So: You survived the icy mountains of Ambarino and hunted the Legendary Moose in the forests of New Hanover.
You avoided the alligators in the marshes around Saint Denis and ventured to the Far West to find treasure chests and dinosaur bones.
You’ve ridden horses and trains, steered stages, boats, ships and even balloons. You’ve robbed banks and freed slaves; helped strangers and shot enemies; co-operated with the demimonde to avenge friends and broke into prison to free the members of your gang.
You’ve taken some serious gambles -- and not just during the poker nights at Flatneck Station.
Remember how Rain Falls tried to cure you and found out the terrible truth? How much fun you had at the saloon with Lenny? Lenny … another friend who had to go so prematurely. One of many.
Do you think back to Charlotte, how you met her – quite literally – in the woods, how you fought that cougar on the way to her house, and the things that might have been? Ah, Charlotte …
But things rarely turn out the way you think they do, do they? Will anyone ever read your notes and discover your poetic side? And in the end, all of this, for what? Red Dead Redemption?
RDR2 will send you on the proverbial emotional rollercoaster – even if this one goes on a downward spiral. RDR2 will exhilarate you and break your heart. There, we said it.
Poker in Red Dead Redemption 2
"We’re thieves in a world that don’t want us no more." – Arthur Morgan
Rockstar’s second edition of Red Dead Redemption is just a game but, like poker, there are several ways to play it. And none of them are necessarily wrong. A special shout-out goes to the musical score, which is absolutely fantastic.
So, let’s look at poker in Read Dead Redemption 2. But first, for those who don’t know the game, a few words of explanation.
Red Dead Redemption 2 (aka RDR2) is set in an Open World Environment around the year 1900 in North America. It follows the adventures – well, the life really – of Arthur Morgan, a member of a small community/gang that tries to make ends meet in the New World by all the means they have, legal or illegal.
RDR2 is also an unsparing description of the conquest of the West. This is a world in which the railway hasn’t reached the Pacific yet, so there are fledgling cities along the tracks, but further West it’s still mostly just nature with some scattered settlements - some of which are not even reachable by coach.
RDR2 deals with the dangers of nature that settlers were perpetually exposed to but also shows the even graver danger the settlers presented for the natives, the slaves kidnapped from Africa and, ultimately, each other.
Red Dead Redemption 2 is so vast we can’t even attempt to cover all it offers here. There are so many missions, tasks and challenges that the game will keep you busy for many weeks.
We’ll limit ourselves to the one element we know best – poker and gambling. Poker was there at the time, and it’ll still be around in another 100 years.
Your First Hand Of Poker in RDR2: Rigged
"Sure, I’ll play a few hands." – Arthur Morgan
In Red Dead Redemption 2 you’ll come across poker in one of the early main story missions called “Who Is Not Without Sin,” which takes place in Chapter 2.
You’ll walk into Flatneck Station to find Reverend Swanson, the clergyman of your little community. He’s severely drunk and gambling money away at the poker table so you have to do the reasonable thing - remove him - and take his place.
And here we are, playing poker for “money” in the Wild West. It’s only a 1c/2c game but, hey -- a couple of cents will buy you a lot of stuff in the general stores around there. And a hotel room isn’t more than a buck.
If you’re one of those types that thinks poker is rigged wherever you play it, you’ll feel vindicated – at first. Your first hand will be Q-To (at least it was every time we tried) and you’ll suck out on the Q-J of one of your opponents by hitting a second pair – the ten – on the river.
At least it’s rigged in your favour, so we guess you won’t complain.
From the second hand onwards, however, the cards are as random as they really are on every online poker site in the world. If you can’t beat these guys, don’t blame the game.
For the mission’s outcome it doesn’t matter how long you stay at the table or whether you win or lose. The mission will continue when you stand up again and see that the Reverend has gone missing.
So, stay for a while and play. You’ll find that the level of play is pretty close to your own – or maybe even a little lower.
If you just stay on, the game will automatically “make you leave” at some point. Then it’s time to search for the Reverend before he gets hit by a train. Yes – literally.
After you finished this mission you’ll be able to come back and play whenever you like and for how long you like, given of course that the station is open. There is no 24/7 service yet in the year 1900 and most places simply shut down at night.
The same goes for additional poker locations, which you’ve now unlocked.
Red Dead Redemption 2: Locations
"You, Sir, are a fish." – Arthur Morgan
Flatneck Station is the first but by no means the only location you can play poker in. The other locations you can play poker in Red Dead Redemtion 2 are, in order of appearance:
- St. Denis
The last two won’t be available until pretty late in the game so don’t worry about them at first. At times there is even poker in your camp, so you can play against your friends depending on who’s there and available.
However, this option disappears once things start to slip. Until then several of the gang members play and all we can say is don’t underestimate the ladies.
The best place to play in terms of money is St. Denis, as this is the only place where you can play 2c/4c. There are always enough players available as St. Denis is the biggest city in this game world.
As mentioned, this doesn’t exactly sound like high stakes. But a dollar in 1900 had roughly the buying power of §30 today so that corresponds to a 60c/$1.20 blinds game today.
Now be honest: how high do you really play poker online?
But poker in Red Dead Redemption 2 is but a mini-game; it’s not there to accidentally ruin your main game. There are several means to make money in the game and you’ll soon have so much of it that you won’t have to worry about losing too much to get by.
That’s not going to happen.
Red Dead Redemption 2: High-Stakes Mission
"I guess it’s just you and me now, Mr … 'Callahan'” – Desmond Bligh
There actually is a high stakes poker game in RDR2 but it’s part of a main story mission and not a regular place you can go to.
Quite some time will have passed before you enter this mission in Chapter 4. It’s called “A Fine Night of Debauchery” and it’ll get you to play on a riverboat steamer under a false name against some shady business people.
How cool is that? Not that you’re exactly a pillar of modern society yourself, but you’ll get dressed up very nicely for that particular evening where you’ll relieve one Mr. Desmond Bligh of his money.
The poker part of this mission is, by any stretch, as rigged as it can be. You’ll have an accomplice from your community who’ll be there to tell you when to call and when to fold. It’s “Herr Strauss,” the often sullen and slightly uncanny money-lender from Austria.
Here’s a little tip: Don’t take his help if you want a perfect completion of the mission. You’ll have the chance to look or not look at Strauss.
Either way, the game won’t take too long and it’s difficult for you to not win because the dealer is also in on it. He’ll not only rig the deck but also tell you when to risk your money -- if you listen carefully.
Only a few hands in you’ll get it in in a big setup – and suck out. The following hand will be another setup, and then you’ll have all the chips on the table.
You’ll have to find out what the setups are yourself. When you go to collect the money things will quickly spiral out of control again and you’ll soon find yourself fighting for the money rather than playing for it. But we don’t want to give too much away …
Poker Challenges in RDR2
"What could possibly go wrong?" – Arthur Morgan
There are several different chains of challenges in Red Dead Redemption. You’ll have to prove yourself as a sharpshooter, bandit, herbalist, survivalist, horseman, weapons expert – and gambler. If you do, it’ll be beneficial for your health and your skills.
There are 10 gambling challenges in RDR2, three of which have to do with poker. The others will involve Blackjack, Dominoes, and Five Finger Fillet. The poker challenges are Numbers 1, 4 and 10.
Gambling Challenge #1: Win 5 Hands of Poker
That’s all it is. You might accidentally complete this mission on your first visit to the poker table at Flatneck Station.
If you don’t, don’t worry. The number of hands you won is saved so you don’t have to win all five hands in one session. You can complete the mission anywhere else and any other time.
Gambling Challenge #4: Bust a Player in 3 Different Locations
This is actually the most difficult of the three poker challenges. You’ll have to take one player’s complete stack at Flatneck Station, in St. Denis and in Valentine.
We saw just as many bad beats and suck-outs as in real poker so playing well alone isn’t always enough.
Our tip is to raise big – at least 10x – to build a pot early in the hand so your opponents have to commit themselves to the pot. Of course you can sometimes trap as well.
Even so, your opponents won’t always play the way they should and they’ll sometimes fold when math would tell them to call. You can still grind them down, though, which makes it easier to deliver the final blow.
This will cost you a bit of time since you have to do this in three different places. Eventually you’ll succeed, but we also had instances when we got stacked twice by the same player.
As you can only buy-in for a maximum of $5, your opponent might have 3x your stack so grinding them down won’t be easy. In cases like this it can be better to leave and do something else. Come back later when there’ll be other players with smaller stacks.
Gambling Challenge #10: Win 3 Poker Hands in a Row
It doesn’t matter where you do this so pick your favourite spot. The best-case scenario for speeding up this challenge is to push all-in three times in a row.
As you start with 250 bb there’s a good chance you won’t be called. But you can also choose a more conservative approach and just play. You’ll get there in a reasonable amount of time either way.
How Good are the Poker Players in RDR2?
"You don’t seem free; you seem drunk." – Arthur Morgan
For a mini-game within a game, poker in Red Dead Redemption 2 is impressively sophisticated. The NPCs are not only individuals on the outside, they also have different playing styles.
You’ll encounter several archetypes you’ll recognize from your other games, ranging from the classic maniac to the elderly guy in a suit who only plays monster hands.
Hence, the poker experience is quite realistic as the gameplay follows real-money Texas Hold’em play in detail.
The only minor mistake we could find is that every bet is called a “raise” by any player. But then if you’ve ever sat at a casino poker table there was probably someone who didn’t know the difference there, too.
Rules of Poker in RDR2
"The suspense is killing me." – Arthur Morgan
If you’re not familiar with the rules of Texas Hold’em, RDR2 provides a comprehensive set of poker rules so the game can even teach you poker.
You’ll be playing with virtual money but it’s actually more “poker-esque” than playing with play money on a real money online poker site.
Compared to the outrageous throwing around of chips that real people do with play money the virtual characters in RDR2 actually play more “realistic,” strategic poker. Maybe because the money is real to them. Funny world we live in today.
Every time you complete a challenge you’ll improve your Dead Eye skills and your ammunition capacity, which is very useful for the main story missions.
Poker in Red Dead Redemption 2: Masterfully Done
"There ain’t no shame in looking for a better world." – Arthur Morgan
The integration of poker into RDR2 has been masterfully done. It won’t be easy to make it any more realistic without involving real people.
No matter if you’re a beginner or an advanced player you’ll have some fun sitting in a saloon, downing a couple of whiskies and playing cards. Your opponents will be crooks, thieves, thugs, bandits, racketeers – and some, we assume, are good people.
- You must play poker to complete the main story missions
- You can play poker to have some fun and complete the challenges
- You cannot use poker as a means of making money inside the game as the stakes are far too low for that
You don’t need to play any additional poker than described above but if there’s one tip we can give you outside of poker in this game, it’s:
- Do some random stuff!
Don’t hurry through RDR2; you’ll regret it. Go hunting or fishing. Meet strangers and re-visit friends. Take on more challenges. Just be sure to waste some time; it’s limited!