Game Review

Texas Hold'em Tournament Review

Europe PAL Version

Posted by Sean McDermott

Does Digital Leisure’s latest WiiWare offering fold or make a clean sweep of the table?

It’s no lie that video game conversions of popular poker card games are few and far between nowadays as online poker has become increasingly more popular and widely regarded. WiiWare developer Digital Leisure has decided to try its luck with an adaption of arguably the most popular variation of poker, Texas Hold’em, but how does the title fare when the cards are dealt?

As you’d probably expect, playing Texas Hold’em Tournament is a fairly simple affair, providing you know the rules of the poker game it’s based on. Of course if you aren’t familiar with the game, the developer has wisely included a tutorial to teach the general rules. Basically, the primary objective for players taking part in a game of Texas Hold’em is to achieve the top ‘hand’ – best cards out of the available seven in this case – out of all the players at the table. After one card has been dealt to each player, determining the ‘dealer’ (the person who distributes cards to other players), the first two cards are dealt accordingly which are only shown to the player they’re given to. Following this deal, bets are made by each player with the option to ‘raise’ the bet to a higher amount, ‘call’, which means the player matches the current bet amount, or ‘fold’, which is said by the player when he/she wants to forfeit their hand. Next, a succession of five cards is shown to everyone; face-up on the table. The player with the best hand wins the round and the ‘pot’ – the collection of money gathered from bets – after all cards are dealt and shown. In a nutshell, that’s Texas Hold’em poker.

There are of course other intricacies to the game of Texas Hold’em but it’s probably better that you find those out for yourself! For complete newcomers to the game it can be difficult to grasp at first but the in-game tutorial should at least give you a rough guide as to how it’s played. All of this adds up to a fun game of Texas Hold’em and for enthusiasts of the game the gameplay can become quite addictive.

The control scheme employed by the game couldn’t be simpler, and although it works, there’s a sense that more could have been done to make Texas Hold’em Tournament stand out. A combination of the Wii remote’s IR pointer and A button is utilised to make every selection while playing, from navigating the menus to tweaking various options and also making all decisions in-game. Other than that there’s very little to mention in terms of controlling the game, apart from being able to point the cursor at other players to see their current balance and the ability to choose an emotion that your player can act out at any time in a game, reminiscent of a ‘poker face’. Overall the controls work as they should, however basic and predictable they actually are.

Included in the game are three different gameplay modes. The first is exclusively for single player-play and holds five different tournaments; the main meat and bones of the mode. Each tournament takes place in a new location with increasingly higher funds needed to participate in each subsequent tourney. The fundamental problem with this is that, although there are six tournaments, each is very short and quickly becomes repetitive. Additionally, within this mode is a ‘Free Play’ game type which simply allows a casual match of poker to be played. A nice addition to Texas Hold’em Tournament is an online mode, which allows six players to take part in the same aforementioned tournaments and the Free Play mode can also be undertaken online. Playing games over Nintendo Wi-Fi does is fairly entertaining, although without voice chat or any means of communication it does feel pretty limited. Finally, the previously mentioned Tutorial game mode simply teaches you the basics through playing a round and should be the first stop for newbies.

Extra features/additions are scarce. Mii support in the form of choosing one of your own creations to be the character you play as has been incorporated into the game, but unfortunately even the humour of seeing Darth Vader play a game of poker doesn’t quite make up for having to behold your generic-looking and soulless opponents when playing a long game. Your Mii’s attire can be customised to a limited extent which ultimately is a very small addition to the options in the single player and online modes.

In terms of presentation, Texas Hold’em Tournament plays it very close to the cards (sorry, please don’t hurt me) and its combination of graphics and sound is very limited. Visually, it’s extremely basic and unimpressive looking, with very little variation in appearance. The sound tracks are equally as bland and consist of upbeat but repetitive tunes that soon becoming irritating to have to bear. These two lacking components of the game amount to each poker match lacking in atmosphere with the stages for Texas Hold’em games proving to be just as dull.


Texas Hold’em Tournament plays a good game of poker and is quite entertaining, but at the end of the day it’s a safe conversion of the card game without adding much, if any, innovation where it is perhaps much needed. The online multiplayer is a nice inclusion but when all is weighed up it just isn’t different enough from playing against the dull AI characters to be worth much in the long run. While at 500 Wii points the asking price is low, so is the level of value you’re likely to get from Digital Leisure’s newest game. If you're a fan of the card game there's definitely fun to be had here, but for everyone else it's tough to recommend buying in to this title.

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User Comments (80)



Tails_92 said:

What? 5 out 10? It's simple a card game and in this works properly, it has not any innovation but this doesn't mean that's not enough for a 5€ game...
In my opinion a 6-7 should be more correct.
ps: hi to all i'm new ^^



Objection said:

I think the low score represents the developer's laziness in failing to add anything to a card game that has been around for decades. They could have had some campaign, a mode with new rules, or at least made it look better.



Dazza said:

A 5/10 means "average" according to our scoring policy, which is pretty much the picture which Sean is painting here. Not terrible, just average.



Adam said:

It would be cheaper to just get a deck of cards, and you'd have a lot more options. Not to mention you can play it free online, I would assume. Unless it does something special with the game, there's no reason to rate it any higher.



AVahne said:

absolutely no point in getting this,like Adam said you're better off with a deck of cards or just playing it online.didn't ijji have something like this?



Wiiloveit said:

Something told me that this wasn't going to be decent, (no idea what ), and as it turned out, that intuition was right.

Oh, and Nintendo - you smell for giving us this one game for the past couple of weeks.



worrybomb said:

I think this kind of game would've benefited with Wii Speak functionality. I wonder if the upcoming UNO game will have it...



KeeperBvK said:

"Something told me that this wasn't going to be decent, (no idea what ), and as it turned out, that intuition was right."

5/10 is decent...



Bahamut_ZERO said:

Nice review Sean (new avatar, almost didnt recognize you).
Its seems like a better presentation was needed. Online play seems nice though, that should bump it up to a 6.



Starwolf_UK said:

The problem with the online is if now right after launch it is an absolute ghost town what will it be like in 6 months time?

Its weird, online helps make games popular but it only matters if your game is popular...



Adamant said:

Yeah, it kind of does what it says on the tin, no more, no less. It doesn't do anything wrong, but doesn't add anything to it, either.
So yeah, 5/10 works. In this case, the review pretty much just makes clear that "the game doesn't do anything wrong", so from there, it's pretty much up to you whether you want to pay 5$ for a Texas Hold'em game or not.

Reading coments here, you get the idea that people were actively waiting for the review to see if this was some sort of super awesome magic game that everyone, no matter how much they hated poker, woul absolutely love. I honestly don't get you people, what were you expecting? What did you expect from this game? Why do you read so much into the score?

I might get this one once they release it in the US, since i don't really have any real opportunity to play online poker on the net.

It's not a bad release, and Digital Leisure doesn't "suck" for making this. It's not a terribly exciting game, but it fills a void in the Wiiware library, and there are people who were waiting for a game like this.



Shortay said:

Good shout Adamant, that's pretty much what I meant to put across with the review. Reading into the score too much is evident in a lot of these comments, but a '5/10' means average on this site. Even then, if the game got a 3 or 4 that doesn't mean that it's a bad game.

The point of a review (well my reviews anyway) is to give a potential buyer some information on different aspects of a game, weigh up the good and bad points and to offer some opinion. Please don't immediately dismiss this game because it's not an 8+/10. Obviously this kind of game won't be for everybody, but your enjoyment of it will depend on how much you enjoy sims of poker, and even then newcomers could really like it too. It doesn't do anything extraodrinary or anything really bad, which is why I gave it a 5/10 - to me it's average.

PS: Thanks for the kind words guys.



Outrunner said:

It was a good review. I'm just sore because the US have Gradius and I was expecting it this week... again. But with the addition of arcade to the shop I really have nothing to complain about I suppose. Still though...



StarDust4Ever said:

Well, for 500 nintendo points, it sure is a lot cheaper than playing video poker at the local bars / casinos!



Bahamut_ZERO said:

Yeah, a lot of people e think 5/10 is bad. It really isnt. But I can see why, in schools, a 7/10 is average. Anything lower sucks.



Aces said:

Will this be released in the US on Monday or do we have to wait awhile?



XCWarrior said:

I was hoping this was oging to have an online ranking system based on how much money you have won online. It lacks that, so I think even giving it at 5 is generous. As pointed out over and over, sounds boring, which is too bad, because I love Hold 'Em.

I mean really, why is this such a hard type of game to create for the Wii?



KDR_11k said:

They could have had some campaign, a mode with new rules, or at least made it look better.

Or maybe just a few more Poker variants. There are tons of them and I can't imagine it being all that hard to add one or two more of them.



Tails_92 said:

Oh i didn't read the score policy so i was expecting that all the scores before the 6 should be bad xD Sry for this.



KnucklesSonic8 said:

"A nice addition to Texas Hold’em Tournament is an online mode, which allows six players to take part in the same aforementioned tournaments and the Free Play mode can also be undertaken online." - On this page on the right it says 5 Players. Just thought I'd bring that out.

I had a feeling it would be decent, especially the fact that it's only 500 with online integration. I felt the score was deserving based on the criteria for it. Nice review. I already knew this wasn't really my thing though.



tkubas1 said:

He's complaining that they didn't change the game! If I wanted to play a changed version of texas hold em I wouldn't buy it. I want to play normal texas hold em with normail rules and nothing changed. I'm still buying It knowing that it realy deserves a 6-7 rating.



Shortay said:

@KnucklesSonic8: 6 players (including yourself) can take part in games online.

@tkubas1: Firstly, I did not say that I wanted the developer to "change" the game once in my review. I was disappointed that the game didn't try to innovate at all and I felt that extra features could have been added during games of texas hold'em, for example a better interaction with other players (especially online opponents) or even something as simple as a wider range of customisation.There's a difference between what I said and what you claim. You're of course entitled to your own opinion, but how can you say it "realy deserves a 6-7 rating" when you've never played it?



Watchful_Eye said:

" Ouazegaga wrote.."

I think we already played 2 or 3 games together.. my name is "Torben" .

I agree with you that there are not enough players online, I always play more or less the same people - you are a perfect example .



tkubas1 said:

Shortay: I'll get back to you after I have. If you've ever played VIP blackjack would you say its better or worse then that?



Watchful_Eye said:

@Shortay: I think it is already pretty good for a 500 points game to involve an online mode with different tournaments, a kind of "ranking system", and a Mii Support with showable facial expressions and different clothing. It has its weaknesses, but a 6th point hadnt hurt I think .



Adamant said:

@tkubas1: How can you even compare the two? One is a Blackjack game, the other is a poker game. Which one is "best" depends on which of the two card games you want to play.



tkubas1 said:

Well VIP blackjack has only blackjack but texas hold em tournament has more the just playing the game( tournaments and online), but VIP blackjack got a 6 so according to this site VIP blackjack is better than Texas hold em tournament. So I ment "Why did VIP blackjack get a better score" in a way.



Kid_A said:

It's cheaper to buy a deck of cards! The online might be kinda neat, though.



Stevie said:

Ouazegaga, i have had the same problems, either cannot find anybody to play, or 5 players all appear at once & it crashes, hopefully there will be more players as time goes by



Ricardo91 said:

@BAHAMUT. He's had that avatar for a while now.

Eh, I never figured out how to play Texas Hold 'Em, so I was never planning to get this anyway. And I never expected it to be good either, given that it's made by the ever-talented Digital Leisure.



Stevie said:

@Ouazegaga > I will try this when i finish work in 1/2 hour, this is a bit annoying but i have found nintendo wifi to be unstable before with bomberman blast, however a match on bomberman blast is 5 mins, a game of poker can last a hour, there will be wiimote shaped holes in my wall if it disconects me when i am heads up after 50mins play!!! Thats if i can start a game



matroos said:

Tnx for the solid review Sean!

My oppinion about the game:
I have played the game for about 5 hours in total and it is actually really something for me: a simple decent poker game to play on my Wii (therefore on the couch) against real life players due to the online play. Personally I don't like betting for real money, so this is a good alternative for me.

Few points of attention: as described by some commenters above; the server seems to have some problems getting 6 players together. This can become very annoying. Even in the first tournament there should be plenty of players available to fill a 6 person table. Sometimes I had to wait for 10 to 15 minutes just to get enough players. On 2 occasions there where 6 players, we got the announcement that the game would start but ... nothing! It just froze ...

One other thing is that the blinds are going up real fast. In normal Texas Hold'em you fold about 20% to 30% of your starting hands. Doing that here and the blinds might already get up to half your $5000 you start with. So sometimes you just have to play a game, where you in a normal game would have folded.

But uptill now, besides the connection bugs, it's pretty addictive game, specially after winning one of the higher stakes tournaments.

If you like the card game and don't want to bet for real money, 500 points is good value for money in my opinion. See you at the table?



Stevie said:

I played this again last night and touch wood managed to play 6 or 7 games without any issues connecting/freezing/lag + had quite some fun in the process. As mentioned above sometimes it could take upto 10-15mins to find a match but hopefully this will speed up as more people get the game + if it is released in America

p.s my name on poker is Zombie



Firkraag said:

I downloaded this on release day due to boredom, but there was nothing but problems playing it online. I deleted it the very same evening.. Has there been improvements, or is it still dodgy?..



SKTTR said:

I downloaded it yesterday.
Texas Hold'em Tournament is a pleasant surprise.
Usually I don't buy card games, but I wanted to give this one a try because lately I'm obsessed with the strategy based around luck that hold'em provides.

Most of the time I'm playing online tournaments.
I'm now at the Henderson Open (3rd tourney) and the game never crashed (!) and always finds 5 people to play with (sometimes takes 2-3 minutes, but most of the time it's just a few seconds) and it doesn't matter what tournament you're on. It always works, and of course you find gamblers faster on the 1st and 2nd tourney, because all beginners have to start there. But lots of people are trying to beat the harder tourneys, so now (2 weeks after release), you can always find people to play with on the higher tourneys.

It's great all people play with their Miis, that gives this game a more personal feel, and a Nintendo game feel.
You start to remember certain faces and it's fun to always get mixed into a bunch of new and (ocassionally) seen-before people where you begin to realise: "There are many others playing this game night & day." And soon you'll categorize them in your own mind: "These ones are rivals and these are noobz."

I have no complaints about this game since it really has no flaws.
An online poker game was needed on the Wii, and Digital Leisure delivered the goods plus some nice extra content (online rankings, offline-tournament, clothes shop, pokerface emoticons, beginners tutorial, Mii support and 5 save slots) for only 500 points.
Good job!

I don't know about other Digital Leisure games, since this is my first one. The others may be bad, but this ones actually very addicting.

A little note:
Texas Hold'em Tournament is EU's best selling WiiWare game.
#1 in UK, #1 in Germany and #1 in Sweden.
It kicked World of Goo and My Aquarium from the top spots.

Personal rating:

8/10 points - Lively, good poker game for a very nice price.
(Best played online.)

Texas Hold'em, My Life As A King and World of Goo are my favourite WiiWare games so far.



Rockford said:

Are there really only 5200 players registered or do they have several servers? I downloaded it on the 1st day, but until now, I was not able to finish the first 2-round-tournament (don't recall the name yet, could be Henderson ...) It crashes right after start or doesn't start at all.
Tonight, i'll be trying Ouazegaga's tip and install it again. Hopefully, I'll keep my save-file ...



HEMIII said:

Why hasn't this been released in NA yet where it was invented? I hope it's because they are making it better and working all the kinks out. What ever it is I hope they release it next mon. I'm tired of these crap games. Well I guess I'll work on a zombie mii to use in the game in the meantime.



Rockford said:

Yeah, seems to be the only game, where noobs have an advantage over more experienced players ...

I did download it again AND kept the save file but I didn't have the time to test it yet. Do they fix buggy programs and put new versions on the server? So if erasing and downloading again is the Wii-way to patch files, it's ok with me.

What are these glitches you mentioned? I was a bit confused, when just after a week the leader already had about 250k.



Rockford said:

And what do I have to do to get more ... details on the glitches, wink wink, nudge nudge, say no more?

In the meantime, I'll decide if I'd use them or not.

Edit: Ok, I decided. Please don't tell me.



subzerobf said:

5. Only 5, that's a little harsh. I mean, it's poker, it's fun, it controls fine and IT HAS ONLINE PLAY for $5. Is a bland presentation really enough to knock it down to a 5. So yeah we can play it online, but how does that stop THIS GAME from being as you say, Average.



KDR_11k said:

So if erasing and downloading again is the Wii-way to patch files, it's ok with me.

I recall seeing VC games I downloaded tagged with "new version" when I still had them installed, didn't have to delete the game to update.



SKTTR said:

Official word from Digital Leisure Inc.:


Firstly please let me apologize for the problems that you are experiencing and assure you that an update is coming. Unfortunately it does take some time to get the new version through Nintendo's QA process and live on the WiiWare download service. It is tough to estimate when it might go live but our guess might be in about two weeks or less.

When we built Texas Hold'em Tournament, we could only test on a limited set of development machines that we have at our disposal and when we went live we were overwhelmed by the response and a few issues came up, such as you have experienced, that we could not duplicate without thousands of players connecting and playing simultaneously.

We believe the new version will address the issues that you have encountered so connecting will be better and there shouldn't be any pauses/hangs during gameplay. It will take some time for the new version to propagate to the current users but the good news is that the US release will include these changes so all new players will be playing with the new version and will not be contributing to the current issues.

We certainly plan on releasing in North America, and hope to have details on a date in the coming weeks!

Thank you for your support and patience as we get the new version live.

Best Regards,
Digital Leisure Inc.



Rockford said:

What really bugs me is that the game likes to crash every second or third time i play. It's nearly impossible for me to play the 2- or 3-round-tournaments. When the game let's me play a round AND I win (which actually happens every now and then) it surely kicks me in the behind in the final round. THAT is what ruins the game for me, not other players cheating.

I hope the update will be released soon.



mrPlow said:

Yup, feels like we paid to become beta testers of this game . Let's hope the update will be released soon.

Actually I am curious to see how they are going to push wiiware-update for people who already bought this game.



Rockford said:

I think this was rather a demand.

This is a mail i copied from another forum:

We are hoping to have an update released for the European regions in the
coming weeks. This will most likely be done via update to the Wii Shop
Channel. You would need to delete the game from your system and then
redownload. You do not have to delete your save game file from Data
Management, only the game. You will not have to pay for the update, it will
be free of charge.

We hope to have news in the coming weeks.

Thank you for your patience and support.
Digital Leisure Inc.



MickEiA said:

so if i downloaded the game in the next week in a few weeks id have to download it again



Rockford said:

So what? You only have to pay for it once and you can download it as often as you like.



Rockford said:

I truly don't believe that every player on the same table is playing the same tournament. About an hour ago, is lost heads up against nikki in the first round at the Henderson, so naturally the next game for nikki would be the second round at Henderson. But right after my lost final i played the tournament above Henderson (don't recall the name, 500 buy-in, 1500 prize) and met nikki again.

So until tonight I only suspected, but now I'm pretty sure that players playing the top tournament and others playing the bottom tournament are sitting on the same table. I really couldn't believe that I'm finding 5 players for the first tournament as fast as 5 people for the second round of Henderson or other multi-round-tourneys.



Rockford said:

Well, it's nonsense in the sense of realism, but for the game it makes sense. You really don't want to wait an hour to gather players for the second or third round of a tournament.



HEMIII said:

OK so cool you all were testers like I said. Sorry but still, I can't wait buuut I can if it's still being made better which looks like they are getting all the money to do so being it has been on your guys top 20 list for a while. I can't wait! I'll see you guys on the leaderboards, maybe not if they keep holdin' out on us. You guys will be too far ahead nah I'll be up there. I'm sure I'll get suct out on by a all-in'r a couple times but you'll see me around I'm sure. Are there leaderboards? There has to be.



MickEiA said:

yeah there is except in my 1st match and only so far it took around 40 minutes to get a match



MickEiA said:

BTW they have fixed the problems i've had it for a week played 3 matches no lag at all



MickEiA said:

This is well worth 500 points in my opinion but more people need to play online



MickEiA said:

I have played 4 matches 3 on mesquite cup 1 on carson which I won first try now i'm up to Henderson cup



Rockford said:

Got this mail yesterday, but didn't try it yet:

We wanted you to let you know that a new updated version of Poker will be available from the WiiShopChannel by the end of today. Should we receive any other details we will let you know. This will correct many of the issues, however, until all players update you may continue to encounter some short delays.

Best Regards,
Digital Leisure Inc.



XCWarrior said:

After reading all of these comments, and since it was released today in the US, I'm not sure whether or not it is worth $5.



iamkristen said:

Hey everyone, I'm new here.

I agree that the game lacks any sort of "extra stuff" to make it more exciting but seems like it'd make for a pretty good game of hold 'em if that's all you are going for.

Maybe someone here can shed some light on this issue of mine... I really want to play online and haven't been able to. In tournament mode, the wii always says it's searching for opponents and never finds any. Occasionally the "player 2" spot will fill for a few minutes and then I guess that person leaves, I can never get more than one person. I'm only on the first tournament so I'd imagine there's tons of players on this same one. Even if there's not a great amount of downloads considering how many people actually have the wii, I would still think there's enough new people buying this right now to get 6 in a game? I don't have problems with the connection or finding opponents in other games (like dr. mario or tetris) and since I do (although rarely) get that second player I assume that it's not a wii or connectivity issue. I really want to PLAY..... any thoughts?




iamkristen said:

well now I've managed to get into tournaments 3 times (over 2 days of trying on and off all day) The only way I can do this is my completely clearing my data and starting a "new" stats account. During each tournament, all the game play has stopped at some point .... it seems like the game is frozen but the timer continues to countdown, soundfx/music continues, I can change my faces, but game play completely stops.... I've waited up to 10 minutes and finally have to quite the round...... really frustrated!!



HEMIII said:

Finally!!! The only complaint about this game is you should be able to have more of a choice on the level times, 3 min blinds are insane. I was never real big on the turbo games it makes for alot of donk moves. Maybe if you start out with more chips it would be ok but it's just two hands and then your popped with a higher blind level or one if everyone is really slow, your givin' 30 sec per person each street. I like how they use your Mii's and you can buy clothes for your Mii. So yeah that's my opinion and I would still give it more than a 5/10. 6.5/10 sounds about right.

Oh yeah I also noticed there might be some kind of bug still. Everytime I get online in this game and then go back to the Wii menu I can't find my internet access point. I'm pretty sure it's this game thats doin' it. I have to reset my router. Weird it never did this before. Before it would just disconnect and I couldn't connect back to it now the access point completely disappears. Maybe it doesn't have anything to do with this game but it is a coincidence.



HEMIII said:

It is this game that is making my wifi access point disappear when I go back to the main menu. Wonder why? Is anyone else having this problem?
I can't wait to get to the higher level casino's there are alot of donks suckin' out on me. One guy had k6 against my pocket A's getting runner runner 6's. I raised half my stack preflop which was $2500 then all in after the flop he had nothin' and called. I could maybe understand if he had position and was making a move but come on callin' all in with nothin' and hittin' runner 6's? That's the kind of people I wish I knew in real life I could take them out back and break their knee caps then eat their f#@ckin' face off.



Deebler said:

Anyone having an issue with this game not saving after a tournament? I can't tell you how many times I've won money in a tournament, turned off the game, went back in and my winnings are gone. I don't see a save game option, how do I assure my game is saved?? I wait till the end of the tourney, click "Menu" and then go back to the wii menu and shut it off How else am I supposed to save it?



Rockford said:

It SHOULD save automatically. Normally, it does. I lost some winnings, too, but the I got some buy-ins back for the same reason. It seems, there's need for a new patch.

@HEMII: Why break someone's kneecaps, when he gives you money? I know and don't understand these guys, happened to me often. They call until the end, even go all-in and all they have is a Q-HIgh Card ...



Maxxis442 said:

This is why I rather went online and found a online bingo portal that catered to my needs...forget Digital Leisure Texas Hold'em. Rather play poker with the guys on poker night.



zane said:

Hehe online is completly empty and the ai is ugly as hell but still... It's poker

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