|System: X360 - XBL||Review Rating Legend|
|Dev: Tiki||1.0 - 1.9 = Avoid||4.0 - 4.4 = Great|
|Pub: Microsoft||2.0 - 2.4 = Poor||4.5 - 4.9 = Must Buy|
|Release: Aug 2006||2.5 - 2.9 = Average||5.0 = The Best|
|Players: 1 - 8||3.0 - 3.4 = Fair|
|Review by Patrick||3.5 - 3.9 = Good|
By Patrick Evans
Texas Holdem is the purest form of poker to some, and to others its the only game they will play. Dozens of websites attract online Holdem players with nothing but time to kill, and Microsoft wanted to move in on that market. The Tiki Games developed Texas Holdem strips the game down to its basics and provides players the opportunity to lose the time without losing their shirt.
Available for free until Friday morning at 1am Pacific, Texas Holdem offers both standard and tournament games for players to choose from. Right out of the gate, there were chumps that decided they would take a stab at pots early and got their rear ends handed to them, but this is typical of regular online games as well. The regular tables saw idiots and sharks alike all scratching to win as many hands as possible.
A permanent bankroll is one of Texas Holdems greatest draws on Xbox Live. Most tables or tournaments have buy-ins, which is deducted from your overall bankroll when you go into the game. When you leave the table your money goes back into the bankroll, either a little fatter or a little leaner. As you continue to climb up in the money, bigger and bigger tables, and payoffs, are available to you, just like in any other online poker game.
The interface in-game is as simple as it gets. When action comes to you, call/check, fold, and bet are all on face buttons. If you want to bet, you can either use the outrageously over-sensitive control stick/d-pad or you can use the shoulder buttons, which increase the bet amount in increments according to the blinds. It would have been nice to see betting handled a little more carefully, but using the shoulder buttons gets the job done.
Xbox Lives poker has one major advantage over many, if not all, online poker websites out there. Chatting with the people at your table makes the game much more fun and erases part of the anonymity associated with online poker. Instead of simply looking onto a computer screen and scratching yourself while you wait for your turn, you can now talk to the others in your game while scratching yourself and waiting for your turn.
Bankrolls and chat-support are great, but Texas Holdem does have a few issues that make finding a suitable table difficult. When searching for a table with the Quick Match option, there will be times that the table that comes up is outside your price range. Using the custom match option solves this without a problem, but it would be nice to see the game use some intuition in selecting a table for you. There were also some glitches in the network with buying in or cashing out. I jumped onto a table with a 20,000 dollar buy-in when I only had 18,000. Before I even got to play a hand, I was tossed out of the game, but I received more than 40,000 dollars from the table inexplicably. In the leaderboard, Im still ranked as if I had 18,000, but my dollar value is astronomical. For my sake, I hope they dont fix that glitch, but its troubling nonetheless.
Microsoft has said that it plans on utilizing the upcoming camera accessory in Texas Holdem to allow players to see each other while playing. If so, it will mean two things for online poker. One, people will start having to watch what they do to keep their cards hidden, and I will have to start playing the game with pants on. When the camera support comes out, we at CCC will revisit this game and update our review, but for now, Texas Holdem is the most addictive Xbox Live Arcade game since Uno. Even if you cant get it while its free, this game is easily worth the 800 points.
CCC Staff Writer