I used to be absolutely addicted to poker. I bought every major poker book and devoured them, but eventually came to the conclusion that whilst I was in love with the game, I couldn’t justify playing eight-hour sessions in the hope of winning a few dollars. So, I looked to video games to satisfy my need to play. Titles such as Daniel Negreanu’s Stacked on the PC and World Championship Poker for XBOX and PS2 didn’t really hit the nail on the head, so I was looking forward to Microsoft’s second attempt at bringing the casino experience to Xbox Live.Full House Poker gives you the chance to play in both single-player and multiplayer tournaments. No money changes hands here, rather you’re playing for ranking points, and in-game unlocks. For this reason, the level of play that occurs when you do take the game online is only a shade above what you’d find in any online poker room’s “play money” section. Players call down your strong bets with any old rags, and the amount of all-in moves made beggars belief.
Offline though, the game performs quite admirably, and can be used as a decent way of keeping your hand in if you decide to take a break from real money online play, or as a nice introduction to the game. Generally, the computer opponents play with a deal of sense, although they will make a couple of wild moves here and there that can – and will – catch you out. The interface works nicely, although there are a couple of bugbears that take some of the excitement out of proceedings. When a player goes all-in and is called, for example, both players stand up and flip their cards up onto the table. The only problem, is that the cards are positioned directly in front of them, and so sit at whatever angle the player is to you – making them hard to read. In a quickfire all-in showdown, you want to see what chances you have, and what you need to see (or avoid) on the turn or river in order to win the hand, but that isn’t to be, here.
To say that ruins the game would be incredibly unfair. Little touches that you wouldn’t see at most online poker sites, such as the ability to pull off chip tricks or fast forward through hands that you aren’t involved in are good to see, and contribute to Full House Poker’s admirable job of providing a fun and challenging way to enjoy the game of poker from the comfort of your sofa. The game’s been out for a fair few months now, and the online contingent is dwindling, but there’s still plenty of fun to be had in the single player action and scheduled Texas Rush tournaments online.
Full House Poker is far from perfect, but when you fancy sitting down and busting through a quick thirty-player tournament before bed, or playing a few hands after work without having to log on to one of the dog-eat-dog online casinos out there, it does a stand-up job.