Review – World Series of Poker: Full House Pro

World Series of Poker: Full House Pro (FHP) was designed to bring the thrill of Texas Hold’em poker to Xbox 360 gamers.

Developed by Pipeworks Studios and published by Microsoft Games Studios, the sequel to Full House Poker leveraged the prestigious World Series of Poker license.

Players can create Xbox avatars and compete against others globally, mimicking the online poker experience.

Production of this game may have been inspired by the exploits of professional poker players such as Ireland’s finest, Andrew Black, who famously secured a fifth-place finish at the 2005 World Series of Poker Main Event.

Black was a figure of the poker boom in the early part of the 21st century, and his journey inspired plenty of Irish gamers to try and replicate his remarkable exploits on the FHP Xbox game.

FHP’s free-to-play model offered an accessible entry point, particularly for Irish players familiar with the world of online casinos in Ireland.

Black is not the only poker icon to leave a lasting impression. Phil Ivey, aptly nicknamed the Tiger Woods of poker, and Daniel Negreanu are among the most decorated players in the game.

They revolutionized the game of poker and may well be the inspiration behind the FHP, but the game is not without its flaws.

While FHP is free-to-play, it fails to deliver fresh ideas or innovative mechanics, offering the same tired features found in countless other online poker games.

Players can test their skills against the game’s artificial intelligence (AI) technology or real opponents in ring games and single-table tournaments.

Victories yield in-game currency, which can be used to purchase superficial customizations like table felts, card designs and even fancy chip stacks and avatar clothing.

Some of these require a separate gold currency, which is far scarcer. Thankfully, these premium items don’t affect gameplay, keeping FHP truly free-to-play.

Here’s where things get concerning. Despite a lengthy beta test, the final product retains a glaring ‘Beta’ label on the main menu.

This sets the tone for a truly uncomfortable experience. Once at the poker tables, the reasons for this extended beta become painfully clear. Bugs and glitches abound, creating a frustrating and unfinished atmosphere.

The most fundamental element of poker – communication – is hampered by the constant absence of voice chat, even when players experience no network problems.

Performance issues further plague the online tables. Players describe the game as grinding to a crawl at inconvenient moments, leaving them scrambling to make decisions before the allotted time expires.

More concerning are instances where the game completely locks up, forcing everyone at the table to quit and potentially lose chips in the process. But the most egregious bug lies in the heart of poker itself – hand revelation.

Gamers have encountered situations where, with only two players remaining and one all-in, the dealer inexplicably deals community cards without revealing either player’s hole cards.

Even after the missing information is displayed – often after the next community card is dealt – the game lacks even a basic percentage chance display to build tension – a feature present in poker games from a bygone era.

Adding insult to injury, the game lacks fundamental features entirely. Players can’t access their own hand statistics, showdown percentages or overall hand play data, crippling any attempt at strategic play or self-evaluation.

It’s almost as if no improvements have been made to the game engine at all. The controls remain unchanged, the chip tricks are the same and the camera angles offer no surprises.

However, a critical error rears its ugly head – when using the top-down camera, players third, fourth and fifth from the dealer have information about their actions and how many chips they’ve got cut off by the top of your screen.

FHP also retains the agonizingly slow celebration camera cuts. These pointless interruptions occur even when you’re simply sitting in the big blind while everyone else folds. It’s like watching someone celebrate a participation trophy – tedious and unnecessary.

FHP attempts to spruce things up with the official WSOP branding plastered everywhere. The inclusion of ESPN’s Lon McEachern and Norman Chad adds a touch of familiarity, but their commentary is sparse and repetitive.

The game mirrors its predecessor visually and the commentators’ limited phrases do little to add excitement.

FHP might be a passable time-filler for the most casual of poker fans. However, for those seeking a polished and engaging online poker experience, there are far better options available.

The game feels like a missed opportunity, failing to capture the excitement of the WSOP and offering little that hasn’t been done before, and arguably better.

Unless you’re desperate for a free poker fix on your Xbox 360, this title is best left unshuffled.


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