This is a review for Texas Holdem Poker, not the similarly-named Texas Hold’em Poker. Yes, the two version by two developers are separated in name by a mere apostrophe. The apostrophe-lacking title is the offering from GeaxGames. If my opinion were entirely based on average ratings in the Marketplace, the clearly better version is this one; fortunately it is not and it has been reviewed properly. However, it should also be noted that this game used to be called Poker KinG Online, the branding for which still appears in-game, and it does seem as if the web-based version of this game is still bearing the Poker KinG branding.
Upon starting the game, a non-Xbox Live title, for the first time the player is presented with a choice between signing in or signing up. Registration is simple: provide an e-mail and password combination and choose a screen name to be used as your identifier in-game. A confirmation e-mail will be sent but there is no extra e-mail address verification step as with other services, so after the registration is complete the game fully loads and the menu pops up. The layout is clean and simple, but looks good, and is very easy to use.
Poker is all about maximising your winnings, but to do so you have to have something to bet with initially. Thankfully, the game provides you with $800 in chips to begin with. In the games I played, $10 or $20 were the norm, sometimes they reached $40, but even then $800 is a sizeable amount and should keep you going for a while. However, should you burn through your chips and wish to carry on playing, you can (of course) buy in extra chips for real world currency; packs start at as little as $3 and range up to $100 for the biggest. This is a good deal and offers great flexibility within a free-to-download game. There are also other ways to acquire chips, such as taking advantage of various promotions through other brands. These are listed in game and are typically awarded for registering for or using other sponsored products. Referrals also earn bonus chips, and for each dailylogin you are granted a random amount.
There is not that much to say about the gameplay, which is a good thing. It simply works, effortlessly. The interface is clean and polished, and there is an in-game chat system for talking to fellow players – whether that be a good-natured and light-hearted chat displaying camaraderie between players or simply trash-talking the opposition. As the other players play their turns, you can prepare what you want to do but then select from a menu along the base of the screen what it is you wish to do. The controls are well laid out and work well. Plenty of the screen real estate is given to the virtual room, with players represented by their screen name and avatar.
There are a few game modes to choose between, and these are regular poker, Holdem and a tournament. The tournament has a slider with a buy-in fee and increasing that increases the eventual pay-out, the maximum between a $119k (rounded) winners’ pot for a $25k buy-in. (Reminder: these are in-game dollars and not real-word dollars.) As at writing these, there are in excess of 16,000 users online (according to the game) so the game seems to already have a substantial user-base and I never experienced any problems getting into a poker room, and they tended to have quite a few people in them already. The game also features a level system, but I am not sure how it works but would assume that winning hands grants something the equivalent of experience points; also, I am unsure what a higher level grants you and have not seen any documentation to explain.
I reckon the game could benefit from being an Xbox Live title – in the way Wordament has just done it – but that may adversely affect their existing network and compatibility with the web-based version, and it works just fine as it is; if it did not have to tie in with a web-based version I would strongly advocate this feature.
All in all, I would say that this game is a certain download for any poker fans wanting to have the experience on their Windows Phone 7 devices. You are given a good number of chips to begin with, which is supplemented daily, and the game is free to download from the Marketplace.
Texas Holdem Poker Screenshots
Version Under Review: 220.127.116.11
Texas Holdem Poker is a FREE game for Windows Phone 7
Our Rating for Texas Holdem Poker