Texas Holdem Video Games
The great thing about poker is that anybody can emulate the pros by visiting their local card room or online poker sites.
But what if you also want the atmosphere of a major World Series of Poker WSOP event or a unique twist to Texas holdem?
This is where Texas holdem video games are nice because they can create different scenarios that make the game more entertaining.
If you want to experience Texas holdem through a video game, the good news is that plenty of games have been released over the years.
Let's discuss some of these games below by covering each one's concept, graphics, and pros/cons.
1- Full House Poker - Xbox 360
Released in 2011, Full House Poker includes role-playing game RPG elements, such as career stats, a season-long tournament schedule, achievements, and various characters that you'll see on the circuit.
The characters are stereotypes based on the different strategies that people use when playing poker. A few of the characters include: Lily Sun, who's a very cautious player; Larry Louche, who bullies the table; and Rachel Raise, who plays a lot of hands and seeks action.
The only catch is that you must unlock these players through tournaments and by defeating other opponents.
Full House Poker features characters with oversized heads and cards on the table. The 3D graphics and in-depth backgrounds behind the tables make the graphics stand out.
This game does a great job of presenting a vibrant poker environment away from the table by including artwork on the walls, other tables around you, and people hanging out in nearby lobbies.
We also like the career mode, which keeps track of your bankroll and achievements.
The only downside to Full House Poker is that there's no voice commentary, and you instead listen to background noises and player sound effects.
2- High Stakes on the Vegas Strip: Poker Edition - PlayStation 3
Released in 2007, High Stakes on the Vegas Strip: Poker Edition can be downloaded from the PlayStation Store.
High Stakes on the Vegas Strip is a popular multiplayer game, allowing PlayStation users to face off against each other online. The game keeps track of your bankroll too and sees you move up the stakes over your career just like in real high stakes poker.
You have several options when concerning the gameplay, including switching the game settings and customizing your avatar.
This game takes you into a variety of high stakes settings that include posh hotel rooms and glamorous Vegas casinos. The players are presented as life-like 3D animations, which gives this game a realistic feeling.
High Stakes on the Vegas Strip: Poker Edition offers good online multiplayer action, nice graphics, and customization options.
Downsides include a lack of sound effects/voices, and few poker room settings to choose from.
3- Poker Night 2 - PlayStation 3 and Xbox 360
If you want unique poker action, then Poker Night 2 is definitely a game worth trying.
Launched in 2013, this game sees you play poker with characters from successful video game franchises. They include: Ash Williams from The Evil Dead, Brock Samson from The Venture Bros., Claptrap from Borderlands, GLaDOS from Portal, and Sam from Sam & Max.
The emphasis in this game isn't on the poker action, but rather the jokes, conversations, and banter between the video game characters.
The graphics are really fun in this game because the characters appear just as they do in their video game series, yet the table and cards are presented in life-like fashion. You have a first-person view in the game, so you don't see your own character.
This is an excellent game for recreational poker players who also enjoy video games. The banter between players is advanced and makes you feel like you're really sitting with famous video game characters.
The only catch is that you'll start hearing some of the same jokes and conversations after playing for a while. And given that the poker features are merely adequate, Poker Night 2 starts to lose value at this point.
4- Pure Hold'em - PlayStation 4
As the name implies, Pure Hold'em only focuses on the cards, chips, and tables – there are no players present at the table.
Instead, players are shown on tablet devices and the chips/cards move through an advanced technology that doesn't require anybody to run the game.
The tables, casino setting, and cards are all presented in stellar fashion, as you'd expect from a PlayStation 4 game.
Our one complaint about the graphics is the tablet-based players, who don't add any entertainment value to Pure Hold'em.
Pure Hold'em features high-quality poker action, elegant card rooms, and a fun system that lets you work your way up from low-level card rooms to VIP suites.
But one thing that makes poker video games entertaining is when you can actually see real opponents, not just tablet versions of them. Most recreational players won't enjoy the lack of characters in this game.
5- Red Dead Redemption - PlayStation 3 and Xbox 360
Released in 2010 as the sequel to Red Dead Revolver, Red Dead Redemption is an open-world, Wild West game where you shoot up bad guys and complete missions.
Red Dead Redemption allows you to do several side activities, including a poker game that you can walk into any time.
Given that this is a western video game, Red Dead Redemption's poker action takes place in a dilapidated room with a worn table. The graphics perfectly fit the game and make you feel as if you're really playing in a Wild West poker game.
Despite poker being a side activity in Red Dead Redemption, it's actually a solid game that works like any normal poker video game. The goal is to accumulate money to spend in other areas of the open world.
But given that Red Dead Redemption is about more than just poker, the characters at the table stay the same every time you sit down to the table. The poker action is also rudimentary with no special features involved.
6- Sexy Poker - Nintendo Wii
Released in 2009, Sexy Poker is available for Nintendo Wii through WiiWare download.
This is a simple strip poker game involving anime characters, and the goal is to beat your computer opponent and get them down to their underwear.
If you've seen a Japanese anime movie or TV show, the graphics look very similar. Each setting is a static picture of a girl dressed in an outfit, such as a cop, nurse, or volleyball player.
If you're into strip poker and anime, then Sexy Poker will be an entertaining game for you.
The downside is that the Texas holdem is as basic as it gets, making this a lame game for poker enthusiasts.
7- Stacked with Daniel Negreanu - Xbox and PlayStation 2
Released in 2006, Stacked with Daniel Negreanu features the 6-time WSOP champion Negreanu, along with appearances from other pros like Carlos Mortensen, Erick Lindgren, and Evelyn Ng.
At first glance, Stacked is just a solid poker game with customizable options and appearances by pro players.
But the defining characteristic of this game is a technology called Poki, which learns your strategy and adjusts the artificial intelligence. This keeps your A.I. opponents from constantly being exploitable and makes the game more like real poker.
Stacked with Daniel Negreanu features strong 3D graphics – especially for PlayStation 2 and Xbox – and allows you to play in elegant card rooms with detailed backgrounds.
The avatars, graphics, options, and poker action already make this a good game. But appearances by Negreanu and other pros, along with the Poki technology, put this game over the top.
We also like the pre-taped advice segments with Negreanu, where he dispenses helpful tips.
The only real weaknesses of Stacked include cliché player movements, and dialogue. If you've played a few poker games, then you'll be more than familiar with everything that Stacked offers in these departments.
8- Telltale Texas Hold'em - Microsoft Windows
Telltale Texas Hold'em was released in 2005 for Microsoft Windows (PC).
This game was Telltale's precursor to Poker Night 2, and it features the same type of setup. You see the game through a first-person view, and you play with 3D characters who crack jokes and have interesting conversations at the table.
Characters include Harry Weinhead, Boris Krinkle, Theodore Dudebrough, and Grandma Shakey. These characters all generic, with the exception of Boris Krinkle, who looks just like Leonard Steakcharmer from Sam & Max Save the World and Sam & Max Beyond Time and Space.
Telltale Texas Hold'em features 3D graphics, and characters with notable facial features. But it would be nice to see more detail offered in the background.
Like Poker Night 2, this game is really fun in the beginning as you listen to the players interact with each other.
But this is another case where the jokes become stale when you hear them the third time around, and the poker action isn't detailed enough to make the game interesting at this point.
9- Texas Hold'em Poker - Nintendo DS and Wii
Released in 2009, Texas Hold'em Poker presents an overview of the table with typical Wii-style characters. In fact, you can even import your own Mii character onto the table.
Texas Hold'em Poker allows you to play Hold'em cash games and tournaments in casinos from New York to Monaco. You can also taunt opponents and chat with players through the online version.
The graphics are very cartoonish, which falls in line with many other Wii games. If you're looking for an escape from realistic avatars and settings, Texas Hold'em Pokers offers this.
This game feels like an online poker session due to the overhead view and giant community cards on the table. But Texas Hold'em Poker offers more-colorful avatars and settings to choose from than any online poker room.
The only potential downside we see to Texas Hold'em Poker is if you want a more-realistic environment, rather than the oversized heads and cartoonish graphics that are offered.
10- World Championship Poker 2
World Championship Poker 2 is part of a series released by Coresoft that also includes World Championship Poker and World Championship Poker: Featuring Howard Lederer All In.
World Championship Poker 2 is largely considered the best game of the series because it improved upon certain aspects from the original, including better artificial intelligence.
This game sees you work your way up from backroom home games to the bright lights of major poker tournaments. It also offers a number of options, such as customizing your avatar and picking the game location.
World Championship Poker 2 offers better graphics than its predecessor and is especially detailed for a game from the mid-2000s.
If you're looking for solid poker action that sees you grind from small stakes to the big time, then World Championship Poker 2 is worth trying.
Our main issue, though, is the player conversations, which are limited to mild insults that come from nowhere. The player interactions are very poor compared to games like Poker Night 2 and Telltale Texas Hold'em.
11- World Poker Tour 2K6
Launched in late 2005, World Poker Tour 2K6 offers the exciting action of the WPT, pro player appearances, and the long-time announcing duo of Mike Sexton and Vince Van Patten.
Some of the pros that you'll see include Antonio Esfandiari, Evelyn Ng, and Phil Laak.
You'll also be able to buy new outfits for your player with bonus money earned through pulling off bluffs and landing special hands.
The casino graphics in the background are solid, but the players, chips, and table aren't as detailed as what you'll see in many other games.
Unlike most poker games, World Poker Tour 2K6 has very good voice commentary that comes courtesy of Sexton and Van Patten. We also like how this game is fashioned after the WPT, giving you the feel of what it's like to be a tournament pro.
Drawbacks include below-average graphics, and the fact that you won't see the pro players very often.
12- World Series of Poker 2008: Battle for the Bracelets - PS2
If you want to relive the poker boom and see iconic pros, World Series of Poker 2008: Battle for the Bracelets is definitely worth trying.
This game includes avatars of pros like Greg Raymer, Jennifer Harman, Joe Hachem, Mike "The Mouth" Matusow, Phil Hellmuth, and Phil Laak. You'll also see instructional videos from some of these pros, offering you helpful poker tips while you play.
One interesting option is the ability to customize your avatar before competing against these elite players for bracelets.
The graphics aren't great, and they'll remind you of every other poker video game that tries to inject realism into the matter.
What is nice, though, is the real-life video footage that pops up on the side while you're playing.
World Series of Poker 2008: Battle for the Bracelets offers more pro players than any other poker game you'll find. And again, the video footage is a nice touch that adds something to the action.
The cons include that the graphics aren't good, and this feels more like a poker TV show, rather than a WSOP tournament with both pros and amateurs.
13- World Series of Poker: Full House Pro - Xbox 360
Released in 2013, World Series of Poker: Full House Pro offers a colorful approach to the glamour and excitement of the WSOP.
Like the Wii Texas Hold'em Poker game, Full House Pro presents characters with oversized heads trying to battle their way through tournaments.
Despite the name, you won't see a lot of reminders of the WSOP, beyond logos found on the chairs and tables. But the graphics put a fun spin on the intense action featured in WSOP tournaments.
With customizable avatars, good voice commentary, and animated players, World Series of Poker: Full House Pro is a nice game for anybody who wants to relax while playing.
The only major downside is that this game doesn't offer much for anybody who's looking for a realistic portrayal of the WSOP.