There are a few major console titles that already contain poker mini-games. This gives players a chance to take a break from fast-paced options and large-scale gameplay and enjoy a bit of the relaxing side of entertainment. For example, TheGamer.com explains that the mega-hit Red Dead Redemption 2 has a Texas Hold’em poker circuit. In this case, the game fits in nicely with the broader setup of riding around the “Wild West” and making your way in a cutthroat world. Specifically, there are five in-game locations where you can stop and play poker (and possibly win some money for your character).
Another example among popular modern games is Grand Theft Auto V, which offers a different sort of twist on poker Within GTA’s Diamond Casino, you can sit down to play three-card poker, which Poker.org notes is a particularly appealing casino poker game for beginners. It lacks the relative complexity of Hold’em, and plays out more like blackjack. The short and sweet of it is, you’re dealt three cards and have to bet on whether or not you think they can outshine the dealer’s own three cards. Just be sure you’re aware of the possible hands and their respective rankings, which differ from the traditional ones in five-card poker. For instance, your best outcome is a “mini royal flush,” and three of a kind outranks a straight and a flush.
Diving back a little further into modern gaming history, the outstanding adventure title Far Cry 3 also made use of Texas Hold’em. This is a game largely about being in survival mode –– always on the run from wild dogs, hunting animals, and assorted villains. Within this setup though, ducking into a beachside hut for some poker now and then is little short of soothing! Far Cry 3’s poker games also help to teach the game, laying out some basic information and showing you probabilities of generating specific hands as you play.
As these examples show, poker within a bigger game is always fun. It’s an enjoyable way for a game character to earn money, and a way to take a break from fast-paced action. And since it always seems to work out so well, we’d love to see more of it! So just for fun, here are our suggestions for four more modern games that could benefit from poker mini-games.
1. Saints Row IV
This modern open-world game is packed with missions in which the player has to fight large gangs and take down big bosses. It all takes place in the fictional city of Steelport, with a base story concerning members of the “3rd Street Saints” gang –– along with the alien empire Zin. All of that makes for a pretty wild setup, but this game does have some almost Grand Theft Auto-like side activities and diversions that invite the potential for more minigame expansion. For instance, players can surf on their vehicles, engage in “death tag” (exactly what it sounds like) for points, and even –– for some odd reason –– go streaking to rack up experience points. Given options like these, it’s not at all a stretch to imagine an opportunity to sit down and play poker, perhaps even against some gang and/or alien enemies.
2. The Witcher 3: Wild Hunt
This is a wild fantasy role-playing game that engages in combat in the open world, with travels over vast landscapes and even across the ocean. All of this takes place within a fantasy environment, but not one so thoroughly divorced from reality that poker wouldn’t fit in. Indeed, you –– the Witcher –– could very feasibly duck into any town tavern or even stable to take a break from dangerous adventures and enjoy some cards with fellow humans, or even elves or dwarves. Plus, lest we forget, we’ve almost seen it already. The first Witcher game included a dice-based version of poker, and this edition has its own card game –– a fairly complex one called Gwent, which per USGamer.net involves a unique deck of cards relating to various combat abilities and weather conditions. Clearly this is a far cry from poker –– but the mere presence of cards in the world of The Witcher paves the way for an added poker mini-game.
3. Sea Of Thieves
We’ve discussed Sea Of Thieves before as an online game popular across regions –– and that in and of itself makes it ripe for fun side games with multiplayer options. Ultimately, it’s a game in which players live out a full-fledged pirate lifestyle, involving everything from battling skeletons (a la Pirates of the Caribbean) to commanding ships and digging up treasures. As of now, the game is more focused on exploration, quests, and general activity than specific side games and the like. But it’s such a sprawling experience that building in a few gambling opportunities doesn’t feel out of the question, or out of place. Poker might not be the most natural inclusion (because as far as we know pirates were more inclined toward dice games and the like), but it would still make for a fun way to challenge online opponents over a bit of treasure.
4. Watch Dogs Legion
This action-adventure game takes place in a fictional, futuristic London, where many famous landmarks are still in place, but elements like drones sweeping the streets provide a dystopian atmosphere. Like its predecessor, Watch Dogs 2, the game consists of a combination of driving, shooting, fighting, and hacking puzzles, all within a multiplayer game system. Players can join up with up to three friends to form a team, tackle missions, and take down assorted villains. Despite this focus on action though, the game is mindful of the notion that people making their way through a dangerous dystopia need some diversions now and then as well. Already in the game, players can step into side spaces to have a few drinks, play darts, or participate in a sort of underground fighting arena. Were poker to be added to the mix, it would feel like a totally natural inclusion.
All of these are merely our own suggestions, of course. But given how successfully some major games have already incorporated poker options, it’s interesting to think of where else such options might fit in. Each of the four games here, as far as we’re concerned, would accommodate poker wonderfully.