Live Poker 40K

Live Poker 40K by Zynga is about as fun as online poker can be without the stress of wagering real money. It’s a Texas Hold-em poker app, which is the version of poker you see on TV and in most online poker games. No need to be a Vegas card shark; it’s actually really easy to learn and play. Games are against live opponents only, and Live Poker boasts it is the largest poker game on Facebook, Myspace, and of course the iPhone. If you have friends on Facebook that play, you can log into Live Poker using your Facebook info and join your friends’ table. Otherwise, just let the app choose a table for you to join.

Live Poker features a pretty good option set: You can choose tournaments or regular table games with either 5 or 9 players, set the buy-in and blind amounts, and even change the look of the table (I like “Bling”). If all those options intimidate you and you just want to play some poker, hit the play now button for a no-limits game. Since the game was designed primarily as a Facebook app, the game reminds you after every game how you can get free chips by spamming your friends. You’ll also get 1,000 free chips every day you play, or, if you’d like to start a life of gambling addiction and financial hardship, you can purchase in-game chips for real American dollars.  

Although they are basically the same, there are a couple differences between table games and tournaments. During a tournament game, no new players are allowed to join the table, whereas a regular table game will have players joining and leaving constantly. A player could enter a normal table with any amount of money they wanted. At the beginning of a tournament, everyone starts with the same amount of money, so the betting can’t get too out of hand. Also during tournaments, blinds, which are automatic starting bets, increase as the tournament goes on, making it more expensive to keep going. The biggest difference between the two table types is that you’re guaranteed winnings if you come in 3rd or higher at the end of a tournament table. Tournaments are particularly good for playing when you’ve only a little cash to work with.  

Graphically, Live Poker is a beauty. Zynga did a good job of making everything fit onto the iPhone screen and still look good. Cards and chips are in the middle of the table, player photos or avatars fit around the table, and chats show up in the lower left of the screen. Betting options appear at the bottom of the screen next to your picture. A chime indicates when it’s your turn, and a small timer bar initiates. Then your options of check/call, bet/raise, or fold appear next to your picture. When you choose to make a wager, a simple wheel pops up in the center of the screen, allowing for quick and accurate bet selections.

My only real frustration happened when I was playing on the 3G network and the connection lagged or dropped. If the game lags too much you’ll automatically fold and probably start spewing a string of bad words. You really need to set your iPhone to Wi-Fi before playing this game. One other minor negative is that there’s no music, and especially no iPod music support, but all special effects sound excellent. It would also be really cool to have an option to not play and just watch a table, like on TV. All in all, Live Poker is good fun and a great way to get that gambling high without going broke.

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