In the first decade of the 21st century, PartyPoker was the largest online card room in the world. That ranking changed substantially following the passage of the UIGEA and a withdrawal from the U.S. market, although they’ve managed to keep a top 10 presence throughout. Thanks to licensing on the state level and a limited return to America, the site looks poised for another run at the top spot in the near future.
This Party Poker review is meant to provide an overview of the site’s services, as well as their strengths and weaknesses. Longtime players may learn something new in the process, while newcomers should be able to size up the company’s offerings without having to risk any money in the process.
Over the years, PartyPoker has received more than its fair share of complaints regarding their software. Various bugs in the system would result in the occasional crash, something that often drove players crazy (and rightfully so). Fortunately, the number of irate customers has diminished in the last few years, and my own experience indicates that the overall quality of Party Poker software has been improving.
When it’s not acting buggy, the software presents players with a smooth and simple gaming experience. Games are easily located with a filtering system, and the card room supports Mac, PC, iOS, and Android. If you prefer to multi-table, you’ll be relieved to know that synchronized breaks and a replay button are available.
The site is also big on customization. Players can choose from a number of themes to meet their tastes, and those wanting a memorable avatar are able to upload one within seconds.
Another feature allows the player to tag opponents with color-coded notes. There are six colors to choose from, giving you plenty of diversity when it comes to ranking fish, sharks, and whales.
Now that the bug issue has been dealt with, I find Party Poker to be one of the more convenient sites when it comes to the overall player experience. Their software may not be as advanced as PokerStars, but it’s still more than sufficient.
My most recent visit to Party Poker came on a Wednesday at 11:03am. During this time, the site had 119 players online and 136 active tables. While those numbers may seem out of whack at first glance, keep in mind that multi-tabling is commonplace at most poker sites.
According to the PokerScouts website, which keeps meticulous track of traffic for the various card rooms, PartyPoker averages 1,200 players during a 7-day period. Their peak number of customers during a recent 24-hour period was 2,398.
The above numbers are comparable with most competitors, making PartyPoker one of the top five options among Internet card rooms. The only exception is PokerStars, which boasts more traffic than any of its competitors.
The banking options at Party Poker are another strength, allowing players from across the globe to move money around with a minimum amount of fuss. Of course, your actual options depend on where you’re located, so be sure and check the cashier’s page before making any assumptions.
The standard deposit options include wire transfers, personal checks, bank transfers, credit cards, and eWallets. The same applies for withdrawals, although receiving a check via courier service is also an option.
I’ve always found Party Poker to be solid enough when it comes to the speed of their payouts. Unless they need to request additional documentation, you can expect your payment to be mailed or transferred within a matter of days.
PartyPoker is somewhat lacking when it comes to bonuses and promotions. While many of their top competitors offer five or more options, this site only has a couple.
If you’ve just signed up with PartyPoker, you’ll receive a complimentary $25. This includes $10 for poker cash tables, $10 for casino games, and $5 for high roller tournaments.
The second option is a 100% matching bonus with a $1,000 limit, and it’s available to anyone making a deposit for the first time. In order to unlock the free money, you’ll need to earn loyalty points by playing in cash games. As these points add up, the bonus money is released into your account in 10 installments.
The selection of poker games offered by the site is about average, with Texas Hold’em predictably dominating the landscape (including No Limit, Limit, and Pot Limit). If you’re in the mood for something different, the following card games are also available in tournament and sit & go formats: Pot-Limit Omaha, Pot-Limit Omaha Hi-Lo, 7-Card Stud, 7-Card Stud Hi-Lo.
If you tire of poker, you can also head over to their casino and try your luck. The emphasis here is on slot machines, with around 150 options to choose from (many of which are also available on the mobile app). There are four video poker games to choose from, as well as classic table games such as roulette, blackjack, and baccarat.
I’ve never been a fan of the contact forms used by most sites, and I’m happy to report that PartyPoker doesn’t have such a thing. Instead, they provide the following methods of contact: phone number, live chat, snail mail, and email.
While I applaud their range of contact options, the actual customer service can sometimes be lacking. It’s the kind of mixed bag that I’ve come to expect from most online casinos, with representatives ranging from cheery and helpful to sullen and uncooperative.
Party Poker debuted in 2001, and their formative years saw a network of players shared through the main site, as well as skins such as Empire Poker. Thanks to high visibility at live poker tournaments, as well as an aggressive marketing campaign, PartyPoker soon positioned itself as one of the biggest online card rooms on the planet.
In 2005, the company started buying up or isolating a number of its skins. This almost resulted in a lawsuit from Empire Poker, but the short-lived feud was settled the following year when the site’s skin operations were purchased to the tune of $250 million.
2005 also saw parent company Party Gaming go public on the London Stock Exchange. With a month, the company’s value skyrocketed to 12 billion British pounds.
By the time the Unlawful Internet Gambling Enforcement Act was passed in the United States in 2006, Party Gaming held over 40% of the online gaming market. This changed almost overnight, though, as the company was forced to pull out of the American market, causing stock prices to go into a freefall. Over the next few years, Party Gaming made amends with the Department of Justice by admitting wrongdoing prior to the passage of the UIGEA and paying over $100 million in fines.
In 2009, Party Gaming purchased the World Poker Tour for $12.3 million. In 2012, they would be recognized as Poker Operator of the Year at the International Gaming Awards.
In recent years, the company has started focusing on casino gaming. Their poker rooms are far from dead, however, and PartyPoker has legally returned to the U.S. market by becoming licensed in the state of New Jersey.
Due to a recent emphasis on the casino gaming side of business, the player quality at PartyPoker has reached an all-time low. This is due to customers signing up to play slots and then eventually migrating to the poker tables, often with only a vague idea of how the game is supposed to work.
This makes the site a veritable goldmine for experienced players. I’m strictly an amateur, but last week I managed to win three straight buy-ins while playing against some of the most pathetic competition that I’ve ever encountered. As long as you can live with the potential guilt of taking advantage of idiots and the elderly, you should be able to see a respectable return on your investment.