VooFoo Studios, the developer behind the Hustle Kings, Pure Pool and Pure Chess games are about to add another title to their stable, and it’s one that should come as a welcome addition to Xbox One and PS4. Pure Hold‘em is the name of the game, and as you no doubt guessed, it centers around Texas Hold’em, the most popular variant of poker in the world. We recently went hands on with the open beta currently being held on Xbox One, and thought we’d pass on a few of our thoughts.
For starters, this is a beta, so it’s tough to know how negative we should be in regards to the game’s shortcomings, or to know for sure how much of the final product they’re showing us. With that said, the fundamentals seem pretty well formed and what we played felt a lot like a game that’s very near completion.
Texas Hold’em is the only poker variant available in the beta, and although there’s no option to switch up the rules, you can choose a variety of tables with different blinds to play at. The tutorial that came at the beginning did a good job of showing basic rules and terminology without bogging us down for too long before throwing us in a real match. The game spots you 2000 chips to begin, and there’s a free table you can play at without worrying about losing your stash, while allowing you to earn very modest profits for your chip count on bigger tables. This free table also gives you a quick heads up about what you’re doing well, and what chance you have to win the hand as each game progresses.
The online mode is very similar to offline, just with a mixture of real players to go along with the AI. As you’d expect, betting is much more aggressive, so it’s easy to get pushed out of a hand before it even begins unless you’re willing to take some major chances. Thankfully, there’s a free online table you can play at that’s identical to the offline table, in case you feel like playing worry-free.
There’s also a tournament mode in the online portion but this wouldn’t function properly in the beta version. Since the open tables in the online portion don’t allow you to join or invite your friends, the tournaments may be a solo affair as well. You can join up with friends for private games, but for whatever reason there’s no option to turn on AI players, so prepare for a dull game if there are only two of you.
As you take down other AI and human players, not only will you chip stack rise, but so will your rank. It seems to be an XP-based system that keeps moving up your rank as you play, but I was never entirely certain how it rewarded us, or what the ranking system was doing for us outside of providing an ever-increasing number. A couple of other odd things were unexplained as well, like the ability send gifts to other players while you play. These gifts had a credit value next to them, but since there was no charge upon sending them, it’s hard to work out just exactly what they do.
There wasn’t much to speak of in terms of unlockables that a lot of other poker games have, but you can change up the color and patterns of the table’s felt to your liking. There’s also a leaderboard that updates pretty frequently, and a high/low game you can play each day from the menu. While I was never able to win the high/low game, I’m guessing that extra chips are handed out to people who make it to the end.
While the AI holds up, one thing that could be improved is the pacing. When you fold out of an offline game, you’re still forced to watch the AI players finish, with no option to speed the game up or skip to the next hand. There’s a similar issue in the online portion, with human players being given up to 20 seconds to make a decision when it’s their turn. 8-10 seconds is more than enough (particularly on the free table) and would keep the games moving a little quicker.
That’s about it, really. In its current form, it’s a very bare-bones poker game with just the one mode and no customisable rules outside of the blinds. The fundamentals of the game were very sound, however, and the AI was often tough to consistently beat for big chips. I’d hope that they add or at least flesh out a few bells and whistles before it launches in the near future, but even in its current state, it’s a decent Texas Hold’em-up that big poker fans will likely enjoy.