Texas Hold 'em briefly free on Xbox Live Arcade

Good news for anyone who likes online poker: the long-awaited Texas Hold 'em on Xbox Live Arcade is coming out this weekend... and Microsoft has found a clever way to keep its promise that the game would be free, even after suggesting that it might wind up charging for it after all.

That clever way is the phrase "for a limited time." Anybody can download Texas Hold 'em from the time it releases on Wednesday, August 23 through the following 48 hours, and it's theirs to keep. After that, the game will cost 800 Microsoft points (about $10). And while you can't gamble for money, Microsoft points or wager bits of your Gamerscore, the game does feature a balanced risk/reward system that should urge players to play "for real" even though there's no cash at stake.

Microsoft also quietly confirmed two more XBLA games: the old-school Konami coin-op classics Time Pilot (August 30) and Scramble (September 6). They'll go for 400 points each, or about five bucks apiece.

August 16, 2006