Texas Hold'em


Very Funny Texas Hold'emWith Texas Hold'em poker games being all the rage these days, it is becoming increasingly more difficult to avoid seeing a game being played on ESPN, across the street, or even on Wisteria Lane.

The full name of this game is Very Funny Texas Hold'em, though I did not see anything "very funny" about it. The game is a straightforward Flash poker game that offers standard play against computer opponents. There is a complete instructions section that explains all of the terminology and game play of Teax Hold'em, including the sequence of progression for the increasing "blind" bets.

The game was created by Sean Gleeson as an advergame for the TBS site. The game displays an ad for a TBS television show between hands on the green table felt. It's a minor annoyance to an otherwise decent poker game. Click.

Analysis: The pace of the game is quick and comfortable, and the difficulty can be set as either easy or hard. However, even on hard there did not seem to be a lot of bluffing going on and computer opponents were easily scared off of pots with significant raises.

The game has a couple of other problems that I noticed. First, the background music gets annoying very quickly, and thankfully there is a mute button for it. Unfortunately, turning off the music reveals an annoying anomaly in the game's sound implementation. The resulting effect sounds like the music repeatedly begins to play for a split-second before it is muted again. I suggest using your computer's muting control when playing this game.

The other problem I noticed is when there is a three-way split pot: your bankroll will appear with repeating 3's off the end of the display. Yes, it's a minor annoyance, and yet it is something that could have been avoided with a single line of code.

Update: Sean has responded immediately to the comments made here about the game by correcting the sound glitch and the bankroll rounding issue. Nice job, Sean.

With thanks to Seth for the link.

21 Comments

It LOOKS nice, but the lack of a 'hand skip' feature is inexcusable, and ruins any possible enjoyment that could be had from the game. If you're playing 'right' you should be folding at least half of your hands, and watching faceless computers play out hand after hand after hand is tedious beyond belief.

Also, the AI is horrible, even on "Hard"

Well, yeah, especially because watching what they show doesn't really tell you all that much about them. I mean, they're willing to three-bet on the flop with a six high? Numbskulls...

Jay: Thanks for the review, and thanks for finding those two bugs (the music and the decimals in the bank). I have fixed them and e-mailed a new file to Seth, so it should be fixed on TBS.com very soon.

John: Could you tell me more about this "skip hand" feature? The (few) computer poker games I've played didn't have that feature, so forgive my ignorance. I agree that watching the robots play after you fold can be tedious, but obviously I can't just skip it, because the winner of that hand has to get the pot. Do you mean that they really do play out the hand, but very quickly? Is there a game I could look at with this feature, so I'll understand it better?

Very nice game.. all tho i think the bots could use a little adjusting the bluffing should be even high on all of the bots .. atleast on hard.. to easy to let them bluff away in the start .. also i found it to easy to go all in at the start to win quickly ;( so add more to fold on all ins ... othere then that it's great.. best texas holdem flash game i played ;)

By "skip hand", I mean, you just click a button after you fold and the game skips all the animation and just figures out the winner instantly. There's no reason to sit there and watch the computer play cards. Just show the final hands, who won and how much. Most single player poker games have this option.

That way you can fold your 7/2 off-suit and get your next hand almost instantly.

thanks for the review. although, i didn't find anything funny about the game either, i did find it amusing.
because i generally, er.. suck at poker games, i found i enjoyed this one. it made me feel like a winner, because it was incredibly easy. and despite the lack of personality from the other 'players' i was always glad to see 'ray' go, and quite sad when 'jack' was outdone and had to say goodbye.
this will give me hours of self-gratification in the poker arena... until i remember that i'm playing against computer generated players set on 'easy' and that my wins are hollow and completely by accident. :)

thanks again for finding this one. fun.

A new version of the game addressing Jay's criticisms is now live.

Minor nitpick: Saying "Call $XXX ... and Raise $XXX" is called a "string bet" and isn't allowed at any serious poker table in the world. If it's 500 to you and you want to raise 1000, you either say "raise 1000" or "raise to 1500", you don't say "call 500 and raise 1000".

And a not-so-minor nitpick: If somebody with less chips than you goes all-in in front of you, you should be able to call the bet without going all-in yourself. IOW, the choices should be "call, fold, raise, all-in"...where the minimum re-raise is the size of the bet to you (or all of your chips, whatever's smaller). Currently, the choices are "All-in, Fold".

I enjoy the game. I'm sure the advertised "Earth to America" night of comedy about global warming will be hi-larious. Another night of preachy George Bush and SUV jokes. Oh joy.

ya it was fun at first, but i noticed if you bet big in the beginning they'd always fold, and in the end you could win by betting over there heads and forcing them to fold.

I agree with Ari, I feel really good at poker while playing this. I've never played poker before, so this is a great start for me. I both love and hate the 'all in' feature though. It's great to win a lot of money, because most of the players fold after you 'all in', but it's not realistic, right? I mean, shouldn't you keep playing after you 'all in'?
Other than that, this's a great game--and a great time-waster! Thanks for the review, Jay!

very funny is TBS's catch phrase its a comedy channel

no offence, but Wanda is harsh, but if you're playing with Larry and Ray in easy, they're easy to cream.

Fun game for the office. My boss caught me and said "no more poker for you or your fired." Guess what... I ended up getting fired. I have lots of time for poker now!

I have played poker for living for a few years, so I was a bit surprised when my first 5 player game ended up lasting over 45 minutes and I was busted out at 3rd place.

The AI is average but good enough to make the game entertaining. It is too easy to see when opponents have not hit the board and bluff bet them out of the pot, and many times they also make ridiculously small minimum bets on a large pot. Once I spotted an opponent calling an all-in bet with as weak cards as T3 offsuit. But as on real online poker rooms the game was rigged and he hit a flush with his one card to beat the opponents TT :)

Very cute game. There are not a lot of Flash, Texas Hold'em games out there. The AI is a bit predictable. I have found a nice Google Flash module that can play a relative OK, round of poker but not as cute as this game though. I like the way it shows you how you have won.

The Google module can be found here:
http://www.google.com/ig/add?moduleurl=http%3A//www.royalvegaspoker.com/gadget/texasholdem.xml

Isnt diamonds 6 7 8 9 10 supposed to be a straight flush, instead of a 10 high flush?

(just lost to a full house like that)

Howdy, Jay. And everybody.

I made an updated Hold'em game for TBS last month. "My Boys Texas Hold 'Em" uses essentially the same game engine as "Very Funny Texas Hold 'Em," but with some quantum improvements in the AI, the graphics, and the overall experience. I think it's more fun. (And the feedback I've heard confirms it.)

The main differences between "My Boys" and "Very Funny" Hold'em are:

1. The new advergame promotes the new TBS comedy series "My Boys," so it features the characters from that show.

2. The AI players are less 'tight,' harder to bluff, and more likely to bluff themselves.

3. There is no 'hard' or 'easy' setting, just one skill level. But you can have your pick among seven characters as opponents, who have slightly different playing styles.

4. A very catchy blues soundtrack, instead of a very catchy swing soundtrack.

5. A few more improvements and bug fixes too mundane to mention here.

Play the game on tbs.com. Read more about it on my blog.

If you think it's worth a separate review, Jay, I would like to know what you think of "My Boys." (Naturally, if you find any bugs or faults, I will endeavor to fix them promptly.)

Thanks for all your input, commenters!

I like the new and improved version of the game. It is still easily beaten by aggressive play, but quite enjoyable. The best part is that I have managed to get some of my friends hooked on Texas holdem poker after showing them this game. They just can't get enough and the poker nights at my house are not short handed any longer. :-)

The game is good enough. However I think it's always better to play Texas Hold 'em poker in real conditions against people, thus you will really significantly improve your skills.

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