PLAYER ALERT: Unfortunately, I am no longer willing to link to Lock Poker due to severe payout delays, anti-player policies, and significant questions as their ability to continue to operate. This review will remain active for archival purposes and contains the latest information and promotions for the poker room prior to its delisting. All links to Lock Poker will now redirect to our recommended alternative BetOnline.
Please view our full BetOnline review for more information on why we recommend it to new players. In short, they accepts all US players, offers block-free credit card deposits, and includes 2 instant deposit bonuses.
While we hesitate to remove one of the few available poker rooms for US players Lock Poker has earned their delisting with payout times exceeding 6 weeks for non-US players, paper check payouts exceeding 3 months for US players, repeated lies by management, segregation of winning players, and increasing evidence that the poker room isn’t liquid enough to cover its financial obligations. Hopefully, players can take solace in the number of online poker room alternatives that offer a better home.
The Lock Poker cashier doesn’t appear very robust on the surface but it is actually one of its greatest assets for US players. Lock Poker even made the decision to separate its cashier from the rest of its new Revolution Gaming Network partners just to maintain exclusivity and keep the volume of processing down. The key to the cashier is not in variety, which only features two methods of deposit, but rather in its acceptance rate, which is one of the highest in the industry.
Players will likely want to start by attempting a credit card deposit and Lock Poker does accept all three major types. They are able to process almost every card block-free but should you run into an issue you might opt for a debit card, which usually reports higher success rates. Lock Poker also doesn’t charge credit card fees, which is appreciated as many US poker room have resorted to this in order to recoup their own processing fees. Maximum deposit limits can be increased and cashout delays decreased by completing their ID verification. The minimum deposit is $50, which is fairly low and welcome for micro-limit players.
If credit cards aren’t an option for you the backup method at Lock Poker is one of the two major cash transfer services. Cash transfer locations are plentiful in virtually every city in the country with stations in grocery and convenience stores. There are moderate fees involved with this method and I recommend asking the poker room to possibly reimburse you for it via extra money added onto your deposit.
Should you experience issues with either of these methods Lock Poker does have a special telephone number published in the cashier that may be able to push through otherwise-blocked transactions. It’s curious that US poker rooms often encourage telephone support to assist you in depositing but only offer email or chat for support issues, although I suppose that is the nature of most understaffed businesses in every industry these days.
In the new online poker landscape the US market has shrunk to a fraction of its former glory. Perhaps inconceivable at one point but Lock Poker has become one of the lone US poker powerhouses, offering a stable cashier, an enormous deposit bonus, above-average software, and loose tables. Lock Poker is now one of the clear leaders in the US market both in terms of player experience and overall player traffic. Even though Lock is one of the newer poker rooms in a fractured market it’s quickly become one of my top overall choices.
In a surprising move Lock Poker purchased the pre-existing Cake network in mid-2012 and is rebranding it as the Revolution Gaming Network. I was initially skeptical of this move as they were already part of a strong Merge product, however I’ve since come around to the idea that the move actually improves the Lock Poker product. They are now completely autonomous and can create their own policies, promotions, and cashier as the network overseer rather than as a Merge-dependent skin. Such a significant investment also seems to show that Lock Poker is committed to growing and cultivating a long-term presence in the US market. Certainly no other US poker room has made as big of a splash in recent years as Lock Poker has by taking over an entire network.
The “new” Lock Poker network maintains just about every positive aspect of Merge with loose tables, attractive unique software, and the same independent cashier. They’ve also improved the bonus specifically for our players both with one of the largest percentages online at 200% on top of a 36% rebate of all contributed rake. The other big draw to Lock Poker is that its network has historically had some of the loosest cash games in the US market. With the influx of new players to the game dying down and existing players becoming more educated the infamous wild games found everywhere online have mostly fizzled out. Fortunately, Lock Poker has consistently offered games with seemingly inexperienced players and high flop percentages.
Lock Poker has a unique business model in that they seem to be catering to experienced regulars and grinders by offering built-in support for external tracking tools, a cash reward system, and promotions geared towards more knowledgeable players. Typically that hasn’t worked for other rooms but I’m confident that it will here. It’s refreshing to have a US poker room that seems to be self-aware of its place in the market and the state of the industry. This poker room may be young but it has all the parts in place to make a serious run at the US market.
Bonus (200% up to $4,000 + 36% cash back) and Promotions: 5/5
The promotional strategy at Lock Poker seems to be to overwhelm players with numerous substantial offers and see what sticks. Lock Poker seems to want to both draw players to the new Revolution platform and dominate its market in general. Fortunately for players, this means perhaps the best group of promotions in the US market, if not in all of online poker. The three pillars of the promotional system at Lock Poker are the enormous deposit bonus, the built in rakeback, and the seasonal specials like the Rake Chase and Lock Lotto. Beginning with the bonus, our new lock poker players now receive a 200% first deposit bonus, valid up to $4,000.
Compared to the previous offer the 200% package is double the percentage and almost triple the dollar maximum. That easily makes this the largest bonus currently available online, harkening back to the heyday of huge bonus offers. Please note that visitors are required to visit Lock Poker via one of our links in order to qualify for the maximum bonus. The play-through requirements are based on VIP points, which are the basis of almost all Lock Poker promotions. The bonus is released in $5 increments for every 84 VIP Points earned. This puts Lock Poker at least in the middle of the pack for bonus release rate and I would estimate about $1-2 of bonus earned per hour per full 9-seated $.50/1 cash game. A nice feature of the software is the ability to see your VIP Point progress down to the fraction in any table window.
The second unique standout feature at Lock Poker is the built-in rakeback they’ve introduced at an extremely generous 36% rate. I am typically not a fan of rakeback (refunding a part of a player’s contributed rake) because it is often done via shady backdoor methods that ensure no one is on a level playing field. By offering rakeback publicly to every player at a high rate Lock Poker has turned a questionable backdoor activity into a great promotional tool that is both fair to everyone and will add a surprisingly high amount of money back into the accounts of regular players.
Finally, the rotating promotions of the Rake Chase and Lock Lotto give substantial prizes and create an extra incentive to become a regular player. Even though they aren’t run every month they have proven popular enough for Lock Poker to continue to bring them back with larger prize pools. The Rake Chase offer is simple enough: get instant cash prizes for earning VIP Points. The prizes start at $1.50 for earning 70 Points and goes all the way up to $7,500 for earning a massive 56,000 Points, which is out of reach for everyone save high-level grinders. The Lock Lotto is essentially a daily raffle with entries earned by reaching a VIP Point threshold. The prizes range from iPads and tournament entries to WSOP seats and motorcycles. Both of these promotions are worthwhile as they require no convoluted playing tasks and simply give you the chance at something extra for your existing Lock Poker playtime.
Separate Sit and Go and multitable tournament leaderboards also give cash prizes to the top performers each month. Bad beat jackpots and a flat bonus for showing down a royal flush round out the promotions. Lock Poker earns a top category score for overshadowing every other US poker room both in terms of bonus amount and a number of substantial promotions. It remains to be seen if Lock Poker can continue to afford to offer rakeback on top of gaudy bonuses but for now players should take advantage of a poker room trying to make a name for itself.
While I always stress that players should follow their own personal priorities when choosing a new poker room I imagine that beatable games are up near the top of just about everyone’s list. Lock Poker largely bucks the alarming trend of tough tight games that were the rule on the former big US players like Tilt and Stars. The flop percentage is a good indicator of the looseness of play at a particular cash table. Lock Poker features higher numbers than its US competitors with 9-handed cash games sometimes exceeding 30% and average pots of 20x the big blind or more. That may not have earned a top Fish Rating 5 years ago but in the current environment that’s an incredible achievement.
The two main factors that I feel make the Lock Poker tables so loose are the software design and the snub given by many “serious” players. The software is designed with a less-rigid community feel as indicated by the animated chat emoticons. With numerous raise increment buttons staring at players it’s also easy to get aggressive on a whim. Lock Poker and its network have also been largely ignored by the tight grinders that refuse to play on smaller networks they aren’t comfortable with. The result can be a gold mine for experienced players willing to try something different in Lock Poker. Players are more willing to see more flops and pay dearly for draws. Over the long-haul that equals much more profit than the tight-fisted games common at the larger networks.
The Lock Poker tournament schedule is probably about average in size compared to other remaining US poker rooms and should be satisfactory to lower-stakes tournament players. During peak hours there are about 6-8 events per hour with the best values being guarantees from $500-5,000. The buy-in range typically runs under $30 for most events with $5 and $10 being the most popular levels. Lock Poker usually draws about 200-300 players for the more popular events during the early evening. Aside from the obvious dominance of no-limit Hold’em events they also run about a dozen Omaha tournaments daily with guarantees up to $1,000. Lock Poker tries to offer a few high buy-in events for $50 or more throughout the day but they usually only attract less than 100 players. I have never been a fan of rebuy/add-on tournaments but about half of the events here feature that structure to help meet the guaranteed prize pool.
Lock Poker also implements a couple of newer tournament modes that are starting to gain traction and more poker rooms. One of my favorites is the Bounty style, which awards a portion of each player’s buy-in to the player that eventually knocks him out. Besides adding a bit of extra fun to break up the long hours of tournaments it allows players to either win money or at least a bit of a rebate on their buy-in simply by knocking out a couple of players. Sit and Go events are quick to fill up at the sub-$10 level with the occasional heads-up sit and go active up to the $50 level. Unfortunately for fans of the classic sit and go structure Lock Poker players seem to favor Double Up events (where half the entrants double their buy-in) by about a 10:1 margin.
The big tournament day at Lock Poker is Sunday with the highlight of the schedule being a $100,000 guarantee for a reasonable $100 buy-in. While that may pale to the $1,000,000+ events offered by the former US monoliths this is now one of the largest Sunday tournaments in the market. With about 1,100-1,200 players typically entering it still feels like enough of a spectacle without requiring an absurd time or financial commitment. Other Sunday highlights include guarantees up to $65,000 but with substantial buy-ins up to $500. During WSOP season Lock Poker runs step tournaments culminating in a direct $200 buy-in supersatellite. The Lock Poker tournament schedule could and should improve with traffic growth but is certainly adequate with a fairly busy schedule and a wide range of buy-ins.
With Lock Poker shunting Merge and their excellent software to spearhead their own network the playability of the games was a concern to me. Fortunately on that front, Lock Poker moved to perhaps the second-best US software package with their repurposing of the Cake software. The Cake 2.0 software update quietly made this package one of the most user-friendly and attractive online with several advanced features and excellent game speed. The minimalist racetrack table graphics and slate colors are easy on the eyes with large bold card styles. Each player is able to choose from about a hundred different avatar icons and the active player is made clear with a color-coded timer.
There are numerous customizations that can be remembered by the Lock Poker software such as default table sizes and your preferred buy-in amount. The hand history both saves hands to your hard drive as well as displays them online in a sharp graphical format with chat excerpts included. In terms game speed, perhaps the most important feature full 9-handed cash games run extremely quick at 65-70 hands per hour. The visual timer counting down likely helps this and cuts down on the slow posturing that has become so popular.
Besides the usual “Bet Pot” button the “Half Pot” and “2/3 Pot” buttons at Lock Poker are appreciated. Finally, if you want to take a nostalgia trip back to popular software design circa 1996 you can switch to “Classic” table mode, complete with digitized photographic avatars. The Lock Poker software package isn’t especially groundbreaking or flashy but it is incredibly efficient and aesthetically attractive. It is definitely one of the better software offerings in the US market..
US Payouts: 4.5/5
One of the key aspects that has been improved at Lock Poker is in the payout process, which now should be considered a key draw for US players. Of course, non-US players can cash out with the likes of NETeller and Moneybookers for up to $10,000 per transaction without issue. Non-US withdrawals now take about 10-14 days to ultimately hit your e-wallet account. For US players, however, Lock Poker payouts have historically been noteworthy. Check delivery times had been under two weeks with a $3,000 limit but have since increased to about 6-8 weeks.
All of them are sent via courier, which is appreciated for speed and tracking. Up to 8 paper checks can be requested per month from Lock Poker and there is no fee for the first request per month. These are some of the best terms online right now and the previously-low processing times were been considered a small miracle in a market that is tenuous at best. The current US check delivery times of 6-8 weeks are average at best. Overall, I still value the fact that they are all eventually sent via courier whether or not the understaffed e-mail support team replies to status requests or not. Cash transfer is also an option if you need a payout faster of up to $2,000. Lock Poker may have a frustrating system for US checks in its current state with longer “processing” times and slow support replies but it’s still dependable overall for eventually receiving every payout requested.
Customer Service: 4/5
Lock Poker offers both of the basic constants in customer service: e-mail and live chat. Unless I’m pressed for time I’ll always opt for live chat because of its immediacy. When I have used the chat function successfully the representatives all seemed to be English speakers and were knowledgeable about the poker room. Unfortunately, Lock Poker seems to be swamped with new players these days due to recent shutdowns so their live chat is sometimes unavailable. E-mail replies typically arrive within 4-12 hours or so. I haven’t had any pressing issues thus far so as long as the live chat is available it’s a strong support system.
The Revolution Gaming Network (formerly Cake) had been quietly plugging away with low player numbers for years until recent events forced the dominant forces from the US market. Lock Poker was one of the poker rooms that reaped the benefits by continuing to allow US players. They now draw several thousand during the peak US evening hours and a few hundred players for regular daily guaranteed tournaments. Lock Poker now has at least 10-15 active cash tables at each limit up to the $1/2 no-limit level with a handful of tables above that to the $5/10 level. Player traffic is now quite comfortable and this is currently one of the largest open US networks.
- Accepts US players. With the market getting smaller and smaller every day this is a huge draw for Lock Poker.
- Extremely large bonus. While a fair amount of play is required to earn full bonuses on larger deposits the 200% up to $4,000 offer is one of the largest online.
- Loose tables. It’s refreshing to find a population of players that doesn’t treat every dollar like it’s their last. Expect flop percentages of 30-40% at 9-seated tables.
- Strong software. The Lock Poker color scheme is easy on the eyes and it’s rewarding to find all the little extra features like numerous layout options and a graphical hand history.
Game Selection: Hold’em, Omaha
Limits: Limit: 2c/4c up to $500/1,000 No-Limit: 2c/4c up to $500/1,000
Deposit Methods: NETeller (non-US players), Moneybookers (non-US), major credit cards, and cash transfer.
Minimum Deposit: $25
Tips: I feel that the days in which you could count on pocket Aces and Kings to do your heavy lifting and consistently win you large pots are over. At looser sites like Lock Poker these premium hands are consistently on the short end of massive pots. Of course, these are still premium hands that are a joy to play when played well. Unfortunately, players are holding onto the days when they could commit their entire stack post-flop on premium pocket pairs and expect to run into opponents blindly throwing away money with a medium pair or complete trash. Even the seemingly inexperienced players at Lock Poker can smell an opponent with Aces and react accordingly, which means you have to get used to giving up Aces and Kings when there’s a good chance your opponent out-flopped you. That sounds easy in principle but so many otherwise strong players cannot release them when the time calls for it.
Obviously, it’s always right to commit everything pre-flop with pocket Aces. You’ll always have the best hand at that point and it’s never wrong to put in your money when you have the best hand. Post-flop, if you’re playing aggressively but continue to get raised and re-raised there has to be a reason for it. With a flop full of undercards it’s certainly possible that you’re facing an outright bluff or a smaller pair with the quality of players at Lock Poker. However, it’s much more likely that your opponent took a chance with your pre-flop raise on a small pocket pair and hit his set. Don’t fall victim to over-committing to premium pocket pairs post-flop. It’s painful but necessary to throw away those rare treasures when your opponent is giving you clear signals that you’re beaten.