Giant Bomb Review

36 Comments

Full House Poker Review

4
  • XBGS

Full House Poker has more features than the rest of the downloadable poker games on 360, and its live event option gives you a reason to keep playing.


 Avatars playing poker.
Full House Poker isn't the first downloadable Hold 'Em poker game on the Xbox 360, but it's definitely the best. Though you still can't play for real money, it offers most of the features you'd expect from an online poker client. It also serves as a spiritual successor, of sorts, to 1 Vs. 100 by adding in some scheduled events that let you go up against a lot of different players at once. The AI isn't terrific, but if you're looking to play some online poker and aren't interested in the tons of free or real gambling options for this available on a PC, Full House serves it up quite well.

The big problem with video game poker is that when there are no real stakes to the gambling, people play like idiots. They go all-in with nothing over and over again, essentially griefing the game. Full House Poker attempts to get past this by giving you an online bankroll and requiring buy-ins for the bigger tournaments. This means that you sort of have to slum it in the low-level games or at least put in a chunk of offline time against the AI before you can get into some more meaningful action.

Some of the game's nicer features will seem like old hat to anyone that's been playing online poker for any length of time, but it's still great that Full House Poker lets you preload your actions. So if there are five players acting before you, and you already know you want to go all-in, you can just set that action and it will automatically occur when it's your turn to play. In cases where the circumstances have changed--if the players before you have bet or raised before it's your turn, your preset action is canceled, so it always does exactly what you want it to do. Again, the gambling sites have had this feature for a good, long time. But if you're only familiar with downloadable 360 poker games, this is a great addition.

 You can take on the game's poker pros, each of which has a different AI profile.
Xbox 360 avatars are used in some interesting ways. You can perform chip trick animations at the table, and if you hold down a trigger while setting your action, you can put some theatrics into it. So if you want to timidly raise, you can. If you want to be splashy as you're pushing all of your chips into the middle, you can do that, too. In practice, it doesn't seem like people use this feature all that often, since most of them take longer than the neutral animation. Of course, there are achievements tied to using those animations, but you can bust most of those out in your first game, if you're so inclined.

In addition to the basic ranked and unranked multiplayer, you can also join "Texas Heat" events. These are scheduled 30-minute games that pit everyone against one another in a timed race to see who can gain the most experience points before the 30 minutes is up. You gain XP for intelligent play as well as for winning hands, so if you make the right call and fold a hand that would have lost or get out of a hand without spending any chips, you'll get a bit of an experience bump. It's an interesting way to make poker tournaments--which can be long and drawn out if you get a ton of participants--fit into a half-hour. The experience points you earn unlock additional clothing and animations, and also let you into higher-stakes multiplayer games. It's worth noting that the game launched with some nasty online issues that prevented some players from getting into online games, but most of that seems to have been ironed out by now.

You can also play alone, which is decent enough. The AI seems to have a few different styles, and you can't just push them out of every hand like you can with some weaker poker games. Still, this is only really interesting if you're a poker novice that's looking to pick up the basics before getting online. You can just slap together tables full of AI opponents or take on the AI one-on-one in a "pro showdown."

Ten dollars is kind of a lot to ask for online poker when there are tons of gambling sites and Facebook apps offering similar, free alternatives on home computers. But if you're not into that sort of thing, Full House Poker is a pretty good way to play Hold 'Em on your Xbox 360, and the season-based nature of the Texas Heat events give you a reason to stick with it over time. Jeff Gerstmann on Google+
36 Comments
Edited by Ishatawk

Woo. Poker! A man's game...

Posted by Animasta

The game of kings, one might say.

Edited by ImmortalSaiyan

I don't know how to play poker. I have no desire to learn.
Posted by McNaastyy

tr

Posted by Yanngc33

meh, poker

Posted by ThePhantomnaut

It ain't UNO...

Posted by RecSpec

I'd be a lot happier with it if they could fix the issues with Texas Heat. 
 
Specifically the timer and the instances where it puts you in a game with all bots.

Posted by isles

no heavy? no dialogue? no sale.

Posted by HydraHam

Awesome game i absolutely love it and i love the live tournies and how they are structured, with the diamond/double diamond/triple diamond etc. and how its what? 3 rounds? 25 minutes per round? it makes you have to play extremely aggressive to get to higher tables and i dig it.
 
out of all the poker games rather it be free PC ones or console ones this is my favorite, unlike most online poker games the majority of people i have played with actually play the game, they don't go all in with 5/8 off suit or try to play shitty hands, people actually play you are supposed to and i dig it, i hope they do more of these tournaments like the spring thing and i can't wait to play in it again tomorrow, hopefully this time i will get some decent hands :)

Posted by SoftCoreDave

Demo seemed good and the live stuff seems cool but 800ms points for the odd live event....I'm not sure

Posted by TheRandomKo

if it was 400 MP i would get it..

Posted by MrKlorox

I want to support MS's "live programming" events as much as I can since I loved 1 vs 100... but the freeness of 1v100 made it feel like an actual primetime gameshow that you could interact with. That's the type of magic I want from such scheduled events. Ten bones doesn't seem right to me unless the prizes are a lot more attainable.

Posted by AzHP

Why is Alex Navarro's avatar on the cover of the game? Creepy.

Posted by JJWeatherman

Cool. Good review. I already have a poker game on 360 though, and I don't really play enough of that one as it is. Meh, maybe I'll pick it up on sale at some point.

Posted by WJist

I like achievements as much as the next guy, but if we're going to be playing pseudo-gambling games with these kinds of features and tournaments, I agree with Jeff that there should be some meaningful reward or real stakes? Like I dunno, something MS gives out all the time - MS points or a special tournament that rewards a home theater system? That would be the way to get me to play 1 v. 100 like it did in the past.

Posted by Kyreo

I read the review, but did you like the game?  Haha... I'm kidding.  Sounds like the go to Poker game for Xbox Live Arcade.

Posted by DevWil

as i said on my blog, i really don't understand how poker without real prizes for $10 makes any sense.

Edited by El_Derrico

I was very disappointed to find out Full House Poker has nothing to do with Uncle Jesse or Kimmy Gibbler.

Posted by skrutop

Is there a decent community behind this game?  It sounds cool, and I like online poker, but it's not worth it if nobody's playing.

Posted by StandStrong

@Jeff - First of all, nice review, but I have to admit I am somewhat confused about the games chosen to be reviewed recently. 'You don't know Jack', 'Mario Sport Mix' and now 'Full House Poker' - But no Dragon Age 2, Top Spin 4, Test Drive Unlimited 2, MLB 11 reviews? Is there any reason for these "odd" choices? Or what is the criteria for a game getting a review on GiantBomb? Let me just point out that the reason I ask is because I want your opinion on all games, as the opinions of the GiantBomb staff do influence my game purchases. 

Posted by Nomin
@StandStrong:  
That is what I first thought as well.
Take for example, the paradox of seeing a game not reviewed for example, (Red Dead Redemption) but still being considered for the Game of the Year award. For one thing, they don't review any sports game, the reason being there are hundreds of other sites that provide coverage let alone reader reviews that may be more in depth and the genre is not to their liking.  
 
I feel Giantbomb is more of an enthusiast site than your average general gaming portal where personalities dominate the direction of the site as well as games related topics. For example, it 's a good bet every Double Fine game will be reviewed here, and get an inflated score than the average. But quite simply it may come down to other commitments that occupy their time. 
Posted by Enigma777

The price is a big turn-off for me. 

Posted by ICryCauseImEmo

Nice review good game I agree with your points. It's fun it still needs some patching hopefully soon Texas Heat's are fun but need improvement. Overall I am happy I spent 800 pts on this. 

Posted by AxleBro

 @StandStrong:  this, you guys haven't reviewed shit as of late. very curious as to why.

Posted by phish09
@DevWil: 
 
 
Do you get any real prizes for playing any other video games?  No?  And yet most games are $60.  So $10 for a game with no real prizes is a steal imo. 
My point is that this game is fun and people should play it because it's fun, and if it makes you  a better poker player as well then there is your added bonus or "prize" if you will.  If it doesn't make you a better poker player then you just paid $10 to have a fun time.  Kudos.
Posted by beard_of_zeus

I've run into some bugs with the Texas Heat events (woo, rank -1!), but other than that, I'm glad I spent the $10 on this. It's a really good downloadable poker game, and I've had fun with it so far.

Posted by buft

the first line of this review is a movie reference, but i cant quite put my finger on it.

Online
Posted by phish09
@buft: 
 
I don't see that at all.  I can't think of many movies that reference xbox live, 1 vs 100, full house poker and artificial intelligence, but if you think of it please let me know, I'd like to check it out.
Posted by EgoCheck616

What a strange game to decide to review.

Posted by FreakAche

I call bias. This game clearly deserved a 4.3/5.

Posted by Vao

I've been playing it with a friend online and the overall experience is pretty fun. My only issues with it deal with just normal multiplayer game. We have never had a full table of real players so the ability of having House players play while the room fills is a nice touch.   
 
Other issue is the room lagging out. We're in a party chatting and the room just freezes and we can still talk. Only happens alittle but it's still annoying. 

Posted by Crunchman

This review is essential.

Posted by MysteriousBob

This looks really really good. However I'm still going to stick with Facebook poker seeing how its... you know... free.

Edited by heatDrive88
@Nomin said:

"For example, it 's a good bet every Double Fine game will be reviewed here, and get an inflated score than the average."  

 
I'm not entirely sure you know what you're exactly talking about here. 
 
http://www.giantbomb.com/brutal-legend/61-20700/ 
 
3 out of 5 seems like a perfectly reasonably average score for a game that is exactly and only average in delivery. Where you got the idea that they inflate scores of Double Fine games just because it's a game from Double Fine is rather unfounded. 
 
Are they friends of people from Double Fine? Sure, they are. Do they let that relationship affect their review scores? No, I have no reason to believe so. If you'd like to show me some proof of this otherwise, feel free to as you please.    
Posted by TheMartino

I enjoyed the beta test thingy. On the fence about actually picking it up.


Microsoft really could have had a bigger push behind this though. It's like they just cast it out suddenly.