If you have never played Texas Hold 'Em, but you do like playing cards, you are in for a treat with World Series of Poker 2008: Battle For The Bracelets
, because not only is the gameplay simplified with the controller, you can also learn about the game through tutorials, as well as trial and error This makes WSOP
ideal to give it a try in a not-for-real-money environment. For those out there that love the game and its variations, World Series of Poker
does not disappoint.
WSOP is, at its root, a very basic game. At its heart is both the Career Mode and playing with real players via Xbox Live (or System Link). Unfortunately, the game is only made for one player locally. While it makes sense that you can't play multiplayer on one console because of the secrecy involved in such a game, it is a bit of a disappointment because WSOP is definitely at its best in multiplayer.
Xbox Live is the perfect platform for pokers games. Both online and off, you'll be able to play Texas Hold 'Em, Seven Card Stud, Omaha, Razz, and slight variations within. There is also the ability to play quick games of Blackjack and Video Poker, as well as create custom tournaments of up to 21 players (yes, you can System Link 21 Xbox 360's and 21 TVs - how's that for a LAN party!?). If you're like most people that pick up this game, however, you'll be spending your time playing Hold 'Em because it offers the most fun overall, especially if you find a good group of players online.
Be warned, however, that since you really aren't playing for anything other than pride on Xbox Live, you will inevitably run into wise guys who don't really "play by the rules," so to speak. It's not that the games allow you to break the game rules, but what I mean is that people will play stupidly since there's no real risk involved. The best thing to do is try to get into some tournaments of more than one table, because people are at their best game in these circumstances. It would have been nice to see some non-player-hosted tournaments too, that maybe would allow the winner to receive otherwise unattainable clothing or poker room collectables, just for some cool swag and bragging rights. You can gamble away your earned tokens too, so that does help a bit more in the risk vs. reward department. The other thing about playing online is that without everyone using an Xbox Live Vision Camera [note: I never saw a single camera in use online, even those who had custom players], it is impossible to get reads and see a players' tells that are an extremely important part of playing poker. In some ways, this evens the playing field, but it most definitely affects the way people participate.
Even offline, World Series of Poker 2008: Battle For The Bracelets has its drawbacks in terms of gameplay. For starters, it is very easy to beat your computer-controlled opponents with what I would call "creative betting." As an example, you can usually outwit your opponent and get him or her to slowly spend his or her life savings, only to fold the second you go all-in. Sure, the computer will challenge you when it has a good hand, but in general, you could win more than your fair share of crappy hands this way. There's also the fact that if you're not one hundred percent familiar with each game, it can be confusing to learn because the end of the hand can sometimes come and go without true explanation. However, you can earn some great helpers that show you percentages of possible hands, your buy-in percent, and many other important stats. Whether you play online or off, the core gameplay is extremely addictive, and has a great TV-style presentation.