Full House Poker

9.0 Overall Score

Written by on April 15, 2011 in


It has been quite a while since we have had a truly great arcade game that utilizes our Xbox Live avatars. 1 vs. 100 is long gone and my avatar has been feeling a lack of competition. Enter Full House Poker from Microsoft Game Studios. Full House Poker is the online competitive poker game we have all been waiting for for quite some time now.

Similar to the past hit, 1 vs. 100, you and your avatar are pit up against players around the world in intense, competitive Texas Hold Em action. Following suit, Full House Poker allows your avatar to be the one that everyone gets to see. This is good for those of us who spent quite a bit of change on outfits for our avatars and have been looking for a way to display our Steampunk garb. Your personality is easily displayed through your avatar. If you want to boldly throw your chips onto the table, then by all means go ahead. If you want to play with your chips and flip them like a coin you can do that as well. Your play style determines how you want others to see you as a player.

Games normally consist of anywhere between 2-10 players and can be played both online or locally against computer players. If you aren’t familiar with the rules of Texas Hold ‘Em don’t worry though, because there are tutorials included to get you up to speed. If you play locally, you will be placed a table of computer players who have varying experience and mannerisms. If you are looking for a quick game this is where you will want to turn. The developers really thought ahead and made playing single player a fun and enjoyable experience. I really like having the ability to fast forward through hands I have folded in instead of having to wait for the computer to finish playing. Overall though, I love playing online because it is hilarious to see some the other players’ outfits. The scariest had to have been the avatar dressed up as a Vault dweller from Fallout 3. To get into a game you can manually search for a game based on your settings, join a quick match, or create a game yourself. Creating a game yourself is fun and the amount of customization makes every poker game different. You can customize the color of your chairs (Zebra print all the way), what location you will play at, what the buy-in for the game is, how much each ante will cost players, and many other unique choices.

You start with a bankroll of $2,500 and each game will cost you varying amounts to play. Win big and you will increase your bankroll. Lose quickly and you will have to watch your bankroll diminish. Different tables have different amounts of money you will have to pay to play, with some tables even being free to play. If you run out of money don’t fret, you can always take out more money for your bankroll. This allows all players to have the same opportunity to play, without excluding players for squandering all their chips.

My play style is very laid back and I have to admit that I am terrible at bluffing. I quickly discovered that the best strategy for playing online is to wait for the other players to take each other out of the game, as well as wait for a good hand. On average, within 2-3 hands at least two players will have gone “all-in”. The strategy is quite different when playing with computer players though because most of the AI players will not be as aggressive as an online opponent who has nothing to lose by going all-in on a hand.

Another element that I really enjoyed about Full House Poker was the EXP system. You receive experience points for almost everything you do while playing. You even get points regardless of whether you win a hand or not! You get experience points for being dealt into a hand, folding at a correct time, going all-in, winning more than 2 hands in a row, winning a tournament, etc. The more people you are playing against, the more EXP you can expect to receive. As you gain more and more EXP you will begin to level up and unlock cool prizes and other items. You can unlock different card backs, chip tricks, nicknames, clothes, chances to go head to head with professional computer players, and many other items that change your gaming experience. Like in many other games though, as you reach the higher levels you will need increased amounts of EXP to advance to the next level.

The biggest flaw that Full House Poker has didn’t present itself until I joined a Texas Heat tournament. These tournaments are held every week, normally on Tuesday and Saturday afternoons and evenings. The tournaments also give players an incentive to join in on the action through themed nights, ranging from “Girls’ Night Out” where players with female avatars get bonus XP, to “Fame Night” where all players who receive “Fame” XP get bonus XP as well. Upon entering my first tournament I was paired up with 25 other players and we were separated into 3 tables. The way the tournament works is as you gain more chips you rise up to the upper tables, with the lowest player from each table moving down a table after an average of 2 hands. What confused and disappointed me though is halfway through the 2nd hand of poker the people around me started dropping out and being replaced by computer players. By the end of 25 minutes of play, every single person at the three tables besides myself was a computer player. Where did those 25 other players go? I tried playing in a tournament on a separate day and the same thing occurred. What’s the point of playing in a special event if I can’t play with other people? Also, on occasion the game would freeze on me, forcing me to have to start the game over and sacrifice my XP and chip count at the table. These are just small hiccups though and the good greatly outweighs the bad in this game.

If you’re looking for a unique poker experience mixed with some avatar fun, then Full House Poker is the game for you. The game comes with 250G worth of achievements, its own leaderboards so you can compare your poker skills to your friends, and poker action that will have you going all-in with excitement. Full House Poker is 800 Microsoft and can be found currently on Xbox Live Arcade.

A copy of Full House Poker was provided to the Married Gamers for review and evaluation.


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Author: Loren Nikkel View all posts by
Hardcore Xbox and occasional PC gamer. I love to play multiplayer and co-op games where strategy is key.

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