COMMENTARY: Freely downloadable Texas Hold’em on XBox Live Arcade… it’s just friggin’ evil.

That’s right.  I said it.  Texas Hold’em is EVIL.

As you may know, XBox Live Arcade for XBox360 users can download for free (for another 36 hours as of the posting of this entry – the deal expires at the end of Friday, August 25th) their very own copy of Texas Hold’em Poker absolutely free.

Yep.  Free.  No charge.  Zilch.  Nil.  Nada.  And it has all of this:

  • Xbox 360 Camera Support.  Sure the damned thing isn’t released yet.  But it’s supposed to be rearing its ugly head this September so it’s as good as here… right?
  • Single Player Support.  Doesn’t sound like a big deal until you realize that this is a really good way to train and learn and otherwise hone your skills for real play.  It’s not like people get together for Poker every evening in LA.  Or do they?
  • Evolutionary growth.  You start with $2000 and progress from $2/$4 blinds to tables with larger blinds and larger buy ins.  That’s the only way you evolve and play stronger players.  By the way, the Artificial Intelligence in the players is pretty cool.
  • Multiplayer.  This obviously gets ridiculous.  No need to talk about this here.

…AND IT’S ALL EVIL.  Why?  Well, for one it’s really addictive.  I found myself playing over and over (and losing repeatedly I might add but learning a lot about reading behavior and hands and player tendencies which each AI/computer player does have) and to be honest… I DON’T WANT TO. 

That’s right, I don’t WANT to play this game over and over.  My proficiency is in Blackjack which is a very different, fast paced game.  I can see how someone could make their living playing poker being that humans are flawed and with enough skill and enough "fish", a person could be a professional at playing poker.  I get the feeling that based on a person’s stamina, a skilled player could continue to play as long as they could and continue to make money.

Meanwhile, Blackjack is different.  Blackjack is very fast paced and not really a stamina game in my experience.  It’s more of a rhythm game, meaning that sometimes the cards are there and sometimes they aren’t and unlike poker, you can’t ‘bluff’ your way out of a bad shoe.  But much like losing the blinds, you’re gonna lose some money on lousy hands over time because like one of my favorite players, Sam Farha, likes to say, "You don’t gamble, you don’t win."

That being said, you still watch players, you watch what’s been dealt from the shoe, you watch for patterns and face card runs, and most importantly, you leave the table when the cards turn and this can be after just 15 minutes of playing. 

Personally, I have a rule:  I have to see the dealer break before I sit down and play, after which I’ve been known to play at a table for no more than 5 minutes before leaving with a few $1000.  This pisses off some pitbosses to no end being that they start the clock on your rated play only to have to stop it but hey – you play to win… you never play for comps.

What does this have to do with Texas Hold’em being evil?  Well, it is a very different mindset – one that I don’t want to get accustomed to because I’m a Blackjack player and you can’t play Blackjack and Poker and be good at both.  You just can’t.   I read an article with Freddie Deebs in Poker Life Magazine the other day that basically says the same thing:  If you want to be good at a game, you have to focus on just that game and that game alone.  You can’t screw around on other casino games because you lose focus and you disconnect from what’s important. 

And if Freddie Deebs, a professional gambler who once turned $40 into $300,000 in a single night, says it’s true, who am I to argue?

So what am I gonna do re: Poker?  I’m gonna play and I’m probably gonna be someone’s fish.  But I’m gonna have a good time doing it, socializing and drinking with some friends and maybe if I get a few good cards, I might win a few hands, but I’m not banking on it.

Not like Blackjack.

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