If you’re a poker player into gaming or a gamer who dabbles in poker, Rockstar Games’ open-world Western, Red Dead Redemption, just got a lot more interesting for both of you.
It was pretty great already tbh but the new Liars and Cheats pack (released Sept. 21), has taken the stakes up even further, if you will.
If you haven’t played RDR before we'll walk you through a few quick tips and tricks for beating poker in the game at the start of this article.
If you have played it and want to get straight to the new stuff – the lying, the cheating, the sweet suit – then scroll down to the bottom part of the article.
Free Roaming in the Wild West
When playing Red Dead Redemption (available for PS3 and Xbox 360), most of the time you’ll be frantically firing away at anything that moves – or it will kill you.
But like Rockstar Games’ previous bestselling franchise GTA IV, Red Dead is a free-roaming game - meaning in between shootouts and mugging sprees, you can take it really easy and just cruise along.
In fact, this game is pretty enough you can spend full evenings just riding around in the moonlight waiting for the next spectacular sunrise. If, you know, you’re into that.
Or you can sit down in a classic saloon and play a game of cards.
Exotic Mix of Cash Game and Tournament
The poker games spread in saloons across the plains of West Elizabeth, New Austin and Nuevo Paraiso obey the standard rules of No-Limit Texas Hold'em.
Which is really good since No-Limit Holdem is “the only true game left” (according to poker legend Doyle Brunson). Also, it’s a game that most people know how to play.
That being said, the poker games in Red Dead Redemption are a strange mix of cash games and tournaments.
On the one side, there’s a fixed buy-in just like in tourneys. (The buy-in varies from town to town, though, from $10 at MacFarlane’s Ranch to $250 for the Blackwater Hotel high-stakes game.)
When players are out of chips, they stand up and leave - also just like in tournaments. So no rebuys. The blind levels double at a steady pace like tournaments, which is good since it shortens the games.
On the other hand, you can stand up at any time, leave the game and bring whatever cash you have left, like in a cash game. Also like a cash game, people may sit down and join the game at any time.
Basic Game Play and Playability
Red Dead poker is very intuitive and easy to learn. Games run real smooth too. It’s a bit like PKR, if you know or play on that 3D-graphic online poker site.
Graphics are terrific and you have to actively look at your cards if you forget what you’re holding. Thankfully though, you’ll have none of these crazy call downs that can tilt you so badly at PKR.
Placing big bets is somewhat awkward since you have to scroll through all the numbers one by one before you get to the $ value you want.
In the single player mode you can skip to your turn at any time and speed up the action considerably. But that’s only if you don’t want to listen in on the table banter, which is actually really funny.
For obvious reasons, there’s no fast forward in the new multiplayer mode (see below). Nevertheless, games run surprisingly smoothly and quickly as long as you’re not up against a drone.
Note: If by mistake you choose to fold when you have the option of checking, you’ll get no warning or second chance. This can be pretty devastating, particularly if you were planning on a decisive check raise. So make sure you hit the right button.
All in all, if Red Dead poker isn’t exactly like genuine online poker it’s not that bad a substitute either. Plus, if an opponent takes all your chips, you can stand up and kill the guy.
Note: If you kill all your opponents at the table and loot their bodies, you won’t get the amount of cash that was present at the table. Either this is a bug, or they’re just smart cowboys hiding their stash in their socks.
How to Beat the Game 1: By Playing Well
You’ll be surprised to hear this: The computer players are not that bad. There’s a lot of betting and raising going on and quite a few all-in moves.
These guys will make you fold a lot of hands if you’re willing to play solid poker. Once in a while, they will even hand you your ass.
Nevertheless, if you’re anything of a poker player and if you have the patience, you’ll beat the cowboys and shopkeepers consistently. Even if they’re not overly passive, they just lack the feel for what hands are worth.
You should be betting and shoving with hands like top pair, decent kicker. In the saloons of New Austin, the hard-ass Chinese will call you down with ace high.
It’s much the same as when you play micro-stakes online poker: The trick is to wait for a decent hand and then overbet the pot to extract maximum value.
In the same vein, you’d better refrain from bluffing. You’re likely to get a call and lose your money to bottom pair or some other shitty hand that your bluff can’t beat.
How to Beat the Game 2: By Meta Gaming
Of course, in a single-player game you can restart an episode as many times as you like. This offers a quicker way to defeat a poker game than by actually playing poker.
To do this effectively, make sure there’s just one opponent at the table then move all-in every hand. If you lose all your chips, reload the last saved game and try again.
If you win, try to get the game saved before you shoot an innocent lady and get yourself gunned down by the sheriff and his helpers. If there’s more than one player sitting at a poker table, you can get rid of the surplus in two ways:
- Chase the other players away through some basic manhandling (i.e shoving them). Of course this can get out of hands and force you to do some serious killing to save your own skin.
- Make sure you get caught cheating (see below). Then take out the opponents one after the other in duels until only one remains. This is less risky, unless you get fancy rather than just blowing the guys’ heads off.
Once you’re in a heads-up match you only need to win all the chips from the other guy. Note: If you win a pot with more than 2,000 chips, you’ll attain the High Roller trophy (see below).
Liars and Cheats Pack: Cheating and Multiplayer Poker
The Liars and Cheats Pack has some very cool new features and achievements:
- Multiplayer poker – play poker against other players
- Cheating – now you can cheat at poker! (single player only)
The following achievements can also be won at the poker table:
- Pa-Pa-Pa-Poker Ace - In a full Multiplayer Poker game, beat the table when blinds are at maximum.
- The Big Bluff - In a Multiplayer Poker game, win a hand by forcing someone with a better hand to fold.
- In a Van Down By the River - In a Multiplayer Poker game, win a hand on the last card when you were losing prior.
With this game pack, poker in Red Dead Redemption has gotten really interesting – which brings us to:
How to Beat the Game 3: By Actually Cheating
With the Liars and Cheats Pack, you can now try some genuine cheating in Red Dead poker (but only in single-player mode, unfortunately). To get the ability to cheat at poker, though, you need to dress up in the Elegant Suit.
Maybe it’s because you must look proper to get away with cheating. Or maybe it’s because the suit has a secret pocket where you can tuck away hidden cards. Either way, make sure you’re wearing the right suit.
Note: We’re not talking about the Gentleman’s Suit here. That one will get you nowhere. (Except into the high-stakes game in Blackwater.)
How to Unlock the Elegant Suit
There are two ways of unlocking the Elegant Suit:
- Either defeat all opponents in a game of poker (see above). Or,
- Be the initiator of a game of poker in the multiplayer mode.
The later option is trivially simple to achieve. The first is not very hard either. Once you’ve unlocked the suit, you need to buy it from the tailor at Thieves' Landing (open during daytime).
It costs only $70 so getting dressed up as a cheater should be no problem.
How to Cheat
When you wear the Elegant Suit at a poker table, a new game feature opens up. Each time it’s your turn to deal the cards you can slip one card off the bottom of the deck and hide it.
The hidden card is kept on display in the upper left corner of the screen. Any time it’s your turn, you can exchange the hidden card for a card in your hand.
For the cheating to succeed, though, you have to win a little “mini game” consisting of balancing an arrow in the center of a scale. If you fail the mini game, you’ll be caught cheating. An opponent will challenge you, and your destiny will be put on the line in a pistol duel.
Note: This can be used as a way of practicing duels but your buy-in to the poker game will be forfeited. To rejoin the game you have to post a new buy in.
Once you have a hidden card available, your best option is to save it until the end of the hand when players have to show their cards. Not until then can you know for sure what your best play is.
It’s possible that you can win the hand without cheating. Then cheating’s just an unnecessary risk. Even better, save the card for a later hand where it really means something.
If you manage to sneak out a strong card, like an ace, it could make all the difference in the world once you get involved in a really big pot, as you can see in this clip:
Multiplayer Poker in Red Dead Redemption
At the end of the day, it’s probably more exciting to play poker against living opponents than computer guys, right? With the Liars and Cheats Pack, you can do this in the saloons of Armadillo, Thieves Landing, Chuparosa and other places across the West.
Sadly, in multiplayer poker games you can’t kill your opponents. You can do some boxing before the game starts, just like before death matches, but it won’t affect the players once the poker begins.
On the other hand, you don’t risk getting killed just because you took cash off the wrong guy either. Poker games live in a world of their own. To get out of them, you need to go back to the Free Roam.
Once in the Free Roam you’ll be exposed to the usual random killing and mugging, of course. But that’s another story.
In multiplayer poker there’s no fast forward that allows you to skip to your turn. You’ll have to wait nicely for the other players to make their moves.
There’s also no chat where you can kindle slow opponents with friendly commentaries like “zzz”, “ffs” or “your mom says hello.” Maybe just as well, by the way.
But the biggest difference compared to regular online poker is definitely the absence of real, hard cash. Either way you see it, poker isn’t really the same without some value at stake.
Then again, there’s actually something to compete for -- even if it’s not real cash. How about huge sums of game money, for starters?
Want to buy something really expensive? Need to buffer up huge quantities of guns, ammo and medicine for one of the bigger missions? You can, after a few games of high stakes poker. It beats hunting every day of the week if you ask me.
And then there’s the honor, not to forget. The Liars and Cheats Pack comes with new titles and achievements that go really well with your free-roaming game persona.
There you go. Now that I’ve taught you everything, I expect to see you at a table real soon! Remember that I never bluff.
Appendix: Will Playing Poker in Red Dead Redemption Help You in Real Poker?
If you weren’t a poker guy before you started, the short answer is probably not. But if you enjoyed playing poker in the saloons of Red Dead Redemption, chances are you’ll like it at a real online poker site.
Overall the games are much smoother and there are hundreds of games to choose from rather than the limited options in Red Dead. If you don’t care that much for all the waiting in between hands either, with real online poker you can play more than one table at a time.
The other advantage of course is you can bring real cash to the table. Blinds online start at 1c/2c, so you really don’t need to invest a fortune either. If you want to try online poker, check out our site reviews.
Just remember: you can’t reload these games when things turn sour.