Game Rant's Anthony Taormina reviews Full House Poker
When Microsoft cancelled 1 vs. 100, their marginally popular daily variety quiz show, they promised that the concept would return in one form or another. That rebirth has taken shape as Full House Poker, a downloadable title that can be played on the Xbox 360 or taken on the go with a Windows 7 phone.
With daily tournaments and a wide variety of customization options, Full House Poker could be the title that captures the experience seen on the World Poker Tour. Still, the question remains: with so many poker titles available, including some on Xbox Live, is Full House Poker an all-in winner, or is it a bust? Read on to find out.
First and foremost, Full House Poker is a poker title through and through — there are very few of the concepts that were new and exciting in 1 vs. 100 seen here. What the title does offer, however, is several different experiences, each catered to a different type of Texas Hold ‘Em player.
For the casual player there is the standard computer-controlled opponent fare, with two options to choose from. In the first, the player faces off against several AI opponents, in essence mimicking the experience of a poker table. The second, known as Pro Takedown, pits the player in a 1-on-1 grudge match against various AI play styles for chip supremacy.
These two single player modes are all well and good, but they lack any real depth and merely serve to boost one’s level using the game's experience system. As the player levels up, they will earn everything from new Avatar items to new tables and chairs with which to play. It’s nothing too mind-blowing, but it provides another layer of depth to the experience.
Many players will find the most entertainment in Full House Poker's daily tournament, known as Texas Heat. Here, a large community of players is put at various tables in order to compete for a prize — think of it like the World Poker Tour played out in one day. As the player advances they continue to earn experience, but they are also testing their poker skills against real life opponents.
Unfortunately, it’s when playing head-to-head with real life opponents that Full House Poker reveals itself as nothing more than a free-to-play online poker game. Since no one is truly working with actual currency, the risk in making bold moves like going “all in” is completely lost on the player and their opponents.
Where most players might fold if an opponent wants to make it rather expensive to see the flop, in Full House Poker you might see a player go “all in” on the very first hand just because they have pocket Aces. Although Texas Heat does offer prizes to its winners, the lack of real money makes the whole affair less about strategy (bluffing, playing the chip advantage, etc…) and more about getting lucky.
Of course, this same scenario is going to be present in any other online poker game, and those offerings will not provide the type of level progression and customization that Full House Poker does. There might be a lack of depth or spirit of competition when it comes to tournaments, but the game still delivers the poker experience with a little bit of Xbox flare thrown it.
Ultimately, Full House Poker is going to be a must buy for the casual Hold ‘Em poker fan looking for an experience that combines all that they love about online poker sites with the style and collectibles of Xbox Live. There are enough modes to choose from that the player can dictate just how dedicated they want to be. However, the lack of risk brings the game down considerably for anyone looking for a poker game that mimics the real-life experience.
There are still plenty of rewards — especially in Texas Heat — for those who lust after the competitive nature of being heads-up against a player. Still, knowing that there is always the opportunity to try again will encourage many opponents to make bold moves — bold moves like going “all in” with a seven and a deuce.
Full House Poker is worth the price tag, yes. But it’s up to how invested you are in the idea, rather than the competition, of no limit Texas Hold ‘Em that will dictate just how long you will keep your chips in the pot.
Full House Poker is available now for 800 MS Points on the Xbox Live Marketplace.