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.)