Wednesday, August 23, 2006

Texas Hold 'Em

Just like everyone else with an Xbox 360, I imagine, I downloaded Texas Hold 'Em. It's free, of course, and we like free things. The game is available until Friday to anyone with a Live account, and thereafter will cost 800 Microsoft points. What's Microsoft playing at here, I wonder? I haven't read their strategy for this game anywhere -- and that statement should not be construed to mean that I've even looked -- but I have a theory. In the game, you have a finite bankroll. You cannot simply restack your chips for online play (nor, does it seem like, for single-player mode).

My guess is that Microsoft is happily giving away the game for free, and plans to make people purchase more chips when they run out. If this is the case, it's hard to see how this can be distinguished from online play through sites like Party Poker and Poker Stars. No, it's not "real" money, but it's only a few degrees of separation from it. You buy Microsoft points with actual money, then use MS points to buy fake money? I hope not.

(The closest I could get to clarification in the press release was this: "Your virtual bankroll is tied to your gamertag and keeps a running tally of your chip count. If you lose all of your chips in a poker game, you'll have to play lower stakes buy-in games to make back your stack and earn your way to the big tables." If I were a real journalist, I would call Microsoft and ask what the deal is.)


Johnson said...

I'm willing to bet that the key missing ingredient is "use MS points to buy fake money." Therein lies the gambling aspect of it, that they're almost certainly not licensed to make payouts.

Kind of like those PTA "Vegas Night" things. You go, spend a little cash, have some fun. If you win a whole lot, well, you get to feel all awesome. Do you get to cash it in for $800 at the end of the night? Of course not, silly. This is for charity.

Why would people play, then? Well, who has the most chips (née e-dick)?

Mitch said...

The closest I've come to an answer so far is that apparently you can enter "lower buy-in" games in order to try to build your stack back up. But that still doesn't answer the question of what you do when you run out.

You're right about the stack-as-penis thing, for sure.