Empire Poker Review

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Empire Poker:

Within the poker community, Empire Poker is very well known yet, despite being a poker-lover myself, I had never got round to playing at this online poker room. So, in the name of research (an excuse to play) I decided to review the offering provided by Empire.

The poker software used by Empire Poker is the same as that developed by PartyPoker.com and as such, poker players may well be used to this software type. And, as with Party Poker, the marketing budget at Empire is huge, so the poker room grows in popularity daily (the site advertises that up to 70,000 people play in the poker room at one time).

As with many poker sites, a player must first download the required software before playing, and with Empire this is not a difficult task. The website makes downloading very easy, with a link available on every page to direct the visitor to the right area. The download itself is also very small - an installer is firstly downloaded (approximately 250k in size), which subsequently downloads a further set of files at just over 3mb in size. Even on a slow connection this should take no longer than around 15 minutes. And for those that even 15 minutes is too long, Empire will send players the software on CD completely free of charge - a nice touch.

With regards to the site itself, the usual sections are there, such as banking and game previews, etc. However, Empire Poker goes further with their site than some competitors by providing an in-depth game rules section and poker school that would prove particularly useful to first-time poker players - good thinking, Empire.

Having installed and loaded the Empire Poker software, I then had to create an account. At Empire Poker this consists of answering a bare minimum of questions - only a username, password, name and email address must be supplied for account creation. However, further questions (address, date of birth etc.) are asked when a player first visits the cashier. This does of course mean though, that players can participate in freerolls and free-play games without having to divulge all their private details - something that would be appreciated by the security conscious.

After having a little play at a couple of play-chip tables I decided the time was right to make a deposit. Empire Poker offers a multitude of depositing options, including the popular NETeller, credit cards and wire transfers. I decided to deposit $50 via NETeller (the minimum deposit amount). As a new player I was instantly rewarded with a 20% bonus on my first deposit. However, this bonus is added to a bonus account with the money only transferring to a player's real account after participating in a certain amount of raked hands (raked hands played can be tracked in Empire's bonus account manager). As well as these deposit bonuses, Empire Poker also offer a progressive bad beat jackpot which has awarded hundreds of thousands to players in the past - at the time of play, over $200,000 was in the pot waiting to be won.

Having made a deposit it was now time to decide what game to play. Empire Poker, as with the large majority of poker rooms, present their tables in lobby format split by type of game (ring or tournament) and variety of game (Texas Hold'em, 7 card stud etc.) It should be noted that while less popular games such as Omaha and Stud are offered, by far the most popular tables are Texas Hold'em tables. However, with so many players connected at any one time, fans of the lesser-known games should still have no problem in finding opposition.

Usually, I decide to play at real cash game (ring) tables. However, this time I decided to take part in a tournament. Tournaments are a great way to get prolonged play for a set amount of money. Basically, all players put money in a pot which is later allocated to the game winner (and runners up as well depending on tournament rules) but game play itself takes place with tournament chips. The aim of the game is to continue playing in an attempt to get everybody else's chips. However, should you run out of chips, then that is game over.

Empire Poker offers a range of tournament games, including Multi Table Tournaments (usually unlimited in terms of entry places) and Sit 'N' Go's, which are restricted to a set number of entrants(usually 10). At Empire, players can take part in some special tournaments with huge prizes on offer - when I played a seat at the World Series of Poker was up for grabs!

Despite the attraction of some of the bigger competitions, I settled for a $10 + $1 tournament, as I thought this might give me a better chance of winning. Unfortunately I was proven wrong, and found myself knocked out in 9th place after being dealt some terrible cards.

However, my luck is probably not of interest to you as a reader - you probably want to know more about what the Empire Poker experience is actually like! I have to say that I was pretty impressed. The graphics used at this poker room are very pleasing on the eye - of high quality and yet still simple so it is very easy to see what cards you hold and what cards are in play. Game play is also accompanied by sound effects, which - while simple definitely add to the overall experience.

Game play itself is also very pleasing. The cards are dealt at a decent speed, and I experienced no stuttering during play, which I thought was very good considering the number of people connected and the fact I was on a dial-up connection. The Empire Poker interface is also very easy to use. Play options are made by clicking on clearly labelled buttons, and players can even chose their play while other users are considering their moves by the use of click boxes in advance (i.e. players can chose to check, fold etc. before the prompts appear). Players can also 'multi table', meaning more than one table can be played at once. Of course, this can get difficult to follow, but makes for a very fast and exciting experience!

With regards to my further time at Empire, unfortunately my luck did not improve much at all. After losing a tournament so quickly I decided to play another one. This time I did much better, but again a bad beat meant I was forced out in 4th place - just outside of the money. My ring game play was a little better and I had a few decent hands playing 7-card stud poker, but unfortunately I then proceeded to lose it all playing some No Limit Texas Hold 'Em.

In terms of player quality at Empire Poker I came across a funny mix. The big marketing budget means that new players (read 'bad players') seem quite happy playing alongside seasoned pros that I know for a fact frequent Empire. I guess though it makes for a much more interesting playing experience - in fact almost all of poker skill revolves around reading other players!

This time I never had the opportunity to test Empire Poker's cash out systems. However, I could see from the withdrawal cashier that a number of withdrawal methods are offered, and if their banking blurb is to be believed, that most cash-ins are processed within one business day. This is perfectly fine and I have to say that I have not heard of any players complaining about pending cash-ins at Empire Poker.

Finally, while I never actually needed to contact support during my time spent at the Empire Poker room, it is still important to pass comment on it. Unfortunately only email support appeared to be offered by Empire. However, they do promise that people respond to emails around the clock, and as such this should be fine. It is a slight disappointment though that instant contact, such as telephone support, is not offered by such a big poker room.

In conclusion, Empire Poker is a great poker destination. Many thousands of players are connected at any one time, meaning there is competition available at any time of the day regardless of your choice of game. The software itself is also of very high quality - good graphics and sound are complemented by solid game speed and smoothness. Banking is good, with a wide range of deposit and withdrawal options available. It is a slight shame that support options are not more plentiful, but this should not detract from what is overall a very solid poker room indeed. All in all, it's a job well done for Empire Poker.

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Click Pictures to Enlarge

Every game is accessed through the easy-to-use Empire lobby

Empire Poker Lobby

Tournaments offer players huge payouts for relatively small buy-ins

Poker Tournaments

I'm currently in third place in a $10 + $1 tournament

Poker Tournament

I pre-select the "fold" option with this bad starting hand

Pre-Select The 'Fold' With Bad Poker Hands

My $3 raise wins the pot in this NL Hold'em game

NL Hold'Em Poker Game

I play this risky hands but it pays off with my Ace-high two pair

A Winning Poker Hand

Two players fight it out in this 7 Card Stud game

7 Card Stud Game

Two pair wins the $10 pot in this game

Two Pair Wins The Pot

I should never have played this hand, but the straight comes along winning the pot

Straight Wins The Pot

Pot limit games are popular amongst Empire Poker visitors

Pot Limit Games - Texas Hold Em Poker

The Empire Poker bonus system is very easy to use

Empire Poker Bonus System

Empire Poker Strong Points:
  • Huge number of tables available, both ring and tournament
  • Wide range of deposit and withdrawal options
  • Good deposit bonuses and a huge progressive bad beat jackpot available
  • Great software with good graphics and sound
  • Smooth game play with fast-speed plays
  • Small download and CD availability
Things Empire Poker Could Improve:
  • High minimum deposit amounts
  • Disappointing support

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