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               REVIEW: SMOKE 'EM POKER 1.4.1 BY DAVE O'BRIEN
                             By:  Jason Compton  
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Oh, sure, it's always nice to get that big bubble-wrapped package from
England with a game inside to review.  But it's been a while since one of
those graced my mailbox, so I decided it was high time to hit Aminet and
see if I could come up with anything genuinely fun that was worth mention
in AR.

It took me about five minutes.

I've been interested in cards for years, and was even successful in getting
together a regular Friday-night poker game in the past few months. 
Blackjack and poker are my usual haunts, and I've got a few programs on the
Amiga that are worth clicking away at during long downloads or simply when
there's little else to do.  Usually, they lay idle for months until I
remember I have them, though.

I don't think I'll forget I have Smoke 'em Poker.  Dave O'Brien, a regular
poker freak himself, has come up with a very memorable, very PLAYABLE
5-card draw poker game, unique in that instead of being a "video poker"
(single player, merely trying to get a high enough hand to win a reward
proportional to the odds against getting that hand) game, it is a "real
deal" poker game, with up to 5 computer opponents of varying skill, where
the goal is not just to get the best hand, but to outplay the other guys. 
Or girls.

Smoke 'em's interface opens on an overscan NTSC High Res screen, to
accomodate the 6 squares that hold the cards.  (The player's cards are in
the lower middle space.) Betting is done with three options (default to a
raise of $10, $25, and $50, but alterable through preferences.), players
can fold at any time.  The computer players have skill levels of Bonehead,
Fair, and Good, and you can opt to know or not know how good they are. 
Interestingly enough, in my experience, Good players often lose more money,
simply because they don't take the sort of chances Bonehead players do.

The player can configure the opponents, giving them male or female voices.
Did I say voices?  Yes, voices.  O'Brien uses the very dusty SPEAK: device
to give the game some atmosphere.  The voice parameters he chose aren't the
greatest, but at least they're comprehensible.  You can also opt to see
everyone's cards, but that's cheating.

The game can, between hands, generate statistics on the game so far,
including each player's win/loss/fold ratios, their best hand shown, the
breakdown of hands shown and how many times they were the winners, and a
line graph of each player's cash over the past 100 hands.  (I've never had
the stamina to make it that far, though.)

If the strain is too much for you, you can opt to sit out some hands and
let the computer players fight it out.  The sounds and speech can also be
disabled at will, which you may want to do if you plan to think about a
hand for a while-the computer gets impatient and prods you to make your
move.  Nice touch.

Smoke 'em Poker was written in CanDo, which I suspect may have something to
do with the rather large size of the executable (over 500k).  There is also
apparently a small memory leak that I haven't seen yet.  The game requires
2 megs of memory and an 020 or better is recommended.

O'Brien declares this game as BeerWare (a variant of freeware in which the
user should drink a beer if they like the game), and welcomes suggestions
for future enhancements.  Hey, I'm sold.

How about 7-card stud, Dave?

Available on Aminet: game/think
Dan O'Brien
dave.obrien@sybase.com
13 Homewood Ave.
Kitchener, Ontario
Canada, N2M 1X1