I’ve never been a poker enthusiast, and although it’s a completely guy bonding experience, I’ve always put off learning the nuances of the card game. So Swipe the Deck, an online poker competition which pits you against your friends on Facebook or random strangers you meet through Game Center, is actually my entry way into the arena. So while this game is simply an innocuous way to wile away your day, I do have a soft spot for this Chillingo title, especially since I’ve actually learned the difference between a royal flush and a full house.
Swipe the Deck’s playability hinges on having an opponent, and if you can’t find a friend on Facebook, you can still create your own game against a random stranger. You have two minutes to create as many hands as possible, and each successful combination adds to your money pot. To find a two pair, flush, or a straight in your deck, you simply connect the cards horizontally, vertically, or diagonally with the swipe of a finger. The competitor with the most money at the end of the round wins.
Although playing in real time is the optimal experience, you can have several games running at the same time. If your opponent doesn’t immediately respond, just finish your two minute round and your score will be saved. The next time you check into Swipe the Deck, that game will be up and ready for you to check out the results (if there are any). On the flip side, you can check into the game and have a bunch of other players inviting you for a match, and they may be waiting for your turn. The bottom line is that if you don’t have any Facebook friends to invite for a friendly game of poker, it’s not the end of the world.
Various power-ups are supplied before you start your round, and although you get up to three of them per match, only the first one is free. My favorite power-up gives players three high value hands that can be found among your cards, and all you have to do is follow the arrows to collect these hands and rack up your score. If you feel your card arrangement is absolutely horrible, another power-up replaces all your cards with a completely new set of cards. There is also the requisite timer power-up, which gives you an extra fifteen seconds to increase your score. If you run out of credits to purchase power-ups, you can buy more credits at game’s purchase store, which is simply named The Shop. For a reasonable $0.99, you can purchase ten credits. Gamers needing to save some cash can trade in the chips they earn after each game for extra power-ups.
Swipe the Deck doesn’t need a ton of bells and whistles to succeed, especially since card games are pretty hard to screw up. As a card playing newbie, it was just fun to actually put a few winning hands together, even if I had tons of help from the power-ups. Other gamers may have their reservations about Swipe the Deck's simplicity, but then again those hard to please types should probably stick to solitaire.