Bah. Buy a mobile poker game in the US, and chances are you'll be able to test your skills against other real players over the network. Not here though. Glu's recent World Series Of Poker game lost its multiplayer mode while crossing the Atlantic, as did Hands On's World Poker Tour title.
It's all to do with the fact that too many handsets here weren't properly set up for data connectivity in the past, as well as the fact that operators don't let publishers charge a monthly subscription fee, as they do in the US, for multiplayer games.
Thankfully, both of these facts are changing. And to prove it, Hands On Mobile is getting set for the release in May of World Poker Tour: Texas Hold'em 2, the follow-up to its popular (3.5 million downloads at the last count) poker game.
I sat down with Hands On today for a demo of the game, and it's looking slick and fun. You can now create your own avatar to represent you, play Limit, Pot Limit or No Limit varieties of Texas Hold'em, and visit a cashier to replenish your bank balance after a bad run.
However, it'll be the multiplayer that'll be the big selling point. World Poker Tour 2 will let you set up buddy lists of your friends, or compete against other players around the world. It uses the same tournament structure as the real World Poker Tour, and you can browse the rankings to see which other players are richer than you.
The game's project manager at Hands On, Stephanie Morgan, is a former professional poker player, so the game should be fairly realistic. Players won't be left hanging around waiting for people to play against either – 'bot' players step in if nobody shows up when you're sitting at an online table.
WPT 2 looks and plays great, although I'm a bit concerned about the way you get booted off your table if the game is interrupted by a phone call. Wouldn't it be better to make you automatically fold your hand instead? At least then you'd get to remain on the same table once your call was finished.
Still, assuming the multiplayer mode is still in when the game comes out in May – and Hands On is confident that operators will rise to the challenge of making it work – World Poker Tour 2 could well be a safe bet for a high-quality mobile game.