Backlog Burndown #17 – Telltale Texas Hold’Em

Telltale Texas Hold'Em, Telltale Games, Backlog Burndown

Greetings Backloggers! It’s always interesting to me to see the history of how something has come to be. Fallout 4 wouldn’t be the game it was without Fallout 1 & 2, for example, nor would The Legend of Zelda: Breath of the Wild be what it is without a history of Zelda games stretching back over twenty years and across every Nintendo platform.

Thus we come to Telltale Texas Hold’Em, Telltale Games’ first iteration of their single-player poker games from back in 2005. It’s got a lot of rough edges (and I’m not just talking about character graphics with jaggies sharp enough to cut yourself on), but the genesis of the future Poker Night at the Inventory and Poker Night 2 games is clear.

Telltale Texas Hold'Em, Telltale Games, Backlog Burndown

Your four opponents

The game, as the name suggests, a single-player Texas Hold’Em simulator. You play against four opponents, each with their own personality and tells. There’s Harry the professional-ish player, with a by-the-book strategy; Boris the most-likely a mob hitman who plays aggressive but calculated; Theodore the fratboy who plays dumb and aggressive; and Grandma, who plays a slow, calculated game right up until she crushes you.

Those rough edges? Aside from the graphics, which after twelve years have not aged well, the voice acting is … well, let’s just say this was back when Telltale was recruiting most of their voice talent internally, and sometimes you just have to take what you can get.

Telltale Texas Hold'Em, Telltale Games, Backlog Burndown

The table looks okay anyway.

The game is really more a time-capsule than anything else. Telltale Games’ later two poker games, with their great character selections, fun unlockables, and hilarious interactions belong in every fans playlists. If you’re curious where those two games came from (and Telltale, if you’re listening, maybe make a third one for 2017?) then Telltale Texas Hold’Em is a worthy hour spent peering into the past.

Backlog Verdict: If all you want is a poker game with some fun characters, play Telltale’s later games and leave this on the shelf. If you want to see where it all started though, take an hour or two and try to win a few games. Just… good luck against Granny. You’ll need it.

Previous Backlog Count: 1,199

Current Backlog Count: 1,199 – Yup, no progress this week, but at least not going backwards either.

Next Time: It appears that my crash issues have been solved, so it’s time to take another crack at finishing Invisible Apartment Zero.


Backlog Burndown is a semi-regular feature on Marooner’s Rock. Read previous columns in the archives, and suggest future games to play in the comments!

Aaron is proof that while you can take a developer out of the game industry, it's much harder to take the game industry out of a developer. When not at his day job, Aaron enjoys teaching Axis & Allies to his kids, writing sci-fi stories, playing classic space sims on Twitch, and riding around the American Midwest on his Harley.

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