iPhone apps of the week: Poker edition

This weeks collection of iPhone apps is all about playing Poker. Though there are a number of titles available at the iTunes App Store, I selected three different ways of getting your Poker fix.

iPhone Apps

With a continuous stream of cable TV Poker events, online Poker sites, and endless videos, books, and Web sites devoted to Poker strategy, it is no secret that Poker is incredibly popular all over the world. This week, I'm taking a look at Poker games for the iPhone. But instead of covering three similar games, I decided to give you some options for getting your poker fix, with three very different styles of Poker.

I should warn you in advance, only one of these games is free (with an optional paid version), but the other two are pretty affordable at $4.99 each. I think if you love poker as much as I do, one of these games will definitely become one of your most-used iPhone apps.

Texas Hold'em
Watch each character for tells before you make your bets. (Credit: CNET Networks)

Apple's Texas Hold'em ($4.99) is an obvious choice and probably the one that's most true to the actual game of sit-down Texas Hold'em Poker. The one-player game pits you against several animated players, and each character even has specific tells, which might let you know they're bluffing. With the iPhone held normally, you get a one-on-view of the person whose turn it is, so it's important to keep an eye on players' actions during their turn. It seems likely that before long, you'll know specific tells for each character (amounting to an unfair advantage), but you also can turn your phone sideways for a top-down table view to keep the animations out of the game. I noticed some instances in which computer-controlled players played in a way people probably wouldn't in real life, but overall Apple's Texas Hold'em is a great game. It features excellent graphics, and you also get several selectable backgrounds, multiplayer support (as long as you share the same Wi-Fi network), and the ability to progress in one-player games to higher-stakes tables.

Fat-free Video Poker
Use the touch screen to hold cards before dealing replacements. (Credit: CNET Networks)

Fat-free Video Poker (free) simulates playing Jacks or Better Video Poker like you would in a casino. Bet from 1 to 5 dollars (a "Bet max" button makes it easy to go all out) and try to get at least a pair of jacks to win the minimum payout. Hold cards from the initial deal and hit Deal to get replacements. The pay scale for every hand is visible at the top of the screen so it's easy to tell (and hard to miss) when you have a good hand. This free version is ad-supported, showing you a small ad every 10 games that is easy to skip. When you fill up your bonus meter by winning hands with marked bonus cards, you're taken to a bonus round where you can try to match two amounts to get bonus cash. This one is great for those who just want a fast-paced Poker game with a little variation during the bonus rounds.

MotionX Poker
Keep the dice you like and roll for a better Poker hand. (Credit: CNET Networks)

MotionX Poker ($4.99) uses realistic 3D dice as a method for getting the best poker hand. Play against the computer and physically shake your iPhone to roll the dice. Use the touch screen to move dice to the bottom of the screen and try to roll your way to a better hand. Along with an excellent use of all the iPhone's features (accelerometer and the touch screen), MotionX Poker offers some added RPG elements to keep you playing. Several sets of dice become available as you cross various thresholds in the game, featuring vibrant colors and different dice sounds. As your cash count goes up, higher-stakes tables open up to add to the challenge. An achievement system gives you gems as you progress through the game, but beyond collecting them, we didn't see any point in adding the feature. Overall, with great graphics, dice-specific sounds, and challenging gameplay, MotionX Poker is a great way to pass the time.

The Poker purist may want to stick with Apple's Texas Hold'em, but I found all of these games very entertaining. Whichever one you choose, let me know in the comments the one that's your favorite.

About Jason Parker

Jason Parker has been at CNET for more than 13 years. He is the Senior Editor in charge iOS software and has become an expert reviewer of the software that runs on each new Apple device. He now spends most of his time covering Apple iOS releases and third-party apps.