Tuesday, July 05, 2005

Full Tilt Poker: A Second Impression

At first I thought I wouldn't like Full Tilt Poker. But who can complain about a 100% initial deposit match? Well, I can complain, it turns out, but my overall second impression of the room turns out to be positive. (My first impression was some time ago, before they even offered real-money games, I think. But I don't really remember anything about that, so perhaps the first impression was: it didn't make one.)

Regular readers know I'm comparing Full Tilt (FTP) mainly to the two other sites I've played extensively, PartyPoker and DoylesRoom. I've also played a bit of fake-money poker at UltimateBet.

One of the first things I noticed at FTP, of course, was that they seat nine-handed games, for Holdem and Omaha. So do many other rooms, but since PartyPoker, where I've played a few hundred thousand hands now, they seat 10-handed tables, and every casino I've played in has sat ten-handed tables, so nine-handed tables seem wrong. A practical reason for this is that, surprisingly, one has to keep a much closer eye on how many people are sitting out or gone, because the game thus goes short more often.

The avatars seemed like a neat idea to the programmers, I'm sure, and there are twenty or thirty to choose from (who can smile or growl with your mood), but generally speaking the avatars interfere with being able to quickly tell who's still got cards in front of him. Turning the avatars off eliminates that problem, especially if you use one of the alternate (plainer) cardbacks. At PartyPoker the avatars are fairly unobtrusive, but I turned them off anyway; at DoylesRoom the avatars are more like unobtrusive lapel pins, but they provide no facility (that I know of) for turning them off.

On the subject of the graphics, the cards at FTP are readable, but not as easily as the other two sites. The cards are physically smaller, so there are fewer pixels in which to draw a large easy-to-read index. I suppose, though, that if the index were larger, the actual design of the card would be squished too far into the opposite corner, given the room that would be left to them. The window overall is the same size as on the other sites; I wonder why the cards needed to be smaller?

The final thing I'll say about the graphics is that the odd design on the lower part of the lobby screen looks like an "artist's rendition" of an airport terminal. What does that have to do with poker, I wonder?

One thing that FTP does WAY better than PartyPoker is that their lobby screen is always up-to-the-minute, or, more accurately, to the second; one doesn't have the experience at FTP of clicking a table only to find it full when you get there. Tournament info is equally up-to-date; I had the nice experience of watching the number of registrants for an upcoming freeroll tick up, quickly, one-by-one. PartyPoker is particularly bad at this; their big freeroll every day generally jumps from zero registrants up to 750 or so once registrations open for it.

My main complaint is one that's my fault, really. I could have determined this from the fine print on the site. But it turns out that one works the 100% bonus match off, dependent on how much rake your tables pay. For every dollar the table pays in rake, you work off six cents in bonus. So, if I win one out of nine hands at the nine-handed tables, I need to pay $515 in rake to work off my bonus. Playing $25max no-limit, it's working out to about $15.75 that I'm working off per thousand hands. It'd work off faster if I was playing higher, but I don't have the bankroll for that at the moment. And maybe not the skill.

Game selection is good (I haven't seen another site dealing Razz), but the actual number of games is far from PartyPoker standards. It's this more than anything that's making me consider switching my bankroll back to PartyPoker. I understand it's 7AM, but I'm two-tabling right now because there aren't three tables of $25max NLH.

I'll probably only play a couple hundred more hands today, enough to earn the first $20 of bonus match. It's a breakeven day, is all. I'll probably continue on Full Tilt tomorrow, and if I'm not well positive tomorrow, I'll switch to another site. Possibly back to PartyPoker, possibly to a site offering a deposit bonus that's a little easier to work off. But if I am well positive tomorrow, I'll stick with FTP for the moment, because a $400 stake I consider enough to move from $25max NLH to $50max NLH (as long as I'm willing to step back down if need be).

My expectation is still that I have $1000 to $1200 within two weeks, so that I can begin making plans to move west and get a job there.


Excellent discussion on lapel pins. I bookmarked your blog. I have my own lapel pins blog if you want to take a look.
Great article on FullTiltPoker. For even more information on Full Tilt Poker, you should check out FullTilt.org. They have everything from freeroll tournament listings, to exclusive bonus code offers. I don't know why anybody would play anywhere online other than Full Tilt Poker.
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