The world of poker is a horribly exclusive club. Almost deliberately impenetrable, the endless jargon, dull statistics and seemingly infinite game variations are enough to send most of us screaming for the nearest pack of Happy Families. Well don't despair, because World Series Of Poker 2008 wants to flop you down on the sofa and give you a hand. Its comprehensive tutorials make it easy to learn the basics of such popular poker variants as Omaha, Razz and Texas Hold 'Em, while unravelling the mysteries of the flop, the turn and the river along the way. Beginner's stuff aside, Battle For The Bracelets (which sadly doesn't include a mini-game where you take on all-comers in a small branch of Claire's Accessories) also has a lot to offer the more experienced poker aficionado. The career mode sees you playing through a years worth of tournaments in an attempt to usurp Phil "The Poker Brat" Hellmuth as the Player Of The Year. Along the way you'll get to take on real Pros like Chris 'Jesus' Ferguson and Mike Matusow, with many players providing the voices for their virtual counterparts.
Deal or no deal?
While previous games in Activision's series have been a bit of an ante-climax (sorry), this latest entry sees them raising the stakes significantly, with pots of improvement being made to the opponent A.I. and the TV-style presentation. The character models are still a bit ropey however (certainly not up to EA's next-gen standards), and it does feel like you're sitting in a room full of card-playing mannequins.
Bluffing has been improved too. In last year's game, coughing tells were frequent enough to suggest that your fellow players were 100-a day smokers - this time it's been significantly toned down. The A.I.'s not infallible though and we witnessed a couple of bizarre folds by the so-called 'Pros'. That said, WSOP2008:TBFTB plays a far better game of poker than the Texas Hold 'Em download on Live Arcade and while it lacks the undeniable thrill of playing for cold hard cash, it's still worth a punt for card sharks and jokers alike.
The best poker on 360? We wouldn't bet against it
- Great for poker noobs
- Any money you lose is virtual
- AI is occasionally skittish
- Commentary gets repetitive quickly
- Any money you win is virtual