Pokerroom Review

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Pokerroom:

Online poker has been gathering momentum over recent months, thank in part to the media's sudden interest in the game - a plethora of celebrity poker television shows have helped boost the game's popularity enormously. The effect of this, is that more and more people are turning to the Internet to get their fix of Texas Hold'em or Omaha, or whatever their game of choice may be.

One destination that serves to meet this demand is PokerRoom.com. This online poker site established itself in 1999, and as such has been around pretty much since the inception of online poker. This fact has made it one of the most popular sites in the online poker world - at the time of writing over 10,000 people were connected.

Upon visiting the Poker Room site, I was instantly impressed with the content of the site. Usually, the aim of a gambling website is pure and simple - to get people to sign up as quickly as possible. However, PokerRoom has clearly thought long and hard about the content of the site - inspection of the site revealed a section dedicated to chat boards where players can share tips and news, as well as a 'poker school' section. This part of the site is devoted to teaching people how to play poker, and contained a superbly simple, yet informative, flash tutorial.

To begin playing poker, a player first needs to sign-up. However, unlike the vast majority of poker sites, PokerRoom (which incidentally runs its own proprietary software) is mainly dedicated to no-download play. While there is a download version of the software (which allows play in a 3d environment), it is far easier simply to play from a browser window. This no-download feature also means that PokerRoom is available to Mac, Apple and Linux users. The no-download option also means that players on a dial-up connection can be up and playing within minutes, instead of hours as is sometimes the case when hefty file downloads are required.

After a quick minute of form filling, I had created an account and was ready to make a deposit. The cashier is again browser based, with the PokerRoom banking system accepting a number of deposit methods. I clicked the NETeller option, and was pleasantly surprised to find the minimum deposit amount was just $10. This means that even players with a very modest budget can participate in this exciting game.

I personally decided to make a $50 deposit. While a sign-up bonus is available (20% up to $100 bonus), this bonus is only added to your account after you have played a required number of raked games. However, this does mean that you are free to withdraw your own money at any time - just that to receive the bonus you have to keep playing. PokerRoom also offers bonuses to loyal players, including themed deposit bonuses as well as royal flush bonuses (up to $5000) - along with regular special promotions.

With my money sitting in my account, I decided to find a table and get stuck in. The no-download version of the software, which I was using to play, presents the available tables in a lobby format. Firstly tables are split by 'ring games and 'tournament play'. Then, players can chose the game they want to play (e.g. Texas Hold'em, Omaha, Stud) before finally choosing the betting limits for the game. Incidentally, PokerRoom does offer 'play' tables for visitors who want to play poker without risking any real money.

Being a fan of Texas Hold'em, I sat down at a no-limit game with a maximum buy-in of $25. Before I had even experienced the game play, I was completely impressed with the graphics on show. For no-download software, PokerRoom really have pulled out all the stops, and they must be commended for this.

Unfortunately, it took my a few minutes to figure out why I was not being dealt cards. With PokerRoom a player has to opt to 'sit in' before they are included in games. With this little problem solved, I was dealt my first set of cards. I was dealt a 3 and a 6 of spades - not great cards. However, since I was 'blinded in' and no one else raised my blind, I was able to check and see the flop. This dealt me another three, so I had a pair, but not much else. However, the next round brought a 4 - and combined with a 5 on the board that meant I had 3,4,5,6 - an open straight. Feeling adventurous, I made a big bet, and since everyone else folded, I won the pot!

So after my very first hand I was in the profit! Generally, I was very impressed with the poker play at PokerRoom. Even though I was on a dial-up connection, the speed of play was pretty good, and disconnections were few and far between. I discovered the software even had some sound effects, which for no-download really is good.

During my play I also came across some other nice features. For one, each betting option (raise, check etc.) is also represented by a function key (F1, F2 etc.). As such, a player can select to play without touching their mouse - a nice touch. At one point, I also came across a nice warning feature built in to the PokerRoom software - I clicked 'fold' on a hand, and was politely informed the hand was 'free' because no one else had bet. As such, I checked and actually went on to win the hand with a lucky river. It's nice to know that stupid mistakes such as this are checked for by the software.

My overall luck at this table was OK. I was up and down for quite a while. However, then I made a big mistake - I was dealt an A, K and with another ace showing on the table I was pretty confident and went all-in. Another player did the same. The showdown resulted in that player having three-of-a-kind after a hitting a lucky river. I guess with poker you have these kind of hands.

Licking my wounds, I decided to get out and have a look around the rest of the PokerRoom lobby. In general, most tables were filled, particularly where the Hold'em game was being played. It has to be said though, that the other poker games were far less popular, and fans of games such as Omaha may be slightly disappointed.

Deciding that I had had enough of ring games (betting real money each game) I decided to enter a tournament. PokerRoom offers a number of single table and multi-table tournaments, ranging from buy-ins of $5+1 all the way up to $100+9. PokerRoom even offers daily freeroll tournaments, which is again another great aspect of this poker room. I decided to enter a fixed limit $10+$1 single-table game. Unfortunately, I quickly became bored with this tournament - while the software is fast enough for ring games, tournament play can become slightly tedious. This is made worse by the fact that 10 players are present in a tournament - if you fold your cards at the beginning, it can be a while before you get a chance to play. This resulted in me making stupid bets- and I finished the tournament in a poor 8th position.

At this point, my bankroll was down to about $15, and while I tried my hardest to bluff my way to a profit, I was soon left with a zero bankroll. However, if I had been able to cashout, I would have only had to wait a day for my money (according to the website), which is not bad at all.

Finally, I went to test support. Support is offered in the form of an FAQ section on the site, as well as email / web form support. While this is not a huge number of contact methods, it proved sufficient, and an email response to a question I sent was received within around 10 hours. The email also apologized for the delay, so maybe it can be even faster than this at times. Sadly, the response I received did not seem overly specific to my question (I asked how close I was to receiving the bonus), and instead I received a general response about wagering terms. It is a shame that the CSR could not have responded in a more personable manner.

Overall, I have to say that I was impressed with PokerRoom - for a no-download poker destination, this site has to be pretty much the best. Good graphics and sound are only slightly marred by sometimes slow play. Nevertheless, with up to 20,000 people playing at once, you will always find people to play and for a better-than-average experience, PokerRoom comes highly recommended.

Click Pictures to Enlarge

The PokerRoom no-download lobby

The PokerRoom no-download lobby

A high bet with an open-ended straight pays off

A high bet with an open-ended straight pays off

A bluff-raise wins me the pot

A bluff-raise wins me the pot

We all high-card at the start of this $10+$1 tournament

We all high-card at the start of this $10+$1 tournament

High-rollers fight over some big pots

High-rollers fight over some big pots

Pokerroom Strong Points:
  • No-download poker site
  • Download available if wanted
  • Good graphics and sound
  • Large number of people, particularly at Hold'em games
  • Free and real play allowed
  • A number of ring games and tournaments
  • Good financial handling
Things Pokerroom Could Improve:
  • Small number of support options
  • Support not extremely quick
  • Support staff not personable
  • Bonuses require play before credit
  • Tournaments slow at times
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