[PlayStation 5] Poker Club Review

by the_nmac

Pocket Aces. Raise. Raise. Check. All In… let’s see what happens. Check out our Poker Club review!

Welcome to Poker Club. Live the life of a poker pro in the most immersive poker simulation ever seen, with Ultra HD 4K visuals and breath-taking ray tracing. Join a community of online players on their way to the top and track your progress in more than 10 Texas Hold ’em tournament modes. Whether you’re a seasoned poker pro or brand new to the table, perfect your play style for the chance to win big.

Raise your game with over 10 Texas Hold ’em tournament modes including freezeouts, shootouts, super-turbos, bounties and more. Play online with the community or create your own custom games and play by your own rules.

Join a Club and team up with friends and players from across the world to earn rewards, unlock shared goals and level up your Club.

Advance from back-room games to big-money main events as you climb the ranks in the PCC Poker Tour. Customise your pro and play your way to the top.

Place your bets in daily online tournaments and take part in exclusive scheduled events to unlock the latest swag.

From the low-key basement of Ralph’s Pizzeria to the jaw-dropping Intensity Arena; place your bets in stunning environments delivered in breath-taking Ultra HD 4K.

So back in 2015, I reviewed a PS4 game called Pure Hold’em on the PS4 published by Ripstone. I liked it a lot, and over the years I would come back to it every once in a while when I needed a Hold’em Fix. So color me surprised when I found out RipStone Was back with a new Poker game: Poker Club for the PS5!

Now Poker Club features Texas Hold ’em, the most popular form of Poker and what you would see if you watched TV, so let’s go over that a bit. Every player is dealt two cards, which they can look at. Blinds are bets that must be played by certain players, and players can call those min bets or raise. Once everyone has called or folded, the dealer will burn a card, then lay down three cards, which is the Flop. At this point, you must make a decision so that you can try to have the best five-card hand compared to everyone else, check, bet or fold. Next, another card is burnt, and one more card comes face up called the Turn. Once again, you try to make the best five-card hand. Another round of betting happens, and then finally, one more card is burnt, and a final face-up card called The River is placed. A last round of betting takes place, and then everyone shows their cards, as you hope to have the best hand.

Poker Club Review - 1

That’s kind of dry in the description, but it’s exciting in its moment-to-moment gameplay, whether you’re playing with your friends, playing online for money, taking on a mobile phone game, or playing on a console. It’s really hard to get the gameplay wrong when it comes to Hold ’em. What is hard to nail is the feel of the game, the opponents your playing, the look and feel of the places you play.

When I play hold’em with friends, I’m always looking at them while they play to get subtle indicators of what they might have in their hand. Do they have high cards, pocket pairs, or nothing? Once the Flop drops and subsequently the Turn, you need to see their reactions and get reads on players. To make the ultimate Poker game, that’s where the simulation needs to get to. So how does Poker Club do in that regard? Well, not great.

Poker Club has a Career Mode with you playing in different events with certain goals to earn stars. Stars are earned for meeting certain conditions, cash-out over so much, get three of a kind, make the final table – there are a ton of different things you have to do. Earn stars, and you’ll progress to different career events, with higher buy-ins and bigger payoffs. Every event has a different feel. Sometimes you’ll be playing a cash game with no end. You decide when you’re done. Other times it will be a tournament or head to head. Each of these will take place in different venues, from pizza shops and boxing rings to majestic arenas made for TV and grand championships. The arenas are great. While sitting at the table, you can look around at the different players, but at the same time, you take in all the arena has to offer.

Now you have to create a character when you play. This is your avatar that other players will see. This is where part of the problem started for me – I never liked the person I created. I just felt that all the characters had this odd, uncanny valley look, and a more styled art would have been a better way to go. The clothing options were initially super limited as well to a few shirts that you can change the color of. Even when you unlock clothing during rounds, sometimes it’s only variations of the main piece you haven’t unlocked, so you can’t wear it, and you still need to buy it with chips. Technically you have unlocked the ability to buy clothing. It’s just not a great experience with your character.

Poker Club Review - 2

Poker Club is meant to be played with people online. If they’re playing the same style event as you’ll be paired together. In my experience, getting matched up with real people was an issue, and almost all the time, I would be paired with AI, and you can tell as they have a Club tag of [MADD]. 95% of the time, I was paired with AI, and I couldn’t get any reads on what they were doing or why they were doing it. The easiest example of this happening is on the initial bids. I would fold, then see slow escalating bidding wars, which would take forever as multiple AI would be eventually gone all in. So one time, I joined in on the fun with a strong hand and found out when everyone revealed their cards that nobody had anything, I continued to do this in these situations, and almost all the time, the AI was making bets, no reasonable player would make.

This is where the experience fails for me. When you do get matched with real players, it’s good. I mean, you still can’t watch them for tells and behaviors, but it still felt good. Whenever I would be matched against AI, I couldn’t know if they would make reasonable choices and decisions like going all-in with a 7-2 unsuited. I think if there weren’t so many different career events, the real player pool would be less diluted, leading to more matchups with real people.

Visually, the game is great. It looks great in 4K. The arenas are full of life with people around you in their environment, there are no DualSense features like haptic feedback or any use of the adaptive triggers, but honestly, I don’t know how you would implement it. No action cards either.

Poker Club Review - 3

Poker Club is a hard game to recommend, and that’s mainly due to the low player base. I think when playing against other people, it’s a solid poker game, even though I don’t love the character creation. It’s fun, controls well, and has that addictive Poker gameplay loop. The problem is the fun is almost gone with the AI opponents, you can’t rely on using common sense or them making good decisions, and that shatters the experience.

This Poker Club review is based on a PlayStation 5 copy provided by Ripstone LTD.

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