There are a lot of opportunities to play poker digitally today, some of which we’ve discussed in our gaming section before. There are apps, like WSOP and PlayWPT; there are games on social platforms, like Zynga Poker on Facebook; there are downloadable games such as Prominence Poker and the Governor of Poker series; and of course, there are the go-to cash game sites, like PokerStars and GGPoker.
Those categories account for dozens of popular and reputable options. With an estimated 41% of gamers still playing on consoles however (according to Morning Consult), it’s important to note that there are also some fun poker games that exist within larger, console-based video games. These experiences don’t tend to offer the same size and scope of poker play you can find at dedicated poker platforms. But they’re convenient and enjoyable options that tend to enhance the games they’re attached to.
The following are five of the best examples.
Far Cry 3
Considered by many to be the best game in the Far Cry series, Far Cry 3 is known –– among other things –– for having a thoroughly entertaining in-game poker circuit. Players can sit down at poker tables at five separate locations within the game, playing Texas Hold’em with up to $250 of in-game cash to wager at a time. This was such a popular aspect of Far Cry 3 that the follow-up –– Far Cry 4 –– even got its own poker companion app back in 2014. Unfortunately Far Cry 4 Arcade Poker is no longer available, but there mere idea of it speaks to how much people enjoyed Far Cry 3’s poker content.
Grand Theft Auto: San Andreas
This beloved Grand Theft Auto experience actually included multiple types of poker. Originally, one was in-person Texas Hold’em –– though it was eventually cut out of the game. Even at that point however, players had the option of playing video poker at certain bars, as well as the Las Venturas casinos. The video machines supported simple five-card poker, wherein the player is dealt five cards and gets one opportunity to exchange any number of them. If the player ultimately lands an official poker hand, they earn a return based on the amount they bet (between $1 and $4,000) and the strength of the hand.
Grand Theft Auto V
Grand Theft Auto V’s poker is different from that of San Andreas in three respects. First, it’s in-person rather than video poker. Second, it’s available at a single location (the Diamond Casino). Third, it revolves around the somewhat less common three-card poker variety. This is a style of poker in which the player buys in with a bet, receives three cards, and then decides whether to fold or double the initial bet. Staying in means putting your three cards (and whatever hand they constitute) up against that of the dealer. It’s a simple and efficient type of poker that’s almost more like blackjack than it is five-card poker or Texas Hold’em, and it makes for fun in-game gambling.
Red Dead Redemption 2
In the last few years, Red Dead Redemption 2 has become perhaps the gold standard in this category. Notably, this game kept the poker content of its predecessor, which had been quite popular. But the sequel builds on the concept with a sophisticated poker engine and complex AI that enables different in-game characters to play with different styles and strategies. The variety at play is Texas Hold’em, and games are cheap (with most blinds set at 1 or 2 cents). This keeps things fairly low-stakes, but it’s still fun to play through various locations and take on different characters –– including, through Red Dead Online, live opponents.
There are additional examples as well, particularly in the form of older titles like Tales Of Vesperia or even Super Mario 64 DS. But for the modern console gamer who enjoys poker, the games above are the best ones to explore.