Create an Interactive Poker Game in Power BI: A Step-by-Step Guide

Introduction: Power BI is a powerful business analytics tool that allows you to visualize and analyze data. But did you know you can also use it to create an interactive poker game? In this detailed walkthrough, we’ll show you how to design a poker game within a Power BI report. This tutorial is designed for novices, so we’ll go step-by-step through the process.

Pre-requisites:

  1. Power BI Desktop installed on your computer.
  2. A basic understanding of Power BI and its features.
  3. A dataset containing poker card images (PNG or JPEG format) and associated data (card rank and suit).

Step 1: Prepare the dataset Before we begin building our poker game, we need to prepare the dataset. The dataset should contain the following columns:

  1. CardID: A unique identifier for each card.
  2. CardName: The name of the card (e.g., Ace of Spades, Two of Hearts, etc.).
  3. CardImage: The file path or URL to the card image.
  4. Rank: The rank of the card (e.g., Ace, 2, 3, etc.).
  5. Suit: The suit of the card (e.g., Spades, Hearts, etc.).

You can create this dataset using Excel or any other spreadsheet software. Save the dataset in CSV or Excel format.

Step 2: Import the dataset into Power BI

  1. Open Power BI Desktop.
  2. Click on “Home” and then click “Get Data.”
  3. Choose “Excel” or “Text/CSV” depending on the format of your dataset.
  4. Browse to the location of your dataset and click “Open.”
  5. In the Navigator window, select the sheet or table containing your dataset and click “Load.”

Step 3: Create a card deck table

  1. In the “Data” view, click on the ellipsis (three dots) next to your dataset’s name and click “Reference.”
  2. Rename the new table as “CardDeck.”
  3. Add a new column called “IsDrawn” with a default value of 0 (indicating the card is not yet drawn).
  4. Click “Close & Apply” to save your changes.

Step 4: Create the poker table layout

  1. Switch to the “Report” view.
  2. Add a new page and rename it as “Poker Table.”
  3. Drag and drop a “Slicer” visual onto the canvas and set its “Field” to “CardDeck[CardID].”
  4. Set the slicer visual to “Single select” mode and hide its header.
  5. Arrange the slicer visual to resemble a deck of cards (you can customize its appearance using the “Format” pane).
  6. Add a “Gallery” visual (custom visual available in the marketplace) to the canvas and set its “Field” to “CardDeck[CardImage].”
  7. Set the gallery visual’s “Filters on this visual” to show only cards with “CardDeck[IsDrawn]” equal to 1.

Step 5: Create the draw card functionality

  1. Add a “Button” visual to the canvas and label it “Draw Card.”
  2. Under the “Action” tab in the “Format” pane, set the “Action type” to “Bookmark.”
  3. Go to the “View” tab and click “Bookmarks.”
  4. Click “Add” to create a new bookmark and rename it “DrawCard.”
  5. With the “DrawCard” bookmark selected, go to the “Data” tab and change the “CardDeck[IsDrawn]” value for the selected card to 1.
  6. Click “Update” in the “Bookmarks” pane to save your changes. 7. In the “Format” pane, set the button’s “Action” to the “DrawCard” bookmark.

Step 6: Create the reset deck functionality

  1. Add another “Button” visual to the canvas and label it “Reset Deck.”
  2. Under the “Action” tab in the “Format” pane, set the “Action type” to “Bookmark.”
  3. With the “Bookmarks” pane still open, click “Add” to create a new bookmark and rename it “ResetDeck.”
  4. With the “ResetDeck” bookmark selected, go to the “Data” tab and change the “CardDeck[IsDrawn]” value for all cards back to 0.
  5. Click “Update” in the “Bookmarks” pane to save your changes.
  6. In the “Format” pane, set the reset button’s “Action” to the “ResetDeck” bookmark.

Step 7: Add player areas and card placeholders

  1. On the “Poker Table” page, create a section for each player (up to the desired number of players).
  2. Add a “Card” visual for each card placeholder in the player’s area.
  3. Set the “Category” field to “CardDeck[CardName]” and the “Image” field to “CardDeck[CardImage]” for each card visual.
  4. Apply filters to each card visual to show the corresponding card based on the draw order and player.

Step 8: Add game rules and logic (optional)

Adding game rules and logic to your Power BI poker game will require the use of DAX (Data Analysis Expressions) language and additional visuals. In this expanded step, we’ll cover the basics of hand ranking, betting, and winning conditions.

A. Create hand ranking and scoring measures

  1. In the “Data” view, create a new table named “HandRanking” with the following columns: “HandRank”, “HandName”, and “HandDescription”.
  2. Populate the table with standard poker hand rankings, such as High Card, One Pair, Two Pair, Three of a Kind, etc.
  3. In the “CardDeck” table, create a new calculated column called “CardValue” using the following DAX formula to assign a numeric value to each card based on its rank:
CardValue = SWITCH (
    CardDeck[Rank],
    "Ace", 14,
    "King", 13,
    "Queen", 12,
    "Jack", 11,
    "10", 10,
    "9", 9,
    "8", 8,
    "7", 7,
    "6", 6,
    "5", 5,
    "4", 4,
    "3", 3,
    "2", 2
)

4. Create a measure named “PlayerHandScore” in the “CardDeck” table using a DAX formula that calculates the poker hand score for each player based on their drawn cards.

Creating a “PlayerHandScore” measure in DAX to evaluate poker hands is a complex task due to the intricate rules of poker hand rankings. It’s important to note that this measure would require advanced DAX calculations, and the provided solution here will be a simplified version that may not cover all edge cases.

For this example, let’s assume we have a table “PlayerCards” containing the “PlayerID” and the “CardID” of their drawn cards. Here’s a basic outline of a possible DAX formula to calculate a simplified “PlayerHandScore” measure:

  1. Calculate the count of each rank and suit for each player.
  2. Use these counts to evaluate different poker hand types.
  3. Assign a numeric score to each hand type.

Here’s a simplified DAX measure for “PlayerHandScore”:

PlayerHandScore =
VAR PlayerID = SELECTEDVALUE ( Player[PlayerID] )
VAR PlayerHand = 
    CALCULATETABLE (
        ADDCOLUMNS (
            SUMMARIZE ( PlayerCards, PlayerCards[PlayerID], CardDeck[Rank], CardDeck[Suit] ),
            "RankCount", CALCULATE ( COUNTROWS ( CardDeck ), ALLEXCEPT ( CardDeck, CardDeck[Rank] ) ),
            "SuitCount", CALCULATE ( COUNTROWS ( CardDeck ), ALLEXCEPT ( CardDeck, CardDeck[Suit] ) )
        ),
        PlayerCards[PlayerID] = PlayerID
    )
VAR IsPair = CALCULATE ( COUNTROWS ( PlayerHand ), PlayerHand[RankCount] = 2 )
VAR IsThreeOfAKind = CALCULATE ( COUNTROWS ( PlayerHand ), PlayerHand[RankCount] = 3 )
VAR IsFourOfAKind = CALCULATE ( COUNTROWS ( PlayerHand ), PlayerHand[RankCount] = 4 )
VAR IsFlush = CALCULATE ( DISTINCTCOUNT ( PlayerHand[Suit] ), PlayerHand[SuitCount] >= 5 ) = 1
VAR IsStraight =
    IF (
        CALCULATE ( DISTINCTCOUNT ( PlayerHand[Rank] ), PlayerHand[RankCount] = 1 ) >= 5
            && MAX ( PlayerHand[CardValue] ) - MIN ( PlayerHand[CardValue] ) = 4,
        1,
        0
    )
RETURN
    100000 * IsStraight * IsFlush
    + 10000 * IsFourOfAKind
    + 1000 * IsFullHouse
    + 100 * IsFlush
    + 10 * IsStraight
    + 1 * IsThreeOfAKind
    + 0.1 * IsPair

B. Add a scoreboard visual

  1. In the “Report” view, create a new page named “Scoreboard”.
  2. Add a “Table” visual to the canvas.
  3. Drag the “Player”, “HandName”, and “PlayerHandScore” fields to the “Values” section of the table visual.
  4. Sort the table by “PlayerHandScore” in descending order.

C. Create betting logic

  1. Add a new table named “Player” with the following columns: “PlayerID”, “PlayerName”, and “PlayerBalance”.
  2. In the “Player” table, create a calculated column named “PlayerBet” to store the bet amount for each player.
  3. Add a “Chiclet Slicer” custom visual (available in the marketplace) to the “Poker Table” page, setting its “Field” to “Player[PlayerID]”. Set the chiclet slicer visual to “Single select” mode.
  4. Add another “Chiclet Slicer” custom visual to the canvas to allow players to input their bet amounts. Set the visual’s “Field” to “Player[PlayerBet]”. Configure the chiclet slicer’s format and appearance to display bet amounts clearly.
  5. Create a calculated column named “UpdatePlayerBalance” in the “Player” table using a DAX formula that subtracts the bet amount from the player’s balance when a bet is placed.
UpdatedPlayerBalance = Player[PlayerBalance] - Player[PlayerBet]

This calculated column will subtract the bet amount (Player[PlayerBet]) from the player’s balance (Player[PlayerBalance]) for each player, updating their balance accordingly. Please note that this DAX expression assumes that the “PlayerBet” column is a static input in the “Player” table. If the bet amount changes dynamically during the game, you may need to use more advanced DAX technique.

The more advanced technique for updating player balances in real-time involves using measures, buttons, and bookmarks. Here’s a step-by-step guide on how to implement this method:

In the “Player” table, create a measure called “SelectedPlayer” to identify the currently selected player:

SelectedPlayer = SELECTEDVALUE(Player[PlayerID])

Create another measure called “SelectedBet” to identify the currently selected bet amount:

SelectedBet = SELECTEDVALUE(Player[PlayerBet])

Create a measure called “UpdatePlayerBalance” in the “Player” table. This measure will display the updated balance after placing a bet:

UpdatePlayerBalance = 
IF (
    [SelectedPlayer] = Player[PlayerID],
    Player[PlayerBalance] - [SelectedBet],
    Player[PlayerBalance]
)
  • Add a “Button” visual to the “Poker Table” page and label it “Place Bet”. Set the button’s “Action type” to “Bookmark”.
  • Go to the “View” tab and click “Bookmarks”. Click “Add” to create a new bookmark and rename it “PlaceBet”.
  • With the “PlaceBet” bookmark selected, click “Add” in the “Selection” pane. Select the “Player” table and the “Chiclet Slicer” for the bet amount. Set the “Data” property for the selected player and bet amount.
  • Click “Update” in the “Bookmarks” pane to save your changes.
  • In the “Format” pane, set the “Place Bet” button’s “Action” to the “PlaceBet” bookmark.
  • Add a “Card” visual to the “Poker Table” page to display the updated player balance. Set the “Field” to the “UpdatePlayerBalance” measure.

Now, when a player selects their bet amount and clicks the “Place Bet” button, the player’s balance will be updated in real-time. Note that this implementation requires users to click the “Place Bet” button to update the balance. You can further refine the solution to make it more interactive and user-friendly by incorporating additional buttons, visuals, and DAX expressions.

D. Determine the winner

  1. Create a measure named “Winner” in the “Player” table using a DAX formula that identifies the player with the highest “PlayerHandScore”. To create a measure named “Winner” in the “Player” table that identifies the player with the highest “PlayerHandScore”, you can use the following DAX formula:
Winner = 
VAR MaxPlayerHandScore = MAXX(ALL(Player), [PlayerHandScore])
VAR WinningPlayerID = 
    CALCULATE (
        SELECTEDVALUE ( Player[PlayerID] ),
        FILTER ( ALL ( Player ), [PlayerHandScore] = MaxPlayerHandScore )
    )
VAR WinningPlayerName = LOOKUPVALUE ( Player[PlayerName], Player[PlayerID], WinningPlayerID )
RETURN
    WinningPlayerName

In this formula, we first calculate the maximum “PlayerHandScore” across all players using the MAXX function. Then, we identify the winning player’s ID by filtering the “Player” table for the player with the maximum hand score. Finally, we use the LOOKUPVALUE function to return the name of the winning player based on the winning player’s ID.

2. Add a “Card” visual to the “Poker Table” page and set its “Category” field to “Winner”. This visual will display the name of the winning player.

E. Add reset game functionality

  1. Follow the steps outlined in Step 6 to create a “Reset Game” button and bookmark.
  2. With the “ResetGame” bookmark selected, reset the “PlayerHandScore”, “PlayerBet”, and “CardDeck[IsDrawn]” values for all players and cards back to their initial values.
  3. Update the “ResetGame” bookmark to save your changes.

Step 9: Publish and share the report

  1. Save your Power BI report by clicking “File” > “Save.”
  2. To share your interactive poker game with others, click “File” > “Publish” > “Publish to Power BI.”
  3. Sign in to your Power BI account and choose a destination workspace.
  4. Once published, you can share the report link or embed it in a web page.

Congratulations! You’ve successfully created an interactive poker game in Power BI. By following these steps, you’ve learned how to import and manipulate data, create a visually appealing layout, and implement game functionality using bookmarks and actions. You can further customize your poker game by adding rules, logic, and additional visuals as needed. Happy playing!

This blogpost was created with help from ChatGPT Pro