888poker Has Left Australia—What is the Best Alternative Poker Room?
As of January 16, Australian players at 888poker are no longer able to join cash tables or register for tournaments. Players must unregister from any tournaments they have entered, and withdraw their full account balances.
888 won’t be the only poker room to leave the market
888’s decision will have come as a shock to most of its customers, but PokerStars and partypoker are likely to be not far behind.
The problem is a set of amendments to the Australian Interactive Gambling Act of 2001, the Interactive Gambling Regulations 2001, and the Australian Communications and Media Authority Act 2005.
The changes are not yet law, but are expected to be passed by parliament shortly. After that point, online poker operators that continue to target the Australian market will be considered to be in breach of the law.
Playing Online Poker Remains Completely Legal
Playing online poker remains completely legal for players, the law only targets the operators, but as there is no provision to license online poker, players will have no option but to give up playing online or move to an operator prepared to continue in the market.
Assuming that the major operators decide to quit the market, Australian players will lose access to many of their favorite and most trusted poker rooms.
The risk is that the new law creates a gap in the market which will be filled by unscrupulous operators and players will not know how to distinguish between them.
The operators that continue to service the market are likely to be those who have defied similar legal restrictions in the US.
Which poker rooms should you consider now?
There are three trustworthy poker networks which still allow US players, have large player pools and are likely to continue in the Australian market; the Winning Poker Network (WPN), Bodog and Chico.
For a smaller poker room that offers 50% rakeback and a soft player pool, Grand Poker is a new name that is well worth a look.
Of these our top recommendation is Americas Cardroom on the WPN. The player pool is only slightly smaller than was available at 888, and the tournament guarantees are even bigger.
WPN CEO Phil Nagy has set the course for Americas Cardroom to be a top five poker room and the room constantly ranks in the top 10 for cash game traffic.
Central to Phil’s strategy is paying players quickly when they withdraw their funds; not discriminating against high volume grinders, and offering $1 million guaranteed tournaments as often as possible.
Free download securely from official Americas Cardroom server
Bodog has a policy of 100% anonymous tables, which protects recreational players from poker sharks, but it can be strange never knowing if you have played against a particular player before.
Of more concern is the fact that players have to rely on Bodog for game security. Many times in the past, poker players have themselves identified possible cheating, and been able to use data from Hold’Em Manager and Poker Tracker to present a case to the operator.
Anonymous tables mean that players must really on Bodog’s own security procedures to identify suspicious play.
While Bodog is the market leader in the US facing market, and has an excellent record for processing cash withdrawals, we don’t recommend them specifically.
The Chico network consists of several poker rooms, some of which accept US players while others don’t.
They will each make their own decisions re Australia over the next few months.
We recommend Tiger Gaming, although it doesn’t accept US players, instead targeting the Canadian market.
Tiger Gaming offers a variation on the typical rakeback scheme, where players receive cash for points, but must make up their rakeback value in rake races and reload bonuses.
The relatively high proportion of recreational players in the poker room means that despite rakeback being lower than some alternatives, total profits for an online grinder may be higher.
Free download securely from official Tiger Gaming server
We also recommend BetOnline, which is a Chico skin that does take US players.
Betonline also ignores the traditional rakeback model, but offers a monthly $20k MTT challenge that pays out the top 100 finishers in each of three categories: low, medium and high buy-ins.
Cash game players get to take part in a similar $20k guaranteed rake race every month.
Grand Poker is the poker room which famous sports betting network 5Dimes offers to its players.
To access the poker room players have to first create a 5Dimes account, which has the consequence that most players at the Grand Poker tables are primarily interested in sports betting rather than online poker.
5Dimes paid for the poker software to be developed itself, so it is a fairly new poker client, with all the latest features.
The player pool is small, so not all tables are available for the games and stakes you might want to play, but Grand Poker does offer a straight 50% rakeback which is the best deal offered to US players.
Grand Poker is well worth a try if your poker room pulls out of the market.
Think about opening several accounts
One option players should consider is to open accounts at several different rooms. Check out our full list of poker rooms to see what alternatives there are.
On other occasions when countries have introduced new legislation, some poker rooms have simply stopped accepting new sign-ups as a way of complying, while allowing their existing players to continue.
Our best advice is to act now, either to study your options in case your poker room suddenly disappears from the market, or to secure an account at a new operator that is likely to stay in the market, or retain existing players if it leaves.
If you have any questions about changing to a new room, post them on our Facebook page, and we’ll get back to you as soon as possible.
By Joss Wood Rakeback.com Content Manager