I saw Smappsoft’s Pokertini in development at Macworld | iWorld, and now it’s out and available in the App Store. It’s a freemium take on video poker, so your feelings on this game will probably revolve around that one. Those who enjoy playing video poker (where you get five cards, and get to hold or pass on them for one more draw, trying to make the best hand you can) will enjoy Pokertini. Smappsoft has put a few twists on the game as well, but unfortunately none of them are all that strong.
The biggest difference between this game and Vegas is that you have a shared bet across three different hands, and before the second draw, you can move your bet around between the three. That means that you can pile up on hands that look like they might turn out well, which is a good idea in theory. In practice, however (and maybe I’m just unlucky), I tend to bet on hands that promise big but don’t deliver, meaning I lose my money anyway. Placing the bets just right can help, but it’s still a gamble most of the time.
There are also “twists” that you can buy with coins that will do things like block certain cards from showing up or shake up the hands you’re playing. That seems like a good idea, but is less intriguing then you’d think. The coins come from your total, and they only add more randomness to the proceedings. If they were more powerful (like buying you an ace or guaranteeing a card you want), they might be more interesting, but then of course they’d always make you money, giving you no reason to buy coins from the in-app purchases.
The app also has ads sitting right on top of the main gameplay space, which is a little much, given that those in-app purchases are on offer as well. Smappsoft obviously has to make money, but the ads make the whole experience a little too garish (so much so that they’ve been cut out of the screenshots in the App Store). The whole idea of tying fake coins to real money feels a little strange in general. Maybe if they’d left the gameplay alone, and had in-app purchases for less gameplay-specific items like themes or card art, the whole thing would sit better.
Given those issues, I do like a good game of video poker, and Pokertini definitely has that at its core. If you’re also a video poker fan, the game is definitely worth a download, and you get 1000 coins for free to gamble away. It’s a shame that the game is more focused on monetization and less on fun. Yes, every developer wants to make money, but the best freemium titles on the App Store have shown that if you provide fun first and then hook up in-app purchases, there’s plenty of money to be had.