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Pokertini from Smappsoft on display at Macworld | iWorld 2012

Smappsoft sought me out a few times at Macworld | iWorld this year, so I was glad to see what they've been up to. Last I saw the company, they were working on a puzzle game called Look Again, and since then they've released a few other titles, including Chinese 13 Card Poker and a version of Look Again for children called Look Again, Jr. That app trades animals for the random patterns of the first title, and the devs are finding out that it's getting "a little traction in the special needs market" at schools, as teachers tell them that kids with communication issues can easily understand the game and how to win it.

Smappsoft's latest game, an as-yet-unreleased app is called Pokertini, is more for adults with the tagline, "video poker with a twist." Yes, it's a very colorful video poker game. The guys behind Smappsoft have also released an app called Hold 'Em Helper, so it's clear they're fans of card gambling.

Pokertini seems like fun. It is a video poker game (which means you get a hand of cards and then can hold or discard once, trying to make the best hand you can) with three hands, and the basic idea is that you place one bet that can be split across three hands. You can change up your bet after the first cards have arrived, so if you think you'll be luckier on the top hand than the bottom one, you can move coins up there (across the touchscreen) in the hopes that you'll score big. Scoring is pretty much the same as Vegas odds, so it's even money for Jacks or higher, and then more payouts on up the scale.

The twist is that you can buy "twists" with your money that will influence the cards that arrive. For example, you can buy a twist that blocks low or high cards, or one that shakes up all of the hands. Every few hands you'll get a bonus round, where you're given a matrix of 3 by 5 cards, and just asked to make the best hands with them that you can in the time allotted.

All of that was still under development, I was told. The team isn't quite sure how the bonus round will appear, and they're still considering how to make a compelling part of the game.

There are also badges and achievements to earn. The game uses a freemium model. There are in-app purchases for more coins and money. Smappsoft says you'll never completely run out of money, though. If you do, the game will always grant you a little more to play with.

If the team can balance out the twists and even out the bonus round, it should be a fun take on video poker, and if you already enjoy that pasttime, you'll probably love it. Smappsoft says Pokertini should be out later this year, so we'll keep an eye out for it.

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