Texas Hold 'Em REVIEW

Texas Hold 'Em Review (Xbox 360)

“Poker takes minutes to learn, but a lifetime to master”

Those familiar with the poker broadcasts on ESPN or the Travel Channel have all heard it before. With the way poker has exploded on to the mainstream scene over the past couple of years, many have bought into the aforementioned statement. While it appears the poker boom is finally starting to plateau, fortunately for gamers, the steady release of new poker titles is not. Next to go “all in” is TikGames, LLC’s aptly named Texas Hold ‘Em, which is eligible for download on the Xbox 360 via the Xbox Live Arcade.

As one would expect from an Xbox Live Arcade poker game, the presentation is lackluster. Other than 5 different table types, and 15 unique carpet types, there are no other customizable options at your disposal. Also, the camera angle tends to shift every couple of minutes for reasons unknown, and the background music leaves a lot to be desired. The menus are easy to navigate, and even include a How To Play guide for those that are new to Texas Hold ‘Em, and it’s lingo.

The allure of playing poker online is what makes Texas Hold ‘Em so enticing. However, we’re all well aware that there’s an overwhelming number of Xbox Live users that are more worried about making the experience miserable for those they are playing with, than actually enjoying the game. To help weed out the potential troublemakers, and novices of the game, Texas Hold ‘Em implements a bankroll system that forces players to play wisely, or get accustomed to playing at the free-roll tables where the competition is nothing short of obnoxious.

One thing Texas Hold ‘Em doesn’t lack is gameplay options. You start with three separate bankrolls. The single player and competitive bankrolls contain $2,000 to start off with, while the player match bankroll possesses $25,000. In single player, you have three different modes to choose from. A standard game puts you at a table with 7 other computer controlled players, and lets you set the limit type, amount of the blinds, and the buy-in. Tournament mode features four different types of competitions, but the buy-ins increase as you work your way up the ladder. There’s also a scenario mode that puts you in a variety of challenging situations, such as being at a final table with a short stack, or even the final table chip leader. The artificial intelligence of the computer players is competent, and much better than some other poker games you’ll find on the market for a much higher price. If they think they’ve got the nuts, they’ll raise. Sure, there’s some moments that’ll leave you scratching your head, but I just chalk it up to them attempting to bluff.

The competitive bankroll is used in online multiplayer tournament mode. Again, there are four different types of tournaments you can enter, but only if you have the money to buy-in. The Xbox Live Invitation is a free-roll tournament, and this is where the quality poker playing is scarce. Those that bust early and often will be found at this table. The next step up is the Xbox Live Regional, which has a $4,000 buy-in. As one would guess, the competition increases as the buy-ins increase. The next two tournaments are the Xbox Live National and Xbox Live All World, and they have $50,000 and $500,000 buy-ins respectively. To keep the playing field fair, friend invites are not allowed during competitive play.

The player match mode lets you customize a table to your liking, whether it be a single table sit and go, or a tournament. The funds used are from the player match bankroll. In this mode, friend invites are allowed, thus creating an enjoyable atmosphere. There’s nothing better than shooting the breeze with 7 of your Xbox Live friends while your taking their virtual cash.

Texas Hold ‘Em does come with some minor flaws. I’ve noticed in tournament mode, if everyone at the table goes all-in on the first hand, the winner will be awarded first place money, but the seven other participants will be awarded second place money. It didn’t take long for some on the leaderboard to abuse this, and boost their bankroll. Also, loading times between hands are a little longer than expected. While this isn’t a regular occurrence, there’s often a gap of about 10 seconds between hands. Most of my playing time was spent online with friends, where I’ve seen some connections issues rear their ugly head. Nobody likes forking over $5,000 of their player match bankroll, only to see it disappear because they were dropped five minutes into the tournament.

With the Xbox Live Arcade library rapidly growing, so is the number of quality titles available for download. Texas Hold ‘Em is another game that can be lumped into that bunch. Sure, the game comes with some minor quirks, but for such a low price, it’s hard not to recommend this quality title.

Texas Hold 'Em Score
out of 10