|Apparently a big-hat dress code is in effect|
First off, there's "straight" poker (not to be conflated with the suit of cards). Five cards are dealt to each player. Then, betting happens clockwise starting from the left of the dealer with the standard options of "check," "open," "raise," and "call." It's one of the oldest forms of the game and probably the simplest, but also the least interesting for reasons I'll get to in a bit.
Next is "five-card-draw" which, as the name implies, allows the player to discard unwanted cards (after an initial round of betting) in an attempt to strengthen their hand. Once a second round of betting is complete, players who didn't fold (i.e. give up) reveal their cards. This is the version of poker I'm most familiar with having played it a lot with friends and family using fake casino chips or small snack items (like pretzels) in lieu of actual money.
|Hand that bad, Riker?|
Psychological aspects aside, the visible community cards in Texas Hold'em allow for a great deal of strategization by considering probabilities and making educated guesses. Capturing all these layers to the game in a piece of entertainment software can be pretty tricky. The basic mechanics of poker are clear-cut enough to be easily coded, and if you only allow the game to be played by real people then one can simply circumvent the tricker part of player interaction. However, what do you do when it comes to a human player against AI opponents?
While I'm sure there are earlier examples, the first time I can remember coming across a product that had distinct poker playing AIs was Celebrity Poker. Released in 1995 and staring three B-list actors (including Jonathan Frakes a.k.a. First Officer William Riker in the TV series Star Trek: The Next Generation), the game allowed the player to choose from several different versions of poker, but I don't know if there was any real difference between the three AI opponents.
|The game is set in 1899, but Texas Hold'em |
wasn't actually invented until
the early 1900s...
Two years later Red Dead Redemption came out, taking what was a stand-alone piece of entertainment and reducing it to a mini-game. Unlike Governor of Poker, I don't think it is possible to aggravate AI opponents into make bad bets. That said, they do seem to change their strategy a bit depending on whether or not they won the last hand. Both Red Dead Redemption 1 and 2 have a bug/feature wherein the AI will usually "call" all-in bets by the player. Personally, I believe this purposely exists so players can clean house if they happen to get dealt a really good hand.
Well, that about wraps it up...what's that?...what about video poker? Here's the thing, even though video poker does have some superficial similarities to five-card-draw, that game is really more of a re-skinned slot machine (complete with the one-armed banditry those insidious devices are known for). On the other hand, I'd advise against wagering real money regardless if it's craps, roulette or any other form of gambling. Trust me when I say there are better things to spend your cash on. That said, as long as no real currency is involved what's the harm in playing a few hands of cards?