Steam has become one of the most important gaming platforms in existence. Today, its more than 120 million active monthly users can choose between some 50,000 titles in the library. Add to that an active community of reviewers, countless in-game purchasing options, and world-famous sales, and it’s no wonder the platform has grown so popular.
With most of the attention on this popular platform typically directed toward retro games, assorted indie titles, and console favorites made available for download, however, it can escape many gamers’ attention that Steam also has a lot to offer for poker enthusiasts. From the experienced player seeking a simplified but immersive experience, to the beginner trying to learn the ropes, the poker category has plenty of suitable options. But what exactly can these poker options offer that can’t be found on traditional gambling sites? What makes this platform different for card gamers?
Ease of Access
When you sign up to play at real online poker sites, you typically have to provide personal information like your name, age, and even social security number. You may also have to provide a credit card number and corresponding personal details in order to make a deposit (though some sites support third-party options like PayPal as well). These sign-up requirements are not just necessary for purchasing chips and betting real money, but are also in place because proper gambling websites have to adhere to various regulations. If gambling is not involved, however, the process is much simpler!
On Steam, poker games revolve around artificial cash and purely in-game betting, without real wagers being made. As such, they don’t require you to go through a rigorous process of verification. Instead, you only need to create an account (and maybe an avatar). After that, the game will be ready as soon as you download your copy (which in this genre tends to be quick due to relatively small file sizes) and launch the game.
A Sense of Competition
It’s been written in recent years that the ever-more-popular career modes in sports games (think NBA 2K, FIFA, and MLB: The Show) allow you to “live out your athletic dreams.” Part of the joy of this with regard to sports, of course, is that most of us have physical limitations beyond those of professional athletes, and we can shed those limitations in games. But there’s also something to be said for these games mapping out professional careers and designing systems of progress through which players gain a true sense of competition. And in many ways, the Steam poker games are getting at much the same thing for card gamers.
Despite no money being on the line, all the major Steam poker games offer the opportunity to play against hundreds if not thousands of other players online. Within this interactive setup, players are also able to switch tables when they like, chat with other competitors, and ultimately compete to move up in game rankings or advance through stages. In many cases, tournaments get progressively more difficult, and virtual prizes progressively greater. Given all of this, the experience winds up resembling the development of a virtual poker career in a way that’s awfully fun to dive into.
Steam also provides players with a great variety of poker games: from straight-up poker simulations, to story-driven campaigns, and even VR experiences. This is in sharp contrast to ordinary online poker sites and apps which, once you get past a few graphic differences, tend to feel fairly uniform. Each of the prominent Steam poker games offers unique ways to enjoy the game (and improve as you go).
Governor of Poker 3
This title sets you up to play full poker games in a way that closely resembles pro-caliber, real-money alternatives –– at least in terms of gameplay and competition. However, Governor of Poker 3 adds an Old West theme and allows you to customize your avatar, earn rewards, and even unlock new areas. It’s a very fun title for gamers making the transition into the world of just-for-fun online poker.
This game offers excellent Texas Hold’em gameplay against AI characters with very distinct personalities –– all within an intriguing story. You take on the role of a newcomer trying to beat a series of sketchy opponents playing on behalf of dangerous factions. The objective is to eventually face the town founder and become the best player in the city.
If there’s a game that truly strives to offer you the complete poker experience, it’s PokerStars VR. As you can glean from the title, this game immerses you in a VR poker setting within which you can use motion controls to throw your chips or fold your cards. This setup also allows for richer interactions between players, who can customize their avatars and chat as if in person. So long as you don’t go in expecting photorealistic visuals, it’s quite an effective simulation of real-world poker.
This is a little bit of a different look, but it’s still a fun alternative option to bear in mind. Essentially, Poker Quest is a fantasy collective card game that adds a poker mechanic to its gameplay. Specifically, being able to get a good hand will influence your ability to upgrade items and put them to use. It’s a thoroughly enjoyable game, and an excellent way for beginners to learn some poker basics if a more traditional game feels intimidating.
Steam may not be the first name that comes to mind when talking about poker. But the platform offers excellent advantages over more traditional sites, like a simpler setup process, a realistic sense of competition and career progression, and a variety of styles you won’t find anywhere else.
We hope you enjoy giving Steam poker a shot, and please visit our game section for more content like this.