GTA Online's casino desperately needs Red Dead Online's horses and poker

GTA Online
(Image credit: Rockstar)

I've visited GTA Online's new Diamond Casino, and as a gambling fan (in games, for fake money), I've already got a few complaints. 

The slot machines are a bit basic—there's no multi-line bets and while some have their own specific sound effects, they're all roughly the same machines with different paint jobs. The roulette is handled well but personally I find watching a ball spin around a real bore. There's a cap on how many chips you can buy—20,000 for walk-ins and 50,000 for VIP members. Honestly, this is probably a good idea, since you can buy casino chips with GTA cash, and you can buy GTA cash for real money, making this fake gambling, potentially, real gambling.

At the same time, though, this is a game where most players are in-game multi-millionaires, and it's hard to feel like a high-roller when you're limited to a relatively small pile of chips.

Mainly though, I'm severely disappointed in the horses and the poker.

(Image credit: Rockstar)

I get why the horse racing sucks and looks fake: it's a throwback to the original Inside Track from GTA: San Andreas. Inside Track is a betting shop where CJ can put some money on the ponies, and then watch the side-scrolling race on a TV monitor. This is exactly that: janky looking horses racing from left to right and shifting positions, like the carnival game where you shoot a stream of water into a target to make your horse move. 

And it's cute, don't get me wrong. But it's hard to watch the horse races at The Diamond without thinking about the thousands of hours of programming and animation that went into the horses in Rockstar's other big game: Red Dead Redemption 2. 

All I can think is, hey, why not get those beautiful ponies in here? GTA and RDR are both cinematic experiences. Real horse racing is dreadfully exciting (if you can try not to focus on the horses getting beaten by their jockeys while they run). So, why I am watching a shitty side-scrolling horse race and not a beautiful, dramatic, cinematic, realistic horse race? Because of a throwback joke? If we can't get RDR2 on PC, can't we at least look at its horses? 

I'll grant that I'm making it sound simple when it's obviously not as easy as typing 'import RDR2_horses; set DoACoolRace==true,' but watching all the horsing around in RDR2 makes a person envious.

GTA Online

(Image credit: Rockstar)

Even if you like the janky new Inside Track, I think we can all agree that GTA Online's poker just 100 percent completely sucks a butt. It's Three Card Poker. Three Card Poker. What the hell? Three Card Poker isn't a terrible game in and of itself, but RDR2 has actual Texas Hold 'Em. I marched into The Diamond expecting to sit down at a proper poker table in a proper poker room and lose all my money. I am incredibly disappointed (though I still lost all my money).

I haven't played RDR2 myself, but I played Red Dead Redemption and its poker was great. I used to fire up the game and play it for hours just for the poker. I can only assume RDR2's Texas Hold 'Em (which was made available in Red Dead Online a couple months ago) is good, too.

So why the heck isn't it in The Diamond, along with some sweet ponies to watch? Feels like a real missed opportunity to master horse anatomy and design proper poker for one game and then put flat horses and a casino variant in another.

Christopher Livingston
Senior Editor

Chris started playing PC games in the 1980s, started writing about them in the early 2000s, and (finally) started getting paid to write about them in the late 2000s. Following a few years as a regular freelancer, PC Gamer hired him in 2014, probably so he'd stop emailing them asking for more work. Chris has a love-hate relationship with survival games and an unhealthy fascination with the inner lives of NPCs. He's also a fan of offbeat simulation games, mods, and ignoring storylines in RPGs so he can make up his own.