Only in China for now, unfortunately.
Even if you aren’t lucky enough to be able to afford a Tesla, you’ve no doubt heard about what incredible feats of engineering these cars are. Combining pioneering electric technology with eye-catching designs, they look every bit like the car of the future. But there is one technological problem that Elon Musk has not been able solve: how to charge a battery in as little time as it takes to fill a tank with gas. He has, however, come up with a brilliant plan for entertaining the driver and passengers during the charging time: a built-in gaming system!
The Tesla Arcade displays on the cars center screen and includes a host of gaming classics, like Missile Command and Asteroids, as well as more modern entertainment like Beach Buggy Racing 2. There are also plans for Tesla versions of modern favourites like Fallout. But the big news of the moment is that Tesla have just announced a partnership with China’s biggest developer Tencent, to bring online casino games to the Arcade. It is not yet known exactly which games will be available, but it is thought that this will include the popular Chinese game Mahjong, as well as a form of poker, with the most likely variants being either Texas Hold ‘Em or Pot-limit Omaha.
For those unfamiliar with the terms, Texas Hold ‘em and Omaha are the two most popular poker variants across the world. They’re both fairly similar, meaning that players often become proficient, and enjoy playing, both. They both split the player’s hand between private cards and a public pool of five cards, known as ‘the flop’. The players are then tasked with making the best poker hand that they can using these cards.
In Omaha games, the player is dealt four personal, or ‘hole’, cards. They keep these secret from everyone else and can place bets on whether or not they think they will end up with the best hand. Then the flop is dealt one card at a time, with an opportunity for betting or folding after each card. Any players still left in the game must use two of their hole cards and three of the flop cards, in order to make the best poker combination. By having more hole cards than is necessary, players have a greater chance of being able to come up with some of the rarer hands like high straights and four of a kind. However this also means that it is very difficult for players without strong starting hands to improve their lot.
Texas Hold ‘em
The main difference between Texas Hold ‘em and Omaha is that players are only dealt two hole cards instead of four. This makes it more difficult to create winning combinations like royal flushes and a full house, but it does mean that players who only have pairs can win a game if they bet strategically. Also, unlike Omaha, players are not compelled to use both of their hole cards; they may use only one or even none, if the best cards in play happen to come from the flop. For example, someone calls with a pair of red kings, and all five communal cards are spades. Their highest hand would therefore be a flush, not using either of their kings.
While many people think that it is an easier game, Omaha hands can be misleading. For example, your four starting cards might all be clubs, which will make you think you’re a shoe in for a nice flush. However you can only use two of them – players must use all three public cards on the table – and if you don’t get any clubs there, then you have no chance. On the flip side, a nice, safe pair of Kings in your hand could be outdone by someone who manages to put together a straight because their cards were close enough together that multiple combinations of the flop would have been helpful.
Whereas in Texas Hold ‘em, it is universally acknowledged that not all starting hands are created equally. Pair of aces to jacks are always worth sticking with, but a pair of tens or lower probably won’t get enough of a lift from the flop to become a winning hand. Because the chances of getting straights and flushes are statistically much lower, if you’re able to start with a pair then you have a major advantage over the rest of the table.
If all this sounds great, then you might be disappointed to hear that these games are initially only being launched in China. China has built a great luxury market recently, where the increased wealth of the upper classes giving rise to a generation who want to invest in luxury experiences, like high-end cars. But if you have visions of Tesla drivers crashing into each other while playing poker, then you don’t need to worry: the games will only be enabled when the car is parked.