You Don’t Want to Play Without Reading My Insider 888 Poker Review
- $88 no-deposit bonus
- Only legit no-deposit bonus left
- Instant Play option with no download required
- Second in player traffic worldwide
- Much softer games than PokerStars
- Real-money app for iOS and Android
- Many countries supported for PayPal deposits
- Sponsor of WSOP with lots of satellites
- My highest-rated non-US poker site
- Fast-fold tournaments
- Withdrawals take 72 hours
- Tournament schedule isn't stellar
- Better customer service options are now hidden
888 poker is the only one I've played (real money) games on and I have no complaints.
Very easy to setup and start playing.
888 Poker received my highest non-US overall review score.
All of our new players receive $88 free for registering. No deposit required.
888 Poker offers Instant Play with no download needed. Play from any web browser.
I’ve personally played at 888 Poker since 2004.
Excessively loose games are what always drew me to 888 Poker. It may no longer be the overflowing aquarium it once was, but it’s still easily in another Fish Rating class from their poker-centric competitors.
Combined with one of the only instant no-deposit bonuses left, player traffic that’s now only second to PokerStars, and their Instant Play no-download option, 888 Poker is currently sitting in my top slot for overall non-US review score.
Poker Site Info
Name: 888 Poker
Network: Proprietary closed network
US players accepted: No
Bonus: $88 free & 100% up to $400
Company location: Gibraltar
Licensed in: Many countries
Owned by: 888 Holdings
In operation since: 2002 (for poker)
Phone number: N/A
- $10 for almost every method
- Credit card
- Debit card
- Wire transfer
- Bank transfer
- Many more
- Credit card
- Debit card
- Bank draft
- Wire transfer
- Bank transfer
- Many more
- No-download Instant Play
- iOS app for iPhone and iPad
- Android app for phones and tablets
- 1 You Don’t Want to Play Without Reading My Insider 888 Poker Review
- 1.1 888 Poker
- 1.2 Aces
- 1.3 Deuces
- 1.4 888 Poker Deposit and Payout Chart
- 1.5 Highlights from my 888 Poker Review
- 1.6 My complete 888 Poker thoughts in one section
- 1.6.1 The Double Salmon Burger
- 1.6.2 How is 888 Poker more than a decade later?
- 1.6.3 Appearances can be deceiving
- 1.6.4 Why I still give them my business
- 1.6.5 This isn’t PokerStars if that’s what you need
- 1.6.6 What type of player will be happy here
- 1.7 888 Poker History
- 1.8 The 888 Poker Bonus and other Promotions
- 1.8.1 The Vegas Approach
- 1.8.2 The $88 free is legit – with a caveat
- 1.8.3 How does the free $88 break down?
- 1.8.4 The larger 100% bonus
- 1.8.5 How quickly it unlocks
- 1.8.6 The rewards program
- 1.8.7 Convert points into cash
- 1.8.8 New player and members-only freerolls
- 1.8.9 Teams tournament
- 1.8.10 Why 888 Poker gets a perfect score here
- 1.9 The No-Download Instant Play client at 888 Poker
- 1.9.1 What is instant play?
- 1.9.2 What games are available with instant play?
- 1.9.3 What do you need to use instant play?
- 1.9.4 Why use instant play?
- 1.9.5 How well does Instant Play work?
- 1.10 The 888 Poker App and No-Download Mobile Play
- 1.11 888 Poker is one of the few to support PayPal
- 1.12 The 888 Poker Fish Rating
- 1.12.1 888 Poker players have always been extreme
- 1.12.2 Soft tables aren’t unexpected.
- 1.12.3 Still much looser than the competition
- 1.12.4 Cash game numbers
- 1.12.5 Trends of the competition
- 1.12.6 Adjusting to the games
- 1.12.7 Dealing with variance
- 1.12.8 Using isolation
- 1.12.9 The bottom line on Fish Rating
- 1.13 888 Poker Tournaments
- 1.13.1 888 Poker passes my test, but isn’t remarkable for tournaments
- 1.13.2 Tournament numbers
- 1.13.3 Lack of rebuy luck-fests
- 1.13.4 The best guarantees
- 1.13.5 Game variety
- 1.13.6 Sit and Go waiting times
- 1.13.7 I like the freeroll requirements
- 1.13.8 Thoughts on the tournament schedule
- 1.13.9 Adequate as a second table
- 1.13.10 All can be played via mobile
- 1.13.11 BLAST tournaments
- 1.13.12 Snap tournaments
- 1.14 WSOP Satellites at 888 Poker
- 1.15 The 888 Poker Software
- 1.15.1 What is Snap?
- 1.15.2 Why I love quick-fold poker
- 1.15.3 Snap on the apps
- 1.15.4 The PC/Mac software client
- 1.15.5 888 Poker Graphics
- 1.15.6 Customizations
- 1.15.7 They chase tech fads
- 1.15.8 3D poker tables
- 1.15.9 Webcam poker
- 1.15.10 Android and iOS real-money apps
- 1.16 888 Poker Payouts
- 1.17 Customer Service at 888 Poker
- 1.18 Player Traffic at 888 Poker
- 1.19 Winning Strategy for Snap Poker at 888 Poker
888 Poker Deposit and Payout Chart
|Minimum deposit $/€/£||Available for deposits||Available for withdrawals|
Highlights from my 888 Poker Review
You’ll find an incredible amount of detail in my complete sections below, but what’s are my quick thoughts behind each score?
888 Poker has come a long way since I first discovered it in 2004 as a low-tech casino afterthought that was a hidden goldmine for the worst players online.
They’re now the #2 poker site in the world, have a complete software package with instant play, and are still the only major player to give out free real money without a deposit.
They’re sort of the anti-PokerStars, relying more on flashy promotions and casual games that ultimately creates more profitable tables and a friendlier environment to beginners.
Bonus and Promotions
Promotions are easily one of the best features of 888 Poker.
They’ve stuck with some generous offers that seem straight out of the poker boom era.
All new players get an $88 no-deposit bonus just for registering an account.
With that you can try out the real-money games and tournaments without an investment.
The play-through bonus clears at just an average rate, but this is one of the better rewards programs with some massive freerolls for regular players.
In short, the promotions stand out here and earned a top score from me.
Historically, this poker room needed its own class of Fish Rating.
Rec tank extreme, donk-fests, tropical aquarium, and (insert your own derogatory euphemism). “The double salmon burger of online poker” is what I used to call it.
These days it isn’t quite to that level, but it’s still up there with the softest games online. Expect 25-30% flop percentages for 9-seated cash games.
The variance is going to be higher, but you’re in for a pleasant shock if you’re coming over from PokerStars.
The 888 Poker app, which is available on any iOS or Android phone or tablet, deserves recognition for including absolutely everything.
You can play any standard cash game, Snap fast-fold, Sit and Go (including BLAST), or multi-table tournament.
The app is quick, responsive, and features big graphics to get players into games easily.
Multi-table tournaments are probably one of the more average features, with only a $120,000 guarantee for the Sunday highlight.
Still, with as much traffic as they have 400-600 players is the norm for daily guarantees, which is very good.
888 also introduced a new Spin and Go format called BLAST and is one of the only sites that has enough traffic to offer fast-fold tournaments.
The past 5 years has seen steady player growth at 888 to the point where they’re now second-largest in the world next to PokerStars.
They’re much busier than former giants like Party or William Hill.
The biggest advantages are cash games that are plentiful beyond the $5/10 NL level and 15-20 tournaments are on the schedule per hour.
I’ve heard some negative comments about the 888 software, but it’s on my short list for the best online.
The neon tech look is a bit outdated, but it has a ton of features, including a no-download instant play option that no one else offers.
It’s simple to get into a game, there’s fast-fold, and the real-money app can be used for everything: tournaments, fast-fold, plain cash games, and Sit and Go’s.
It’s now difficult to find a phone number unless you’re having trouble depositing of course.
Phone support still exists for a number of countries, however, which deserves credit.
Live chat is rare to nonexistent.
Emails are usually pretty quick to receive a response from, but are no better than you’ll see anywhere else.
My most-played games at 888 Poker are with Snap, which is their brand name for fast-fold.
It’s incredibly engaging and ideal for quick play sessions as you can literally play 4-5 hands per minute.
However, I don’t believe that your normal cash game strategy will maximize your profits.
Check out what adjustments I’ve made to win more.
The Double Salmon Burger
Back in 2005 when I did one of my first online poker from reviews on what was then branded as Pacific Poker I used hyperbole and the fish theme of the site to describe it as the “double salmon burger of online poker.”
Apparently, that was really fishy.
The best part was looking at my site logs and seeing someone actually searched Google for “Pacific Poker double salmon burger”, which of course led them to my review.
I made an impression on someone.
How is 888 Poker more than a decade later?
Updating my review here more than a decade later the density of the aquarium has changed a bit for this poker room, now branded as 888 Poker.
The outward appearance and overall brand has obviously evolved mightily.
Under the surface, however, the more things have changed the more they’ve stayed the same.
888 Poker is:
- Still one of the softer poker rooms online, drawing above-average flop percentages
- Still giving upfront bonuses that range from $8-88 (not difficult to see the marketing-friendly tie-in there)
- Still one of the most casual-feeling sites for players in the market
Appearances can be deceiving
All of that belies one of the most experienced outfits in online gaming, which has largely stuck to their guns, for better or worse, for almost two decades now.
Why some players stay away from 888 Poker
- They don’t process withdrawals incredibly quickly
- They have some questionable exchange rates
- Their level of inexperienced players has fallen a bit along with the rest of the poker world as a whole.
Why I still give them my business
At the same time:
- They’ve avoided any major scandals (sad that this has to be a positive these days)
- They still have one of the softer player bases
- Their promotions are excellent
- They’re still the only ones to offer a real Instant Play client
This isn’t PokerStars if that’s what you need
Players who are higher-stakes tournament junkies, expect to play with pros at the tables, or under-fund their accounts relative to the cash game stakes they’re comfortable with likely will get frustrated quickly with 888 Poker.
They aren’t PokerStars and I don’t think they really are targeting the same elitist grinders who populate that site.
I welcome every online poker snob who snubs 888 to play where their 2+2 buddies can dissect their hands to continue doing so.
What type of player will be happy here
As I have preached like a poorly calibrated turntable players should chose poker rooms that fit their priorities.
Despite what marketing departments would have you believe there is no one-size-fits-all site.
Players who value cash games above all else and can handle poor players will likely be the most comfortable at 888 Poker.
There are some unique software features, very good promotions, and a decent tournament selection but, truly, the most compelling draw has always the quality of cash game play.
TL;DR - Overall thoughts on 888 Poker
- #2 poker room in terms of traffic
- Top-tier promotions and excellent software stand out most to me
- Some of the softest cash games online, if not what they once were
- $88 no-deposit real-money bonus for new players
- Fast-fold Snap poker is popular and available on their app
- The only reputable Instant Play no-download option for real money
- Tournaments, customer service, and payouts are about average
Two pairs of Israeli brothers Ron and Shay Ben-Yitzhak and Aaron and Avi Shaked founded Virtual Holdings Limited.
They launched an online casino site called Casino-on-Net.
The poker wing of Casino-on-net is launched under the name Pacific Poker.
Thanks to players pouring over from their popular casino games the site started off strong.
Pacific Poker receives heavy exposure after their sponsored player and previous Main Event winner Dan Harrington finishes his WSOP Main Event run in third place.
The company is listed on the London Stock Exchage as 888 Holdings PLC.
Around this time marketing efforts shifted to the 888 Poker brand, although Pacific Poker continues to coexist.
The Unlawful Internet Gambling Enforcement Act (UIGEA) is passed in the United States.
888 Poker decides to voluntarily withdraw from the US market, following the lead of other publicly-traded sites like Party Poker.
888 Poker continues to build its player base outside of the US, establishing a position among the top poker rooms.
888 Poker returns to the US.
Having willingly exited the US market right after the passage of UIGEA they had no issues establishing their online operations in regulated states, primarily New Jersey.
888 and Caesars announce a partnership that makes 888 Poker the official online poker sponsor of the World Series of Poker.
888 Poker continues to strengthen its presence on the global and the US markets through improvements in their software, marketing, and sponsorships.
It is currently the #2 online poker room in the world in terms of player traffic.
The Vegas Approach
In a lot of ways 888 Poker and, of course, its casino parent company overlord, reminds me of a flashy Vegas strip casino.
They aim to draw players in with an atmosphere that feels fun and casual while overwhelming them with offers to try to make each one feel like a lavished guest.
There is no mistaking this poker room for the no-nonsense professionalism of PokerStars.
With the level of bonuses and promotional offers numerous enough to the point of confusion it can be difficult to grasp what exactly you’ll be handed for your hard-earned deposit.
The $88 free is legit – with a caveat
Beginning with the bonus offer every new player coming from our site that signs up for an account and verifies an e-mail address with 888 Poker will receive $88.
Sound too good to be true? It is and it isn’t at the same time.
How does the free $88 break down?
Of course, no poker room is masochistic enough to just drop $88 in your real-money gameplay account, but that doesn’t mean that you can’t earn all of it.
You do get $1 of immediate unrestricted cash to do with whatever you’d like and 14 $.50 tournament credits to do with whatever you’d like.
The other $80 is given as a pending bonus, which does have to be unlocked through gameplay.
However, an actual deposit isn’t required if you can manage to build that initial free bankroll into enough to keep playing.
The larger 100% bonus
888 Poker also gives new depositors the standard drip-feed bonus in addition to the no-deposit offer.
It’s 100% for a maximum of $400, which feels just about average in the market.
How quickly it unlocks
Unlocking every $10 of that bonus from your bonus account to your real money account takes earning Bonus Points, which is based on what you pay in tournament fees and/or cash game rake.
You need 100 Bonus Points to unlock every $10 increment.
My tests show that you’ll receive about $1 per hour per $.50/1 NL table you play and that’s raised to about $1.50 per hour if you play $1/2 NL.
Again, that’s just about standard for the industry.
The rewards program
The same points earned to work off bonuses are kept for use in the 888 Poker rewards program.
The rewards program works just about the same as every other tiered rewards program at every other poker room.
Earn more points per month, graduate to the next marketing-friendly status level moniker, and get better rewards.
Typical rewards include the usual freerolls, merchandise store, and tournament entries.
Convert points into cash
One privilege at 888 Poker that I have valued and has been offered since the beginning is converting player points directly into cash at any time.
That option is still scarce or under-publicized amongst their competitors.
New player and members-only freerolls
A few other promotions round out the offerings, including 8 private freeroll entries limited to depositors and totaling $3,500 in prize pools.
Another interesting freeroll is based around their Twitter account, which gives entries to followers.
Finally, the Teams Poker tournament promotion is also quite unique.
Players choose their favorite their favorite football club from numerous leagues at the beginning of a poker tournament such as Manchester United or FC Barcelona.
Regardless of how you fare on the poker side you collect something as long as your football team wins.
Why 888 Poker gets a perfect score here
The promotional aspect of 888 Poker is certainly one of the highlights and I believe it deserves a perfect score.
They’re the only reputable poker room to still give away no-deposit real money and the plethora of other offers stands out in a sea of copycats.
The cynic in me wants to criticize the higher bonus clearing rate for the free money and the dubious “free $88” promotion that’s really more like $8, but then I realize again that we are talking about free money here.
Anything actually free without restriction is better than what 100% of other poker sites out there give new players.
TL;DR - The Bonus at 888 Poker
- $1 in real-money cash, $7 in tournament credits just for making an account
- Another $80 as a free pending bonus, can be released without depositing
- Only stable poker room still giving no-deposit upfront money
- 8 private freerolls for our new depositors
- Standard rewards program, points can be converted to cash
I think that instant play is one of the most underrated but incredibly useful features there is.
888 poker criminally doesn’t promote it enough to players, but it’s always there if you need it.
What is instant play?
The instant play option allows 888 poker players to play every type of real-money game without downloading anything.
The graphics and gameplay are identical to the standalone desktop software. If you’re using instant play on a phone or tablet it will be identical to the app.
The difference is that all you need is a web browser. No download is required.
This is the only major poker site currently offering a no-download option.
What games are available with instant play?
Everything for real-money that’s available on the software client:
- Cash games
- Snap fast-fold cash games
- Sit and Go tournaments
- Multi-table tournaments
- BLAST tournaments
What do you need to use instant play?
On PC or Mac
Once you’ve signed up for an 888 account simply open up your favorite browser, sign in, and click the Instant Play link on the 888 website. Choose a game and start playing. It runs just like the installable software.
You’ll see the complete poker software immediately load within the browser. I can confirm that it works on Chrome (pre-54), Firefox, IE, and Edge.
On mobile or tablet
Instant play works just as well on any iPhone, iPad, Android phone, or Android tablet. You don’t need to install the app.
- Visit the 888 poker website
- Sign in to your account
- Tap the instant play link
- Turn your device sideways to landscape mode
- Choose any game to start playing
The graphics and performance will exactly mimic the app without installing anything.
Why use instant play?
While it may seem sort of redundant to offer a no-download version when it’s easy enough just to just download the Windows, Mac, or mobile apps it can be very useful in certain scenarios.
Someone else’s phone or computer
Using a friend or family member’s device is perfectly acceptable etiquette-wise these days.
At a family gathering and you aren’t joining in the communal board game? Well, there’s the computer 5 steps away on begging you to get in a few dozen Snap hands.
Installing a poker room on someone else’s machine? Not so acceptable. Load up Instant Play and you won’t leave a footprint.
Play on a rarely used device
Kids using your phone? Did your laptop die but you still want to play?
If you had to break old your old 1st Gen iPad or your circa 2005 laptop it might not cooperate with installing something new. Just load up Instant Play.
You just don’t feel like installing anything
I honestly think this is probably the most common use of Instant Play.
We just don’t like to install things. We’re impatient and we dread sitting through those installation progress screens and finding a place for a new desktop icon. We don’t have space for another app on our phones.
If there’s a no-download option we’ll take it every time. Two words: Instant. Play.
How well does Instant Play work?
These days? Flawlessly. When I first tried 888 Instant in the late 2000’s it was sluggish, buggy, and not every game was available.
Browsers have come so far since then that they can easily render a complete a poker site app.
Every animation works, sounds are supported, every game is available, and I never see a delay after I give my action. Snap is especially impressive since it’s constantly loading new tables.
Simply put, you’ll never know the difference between Instant Play and the standalone software or app.
One aspect that 888 Poker has clearly made an effort to improve over the past couple of years is with the mobile client. What used to give players regular glitches and refuse to log legit players in is now quite reliable.
Any iOS device, meaning iPhones and iPads, in addition to Android phones and tablets can download the free 888 Poker app.
What’s games are available on mobile
Once it’s installed log in to your real-money account and everything is playable. Whereas some poker site apps don’t support tournaments or Sit and Go’s you’ll see buttons on the app home screen for:
- Snap Poker
- BLAST Poker
- Classic Poker
The best choices when you only have a short time
Snap and BLAST are featured prominently in mobile because they’re fast-paced variations that don’t take a lot of time to play.
With Snap you’ll average about 4-5 cash game hands every minute, meaning that even a drive in the passenger seat or a wait at a doctor’s office can turn into a profitable playing session.
BLAST tournaments are modified Spin and Go’s that put all players all-in after as little as 4 minutes. They’re heavy on luck, but ideal when you only have a few minutes to spare.
Under Classic Poker
Under the Classic Poker button you’ll then see:
- Cash games
- Sit and Go tournaments
- Scheduled tournaments
You can actually play complete multi-table tournaments on mobile, which may not be the most comfortable experience, but it’s there if you want to use it. Just make sure you’re near a charger.
In other words, that’s everything you can play on the standard Windows and Mac software.
Instant Play gives identical experience to the app
One key point is that you don’t technically need to install the app to play real-money on mobile.
Log in to your account and click the instant play link to load the gameplay client right in your mobile browser.
Turn your phone sideways and it’s literally the same exact experience as the app without downloading anything.
Depositing via mobile
If you’re set up with the app can you completely ditch the desktop and make deposits and withdrawals? You can, although the cashier options are more limited.
The 888 app will open up an external browser window of the cashier with options limited to credit card, NETeller, Skrill, and PayPal if your country supports it. Those are the most common methods players use anyway.
Even though you can play everything from mobile, the biggest limitation is the lack of multi-table support as there just isn’t enough screen real estate.
You also can’t open use your phone for another app as you can on a desktop to check email or play on a second site.
Since you can only leave one table open I almost always stick with Snap cash games or tournaments. With fast-fold you’re constantly engaged making decisions so there is very little downtime to get bored or restless for lack of action.
Unless I was playing higher stakes (which I wouldn’t be doing on the go) I would easily lose patience having to solely concentrate on one table, but if you can handle it you can go ahead and play entire tournaments on mobile.
How well does the app and mobile instant play work?
Personally, I’ve only had positive experiences with mobile, both on the app and using instant play. I haven’t seen any sluggishness with quick response times as soon as I’ve given an action. Deposits are registered immediately or within minutes.
If I had one nitpick it would be the inability to see entire lobbies for cash games. Players can only choose which stakes and table size they want and the app automatically places them in a table.
I would guess this is done to get players in games faster and to prevent savvy players from clustering on tables with looser metrics.
Whoever negotiates payment processing with PayPal should get a raise from 888 Poker.
For years now they’ve been the only poker site to offer PayPal deposits and withdrawals from a large number of countries.
It’s a big draw as PayPal has become so ubiquitous that most players already have an account on file with their banking information.
Players from supported countries can make a deposit with PayPal just like they would any other purchase online.
The only competitors to offer PayPal, PokerStars and PKR, support so few countries that it almost isn’t even worth mentioning.
Supported countries for PayPal
888 Poker supports PayPal from the following countries:
- United Kingdom
That’s 10 major European territories.
Like NETeller and Skrill, but no declined deposits
PayPal serves the same purpose as NETeller or Skrill, but without possible fees or gaming restrictions.
So long as you have enough funds available in your PayPal account or linked bank account/credit card your deposits will never be declined. Unfortunately, that can’t always be said for NETeller, Skrill, or Visa.
How do PayPal deposits work?
In the deposit section of the cashier click on the PayPal logo, log in to your account, enter your deposit amount, and it’s instantly available in your real-money account.
No fees involved
888 Poker doesn’t charge any fees for PayPal deposits, meaning you get exactly what you put in and don’t get charged anything extra.
Withdrawals also supported
One of the biggest reasons to use PayPal is that you can also make withdrawals with it.
Although 888 does have a semi-obnoxious 72-hour wait time for all payouts you’ll then get your funds directly back to your PayPal account.
You can then use it to make purchases at other merchants that accept PayPal (i.e. almost everyone) or send it right back to your bank account.
888 Poker PayPal deposit chart
|Minimum deposit||Available for Deposits||Available for Withdrawals||Fees||Link|
888 Poker players have always been extreme
It’s common for casino/poker/bingo/sports/ tiddlywinks/marbles/everything all-in-one gaming sites to feature tables seemingly adorned with warm butter rather than felt.
Soft tables aren’t unexpected.
Historically, however, the level of poor gameplay that players at 888 Poker seemed to take it was startling.
Flop percentages often exceeded 50% percent here, meaning that, on average, half the table was seeing the flop!
Still much looser than the competition
Unfortunately, I’ve seen a trend of that type of unbridled wild play pull back over the past couple of years, just as it has across the poker industry as a whole.
888 Poker cash players still perform at a lower level than their main competitors at PokerStars, Party Poker, and the various iPoker skins.
The quality gap between 888 Poker and everyone else just isn’t the chasm it once was.
Cash game numbers
Cash game flop percentages range are still 5-10% higher than many competitors, settling in at the 25-30% level for 9-seated cash games.
As the fad-chasing commercial-influenced crowd has largely moved on, poker’s mainstream popularity has waned and fewer outright fish are entering the game.
Poker has become an aquarium with locked doors that make residents fight each other for food rather than let in fresh meals through revolving doors.
Average pot sizes are also slightly bloated to about 20-25 big blinds.
Trends of the competition
Many of these players are paying premium to see flops they shouldn’t, often falling for traps and chasing draws all the way to showdown.
It’s a wonder 888 Poker doesn’t promote the profitability of their games more, although I suppose the old poker adage of “don’t tap the aquarium glass” applies.
Adjusting to the games
Playing cash games at 888 can be a wild experience with parts frustration and parts euphoria.
The latter usually makes up for the former, although there is certainly an adjustment period.
You’re going to run into bad beats more often with more of those trash types of hands being played.
Dealing with variance
Variance is going to be much greater so you need a larger bankroll compared to your playing level to accommodate.
Using your entire bankroll on one of these tables is asking to go bust. Aim for at least 5x the maximum buy-in of your preferred stakes.
You also might even be able to drop a level with the games so loose at 888 and still expect the same or greater average win rate.
Isolation is also key with your strongest starting hands. It’s just statistically smart to raise aggressively pre-flop with your premium pocket pairs.
The average win rate for those premium hands plummets when played against multiple opponents.
Conversely, you’re also getting excellent odds to play speculative hands from late position with so many party pots of pre-flop limpers.
The bottom line is that I believe 888 poker players are some of the worst online.
With that comes incredible potential profit at the risk of greater variance, bad beats, and frustration.
If you can adjust your style of play and keep your emotions in check I highly recommend the cash games over the competition.
The level of play may not still be akin to burrowing into a featherbed with 8,000 thread count foreign sheets, but memory foam is sure soft enough once it molds to your body.
Was that analogy for softness convoluted enough?
TL;DR - FishHow loose are the games?
- Used to have an unreal rating, but still is looser than most other sites
- 9-seated cash games usually have 20-25% average flop numbers
- Much higher Fish Rating than PokerStars, their nearest competitor
- Casino clientele brings inexperienced players to poker tables
My general conclusion of the tournament offerings at 888 Poker is that they are adequate and draw a fair number of players but are largely unremarkable.
That being said, there are a few positives that definitely stand out to me, starting with the schedule itself.
888 Poker passes my test, but isn’t remarkable for tournaments
While it may not line up with everyone’s preferences my formula for ranking a poker room’s tournaments usually consists of:
- the number of events per hour
- the ratio of guarantees
- how many are rebuy/add-on style
- variety amongst buy-in levels and game variation.
888 Poker does pass all of those tests.
The number of events during peak hours (evening for Europeans) is usually 15-20 per hour with daily guarantees from $500-$15,000.
Typically, each tournament draws about 300-500 players, which is impressive without taking up a huge time commitment.
Lack of rebuy luck-fests
What I appreciate is that only about 30-40% of them are rebuy/add-on eligible, which is an obnoxious trend used by many poker rooms to boost their prize pool numbers.
Rebuys boost the luck-to-skill ratio incredibly for the early rounds as wild players simply go all-in and rebuy until they get bored of busting out or go on a tear and change the dynamic of the table.
The best guarantees
Some of the best values include a:
- $3,000 guarantee for 99c
- $5,000 guarantee for $4
- $15,000 guarantee with no rebuys for $55
I’ve been fairly disappointed with their Sunday highlight event, which offers a modest $100,000 guarantee for a sizable $200 buy-in.
Once a month that is boosted to $200,000, but so is the buy-in at a whopping $500.
Game and buy-in variety is a strength with typical entry fees being $1-5, $22-30, and $55-160.
Omaha tournaments are offered every hour, deep stacks are plentiful, and turbo blind speed make up about 25% of the schedule.
There are even occasional Snap poker tournaments with quick folds and 200+ hands per hour.
Sit and Go waiting times
Sit and Go tournaments have little wait time with one of my favorites being the 40-seat $1 events that surprisingly fill up around the clock.
Double or Nothing and turbo variations make up most of the active Sit and Go tables and are popular up to the $10 level.
Heads-up players can occasionally find partners at the $50 and $100 levels.
I like the freeroll requirements
I prefer how 888 Poker handles freerolls, forcing participants to at least be at the lowest levels of the rewards program and restricting it from the masses of freeloaders.
Players on the lowest rewards tiers are able to enter regular $100 freerolls with small increases in levels opening up $200 and $300 freerolls.
Up to a $10,000 free prize pool
The more significant $1,000, $4,000, $7,000, and $10,000 monthly events are restricted to the silver, gold, and platinum levels.
If you’ve obtained those higher status levels be sure to remember those freerolls as the prize pool and low amount of entrants really make them worthwhile.
Thoughts on the tournament schedule
No one is going to mistake 888 Poker for PokerStars, a massive dominant force with absurdly high tournament numbers.
Every serious non-US tournament player is going to frequent PokerStars for their unmatched slate of high-prize-pool events.
At the same time, 888 Poker earns a good tournament score for working within their constrains.
Adequate as a second table
888 Poker is second in the world in total traffic, meaning tournaments still draw hundreds of players.
The schedule is still quite busy, there are scores of low buy-in tournaments for casual players, and the time commitment is much lower.
As a second table to your cash game the tournaments here are perfectly adequate.
All can be played via mobile
It’s worth noting that every Sit and Go and multi-table tournament can also be played on mobile.
How is this useful?
- If you’re playing a long event at your desktop and you just want to get more comfortable you can switch over to mobile and finish it in bed or on the sofa.
- If a tourney runs longer than you expect and you have to leave the house you can still try to get it done on the go.
- If you’re simply out and about, maybe at a restaurant, and want to play a tournament you can do that.
BLAST was a recent somewhat controversial addition that is exclusive to 888. It’s a 4-player modified Sit and Go that’s based on the Spin and Go format.
If you aren’t up on Spin and Go’s they’re hyper turbo single table tournaments where the prize pool is randomized.
This is how 888 does it for BLAST:
- 2x prize pool 55% of the time
- 5x prize pool 40% of the time
- 10x prize pool 4% of the time
- 100x prize pool .04% of the time
- 1,000x prize pool .004% of the time
- 10,000x prize pool .001% of the time
Insane blind levels
There are only 2-4 2-minute blind levels, which is incredibly short. What happens after that when players still remain? They’re set all-in on every hand until someone has all the chips.
It’s insane, exhilarating, but incredibly luck-based. The only skill portion comes from the initial time when you accumulate chips before the all-in blast.
I’m not a big fan of BLAST, but once in a while I will play them just for novelty. I do like the high percentage of 5x prize pools, which I prefer over how PokerStars does it.
One addition that I really like, but hasn’t really caught on fire yet, is Snap tournaments. As great as fast-fold is Sit and Go’s and tournaments have never really caught on. Stars is the only other site that I know of to offer them.
With Snap tournaments you can go through an entire multi-table tournament in a fraction of the time commitment.
I’m hoping these will increase in popularity as they currently attract only about 80-100 players each.
TL;DR - TournamentsHow is the tournament schedule?
- Has never been their forte but are perfectly adequate
- Their big guarantee is either $100,000 of $200,000
- Most tournaments draw 300-500 players
- Sit and Gos fill up quickly up to $10, heads-up to $100
- I like that less than half feature re-buys
888 has made a big investment in the WSOP, becoming the only official online poker sponsor and going so far as to get a bracelet event named after them (the $888 Crazy Eights event in 2016).
You’ll see 888 Poker signs integrated every step of the way, from the table felt to the TV set scaffolding.
The only site that can buy you into the WSOP
As the only official WSOP affiliate they’re also the only ones allowed to offer direct-entry satellites as prizes. PokerStars still “sends” a ton of players to the WSOP, but they can’t technically buy them in so they just dump cash into players’ accounts.
The WSOP Main Event package
888 Poker actually builds a package that every winner in the final step receives. With everything that’s covered it feels like the old packages offered by poker sites during online poker’s boom years.
- It includes:
- A $10,000 buy-in into the Main Event
- $1,500 for travel expenses
- 5 nights at a Las Vegas hotel
- Entry into the 888 welcome party
- A goody bag filled with 888 gear
The Step system
To get a chance at a WSOP package you have to play in a direct qualifier, which has a $1,050 buy-in. While you could buy in directly very few players actually do that.
Instead, you’ll want to go through the Step system. You can buy into whichever step you’d like at any time.
You’ll find a chart with the exact Steps and buy-ins below this sections.
Step 1 starts at a penny
Step 1 starts at the ridiculously-low buy-in of .01. For every 10 players a Step 2 .10 buy-in is awarded. Continue advancing all the way through Step 6 for the $1,050 buy-in level that awards actual WSOP packages.
It’s worth noting that most players who aren’t on micro-bankrolls will probably want to start at Step 3, 4, or 5 so the mountain is a little less daunting.
Would you really have the patience to try to start at the penny Step and put up with an absurd grind all the way through? I wouldn’t and admittedly I’ve never even bothered with micro-satellites. Just start me at $5 or $30 and save me the time.
A Step 1 player ended up cashing at the 2015 WSOP
One almost-too-good-to-be-true story happened at the 2015 WSOP when Tommy Yates not only won a Main Even seat after starting at Step 1, but then cashed in it for almost $20,000.
Hey, if you’ve got the patience and the time, why not go for it? It’s almost free at that point.
888 Poker’s WSOP satellite chart
|1||$.01||A Step 2 seat for every 10 players||Register Now|
|2||$.10||A Step 3 seat for every 10 players||Register Now|
|3||$1||A Step 4 seat for every 5 players||Register Now|
|4||$5||A Step 5 seat for every 6 players||Register Now|
|5||$30||A Step 6 seat for every 6 players||Register Now|
|6||$160||A qualifier seat for every 7 players||Register Now|
|Qualifier||$1,050||A WSOP package for every 12 players||Register Now|
I think that I am required by the Beat The Fish bylaws to endlessly praise quick speed-fold poker whenever a poker room offers it.
What is Snap?
The 888 Poker variation is called Snap, which works identically to every other poker room’s quick-fold iteration dating back to the original Rush Poker at Full Tilt.
In Snap, each cash game limit such as .50/$1 pools all its players to constantly form new tables and keep players in the action.
As soon as players fold a hand they are whisked off to a brand new table full of other players who have also just folded.
The blinds are given to players who have been the longest without paying them.
Why I love quick-fold poker
Snap is simple in concept and genius in execution, allowing players to benefit from incredible game speeds of more than 200 hands per hour while elimination boredom.
Players can stop playing hands they shouldn’t simply to break up a string of pre-flop folding.
Winning players can also win more per hour thanks to the sheer number of hands they can play.
A single Snap table allows you to play the equivalent hands of 4 traditional cash games.
It’s engaging, fun, and allows players on the go to see significant gameplay in short time period bursts.
Snap on the apps
Snap is also available on the 888 Poker app, creating an irresistible marriage of speed and convenience.
The PC/Mac software client
I also score the standard PC software highly with pleasant graphics, a large number of available customizations, and at least one trendy fad.
Starting with the 888 Poker lobby, everything is there that any online poker player of the past decade would expect – quick seat, sorting options, and table stats.
One annoying quirk is the inability to remove empty tables, making it an unnecessary hassle to look for active tables.
888 Poker Graphics
888 has really embraced the neon tech look, which feels a bit outdated these days.
The table graphics can be customized with 4 different styles that I particularly liked. Players can choose a cartoony avatar from a few dozen choices, helping to liven up the games a little.
A small touch I have always liked at the few poker rooms that offer it are automatic animated smilies for common chat phrases like “LOL”.
The customization options are much higher than average here, allowing such options as:
- Whether to show folded cards
- Progress bars for your bonus progress built in to every table
- How tables should react when it is your turn to act
- Cheesy sounds like “ooooohh” when a player goes all-in or shows a monster hand
They chase tech fads
As goofy as it may be I give 888 Poker credit for chasing extraneous fads for their software, hoping to add a little bit of extra draw or fun.
3D poker tables
Do you remember the 3D craze a few years ago?
888 Poker actually released a “3D Poker Table“, which rendered tables in old-fashioned red-and-blue anaglyph 3D.
You could wear a pair of glasses and let the table stick out a little bit from the screen.
How absurd is that? But it gave them a reason to use that 3D buzzword.
I remember pressing the select button to do the same thing to Rad Racer on my NES in the ’80s.
Another presumed-dead fad that was, at one time, predicted to be the future of online poker is webcam poker
I thought that I had seen the last of failed webcam poker startups years ago but, lo and behold, 888 Poker actually offers real-money tables called PokerCam tables.
Amazingly, 6-handed PokerCam tables actually fill up in the microlimits, allowing you to see a small box next to each player that streams from their webcam.
Now you don’t have to be uncomfortable in private when you make that next big bluff!
Android and iOS real-money apps
888 Poker has a real-money app available both on the App Store and Google Play.
The same cash games, Sit and Go tournaments, Snap tables, and even BLAST tournaments are offered on the app as the full PC software.
Snap fast-fold can turn minutes into dozens of hands
Snap is by far my most-used option on the app as that format seems built for spontaneous mobile use.
Any sort of down time, whether at home or out and about, can turn into a significant playing session.
Even 15 minutes can provide 60 or more hands with Snap thanks to quick-fold.
I would venture to say that Snap + mobile app= the holy grail for online poker players.
TL;DR - SoftwareHow is the actual gameplay experience?
- One of my favorites online, feature-packed
- PC version has smilies, customization, and attractive graphics
- Snap quick-fold games offer up to 300 hands per hour
- PokerCam webcam tables actually fill up at low limits
- Browser-based no-download Instant Play works on any phone, tablet, or computer
- Real-money iOS and Android apps offer every cash game and tournament as the PC software
The payout quirks
Withdrawals have always been dependable at 888 Poker in that payouts are always sent without massive delays, but players should be aware of a few quirks.
Firstly, 888 poker has a blanket processing time of 3 days.
There simply seems to be no way of avoiding it and this is a legacy issue dating back at least a decade.
Electronic withdrawals such as Skrill or PayPal are sent within a day or so after that wait but the arbitrary delay is obnoxious.
Beating the built-in exchanges
Secondly, the poker room seems to employ a strange currency exchange rate that isn’t clear to players before they withdraw.
Usually it ends up shortchanging the player a bit on the receiving end.
Use USD for e-wallets
To ensure you don’t have to abide by 888 poker’s imaginary exchange rates, withdraw in USD to an electronic service such as Moneybookers or Neteller before withdrawing to your bank account.
That will allow your bank to do the exchange at a fair rate.
These annoyances don’t make 888 the worst at payouts, but they aren’t necessary for such a financially-sound company.
TL;DR - PayoutsHow will you get your funds?
- Minimum 72-hour wait is obnoxious
- Dependable once the hold period passes
- Exchange rate quirks skim from players
- Use USD payouts for the best exchange rates
Rare telephone support offered
One of the things that struck me since the early days when they were still called Pacific Poker is they always published a phone number for support.
They also supported a number of languages and had separate phone numbers for each country. The same can’t be said for the PokerStars, the largest poker room in the world, who forces players to wait for an archaic standard email reply.
888 Poker phone numbers
Here are the current phone numbers for 888 Poker by country:
- Australia: 1 800 758131
- Austria: 0 800 291 902
- Brazil: 0 800 892 0073
- Canada: 1 800 480 5170
- China: 1 0800 140 0803
- Denmark: 80 88 78 80
- Germany: 0 800 180 0799
- Greece: 00800 129 359
- Hong Kong: 800 963 434
- Ireland: 1 800 250 139
- New Zealand: 0 800 447 829
- Norway: 800 169 25
- Russia: 350 200 60475
- Singapore: 126 8484 4865
- Sweden: 0200 898 723
- Switzerland: 350 200 47832
- Taiwan: 0080 112 6673
- United Kingdom: 0800 032 9873
- Anywhere else: 126 8484 4865
They try to avoid calls, but you still can do it
Since then 888 Poker has followed the trend of all business who try to avoid phone calls at all costs, but their numbers are still there if you know where to look.
Overall, I always grade any business that provides actual phone numbers highly, even if it takes a scavenger hunt to find them. The same can’t be said for many of their competitors.
Many country-specific phone numbers
Calling these country-specific numbers should connect you to someone who speaks your language.
Check out my list below for the most current phone support numbers.
I’ve found the reps to be fairly knowledgeable about issues from deposits (their favorite) to software glitches or checking the status of your payout.
Other than telephone support you can of course send them an email using a contact form. I’ve received replies ranging from a few minutes to a few hours, but I’ve never had to wait more than 8-12 hours.
Live chat is missing besides for deposits
The only ingredient that’s missing from a stellar support experience is live chat for anything other than deposit issues.
Naturally, if you’re idle in the cashier for more than a minute one of their live staff members is eagerly awaiting to answer any question you might have on accepting your money.
Multilingual support is very good
This is one of the best poker rooms in terms of multilingual support so help is offered in about a dozen different languages.
#2 in the world
The traffic at 888 poker has been at one of the highest levels in the industry for several years now.
They are ranked #2 in the world for traffic, trailing only the behemoth that is PokerStars.
One fact that I appreciate here is the fact that 6-seated tables aren’t quite as dominant over 9-seated tables as with other sites, making up about 60-70% of the total games.
This is also one of the few destinations that regularly draw high-stakes players with $10/20 No-Limit Hold’em games active around the clock and even the occasion $100/200 game.
What it means for game numbers
There are usually about 10 full cash games at each lower limit up to the $1/2 level and 3-5 at limits above that.
Typical tournament guarantees draw 300-500 players and Sit and Go tournaments are popular up to the $10 level with minimal waiting time.
Beat Snap Poker
It’s no secret that I’m enamored with quick-fold poker, or Snap as 888 Poker calls their iteration.
Compress tons of hands of poker into one table with no slowdown? Build it into the mobile app?
It’s the perfect form of online poker.
Tweaking your tried-and-true strategy
While you can mostly stick to your existing strategy if you’re a successful player there are a few tweaks you can make to your game specifically to take advantage of this quick format.
Increasing blind steals
1. At a normal-paced table you can often get away with late-position blind steals, but on a Snap table you can take that to another level.
Players aren’t paying attention to your tendencies in this mode so if you’re folded to on the button or one or two off from it why not take a stab at it?
Odds are the blinds just want to get on to the next hand.
Most make straightforward plays
2. Don’t waste your creative energies on advanced plays here.
You aren’t going to know your opponents and they aren’t going to assume anything about you.
It’s tough to do much third-level thinking when you truly have no idea how an opponent has been playing.
Make plays to extract maximum profit with your strong hands and draw as cheaply as possibly in position.
There isn’t enough information to set up your opponents using psychology.
Anyone staying in a hand has extra meaning
3. Be wary of every caller behind you, especially those in early or middle position.
Due to the nature of Snap players will automatically and immediately fold their hands at their turn if they’ve used the quick fold.
Is someone acting behind you, thinks about his action, then just calls you?
That tells you that he had at least a good enough hand not to throw away outright.
Take note of what positions callers are in
Late positions non-folders could have been waiting for a blind stealing opportunity.
The same doesn’t usually apply to early and middle positions.
They held on to their cards for a reason.