Thursday, April 23, 2009

Finding the Nuts

Back in November, I reviewed the Apple Texas Hold 'em app. I'm still using it since Full Tilt and PokerStars don't have an iPhone app yet, thank god (I'm quite sure I'd get fired if they did). I do need to find a version with a little better AI. I currently have over $9 million in career earnings and can't seem to cash out. Bastards.

I did downloaded my second iPhone Texas Hold 'em app, Finding the Nuts(iTunes link), developed by Cracked Egg Productions. I was contacted by the author and asked if I might try it and review it. He gave me a code to save the $.99 the app costs. He didn't make any demands or request. He didn't even want to read this before I posted it.

The goal of this app is to get you looking for the best possible hand, or as we like to say, the nuts. The description in iTunes explains it this way,

...players should read the community cards to determine the best possible hand. Identifying the nuts allows a player to understand how his hand compares to other hands and whether or not he should continue to bet.
This can be a very good skill to have. Being able to quickly look at the cards and make some quick observations will help you make better decisions faster. Allowing you to spend more time figuring out what all that information really means.

The app has a very clean interface and looks good. The cards were a nice size and easy to read on the top. The cards on the bottom could be a bit harder to read since they are significantly smaller.

I let a friend of mine that's kind of a novice poker player use the app for a little while. He found it useful for learning how to think about what is the nuts right now in the hand. Since he was still learning the game, he got a few wrong. This was good for him.

I tried it too. The amount of poker I play, I didn't find this part of the app as challenging. I'm used to just knowing what's beating me.

We did both come to our first criticism of the usability. The picture on the right is a capture of the screen. You select the cards from the lower slide area at the bottom.

I noticed in the demos linked to at their website, they appear to be using a mouse to navigate. A mouse would make this easier to use. Unfortunately, the iPhone has a touch screen and my fingers are much bigger then a mouse pointer. This slider bar at the bottom was actually kinda hard to use. It's a long way from one end to the other and it's narrow enough that thicker fingers, it could be difficult to move.

As far as using the app, outside of the slider thing on the bottom, it was very intuitive on how you got around in the app. There aren't a lot of choices.

I found that for me, I really wanted to challenge myself to get to the answer faster and faster. I'd like to learn how to just glance and know. This version would appear to be best suited for novice players just looking to identify the nuts. It might be nice in a future version to have speed modes where you only have so long to identify the nuts before the other cards disappear. Also having the app store results would be nice. Am I improving? What are my best times? What percentage am I getting wrong?

This app sports two other modes for practice, finding the 2nd and 3rd nuts. These are good. I seem to find myself holding these quite often, so they really looked familiar. These are also excellent hands to be able to identify quickly. Knowing you have the second or third nuts can be very useful when you suddenly realize you might be beatable.

All in all, for the buck this app costs, it would be a nice addition for a noob poker player to practice with. To really help them see more hands and learn to quickly identify how strong their hand is against the best possible. AA looks great unless you happen to notice that the board has straights and flushes written all over it. For the seasoned veteran, a little practice finding the nuts can be good too. I'd just recommend finding a better way of selecting the cards and more advanced modes to help the seasoned player.

A neat app for a dollar. Still grateful this isn't a Full Tilt or PokerStars on the iPhone review. Until they pay me the $9 million for the other app, I don't think OhCountess wants me...well you know.

Have you tried this one? Let me know. Tried any others? I'd like to hear what you think.


Memphis MOJO said...

Nice OhReview.

Drizztdj said...

I learned this skill the old fashioned way.

Playing 6-10 tables of PLO8.