$88 Free & 100% up to $600
Iíve been playing at 888 Poker since the early days of the site, back when online poker was brand new and this was one of the very first poker sites out there. It was called Pacific Poker in those days, and in fact itís only fairly recently that they changed the name of the poker site to match the name of their huge online casino, which was always called 888.
888 in those days pretty much relied on cross traffic from their casino wanting to play some poker, and they never really did promote it to the extent that some of the sites that came later did, like Party Poker, Poker Stars, and Full Tilt, so these sites took the limelight while 888 pretty much stayed in the background.
They had decent traffic then but they tended to be overlooked by serious poker players, although those of us in the know were pretty hip to the site, and I did turn my students on to it in those days and they pretty much unanimously agreed that this was the best place to play period.
888 didnít put a lot of effort into the poker room though, they already had the worldís biggest online casino, a title they have kept over the years, and the online casino market is very competitive so that achievement tells you a lot about how much they know about what they are doing right there.
There was plenty not to like about playing there back then though, the software was absolutely dreadful looking, there promos were virtually non existent, and their rewards program was a complete joke, where you needed to play a lot of poker just to earn one dollar.
This did serve to keep away the kind of people you donít want to see at poker sites though, which didnít include all the fish from the casino and it also didnít include those of us who were milking them. I tried out other sites back then but none compared to this one really as far as the money I made.
888 finally figured out that they could make more money from this poker room if they updated things and did just that, bringing in state of the art software that might be the best in the business now, a real rewards program that is now competitive with the other top sites, a good amount of promotions, and more than anything a new attitude that wanted to take this poker site to the top.
So they ended up going from a diamond in the rough to one that is now in full view, and this vaulted them to the worldís second most popular online poker site, second only to Poker Stars.
Becoming more popular certainly did affect the traffic makeup here, but not as much as was feared. Sure, itís not just a site of donkeys anymore, the cat is out of the bag a lot more and the site does feature more actual poker players than it used to, there was always those of us who were decent to good players all along but thereís more of those as you would expect, but the competition level overall still stands out as the main benefit here.
The grinders and the tougher players still pretty much play elsewhere, and thereís no site these days other than Poker Stars that can support the kind of play that these players like, the mega tabling and such.
You simply canít play more than a few tables at anything but the smallest stakes anywhere else these days, and these arenít small stakes players really, so 888 Pokerís newfound increase in popularity has been pretty much limited to more recreational players, the kind that we like to see.
There are still a large contingent of players that come over from the casino though and thatís the biggest attraction of 888 Poker really, other sites have casinos but keep in mind that 888ís is the worldís largest so no one has more fishy casino players at their poker room.
The traffic is very good here as you might expect from the worldís second most popular poker site, and it is well dispersed among cash, sit and go, and multi table tournaments.
Most of the action is concentrated at the lower stakes as is the norm, although there is still a good amount of tables and tournaments that run at the mid stakes, which has always been one of the most enticing features of 888 compared to some other sites, and some of this at least has to do with the fact that there is a higher than average amount of gamblers from the casino who decide stakes more on their bankroll than on their skill level.
This is a huge thing and the best thing about this site actually, you may not play these stakes yet but once you do you will find them tough at a lot of other sites where you tend to see the best of the best playing them, players who have creamed the smaller stakes and moved up, where here you see a lot more players who arenít very good playing these stakes which makes it a lot more profitable.
Another thing I really like about 888 is their push or fold format, which isnít actually push or fold itís very small stack no limit cash, and the reason I like this format so much is that so many of the players donít know how to play short stack very well and thereís some real opportunity here if youíre any good at all.
Overall, thereís lots to play here regardless of what you like and the competition is delightfully soft, thatís all you need to know really and this is all a very big deal.
As I mentioned, the software here is up with anyoneís software and in fact they are the only site that I know of that offers four color cards, not just four color decks that use old fashioned cards invented hundreds of years ago with different colors on them, actual four color decks that you usually have to purchase third party add-ons to get. I used to use a custom deck here but thereís no need anymore.
Customer service is adequate, to be honest I havenít had the occasion to use it very much over the years, and it didnít blow me away when I did but they did take care of me. They do have a 24/7 online chat feature now and you might have to wait a few minutes to connect, connect time seems a little longer than average but the agents are helpful enough.
The banking options here have never been as good as competing sites and this remains the case. At least there are more options for us Canadians than receiving a wire like I had to deal with for years, but that wasnít a huge deal, Iíd still like to see them allow withdrawals with Instadebit, they allow deposits with it but not withdrawals yet. You can use Skrill though, I do tend to like Instadebit a little more but thereís nothing wrong with Skrill, and there are other options available as well.
This is my top recommended online poker site for Canadians as well as players from any country they allow you to play here, and has been all along. Wherever else you like to play, if you havenít tried this site, you owe it to yourself to do so.
This doesnít mean that the other sites arenít worth checking out as well, the good ones that is that we recommend on here, and itís true that these sites will all pay you to try them out so as long as the site is good then why not I guess.
Speaking of that, 888 does have an incentive for new players who make their first deposit with them, they not only will match your first deposit up to $400 in bonus money, they also have a no deposit bonus of $88.
They only start you out with $2 plus $8 in tournament tickets, and you have to play quite a bit to collect the other $80, so to be honest youíll need to make a deposit anyway to do that, but you get the regular bonus on top of that, so overall itís pretty nice and who can complain about free money really.
So go ahead and collect this if you are eligible and by all means check this place out for yourself.