Texas Hold ’em XBLA

Wow. Even against the worst poker players in the world, I seem to be unable to place higher than fourth.

Every game of Texas Hold ’em on Xbox Live Arcade starts roughly the same: At least three people go all-in on a pair or less. Since the top three places pay out, this is great for thinning the field. If you just cease to play for the first few hands, you can often make it into the money by default. If you do happen to have a moderately strong hand, like three of a kind, you can often take down that first pot and be aggressive for the rest of the game with little risk.

There’s also usually one guy who then mocks everybody who went all-in and proceeds to offer–at no additional cost to you!–all the poker advice and wisdom you never wanted in the first place. HE knows how to play. HE will tell you. And then in a few hands, HE usually chases some stupid straight draw and winds up out of the game, too. The quiet, smart players that remain then get on with the game.

I like it. The AI is atrocious, the music is obnoxious, and more than half of the players don’t know what they’re doing. But I like it.

EDIT: Well, okay, I liked it until tonight. Pocket aces, twice in one tournament, both times in the big blind. That’s fantastic luck! And both times, cracked by the river–once by a straight, once by trip 3s. Oh, the pain. Guess I’m just not betting enough to scare people off.

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