As you said in your comment, you use a Synaptics touchpad. I also had a similar experience; I bought a new shiny laptop with a Synaptics multitouch touchpad and was excited on using gestures in Ubuntu. The problem is that the Synaptics touchpad driver in Ubuntu doesn't support any advanced gestures other than two finger scrolling.
Work is going on to improve MT (multitouch) support for Synaptics touchpads, and we may get better support in 11.10 (not confirmed, but I hope so). Even if full support is implemented, one thing to note is that the Synaptics touchpads don't support finger presses above 3 fingers, and it also doesn't support rotating gestures (though zoom, drag, 3-finger press/drag, etc are supported). That's a hardware limitation, and nothing much can be done about that.