Tuesday, March 28, 2006

Poker.com: A Review

A new poker site!

Stupendous! Colossal even!

And like Snagglepuss, you should exit stage right before signing up.

Poker.com runs like a shinny Lexus ls460 with no motor inside and standing on cinder blocks. The warning signs can be seen on the introductory page as it shills for two other competing poker rooms? Ads for Noble and Pacific can be seen right above the attractive “Poker Queen Tina” perhaps in an attempt to show you just how bad online poker software can be. At least I give their marketing department kudos for the “hey we’re not as bad as these guys!!” campaign. Barely better then the aforementioned rooms, but I doubt its possible to do worst then Noble and Pacific for site construction.

First, signing up requires the Neteller (or your favorite off-shore e-wallet they do accept five different ones) and your personal information. My personal sign up caught several snags as I was held up by trying to enter an email verification code that didn’t work (this may have been a personal problem as I’ve had difficulties in the past with emailed codes). After an hour and three emails with the Poker.com staff, I was up and running.

The standard 50% sign up bonus (up to $200) was tempting so I bought in for the full amount with multi-tabling in mind to see how fast it would clear. Their system for clearing bonuses is a little different then most other sites where you generally receive 1 “point” from 1 raked hand over a certain amount and have to play X amount of raked hands. Here it’s a tiered section much like Noble that gives 1-3 “crowns” for higher amounts of rake. At Poker.com you receive more “comp points” based on the blinds in a cash game. They are divided into three groups and you receive up to 150 comp points per “ring” (which is 15 hands, raked or not) but that is for $4/$8 limit (and above) and $5/$10 NL (and above). I haven’t checked out the limit games but there has been no game above $2/$4 NL running when I’ve been on (not that I’d play that high regardless).

Let’s see an example of smaller stakes player’s ability to clear this bonus:

I spend about two hours playing $.50/$1 NLHE last night and received 450 comp points.

The full bonus is $200 X 150 comp points per $1 cleared = 30,000 comp points needed

Say I average 225 comp points per hour for argument sakes. 30,000/225 = 133.3 playing hours to clear the entire bonus.


But but but Drizz don’t you play like 15 million tables at once?!?!?! I do like to multi-table, but Poker.com’s multi-tabling consist of having to click on a table’s “tab” that blinks when its your action near the top of the webpage. While attempting three tabling, several times I missed my action due to delayed blinking, and that made me bleeping mad at the blinking.

The game play itself is extremely slow, almost to live play standards of 50 hands per hour (full ring), and there’s no O8 games (only Omaha-Hi) as I am forced to play Hold Em’ with the 400 or so cash game players. Light traffic also makes clearing the bonus difficult as there are very few games to choose from (I haven’t seen an Omaha-Hi game running yet, but that's not to say there aren't any).

The game play and table itself is ok. There’s buttons for betting and raising 2x, 4x the blinds or previous bet/raise, and an all-in button for those push monkeys that don’t want to bother with the slide bar. These buttons were useful while multi-tabling, as the slide bar and extremely small number box were too difficult to use for betting. The interface is VERY busy, there’s an information bar that flashes recent winners of tournaments and hands at the bottom of the screen. Individual players have stars and symbols next to their names signifying how awesome that are (stars earned on frequency of play, and symbols are earned by winning tournaments). It’s a little cartoony but nice to know who’s a regular player at the site and maybe a tip as to the skill level that you are facing. When two players are all-in prior to showdown a “percent to win” circle goes over their cards, again a little cartoony but this feature will help whiners like me who can say they were 95% to win on the turn ANDOMGIGOTSUCKEDOUTLIKEWHOA!

I’ve been describing a clunker so far, but this is where the Lexus analogy comes in. First, the site offers a ton of freerolls, not to mention the free WSOP seat to a lucky blogger (be sure to see the flashing ad near my blog roll if you are interested, use Drizz99 or Drizztdj as your referral if you wish). The prizes are rather nice, and seem to come with no strings attached, meaning you don’t need to make a deposit. But, if you do deposit there are seven different $500 freerolls offered by making your initial deposit. I played in one and finished just out of the money, as it’s a turbo-styled tourney with 7 minute blinds. Also, there are two major freerolls offered each week, $4K on Monday and Wednesday with 1500 comp points earned (and yes Bill they are free as you do not need to “use” the comp points to enter) and a rather large $20K freeroll on Sundays with 2000 comp points earned (the winner takes home $4,000).

On the side there is a blog (that is updated daily) and a Poker.com community forum for this rather tightly knit group.

Because of the sparse traffic, you will most likely play against the same people at certain levels, much like I do playing PLO8 at Stars. The level of play is rather tight, but I’ve seen moments of “hwat?!?!!?” that you see at any most fringe sites. If you can navigate the minefield of players who will only play top sets and big pairs, and those who chase gutshot straights like a horny old man that chases Catholic high school girls, you’ll be profitable.

My recommendation:

- Play this site only while involved in another game, as the games run painfully slow. If you can’t stand a slow running site Poker.com is not for you.

- Do not sign up with the intention of bonus whoring (especially if you’re a lower stakes player) as the lack of controls for multi-tabling and comp points system is geared towards higher stakes players making this a –EV proposition.

- DO take advantage of the freerolls being offered, as they are rather lucrative and soft to place in.

- Check in on the forum and learn about your opponents. I found a post about a guy who cracked my aces with QQ losing $1,600 playing blackjack at the site earlier that day. Glad I contributed towards his degenerate behavior.

Thanks for dropping by, now all this week you should be spamming the refresh button on our Playboy mansion crashing blogger’s sites to see how to properly project vomit after drinking too much. Way to do us Minnesotan’s proud sir!!

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