table last 15 minutes or more before you get to play again. This issue is made worse by the animations the characters have, which involves them very casually, and very slowly, looking at their cards or casually picking up chips. I get it, poker is a slow game. It just feels like in Poker Club, it’s slowed down way too unrealistically.
Poker Club does a good job at presenting poker in video game form but sadly after playing Poker Club for a bit, I don’t see myself coming back for more. The game is simply too painfully slow to get much enjoyment out of, and playing off-line has you playing with AI so incredibly stupid you learn nothing of the game of poker. This makes Poker Club really hard to recommend. I suppose if you’re someone who is a diehard poker player you might find some enjoyment. Even then, I think you’d rather enjoy just playing poker in real life versus jumping into this game.