There are plenty of online poker review sites out there (including our review portal Poker-Ranking.com), each giving you their take on the numerous poker rooms circulating the internet. Below we’ll begin the process of breaking down for you our own online poker review template so you can learn what to look for when seeking out your next online poker room.
Software & Graphics
There are number of software programs most commonly used in online poker rooms all over the net, most notably: Microgaming, Cryptologic, RealTime Gaming, and PlayTech. Some online poker rooms, however, will use their own proprietary software.
Whichever software your online poker room uses, reading online poker reviews will give you a good idea what internet savvy poker players think of the various programs. Some factors to consider include:
– Speed and smoothness of game play
– Reliability of the software
– Usability of the interface
– Table view options (Bird’s Eye or 3D Player-Centered)
– Selection of automated features (auto-post blinds, preselect bid/fold buttons)
Under this heading in an online poker review you’ll also find information on how players are represented in the game (text, icons, flags, avatars), and the subjective quality of the graphics and sound.
Game Variation and Limits
Here you’ll find a listing of the games offered, such as: Texas Hold’em, Omaha, 7-Card Stud, 5-Card Stud, Draw Poker, Hi/Lo variants, and occasionally even rarer, more odd games like Crazy Pineapple. Some sites will even have the smattering of Video Poker or non-poker casino games like Blackjack. These days, however, a great number of online poker sites have companion online casino sites.
You’ll also find listed under this heading in an online poker review the betting structures available at each game — Limit, Pot Limit, No Limit — and the range of stakes for each. If you see in an online poker review the term “Microlimits“, for example, that generally refers to games with blinds in the penny or nickel range. A $20/$40 game has small blinds and raises starting at and in increments of $20 and has big blinds and raises starting at and in increments of $40.
Lastly, in this section of an online poker review, you’ll learn whether the online poker site offers Ring Games or Tournaments (or both), and if they do offer tournaments, what kind?
Freeroll: No cost to enter but the prizes are real;
Freezeout (or Shootout): Winner takes all (or top 3 placers) by process of elimination; most poker tournaments are of this variety (even Freerolls and Sit-n-Go’s);
Sit-n-Go (or Sit and Go): Usually run 24/7; a Sit-n-Go is a freezeout, can be of any stakes, and starts each time the required number of players buy-in;
Re-Buy: A form of Freezeout whereby, when you get knocked out, you have the option of buying in a second time;
Satellite: A Freezeout where the prize is a seat in a larger poker tournament (usually a land-based poker tournament) with a much larger prize;
Bounty: A Freezeout with a bonus; certain players have “bounties” on their heads; whoever knocks any of those players out of the game collects that bounty, whether they win the whole game or not.
This section of an online poker review is where you’ll learn how many players, on average, frequent the poker room. The online poker review will usually say how many players, during peak hours, participate in both the Ring Games and the Tournaments.
Traffic in an online poker room is a double-edged sword. Too much traffic means that you might have trouble finding a seat at a table, but you won’t have trouble finding action at your desired stakes and there’s likely to be a ton of fish to squeeze out of their bankrolls.
Too little traffic means that you may not find action at your desired stakes, but you’ll never have trouble finding a seat and you’ll probably play the same players more frequently. Getting to know your opponents’ habits is an excellent advantage.