Source: PokerStars.com / Used with Permission
Card games are some of the oldest games still played today. Enjoyed by people throughout much of modern history, the likes of poker and blackjack have taken on a life of their own and now crop up frequently throughout popular culture.
Besides being a part of the popular online gaming industry in their own right, these traditional card games (and unusual takes on them) also feature heavily in the video gaming industry. Developers have been adding mini-games inside their titles for years, and in some franchises, the featured card games have taken on a life of their own.
Whether they’re the game’s overarching mission or added in to give some much-needed downtime and light relief for players and characters alike, card games are a key part of video gaming in the 21st century. In this article, we’ll be taking a look at the most successful video game franchises and titles to integrate card gaming into their gameplay.
Red Dead: Redemption
Rockstar Games’ best-selling Red Dead: Redemption series hearkens back to the Wild Wild West. Although the franchise was first developed in 2004 with the release of Red Dead Revolver, it was 2010’s Red Dead: Redemption and its sequel in 2018 that shot the games to megastardom.
RDR is set in the 1900s and follows the lone former outlaw John Marston as he rides across the American Frontier to establish a new rule of law.
RDR 2, meanwhile, is set in the decade before in 1899 and centers around Arthur Morgan and the Van der Linde gang.
The Red Dead Redemption games score highly with poker fans for being one of the few modern-day titles that really gets poker right. It’s presented as a game of skill, with all the drama and excitement that you might expect, while players get to choose if they’re going to beat the game fair, unfairly, or by straight-up cheating.
Red Dead: Redemption 2, meanwhile, features poker as a key part of A Fine Night of Debauchery mission. Players can either rely on the advice of Morgan’s bestie, Leopold Strauss or choose to beat the game alone and complete a Gold Medal Objective in the process.
Based on Andrzej Sapkowski’s series of hit novels, the Witcher games follow the mutant assassin Geralt, a cynical yet noble character who’s had to develop his own set of strong values in a largely morally ambiguous universe. It blends classic fantasy storytelling with Polish history and Slavic mythology, making it a game with plenty of universal appeal.
Although the Witcher games aren’t the best choice if you’re looking to swot up on how to play texas holdem, they will give you some insight into the intriguing Gwent. No, not the Welsh county, but the unique Witcher card game that’s now developed a life of its own.
Having been featured heavily in 2015’s The Witcher 3: Wild Hunt, Gwent has become the star of its own spin-off game. Fans of the franchise can even play this strategic card game for free on its dedicated virtual platform and mobile gaming apps.
Fallout: New Vegas
A game that features Vegas in its title would include at least some casino gaming content, but anyone expecting the lavish neo-lit pleasure palaces of today’s Sin City will be in for a surprise.
This 2010 entry in the hugely popular Fallout franchise transports gamers to post-apocalyptic Las Vegas. Although many of the casinos on the famous strip are, for the most part, still standing, all the rules that govern games like Omaha Hi-Lo or blackjack are completely useless in this dystopian world, where it’s every gamer for themselves.
One of the pioneers of sandbox gaming – in which gamers can essentially roam around and change the gaming universe as they see fit, rather than being restrained by specific missions or objectives – Minecraft has consistently ranked highly amongst gamers of all ages since its release in 2011. It was even recognized for a BAFTA special award on two separate occasions.
With an exhaustingly long number of projects to complete, places to explore, and activities to participate in, Minecraft is one of those games that players can get lost in for months at a time.
And while it is an all-ages game, some in-game activities are strictly adults-only such as card and casino games – gambling rules even feature on the game’s official website.
Players can choose to visit and play in several establishments, including the Flamingo Hotel & Casino, Minecraft Waterfall Casino Wonderland, the Palace Station Casino, and even an officially licensed Caesars Palace Hotel Casino. There are even additional projects covering blackjack and poker to complete inside the game too.
Grand Theft Auto V: Online
A franchise that delves into the darker side of life, the Grand Theft Auto series is a long-running open-world action-adventure franchise that features driving, shooting, role-playing, stealth, and a healthy dose of old fashioned 16-bit-era beat-em-up.
Each game in the series features tough neighborhoods that are modeled after real US cities, such as Liberty City (New York), Vice City (Miami), and San Andreas (San Francisco).
Another megahit for Rockstar Games, the Grand Theft Auto franchise has become so popular that even A-List actors and musicians have lent their voices to characters in the various games, including Samuel L. Jackson, Dennis Hopper, Debbie Harry, and Axl Rose.
Extra-curricular activities have featured heavily in the GTA series since day one, at one point the most notorious characters happily found themselves in yoga classes before embarking on a crime spree. 2019’s Grand Theft Auto V, however, change the game considerably with the introduction of a brand-new casino gaming feature.
The Diamond Casino & Resort has now become an integral part of the franchise. GTA V, like all the other entries in the series, is an open-world game so players are free to head to the casino any time they choose to play classic card games, slot machines, roulette, etc. It’s even possible to win virtual prizes at the casino, such as in-game currency.
Far Cry 3
A popular entry in the Far Cry franchise for almost 10 years, Ubisoft’s Far Cry 3 is a first-person shooter game that takes place on the fictional Rook Islands. Incorporating various elements of open-world gameplay, gamers can freely explore this tropical archipelago, engaging in activities that will build up their skills and experience levels.
Like Red Dead: Redemption, the card game of choice in Far Cry 3 is Texas Holdem. The no-limit Holdem game features a mini-game that the protagonist Jason can play in various locations around the islands.
The first game is unlocked after securing the Valsa Docks outpost, and from there, players can progress into new games that build in stakes and experience from novice all the way to Expert.
It may be a mini-game, but the poker elements of Far Cry 3 have kept fans engrossed since 2012, with plenty of wiki pages and hack videos being published that are dedicated to winning big in the game and achieving the much-coveted title of ‘Poker Bully’.