888poker is a major international online poker brand that is the second most used online poker service in the UK. 888poker is part of the 888 Holdings group, an online casino and betting website founded in 1997 by Israeli Brothers Avi and Aaron Shaked. Beginning life as part of the 888casino offering, 888poker got its own site in 2002 and has grown to be a market leader since then. 888poker has over 10 million registered players worldwide, and it is estimated that a new player signs up every 12 seconds, making it one of the fastest-growing poker businesses in the world.
Before we even logged in to play a game, we had heard plenty about 888 and some existing reviews about their site and service. 888poker has previously won awards for both its tournaments and its service offering including Poker Operator of the Year, Poker Market Campaign of the Year, Best Poker Software and Socially Responsible Operator of the Year. It is a fully licensed and regulated casino operator under EU law, and 888 Holdings are based out of the UK territory of Gibraltar.
The first thing we noticed before registering with 888poker was the amount of security and regulation displayed on their ‘about us’ and ‘more information’ section. 888poker software is certified by McAfee, Game Care and ICRA. There was also plenty of information regarding problem gambling, including links to support services as well as how to self-exclude or limit the amounts that could be deposited. There was no pressure or urgency to sign up, and the process itself was really easy, with email address and personal details all that was needed to open an account.
Adding our credit card information was really simple too, and the process felt very secure. 888 uses sophisticated RSA public/private key encryption technology, so all information entered as well as the transactions we made were fully protected from any hacking or prying eyes. We also took advantage of the generous £20 free credit that came with the new account, logging in daily to enjoy the free funds that trickled through as we tested the service out, terms and conditions do apply to this great offer. There were loads of other bonuses on offer, with some really generous promotions and bonuses for higher deposits. Transferring funds was easy, and players don’t need to re-enter any credit information more than once, just the card security code for each transaction. It was also easy to keep track of deposits, wins, losses and bonuses too, with everything listed for easy access within the account option.
In terms of gameplay, it’s incredibly straightforward to get started with a game of poker. First, you’ll need to choose what style of poker you’d like to play. Although Texas Hold ‘Em, which is probably the most popular format, is available from the get-go, you’ve also got access to Omaha Hi. Omaha Hi-Lo and 7 Card Stud varieties too, so you can shake things up a bit depending on your preferences. Cash games run 24 hours a day, 7 days a week, and there was plenty of action when we logged in during a weekday.
Tournaments also start very regularly, so if you want to spend some more time and go heads up against players from around the world, you can buy in using your funds and go from there. If you’re short on time, however, there’s always the one-off cash games where you can literally walk off with your profit after a few minutes, just like you would in a real casino.
SNAP poker and other features
One of our favourite formats was the SNAP poker feature. One of our gripes with online poker is sitting with a pair of folded cards in front of us as two amateurs spend several minutes before deciding whether to play against each other or not, turning a quick game of poker into a pointless, drawn-out battle for a worthless pot. With SNAP, you’re onto the next deal straight after you fold. This works by having a pool of players who are in the same boat as you, so you can move onto a new hand if the one you get isn’t doing anything for you.
BLAST Sit & Go is a similar concept, four players compete against each other in the hope of winning a randomly drawn prize pool, the game is time-limited, ensuring that it moves at a fast pace. The players involved could be playing for a prize pool of up to 10,000 times their buy-in. Once the game begins, the BLAST timer starts to countdown. When the timer runs out, the action takes over and all the players involved automatically go all-in until there’s one lucky winner. The length of the timer is determined by the size of the prize pool multiplier, the higher the prize pool – the longer the timer.
We also checked out the new PokerCam feature. We’ve played Live Casino before, where a real-world dealer is broadcast via streaming, but there’s a lack of competition from other players in this format. PokerCam lets players broadcast from their laptop or smart device, and it turned out to be a lot of fun. There were a few jokers who started up conversations or shouted in dismay when they were dealt a bad hand, but a few others just sat in silence and barely reacted to any positive or negative outcomes. It felt very much like being in a real casino at points, and we could see this being fun to try out late at the weekend when more people would be playing.
Via mobile and tablet
We began using 888 Poker on a PC, but decided we wanted to see how things went on mobile and tablet. After downloading and installing the app onto both an iPad and an Android phone, we logged in to check out functionality and ease of access. Both were just as good, if not better than playing via browser or the computer software that can be downloaded from the 888 site and the iOS version, in particular, felt really tactile and well designed. The rich 3D environments looked great on the small screen, and things weren’t too fiddly, even on the Android phone screen. It was nice being able to play a hand while we grabbed a coffee, and it’s easy to see how this could distract people from work!
After a short time, we got lucky and managed to take some cash from a quick cash game with a decent pot. This was the perfect opportunity to see how easy it was to withdraw funds, and unsurprisingly it was just as easy as depositing. All we needed to do was select the amount, and wait for the funds to transfer back to out credit card or bank account.
Putting a twist on the game
One of our favourite things about using 888 was all of the additional stuff on their website. As well as the opportunity to play games, enter tournaments and try out features like SNAP. From poker guides to interesting articles about the poker world, the additional content kept us interested and we actually picked up some new tips to use moving forward. The eMagazine, in particular, felt very fresh, with up-to-date articles and how-tos that were aimed at players of all levels.
We didn’t really need any help to understand how anything worked as we played, but it was easy to see where help and support was if required. From FAQS to live chat, there were plenty of options for everything from software issues to gaming problems, but the whole thing seemed very smooth during our review period.
One thing that did stand out for us were the additional bonuses on offer, notably the 888 Poker Club. This loyalty bonus sounded like the ideal way to get rewards for repeated play, with tokens given out for levelling up as you play, which can in turn be exchanged for some decent prizes. This is something we haven’t seen elsewhere and could be a challenge to start picking up perks, even if we were going to play anyway!
Overall, our experience with 888 Poker was very good indeed. Everything was very easy, from getting started to getting stuck into some games. Nothing felt daunting and there was no pressure to up stakes or enter tournaments. One thing we didn’t try out but could be a good starting point for players who aren’t as confident was the free poker option, a great way to learn the ropes without losing any cash. Overall, it’s a site we’d recommend for everyone from newbies all the way to sharks.