Apple’s App Store will celebrate its 11th anniversary later this week, but the company says it’s celebrating the Store’s 10th year by re-releasing a classic iPod and iPhone app: Texas Hold’em (via 9to5Mac). Based on the globally popular poker game, the app gives players the chance to gamble fake money in 10 casino settings — including an Apple garage with classic iMac and iPod posters — for the first time, at zero cost to users.
The original $5 Apple version of Texas Hold’em launched for the fifth-generation iPod in September 2006 before arriving on the iPhone and iPod touch in July 2008, an oddity in that Apple rarely developed its own mobile games. Surprisingly little has changed from the game’s prior releases to the re-release: Apple has reformatted the app to look better on tall, Retina displays, but preserved most of the same background themes, digitized characters, and music from before — albeit with “new characters” and “more challenging gameplay.” The game can be played in portrait or landscape orientations.
Texas Hold’em is fundamentally the same as the prior version. Each player gets two personal cards and up to five community cards to assemble a winning five-card hand, earning chips to unlock additional casino locations including Roppongi, Las Vegas, and Macau. While there’s a single-player mode where you just choose the locale, a multiplayer mode includes over 140 different digitized characters — likely including Apple employees — which may or may not explain why the app is now a whopping 1.5GB in size.
Apple is offering Texas Hold’em 2.0 for free starting today from the iOS App Store, oddly to “celebrate the 10 year anniversary of the App Store,” which actually took place last year on July 10, 2018. The company improbably released a new game, a Paperboy clone called Warren Buffett’s Paper Wizard, two months ago, perhaps as a sign of its renewed interest in games ahead of the fall launch of the Apple Arcade subscription gaming service.