Even The Worst Online Poker Rooms Once Had Some Things Going
I don’t really get to play online poker anymore. Living in one of the 47 states (soon to be 46!) that doesn’t have legalize online poker, it’s just not something that is terribly convenient. Yeah, I know there are some U.S.-facing sites where I could open an account, but…eh. I had some fun years, though, during the poker boom jumping from poker room to poker room, reaping the bonus rewards that were so easy to earn back then.
Even if I still played regularly, there is a multitude of online poker rooms that have gone by the wayside, that live on only in our memories. A lot of you may remember them, but some disbanded so long ago that just as many of you may not. What I am going to do now is have a little fun and reminisce about some of my favorite features – no matter how insignificant – on a few poker sites that are no longer with us. Let’s have a stroll down memory lane.
Yes, UltimateBet. I know the poker room’s higher-ups dicked everyone over and can’t really ever be forgiven for their role in the superuser cheating scandal but before we learned about all of that, I actually really enjoyed playing there. UltimateBet’s poker client software offered what may have been the most unique feature of any client at the time (and maybe even since): horizontal mini-view.
To explain for those who have gotten into poker since UltimateBet disappeared after Black Friday six and a half years ago, the poker table windows could be resized in order to facilitate multi-tabling just like we’re all used to, but UltimateBet had a different option. The tables could be changed to narrow, long, horizontal windows that only showed the seats and relevant player/chip/card information without the big, round table or any sort of player avatars. The table strips, as they might be called, could easily be tiled down the monitor with the user’s seat always on the far left. This setup made it really easy to keep track of every table.
UltimateBet was also one of the few poker rooms that offered oddball games. My favorite was Crazy Pineapple, where everyone gets three hole cards and then discards one after the flop betting round. There was also Royal Hold’em, which, as it sounds, uses only tens, face cards, and aces. Nobody knew how to play either of those games and I did just enough homework so as to allow myself to make some easy money (it wasn’t often in my poker playing life that I could say that).
Yeah, I know, fuck them, too. But again, before we knew anything about the thieving that was going on, AP was a popular place to play poker. The software was kind of ugly and the sounds were bad, but it worked. What I liked about Absolute (man, it does hurt me to say it) was very specific to my career.
In a previous job with a large affiliate, one thing I did was organize a poker league. Once a month or so, our customers could play in a cheap tourney on AP and earn points for end-of-the-season prizes (in addition to the regular cash prizes). I always had to coordinate with a poker room rep at Absolute and even though the games were always at night and we were in different time zones, those reps were always very helpful and available when needed. The shit that went down wasn’t their fault, so I’ll give them some kudos.
Golden Palace Poker
Golden Palace was on the Tribeca Network and really didn’t have much going for it except for wild marketing stunts. I did always get a kick, though, out of their software that used bright colors and gigantic cards that were easy to read. Hole cards were also angled in a “V” shape, rather than parallel to each other, which is completely unimportant except that it was just a look that always caught my attention.
One thing really annoyed me about the Tribeca sites, though. At other poker rooms, if you raised, the bet amount you entered was the total bet you put on the table. At Golden Palace and the other Tribeca rooms, if you raised, the amount you typed in was the raise amount on top of the base bet. So, if the big blind was 30 chips and you wanted to raise to three times the big blind, you would really have to raise 60 chips, as it would tack on the 30 automatically. It was so hard to remember after playing at other rooms; I would constantly raise an extra bet.
The online poker room with the best name in the business, PokerRoom.com was one of the old guard and was really a wonderful poker room for a number of years. I always enjoyed my time there, but what put it above all others was its short-lived poker league offering.
It was extremely cool. You would get together with a bunch of friends to form a poker team and each time there was a competition (once a week, maybe?), six team members would play (it’s been many years since I did this, so don’t quote me on that number). The competition would be a series of simultaneous Sit-and-Go’s with one player from each team sitting at each table, nine or ten teams in all. Everyone would buy-in just like in a regular Sit-and-Go and players would earn their teams points based on how they finished. The teams with the most points would split prize money among the team members and if I remember correctly, some prize money was saved until the end of the league season for overall winners.
I was on a team with some really nice people who frequented a message forum that my affiliate ran and we had a total blast cheering each other on each week. That sort of fun was what poker was all about.
Featured image credit: FlopTurnRiver.com