Best Poker Mini-Games in Sandbox Titles

Large, open-world games are often filled with side quests and distractions to fill out the main mission.

Think about the open-world games you love; there’s bound to be a side mission you enjoyed, whether it was a treasure hunt in Far Cry New Dawn or the insurance fraud games in Saints Row 2. Neither were blockbuster games, but both kept gamers entertained with their non-story elements.

As games have improved, developers have used every means necessary to fill out their expansive worlds. One of those methods is poker. Poker is a popular card game, and it’s currently in the news thanks to the World Series of Poker 2021, taking place in Las Vegas. That’s put the card game and its many variants into the spotlight this fall, but it isn’t new; some huge games have already utilized poker as a method of packing out their worlds. In some instances, it is a handy distraction and a way to raise some in-game currency. In other cases, it becomes almost as enjoyable as the game.

Here are our poker mini-game highlights.

Red Dead Redemption

Red Dead Redemption 2 is a sprawling landscape depicting the Wild West in all its glory; it pushed the PlayStation and Xbox to their limits and achieved such realism it is hard to pick a more immersive open world. Before it came Red Dead Redemption, a title Metro reports is being remastered. If that’s the case, then you’ll get to play one of the best poker mini-games ever. There is something about the Wild West setting which makes the game feel authentic and atmospheric. Sure, you can win stacks of in-game currency, but that’s a by-product of a great version of Texas Hold’em, which feels better than its predecessor.

Grand Theft Auto V

The Grand Theft Auto series has been popular for two decades and is often the trendsetter amongst its peers. However, Grand Theft Auto V doesn’t have the best poker mini-game, but it is worth playing. For a while, the high roller table at the Diamond Resort and Casino offered unscrupulous players the chance to cheat the house. Playing a simple three-card poker, if you sensed a losing hand, you could turn off the game before the dealer’s cards were over and not lose your stake. That loophole appears to be closed now, which is ironic; in a game based entirely on committing crimes, the developer closes down the glitch that affected them. That’s video game developers for you.

Far Cry 3

We’re onto Far Cry 6 now, and with the likes of New Dawn and Primal, it feels almost as regular as an EA Sports release. Few games will ever top the brilliance of Far Cry 3, a demanding open world filled with hostile animals and great antagonists; Vaas is still held up as one of the best villains of all time. Poker opens during a mission late in the story, but once you’ve discovered it, you can play at numerous locations on the island. It might be an old game, but very few have delivered such a good poker experience as this. Like the unique environment provided by Red Dead Redemption, the setting of a tropical island, and games taking place in little huts by the clear blue sea have a certain feeling you won’t get down your local casino.

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