Saturday, January 31, 2004

 It's in the cards 

Over the Christmas holiday my in-laws introduced me to a very, very wicked vice, from which I have an extremely difficult time extricating myself once I get started. They showed me their Hoyle Casino PC game, which I found utterly enthralling, much to my wife's chagrin. I got so into this game that I asked to get a copy of it to put on my then-brand-new laptop.

One nifty aspect of the game is that you create your own character, meaning that you use this utility called FaceMaker to craft the physical appearance of that character (face and clothing mostly) as it will appear at the various card or craps tables, etc. Then, when it comes time to play head-to-head against other players, even computer players, it gives the game a much more "human" feel to it than it otherwise might. So much of gambling and the whole casino scene rides on being able to look at the faces of your opponents in order to sense their habits and weaknesses, and it's a nice touch to have other human visages to look at while you play. Granted, these faces (and voices) don't have nearly the variation or subtlety to be too convincing, but it's definitely a step up from my older, cheaper casino game. (I'll leave it for another time to discuss my interest in games of chance.) In addition, the character you create starts with a bank, and you can try to increase your winnings over time as you return to this casino again and again....and again, in my case.

Hoyle's Casino features a good number of games including roulette, slots, and even horse racing; but what I find myself playing more than anything is the Texas Hold 'Em game. I love this game. I also hate it, mostly because it is terribly addictive. In fact I finished a session just now where I went from steely-eyed pro to whimpering loser to gloating winner all in the course of about 90 minutes. The only reason I quit is because I'm almost emotionally exhausted from the roller coaster feeling of having lost half my money, and then finally winning it all back and then some. (Judging from my near-hysteria over winning and losing all this fake money, I've concluded that I'm not ready for the real thing - something in which Cindy can take a measure of reassurance.)

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