Cowboy Casino

Here's a game that actually still has some appeal more than a decade after its release, Cowboy Casino. It's a poker simulation with a Western theme. The game opens with a cinema featuring just about every character stereotype from every Western movie you've seen. You then muscle in on a poker table already in progress and choose who to kick out of the game and you take their chair.

Cowboy Casino features four poker variants, and like most casual poker games in real life, you can choose which variant you'll play for each hand, which makes it a bit more true-to-life than most current poker simulations. It also features Texas Hold'em, probably the first time this variant was featured in a console videogame.

Deal, pardner.

Now here is a clever feature that I have never seen in another poker simulation. If you hit the left shoulder button, the game shows you your current odds for winning the hand. This makes the game far more accessible for beginning players, and makes a handy reference if you're in doubt about whether to call, fold, or raise.

Yet another clever feature! If you hit the right shoulder button, you flip open that little Win At Poker book in the lower right corner of the screen, and it gives you a recommendation. OK, this might be just a tiny bit unfair, but you don't have to use this feature (or the odds calculator) if you don't want to. I would have liked the ability to bet much more than the three preset amounts. Going 'all in' is half the fun of playing poker, in my opinion.

After each hand is won, you're rewarded (punished?) with a cutscene featuring some hilariously bad acting and equally awful fake Western accents. In the game's defense, there is a decent variety of cutscenes, so it's not like you'll be seeing the same one over and over. All in all, the game is relatively fun... and since it's also the only card game on the 3DO, it's worth having in your collection.

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