The last title to hit the House Party promotion on the Xbox 360 is Microsoft Games Studios take on poker, with avatar support.  I took Full House Poker for a spin, inside and out, joining in on the “live” games, and playing the single player.  Does this poker game trump all others on the XBLA service?  Continue reading to find out my thoughts on this game.

Full House Poker, is at this point, just Texas Hold’em Poker.  If you are looking for another type of poker game, you will not find it here.  This doesn’t mean they can’t add more modes later via DLC, but at the core, it is just Texas Hold’em.  The game works on a single bankroll which you use in both the single-player and multi-player games.  The biggest issue with most virtual poker games, is the fact that is uses virtual money, and there is no way to stop people from just going “all-in” every hand.  With this game though, they did find a way to get around this huge issue, and that is with the inclusion of experience points.  If you fold a hand at the right time, you will gain XP.  If you win a hand, you will gain XP, and if you continue on a winning streak, you will even get more XP.  As you gain this XP your character levels up, and as you level up you unlock new cards, tables, rooms, clothes, nicknames, and chip tricks,  all of which you use during the poker  game.



Throughout the week there are “live” Texas Heat tournaments.  These tournaments are not “live” like they were in 1 vs 100, but they are more “live” then just the normal multiplayer games.  The way it works is that each game is 30 minutes, as the game starts, it puts you in a room with at max, 30 other people.  In each room there are three tables.  You work you way from the low stakes, single diamond table, up to the double diamond, and finally the high stakes, triple diamond table.  If you bust, you go down one table, and the chip leader from that table moves up.  At the end of 30 minutes, it compares many stats to everyone else playing in the Texas Heat Tournament, not just the 30 people in your room, but everyone.  Depending on different stats and how well you do against everyone else playing, you get bonus XP and bonus chips to add to your bankroll.

When you first enter the Pro Heat mode you will download an update.  This update allows you to play online, but also unlocks the ability for 4 special achievements.  These achievements are only obtainable in the Spring 2011 season.  This leads me to believe that there will be special achievements, which will be obtainable only during each specific season.  Other then these specific achievements, it seems that most of the base ones will come with time.


The single player aspect of Full House poker, is basically just playing against bots.  There is also an area where you can do Pro Challenge’s.  These are 1v1games where you have to play against an NPC who is considered a PRO.  When you beat this pro you unlock different items for use in the game, from avatar clothes, new titles, bonus chips and XP.  As you level up, you gain the ability to challenge more PRO’s, until the final pro takedown which is all 9 PRO’s, and yourself, at one table playing against each other.  There is also a standard multi-player mode which has both tournament style and a quick play style.  When you bust at a tournament style table you have the option to stay and watch the rest of the game, or you can drop out and go find another game.  If you are hosting the game you can set all the options, from buy in price, to the setting of the game.

Overall I really recommend this Poker game, especially if you are playing with a group of friends.  I have had more fun playing this game with a group of friends over XBOX LIVE, then I have with any other XBLA title since 1 vs 100.  Full House Poker does cost 800 MSP ($10), but I think it is well worth the price of entry.


Enjoy the launch trailer


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Try the trial, or purchase the full game now for 800 MSP ($10)


A code for Full House Poker was provided by Microsoft Game Studios for review.