Critical play — games of chance

For this week’s critical play, I played poker through the iOS World Series of Poker app. In this game, randomness and chance comes into play through the cards that you and the other players are dealt at the onset of the hand along with the cards that are dealt for the table.

As slot machines do as noted by the reading, poker has a sort of “near miss” dynamic built into it, which will entice players to continue to play. One mechanic that does this is that after folding, the hand is still played out in full because other players are still in the hand. The dynamic that this creates is one in which you feel the “near miss” effect when your hand would have won, even though you already folded. The reading explains that when a person experiences this, they want to keep playing because they feel that they are close to winning/on the verge of doing so. The aesthetic that this creates is one of narrative, as the player experiences the drama of almost winning and knowing that they could have won money had they chosen a different path. When playing in real life, you hand the cards in so you can no longer look at them (and you may or may not forget the cards that you had in your hand). In this app, the cards of your hand are still shown, though grayed out to signal that the cards are no longer in play. This ensures that you as a player can still see if you would have won or lost the hand even after folding, forcing the near miss experience to be unavoidable from the player perspective.

Another mechanic that would inspire further addiction/desire to play a specific hand is the random inclusion of gold cards that advertise the ability to win the hand for a chance at a large jackpot. When you win the hand, you are not guaranteed 2.75 M, but as is suggested in small text “for a shot at” you are given a sum of money up to that amount, though often much less if you win. The dynamic that this creates is one in which the the player is enticed to play the hand for the promise of large wins though it is statistically probably very unlikely that the win would be so large, playing into the idea of randomness and the ways in which people delude themselves into believing that they will be lucky enough to win big. This would also probably increase the likelihood that someone would stay in an unfavorable hand, hoping that they will get lucky on the river cards. This would create a dynamic of narrative as well as someone is drawn into the possibility of winning, further enticed by the possibility of a larger pot than they would have gotten on their own.

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