Has Red Dead Redemption 2 Revived Poker Minigames?

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RDD2 Poker

Celebrated by many fans and critics as perhaps the best video game to come out in 2018, Red Dead Redemption 2 has quickly won over the gaming community. A prequel to the 2010 original Red Dead Redemption, RDR2 takes us through the Wild West, as we walk in the shoes – or rather, cowboy boots – of Arthur Morgan, a member of the infamous van der Linde gang we met in the first installment. But don't worry: John Marston is still here as the original outlaw-turned-hired-gun, as are several elements from the original game that was celebrated as Game of the Year by many critics. One of the most interesting features that made a return, much to the fans’ rejoice, is the poker minigame – could this signal that poker minigames are increasing in popularity among gamers?

Red Dead Redemption 2: A Record-Breaking Launch

RDR2 is no ordinary game. First of all, it bears the signature of Rockstar, the studio that has given us the Grand Theft Auto series and other popular titles like Max Payne 3 – so whenever they take the time to work on a new title, you know that it is going to be good. It is no wonder then that the game’s amazingly detailed open world environment, its engaging plot, and the captivating characters have all immediately received critical acclaim. Gamers embraced the new installment in the RDR universe instantly: RDR2 made $ 725 million in revenue in just three days after it was released. Only GTA V, which was released by the same studio in 2013, has managed to surpass that by bringing in $1 billion during the first three days after it launched.

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By all accounts, RDR2 has surpassed even the biggest blockbusters of all time, like Star Wars: The Force Awakens that made $529 during its box office opening in 2015 and even Avengers: Infinity War that grossed over $640 million at its opening weekend box office – which makes it one of the most successful entertainment products of all time. This immense success has made Rockstar reevaluate their fiscal year outlook, since the game has been much more of a hit than anyone could have expected. According to Forbes, RDR2 managed to sell roughly 17 million copies in just 12 days after it launched – a record that has seen the new title already surpass its predecessor’s total sales, as the original Red Dead Redemption has sold 15 million units to date.

Poker Minigames Become a Hit with Gamers

By all accounts, the new game is being played – and loved – by people who have never played the original title. And its poker minigame is being singled out by fans as one of the most entertaining elements of the game – fans became so thrilled with it that whole forum message boards were dedicated to learning poker strategy and exchanging tips. The minigame was so realistically crafted, that one of its most important aspects was watching other players for tells, just like in real-life poker. In regular poker games, tells include the way someone plays, as well as nervous habits like face movements and fiddling with chips - and the RDR developers managed to incorporate similar realistic tells into the minigame. The variant featured in the game was Texas hold’ em poker, with the usual rules for winning hands and betting applying, buy-ins varying from one gambling location to another, and a high stakes poker table that could be unlocked during the game.

By bringing the poker minigame back, RDR2 has proved that its rumored popularity was very much real. Of course, the game is not the first title to feature a poker minigame. The Witcher was famous among gamers for featuring its very own variant of poker. Instead, the game substituted cards with five dice, which made it possible to get more than four-of-a-kind. Far Cry 3 also had its own Texas hold’ em poker minigame that played a crucial role in how its plot unravelled, while Dead or Alive: Xtreme Beach Volleyball opted for five-card draw poker instead. GTA also has its fair share of gambling minigames, with GTA San Andreas featuring video poker, while games like Dead Rising 2 and Watchdogs also featured their very own poker minigames.

Could the Popularity of Poker Inspire More Poker-Related Video Games?

What truly sets the RDR series apart in that respect is that it has brought poker to the masses, as many gamers that welcomed the minigame’s return have admitted that they have learned to play poker thanks to the original Red Dead Redemption. Originally released in its multiplayer version in the Liars and Cheats DLC expansion pack, it quickly became a fan favorite, by tapping into the immense popularity of poker around the globe. First popularized as a social game and played extensively at clubs, poker quickly took over the online world as gamblers flock to online casinos to play.

It is hardly a surprise that RDR chose Texas Hold’em as their poker variant of choice: the game is one of the most well-known poker variants. It is also one of the most popular games in the world: as of March 2018, Texas hold’ em had the largest number of fans at a whopping 65.35 million. It is also one of the most beloved games on Facebook, having reached 10 million monthly active users in January 2018, along with other popular games like Clash of Clans. Poker remains one of the most popular games in the casino industry, with roughly 20% across social casino players choosing it.

Poker is so popular that it has also inspired its very own video games. The famous tournament World Series of Poker, which has branched out into other industries like online gaming and its own poker academy, has also tested the waters in the video gaming world. It released its namesake poker video game in 2005. It took only a year to release a second title, World Series of Poker: Tournament of Champions, while a third instalment was released in 2008, titled WSOP 2008: Battle for the Bracelets, which featured many famous professional poker players.

With poker minigames like the one in RDR2 gaining so much traction, could we soon see a revival of video gaming titles dedicated exclusively to poker?