The heart and soul of poker has always been the fact that it is a social game. My first memories of poker are sitting around the kitchen table with my buddies in high school on Friday nights, drinking soda and playing for quarters. In a time before everyone had a computer in their pocket, I don’t remember how we kept track of our tournaments. However, I’m sure it wasn’t nearly as easy as it is today for home games using the new $.99 “One of a Kind” (“Ooak” for short) poker app for iPhone.
This newest addition to the poker app canon seeks to make it easier than ever for hosts to keep track of their home games. It provides a count of the number of each chip denomination required to create the desired starting stack, and also keeps track of tournament blind levels. Whether you are playing cash games or tournaments, this app will allow you to start your games effortlessly, cutting down on setup time and getting the action going as quickly as possible.
After putting the app through its paces, I definitely recommend it as a clear alternative to eyeballing starting chip stacks and using a stopwatch and a piece of paper to keep track of blind levels. Below, I lay out some of the key features and make some suggestions for improvement for future versions.
Professional, Clean Look and Feel
The first thing that jumps out about Ooak is its polished design. The app looks beautiful; its opening screen is simple, but evokes the fun, frenetic chaos that a home poker came can bring to an evening or weekend:
Once you enter the app, the user interface is simple and intuitive. Each customizable game option is clearly labeled, with clear controls for how to set your game up.
Functionality Is Great; Could Be More Customizable
For cash games, you can tell the app the buy-in amount and the number of players in the game, and it will recommend a starting chip distribution. This encourages great play by allowing for the correct balance to be struck between the value and volume of chips. You can also manually enter colors/values for chips to ensure they add up to the correct amount.
For tournaments, a tournament clock is also available. After setting the total length of time you want the tournament to last, it will automatically set up the blinds/antes for you and provide a countdown timer for each level.
Although this feature is great, it does provide the clearest example of the main criticism I have of the app. Even though you can set the overall duration of the tournament, you cannot set how long you want level to be. Level length will increase with with tournament duration (and are presumably mathematically optimized), but it would be nice for the host to have the option to decide as well.
In the future, I hope the programmers will continue to build on what is already a solid offering by creating more customizable options. Another suggestion would be the ability to track results across multiple tournaments. One example of where this might be handy is with home game “leagues” that pool their money in order to give one member a buy-in into a major tournament.
For the price, the “One of a Kind” app is definitely worth investing in for any who hosts a regular home game. It’s beautiful design, intuitive controls, and bug-free programming make it both valuable and easy to use.