TOP 3…BEST LOOKING POKER SITES
Some things – like wine, cheese, and Jennifer Aniston – get better with age. The same can be said for the top online poker sites.
With slicker design, more user-intuitive interfaces and faster back ends, the multi-tabling masses have a veritable smorgasbord of online options at their disposal in 2013.
So, which sites are leading the way in the sexy stakes? We take a look at three of the best.
#3 – PartyPoker.com
PartyPoker.com were one of – if not THE – biggest poker sites pre-UIGEA, and as they came to terms with life out of the USA market after 2006, their poker software seemed to suffer a similarly inglorious fate.
Ugly greens, a cumbersome lobby, and a table layout best described as ‘basic’, PartyPoker was never going to win awards for looks, but that all changed in 2013 when the site had a major re-haul.
Out went the old lobby (although nostalgic Party fans can still choose the ‘Classic’ layout) and in came a brighter layout, with some slick design straight out of the Apple playbook. The greens have made way for a cleaner orange and white color scheme, and the site’s logo has been given a facelift too.
On the lobby page, as well as the classic (and I use ‘classic’ in the loosest of terms as I found it to be incredibly unintuitive) game lists there are special ‘highlighted’ tournaments on cards that flip round when you hover your mouse on them. Primary tabs break down cash games, SNGs, MTTs and fast-fold tables, while a casino tab gives quick access to Party’s side games.
There’s also a new ‘quick seat’ feature that allows players to jump straight into low stakes cash games, SNGs, fast-forward pools and tournaments. A handy buy-in box also lets the user enter in an amount to take to the table.
Embracing social media is Party’s mission in 2013, and you can take part in ‘Missions’ of your own with the site’s new feature. Here you can be awarded badges for reaching certain targets like winning a hand with aces, completing a Sit ‘n’ Go or reaching a final table. Then load up the results on your own personal profile and ‘news feed’ and share with buddies. And as with Party’s former software, there’s the option to load up your own personal avatar to appear at the tables while you play.
There was no doubting that PartyPoker needed a facelift as much as the next Hollywood starlet, and they seem to have pulled it off.
#2 – PKR
When it comes to 3D poker experiences, PKR.com definitely leads the way.
In fact, it’s pretty hard not to lead the way when you’re the only 3D poker operator out there. In any case, PKR know which side of their bread is buttered, and they do what they do very well.
If you’ve never played on the site, PKR offers stunning graphics in an immersive 3D environment – avatars are full-body representations of players, all sat in the lush surroundings of a top Vegas or Monte Carlo casino. The avatars move as part of PKR’s “emote” system, and best of all you can make your character move with a series of commands: laugh at or taunt your opponents when you’ve put them to an all-in examination, do chip tricks while you’re waiting for the action to come round, or get up from the table to await that fateful river card.
The best part about your avatar is that it’s fully customizable, meaning with player points you can ‘buy’ hats, shades, change the hair color, and even get your player some funky tattoos.
All in all it makes online poker a great experience for novices, but it’s true that it does slow down the process somewhat. Also, multi-tablers will find grinding 16 full 3D tables at once a little difficult on the eye. Luckily PKR have introduced simpler ‘classic’ tables for the 24-table grinders, but then you question what the point of playing on the site is!
Luckily the site offers a great range of cash games and tournaments, and because of PKR’s huge ad campaigns, together with the 3D novelty, plenty of soft players are attracted to the tables. So, if you’re ok with blind levels dragging on because one clown is spending every turn wriggling in his seat and waving his arms, you’ll be fine.
You can also change the camera view of the table, from dynamic and orbital (which follows the players one by one), and when you want to check your hole cards, they lift up in a satisfying ‘peel’ motion.
Gimmicky, yes, but PKR also boasts arguably the simplest game lobby about. All the games are presented in a neat fashion, with bold tabs showing tournaments, cash games, event qualifiers, etc.
#1 – PokerStars
The world’s leading poker site has a top poker design to go with their status as the game’s big boys (as this recent review shows).
PokerStars’ tables are as simple and effective as ever – they look even better on a Mac – and the site was one of the first to offer resizable tables. Without loss of clarity or information, it means multi-tabling maniacs can resize a dozen tables of $1/2 without blinking an eye.
The site recently went through something of a redesign, with the new red-and-black look of the lobby and tables taking over from the classic yellow ‘n’ gold style. As with PartyPoker’s new outfit, you can choose the ‘Classic’ appearance on Stars if you want. At the table, there’s the option to upload your own photo to act as your avatar and you also have the option to display next to your avatar your VIP status, be it Supernova or Supernova Elite.
The lobby tabs on PokerStars are laid out simply, with various games being able to be sorted into Game Type, Limit, Buy-in, Start Time or whether the game is running or finished.
PokerStars’ biggest bonus – its huge range of games – can also be its most annoying factor; there are so many tournaments and cash games you’ll need a way of sorting out your favorite games before you play. That’s why PokerStars gives you the option to colour code your lobby tournaments: make all your live events qualifiers purple, or make Special tournaments red so that that big-money freeroll is even more noticeable. And within those tournament tabs, the list of prizes and satellite details are clearly listed with quick links to get you in fast.
The sheer variety of games and features on PokerStars can be bewildering for most casual players, but take the time to enjoy the site’s slick feel and intuitive displays, and you’ll wonder why you played online poker anywhere else.