888 Poker In New Jersey - Fact Sheet And Review
Online Poker Report

888 Poker NJ Review and Fact Sheet

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888Poker is now available for real-money online poker play in New Jersey.

888 is licensed by the New Jersey Division of Gaming Enforcement and has been granted full approval to offer online poker games in the state.

888 NJ bonus codes

888 NJ Bonus CodeNone needed
Bonus description$30 free play, no deposit required
Regulatory authorityNew Jersey Division of Gaming Enforcement
Gaming license numberNJIGP 15-007
Land-based casino partnerCaesars Atlantic City
Link to claim bonusClaim bonus here

Free $30: New 888 players receive a free $10 just for creating an account.  It is awarded by crediting the new account with $4 in cash and 26 tournament tickets worth $1 each.

100% / $888 Match Bonus: New 888 players receive a 100% up to $888.  The bonus releases in $10 increments for every $50 in rake and tournament fees paid.  Any bonus that is not released within 90 days expires.  Read more or sign up.

888 other promos

888Poker Rewards:  888 offers one of the most lucrative VIP programs in New Jersey.  All players earn 2.5% from the first hand played.  It only takes $100 a month in rake to receive 10% back.  High volume players qualify for up to 35% rakeback.  There are $10,375 in monthly freerolls available to players that achieve at least the Iron tier in the 888 Rewards program.

Grades vs competition

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888Poker NJ Player Review

Traffic: It’s WSOP.com, just less populated

Contents

The WSOP/888 network absorbed the launch of PokerStars NJ about as well as could be expected, losing just under 25 percent of its cash game liquidity. The duo continue to share liquidity across lower stakes no limit hold’em cash games and sit & go’s, and most tournaments.

Cash Games

According to liquidity tracking site PokerScout.com, average cash game traffic on WSOP/888 is currently hovering right around 150, compared to 180 for PokerStars NJ and 100 for Party/Borgata.

Approximately 75 percent of the network’s traffic is shared. The rest is pretty much owned by WSOP.com – I’d estimate that WSOP’s independent players outnumber 888’s by a margin of at least three-to-one.

With this in mind, I’d put 888 Poker’s actual cash game average somewhere between 120 and 125 players, with daily peaks coming in at just under 300. That breaks down to roughly 45 cash game tables at most.

Game selection on 888 is very limited, more so than any other site. The overwhelming majority of games are shared liquidity games at NLHE stakes $0.25/$0.50 and lower. At prime time hours there are a smattering of $0.50/$1+ 6-max games running, as well as a few PLO games, but good luck finding more than 1-2 of each during off-peaks.

Although the cash game lobby will have players believing otherwise, 888 Poker does not support the Omaha Hi/Lo, Stud, Stud Hi/Lo and Limit formats. It does however, maintain full ring NLHE games – although these only typically run at the lower stakes.

Sit & Go

The lack of sit & go leaderboards and shared liquidity at stakes above $5 render 888 Poker a pretty poor place for sit & go action.

Factor in the growing popularity of Spin & Go’s on PokerStars NJ, and it won’t be long before players who visit 888’s sit & go lobby will be hearing crickets.

Between the hours of 8 p.m. and 12 a.m. expect to find roughly 10 sit & go’s running, most at stakes ranging between $1 and $5. Formats run the gamut from heads-up, to traditional 6 handed turbos and every now and again, PLO or PLO8.

During the overnight and morning hours, and sometimes well into the afternoon, sit & go’s just don’t run at all.

Players who can live without Spin & Go’s are encouraged to take their action to WSOP.com.

Multi-table tournaments

I’m slightly more partial to 888’s recurrent MTT schedule than WSOP’s.

Granted, there’s a lot of overlap, but 888 does a better job of catering to the budget player. Not only does the site regularly offer promotional, daily and VIP freerolls with prize pools ranging from anywhere between $25 and $3,000, but it also hosts a variety of low buy-in, guaranteed tournaments – perfect for hobbyists or players just learning the game.

The main drawback to grinding tournaments on 888 is that it never runs one-off series. By contrast, players on WSOP.com are treated to special tournament events at least several times a year, as well as qualifiers to live WSOP events.

Most regularly scheduled daily and weekend majors on 888 share liquidity with WSOP.com. These include the daily $5,000 and $10,000 guarantees, and the $30,000 GTD Weekly Sunday. The first two are low buy-in ($10 and $30, respectively) rebuy and add-on tournaments that typically register 150 runners and either just exceed their guarantees or come close.

The $30,000 GTD is a $200 buy-in ($500 once per month) that generates prize pools ranging from $30,000 – $45,000, season and buy-in amount depending.

The one major that 888 supports and WSOP.com doesn’t is the $4,000 Sunday Express – a $55 buy-in (+1 reentry) turbo that generally falls far short of its guarantee. Take advantage.

WSOP/888 also hosts a variety of $100 buy-in High-Rollers, a few deep stack MTTs and a handful of alternate format tournaments. The guarantees for all of these events are kept modest – in the high three to low four figures.

Grade: (last review grade in parenthesis)  C+ (B-)

Value: Both hot and cold

When 888 Poker hosts a promotion, it’s usually one of the best in the industry. The problem is that special events occur far too sporadically.

Welcome packages/promotions

888’s welcome package is good for grinders, and less so for everyone else.

Players receive a 100% match bonus up to $888 on their first real-money deposit. As far as bonus caps go, 888 Poker’s welcome bonus boasts the second highest in the NJ online poker market behind PartyPoker.

Unfortunately, the bonus unlocks at a painfully slow 20 percent rakeback rate, meaning that in order to take full advantage, players will be tasked with raking over $4,400 in the 90 days before the offer expires. That will prove far too difficult for most recreational players.

Of course, because bonus funds are released in increments of $10, even casuals should be able to reap some benefit.

In addition, signups will receive a $10 no deposit bonus, allocated as follows:

  • $4 cash.
  • Six tournament tickets with a value of $1 each.
  • Limited time only: Three tickets to $1,000 Spring Fever Freeroll events – tournaments run twice nightly until June 19, 2016.

888 Poker doesn’t always run promotions, but when it does, they’re top notch.

Take the Spring Fever promo for example, which gifts $1,000 freeroll tickets and other prizes to players who complete modest daily challenges such as playing in a $5 tournament or earning 1 loyalty point in poker. As an added perk, those who participate in at least three $1,000 freerolls per week gain entry to a weekly $3,000 freeroll.

In total, the three month long promotion will award $300,000 to the community, rendering the best single promotion in NJ. Problem is, once the promotion ends, who knows how long it will be before 888 opens up the floodgates again – could be days, could be months.

Rake

Unsurprisingly, 888 Poker adheres to the same rake schedule as WSOP.com.

The rake percentage for all games is set at $0.01 per every $0.18 in the pot, or 5.56 percent. That’s on par with Party/Borgata and higher than PokerStars NJ (5 percent for most games).

As far as 888’s rake caps, they’re competitive, especially at short-handed tables. Full-ring, low-to-mid stakes games are slightly cheaper on Stars, but priced equivalently at $1/$2 and above.

Compared to Party/Borgata’s rake caps, 888’s are a bargain.

Conclusion

The difference in rake between WSOP/888 and PokerStars NJ is pretty small, with WSOP/888 offering the better deal at select short-handed tables. The network’s rake caps are on par or lower than Party/Borgata’s, nearly across the board.

VIP Club

The real selling point of 888’s loyalty program, entitled 888poker Rewards, is that even players who just signed up are entitled to rakeback. It’s not as much as what’s offered to new players on Stars, but 5 percent is far better than nothing.

888’s reward scheme is tiered, and as players climb the statuses, their monthly cashback percentages will increase.

Status Tiers

  • Bronze: baseline – 5 percent cashback
  • Iron: 50 points ($25 rake/fees paid) – 8 percent cashback
  • Bronze: 200 points ($100 rake/fees) – 10 percent
  • Silver: 3,000 points ($1,500 rake/fees) – 15 percent
  • Gold: 6,000 points ($3,000 rake/fees) – 20 percent
  • Platinum: 20,000 points ($10,000 rake/fees) – 35 percent

It’s worth nothing that the monthly points requirements for Bronze are quite modest – low enough that even recreational players should have little problem. However, there’s a huge jump up to Silver, despite only a small rakeback increase.

888 Poker caps cashback at 35 percent, which is on par with WSOP.com and roughly 5 percent higher than Stars.

That being said, it’s miles easier to achieve SuperNova on Stars (~$9,100 in rake/fees annually vs. $10,000 monthly). Not to mention, players on Stars will maintain SuperNova for a full calendar year, whereas 888 players will have to reach Platinum every month.

On the flip side, generating $10,000 a month on 888 is less of a challenge than the $200,000 per year it takes to reach 35 percent rakeback on WSOP.com. But in either case, it’s only really worth it for the most dedicated grinders.

Additional Perks

There are other perks associated with 888poker Rewards, namely VIP freerolls:

  • Iron+: $375 freeroll, weekly
  • Bronze+: $1,000 freeroll, weekly
  • Silver+: $3,000 freeroll, monthly

The addition of ~$8,500 in monthly tournament value isn’t incentive enough to traverse up the ranks on its own merit, but does theoretically add a bit of extra cashback to those who regularly take part. And it’s not like any other operator is hosting big freerolls for its loyal patrons.

Grade:  B- (C+)

Software: Loses ground by standing still

The 888 Poker platform wasn’t worthy of praise in 2013, and the barely changed software is certainly not going to win any innovative design rewards now. It is mostly stable, however, and that’s worth something.

Interface and performance

In the past several years, PokerStars, iPoker and PartyPoker have all significantly upgraded their dot-com clients, yet second-ranked 888 Poker has largely stood pat.

Same deal in New Jersey, where Party/Borgata has made slow incremental progress, PokerStars launched with an only slightly buggy and dumbed-down port of its stellar PokerStars 7 software, and 888 Poker looks the same as it did two and a half years ago.

That being said, there’s nothing particularly offensive about 888’s software, and it functions well enough.

The multi-layered tabular design is intuitive, enabling players to find a game of their preference in mere seconds. Main lobbies can be sorted and filtered by game type, and in the case of cash games, by stakes, players and whether or not a table is full.

Pertinent information such as average pot size, players per flop and hands per hour are also visible from the ring game lobby, and players can easily view player stack sizes on a per table basis. They can also join wait lists. It’s not as comprehensive a system as PokerStars’ boasts, but it works well enough.

Individual tournament lobbies provide players with the most essential information, such as payouts, blind structures and chip counts, and little else. Same goes for sit & go lobbies.

The client’s customization features are bare bones, at best. Lobbies can hardly be altered at all, and individual table settings lack depth.

Aesthetics

Aesthetically, the client underachieves, more closely resembling something put together by a startup company than one of the largest iGaming providers in the world.

As far as differences between the 888 and WSOP.com clients, there are a few, but they’re mostly insignificant.

  • 888 allows for home games.
  • The play money option is more accessible on 888.
  • Players seated at 888’s tables have the option to “Throw” items at one another.
  • The 888 software appears to be more laden with small bugs and wayward links.
  • There have also been occasional reports of connection issues on 888.
  • Overall performance is slightly better on WSOP.com. Expect occasional hangups upon logging in and a bit of table lag – nothing game-breaking though.

Account management

The fact that most account management features load as an external web page is blood boiling, especially since those pages open in Internet Explorer.

Once players get over that inconvenience, they’ll immediately run into another one – players only have basic control over their accounts.

Responsible gaming features are watered down, as are transactional histories. It feels like 888 met the minimum guidelines set forth by regulators and packed it in.

Cashiering

The biggest selling point of 888’s cashier is the inclusion of PayPal.

Depositing options include:

  • PayPal
  • Bank transfers (ACH)
  • Visa/MasterCard debit/credit cards
  • Visa and MasterCard by Neteller
  • 7-Eleven PayNearMe
  • Cash at the Caesars AC casino cage
  • Online banking transfers

Online banking transfers is the only option available on 888 that isn’t provided by WSOP.com, although I have to assume with will change in the near future. There is no prepaid card option, which is unfortunate, since they tend to boast high approval rates, and no Skrill.

Most deposit options do allow for high limits, which is a big plus.

Players can request payouts via the following methods:

  • Bank transfers (ACH)
  • Bank drafts (checks by mail)
  • Cash at the Caesars AC casino cage
  • PayPal

Typically, a method must first be used for deposits if its to be used for withdrawals. However, some methods – most notably credit/debit cards – are never available for payouts.

Included as part of the cashier is a section where players can upload documents such as government IDs and banking statements. Once a doc is uploaded, it stays in 888’s system – meaning players shouldn’t have to go through the ordeal more than once per cashiering method.

Grade: C (C-)

Customer service: Trending toward adequate

888’s support members have tough jobs, as it seems whenever the site hosts a new promotion, there is some sort of technical issue. I give them credit for handling the frenzy of in-calls with grace.

But overall, customer support for online poker rooms in NJ is nothing to write home about, and by the industry’s already mediocre standards, I’d rate 888 support as just about average.

Individual agents do a decent enough job, it’s just that response times tend toward the long side, and the quality of responses vary widely. Furthermore, live chat support is only available during select hours (3 p.m. – 11 p.m.), which I guess isn’t too big of a drawback since phone support is far superior anyhow.

888 Poker does have a dedicated thread on Two Plus Two, although I find the 888Rep a bit short with his responses. He doesn’t tend to provide many updates either – not that 888 Poker NJ has many new happenings to announce.

Grade: C+ (C)

Overall: Is change on the horizon?

888 Poker reacted to the launch of PokerStars NJ by launching its best promotion in years. That combined with a strong marketing effort proved enough to keep WSOP/888 competitive in New Jersey.

But these short term solutions only mask the real problems with the network, namely its antiquated software, spotty support and the apparent apathy of upper management toward U.S. online poker.

The thing is, 888 is an enviable position in the U.S., as its platform is already present in all three states – Nevada, New Jersey, and Delaware – where online poker has been regulated. Not to mention, the operator should face few hurdles setting up shop in any new state that legalizes online poker.

With PartyPoker possibly on the way out, and Amaya facing internal issues, 888 might just win the U.S. by default. But let’s hope otherwise, because without strong competition, I don’t think there’s any way 888 invests regular sums in online poker.

Grade: (C)

 

888 Poker NJ Review
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Summary

With PartyPoker possibly on the way out, and Amaya facing internal issues, 888 might just win the U.S. by default. But let's hope otherwise, because without strong competition, I don't think there's any way 888 invests regular sums in online poker.

3.4

 

888 Poker NJ – Fact Sheet

888 Poker’s New Jersey software

Naturally, 888’s New Jersey online poker room uses 888’s Dragonfish software. Dragonfish powers a number of online poker rooms, including 888’s flagship site on the 888 Poker Network, as well as the global and US-based WSOP.com online poker rooms, and is considered one of the top online poker platforms in the world.

New Jersey poker players will find the software at US.888Poker.com easy to navigate, loaded with features and customizable options, as well as possessing a smooth interface.

Here are the setup options available to New Jersey online poker players interested in playing at 888 Poker:

  • Downloadable client: US.888Poker.com offers downloadable versions for both Windows and Mac operating systems.
  • Mobile: 888 Poker is available in the iTunes store as a mobile app for iOS mobile devices such as iPhones and iPads. An Android version is also available. Visit 888 on your android device to download.

888 Poker network partners

US.888Poker.com is part of the All American Poker Network, but at this time the site is the only online poker room operating on the AAPN in New Jersey.

888 and Caesars have also partnered in New Jersey on the WSOP.com online poker room, but the two rooms, although using the same software, will continue to operate independently, at least for the time being.

Games available at 888 Poker New Jersey

Players at 888 Poker in New Jersey will find a solid selection of poker games and formats in the site’s lobby, which is broken up into two main categories:

  • Tournaments (multi-table and sit & go)
  • Cash Games

The formats available are No Limit Holdem, Limit Holdem, Pot Limit Omaha (PLO), Omaha 8 or better, Seven Card Stud, and Seven Card Stud 8 or better.

Buy-ins for cash games start at less than $1 and currently max-out at the $10/$20 blind limits. Tournament buy-ins at US.888Poker.com are generally in the $1 to $50 range, but can reach into the low three-figures for some of the site’s specialty events. The site also features its fair share of freerolls, although entry into bigger freeroll events may require a special ticket.

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888 New Jersey: Player Incentives

Below you will find the details of 888 Poker’s New Jersey online poker deposit bonus and VIP Program.

Deposit Bonus 100% up to $888

What you get

  • 888 Poker is offering new players a 100% up to $888 Deposit Bonus.
  • The clear rate of the 888 Poker opening bonus in New Jersey is equivalent to a 20% cashback/rakeback deal.
  • 888 Poker’s opening bonus expires 90 days after the initial deposit.
  • Bonus Money is released in $10 increments.

The Lowdown

US.888Poker.com is offering a pretty competitive opening bonus to New Jersey online poker players. Everything about the bonus sans the bonus cap is about average for the market.

While some online poker sites are offering lower ceilings but higher cashback percentages, and other sites are offering slow clear rates that never expire, 888 has decided to make almost every aspect of its opening bonus “average.”

For instance, the opening bonus at 888 does expire, but you have a full 90 days to clear it.

The bonus clears in easy to reach $10 increments. The cashback value of the bonus is 20% and the cap is set quite high at $888. The cap is really the only distinguishing feature of the bonus, vaulting the opening bonus from average to a “good solid seven and a half.”

But not quite an “8.88.”

It should also be noted that new registrants are entitled to a $30 “no deposit” bonus, with $4 of the bonus being distributed as cash and the other $6 as six $1 tickets that can be used towards entry into poker tournaments.

VIP Rewards Program at 888 NJ

After nearly six months in the market, 888 Poker finally revealed its New Jersey VIP scheme in May 2014.

What you get

  • 888’s player loyalty program awards players anywhere from 5% to 35% cash-back, depending on their achieved tier.
  • Players can convert their Rewards Points into cash at US.888Poker.com.

The lowdown

888 Poker’s VIP program , which goes by the moniker “888Poker Rewards,” is relatively straightforward.

Status Points are used to determine your loyalty tier. There are currently six monthly tiers that can be achieved, with Reward Points awarded at a rate based on your current tier. These Rewards Points can be converted to cash at any time in so long as you’ve accumulated at least $10 in rakeback.

For each $1 in rake contributed to a pot or paid as part of a tournament/SNG entry fee, you will be awarded 2 Status Points – regardless of your loyalty tier. Rewards Points are also awarded for each $1 contributed, but at a multiplicative rate.

Monthly Tiers:

  • Blue Level: (0 Status Points) – 5% cash-back
  • Iron Level: (50 Status Points) – Cash-back increases to 8%
  • Bronze Level: (200 Status Points) – 10% cash-back
  • Silver Level: (3,000 Status Points) – 15% cash-back
  • Gold Level: (6,000 Status Points) – Cash-back of 20%
  • Platinum Level: (20,000 Status Points) – Cash-back will be increased to 35% 

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Current Promotions

  • Bigger Sunday: Since WSOP and 888 began sharing liquidity across select tournaments, the “Big Sunday” on 888 has featured a substantially larger guaranteed prize pool. Play for a share of $25,000 and more each Sunday at 5 pm.
  • $5,000 Sunday Express: 888 has added a new tournament to its Sunday schedule. The Sunday Express is a $5,000 guarantee featuring a $55 buy-in and a turbo structure. Satellites to the event start as low as $.01. Cards are dealt at 9 pm.

Cashiering Methods at 888 Poker NJ

With six different options to choose from, depositing on 888 is a relatively painless process. Methods include:

  • Neteller
  • Bank Transfers (ACH)
  • Visa and MasterCard Debit/Credit
  • Online Banking Transfers
  • PayNearMe
  • Cash at Caesars AC casino cage

Withdrawals are slightly more restrictive, and require that you first verify your ID by uploading a photo ID and possibly a credit card/bank statement or Neteller Account Reference Letter.

Good news is that once a document is uploaded for a particular payment method you won’t be required to repeat the process for future withdrawals using the same method.

Withdrawal options include:

  • Neteller – funds take approximately three business days to hit your account
  • Bank Transfers – generally hit accounts within six business days
  • Bank Draft – can take up to seven days to reach your address
  • Cash at the Cage – immediate reception of funds

Overall, 888’s cashiering ranks about average among New Jersey sites, with just enough deposit and withdrawal methods and fast enough turnaround times to keep most players satisfied.

888 Poker NJ – Frequently Asked Questions

What are the requirements to play at 888 Poker in New Jersey?

All players at US.888Poker.com must be 21 years of age, physically located in New Jersey, and pass a player verification check of both their identity and their location.

Can I use my 888 Poker account to play at other 888 and Caesars Entertainment online poker rooms?

No.

Your 888 Poker account in New Jersey is only good for the US.888Poker.com website, and cannot be used to log into other 888 online gaming products.

Are 888 Poker and WSOP.com on the same network?

No.

Even though both online poker rooms are run by 888 Holdings and Caesars Entertainment the partnership has decided to maintain both sites as separate entities at this point in time.

US.888Poker.com players will make up one player pool, with the WSOP.com website in New Jersey having a completely separate group of players.

Can I create an online poker account at both websites in New Jersey?

Yes. There is nothing preventing you from creating an account at US.888Poker.com and at WSOP.com in New Jersey.

Do note however, that you cannot use the same username on US.888Poker.com that you do on WSOP.com.

Can I create an 888 Poker account if I’m not in New Jersey?

Yes and no.

You can create an online poker account if you are outside of New Jersey, but you will not have access to real money games until you are within the state’s borders. Registered accounts outside of New Jersey should have access to play-money tables as well as to account details including banking.

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Read past reviews of 888 Poker

Review updated March 27, 2016

888Poker NJ is the sister site to WSOP.com. The duo utilize 888’s Dragonfish platform, and share liquidity across low stakes cash games and an increasing number of tournaments.

While it appears as though WSOP and 888 are headed toward a full merge in New Jersey, there are still enough key differences between the two to warrant independent consideration.

Traffic: Like WSOP, only less mid-to-high stakes

The WSOP/888 network averages approximately 195 cash game players. However, because the two sites only share liquidity at stakes $.25/$.50 and lower, each individual skin averages somewhat less.

  • 888 Poker is clearly the less popular of the two skins. At the higher stakes, the ratio of WSOP.com to 888 Poker players is approximately 3:1.
  • Taking this into account, average cash game traffic on 888 is more like 155-160.
  • Network liquidity is currently surging, up 19% since mid-October.

Cash Games

After a long period of relative stability, cash game traffic has begun to trend upward at a precipitous pace. Expect to see somewhere between 40-45 cash games during peak hours, and incrementally less the further you move away from prime time.

The most popular stakes are $.25/$.50 NLHE, followed by $.10/$.20 NLHE. Mid-to-high stakes grinders are advised to take their bankrolls elsewhere, as stakes $1/$2 and above run rather infrequently.

Tabs for Fixed Limit, Stud and Stud Hi/Lo exist in the lobby, although there are no games listed. PLO games are listed yet rarely run, and when they do the stakes are smallish.

Tournaments

The only good reason to consider playing sit & go’s on 888 is if you’re just starting out and want to play at stakes below $1. Otherwise, do yourself a favor and play on WSOP.com, which runs virtually the same games yet offers the added monetary incentive via a recurring Sit & Go Leaderboard promotion.

As far as volume, it’s not uncommon to see between 15-20 concurrent sit & go’s running on 888.

On the tournament front, 888’s selection stacks up quite nicely against WSOP’s. The duo share the same major schedule, resulting in fields that are significantly larger than they would be otherwise.

In addition, 888 offers a host of low buy-in freezeout tournaments, with buy-ins ranging from $1-$10 and guarantees from $50 to $750. For this reason, MTT players on a limited bankroll might preference 888 over WSOP, as the latter does not offer the same wealth of smaller guarantees. Not to mention, a fair share of 888 exclusive tournaments feature overlays, especially those that run during off-peak hours.

The biggest weekday tournament is a $30 buy-in (R&A), $10,000 GTD tournament. On Sunday’s the network hosts a $200 buy-in, $30,000 freezeout, although I suspect that the guarantee will be raised to $35k-$40k by the dead of winter. Both tournaments tend to slightly exceed their guarantees.

Grade: B- (C+)

Value/Promotions: Best value comes through rakeback

Whereas WSOP.com seems to invest more money in promotions and less in rakeback, 888 has adopted the opposite approach.

Here is how the site’s rakeback deals stack up against it’s competitors:

  • 888: All players earn at least 5% rakeback as cash. Paying $25 in monthly rake/fees boosts that figure to 8%. Top end players who pay at least $10,000 in monthly rake and fees will earn 35%.
  • WSOP: In order to earn 8% rakeback, players have to pay $1,750 in monthly rake and fees. Only those who pay $200,000 during a calendar year receive 35%.
  • Party: Palladium members that pay $1,000 in monthly rake/fees and have generated at least $2,500 in total rake/fees can exchange loyalty points for cash at a 20% rakeback rate. Tournament ticket exchange rates are more favorable, ranging from 6.7%-30.7%.

Although Party offers the path of least resistance, the cashback cap is set rather low and demands that players generate $2,500 per $500 exchange. Whereas on 888, dedicated grinders will start earning 35% rakeback, as cash, the moment they hit top-tier (Platinum) status.

Even 888’s casual players will earn 8-10% returns. Compare this to WSOP.com, where achieving 8% rakeback requires a fair bit of play, and hitting the site’s highest annual tier is a monumental (impossible?) task.

Also worth mentioning, 888 offers more and bigger loyalty freerolls than its competitors. For instance, players that reach Bronze status ($100 paid in rake/fees per month) gain access to weekly held $375 and $1,000 freerolls. Reach Silver status and you’ll be entered into the $3,000 monthly freeroll.

Lack of Promotions

The problem is 888 has all but stopped running poker promotions. Not that it ever hosted more than a couple promos per month, but now, entire seasons go by without a new offer.

Of the promos that do run, most task players with completing basic hand challenges in exchange for freeroll tickets, with total promotional value capped at around $10,000 or less.

There is some value to be had playing cash games and lower stakes MTTs on 888, as the competition tends to be exceedingly soft. Also, as mentioned previously, some lower buy-in tournaments do post overlays.

However, due to the operator’s reliance on the rebuy & add-on format, major tournaments tend to hit their minimum benchmarks. Problem is they don’t beat them by a wide enough margin to create supersized prize pools.

Grade: C+ (C)

Software: Neither noteworthy nor offensive

888’s NJ poker client bares a strong resemblance to the operator’s ROW software. Unfortunately, neither have undergone much in the way of aesthetic and functional upgrades over the past two years.

What’s worse, is that the NJ team can’t even be bothered to fix minor yet long-standing issues. To name a few:

  • Links to “Welcome Package” and “Live Events” direct to a “Coming Soon” page.
  • Adverts pop-up in Internet Explorer, a browser which practically no one uses anymore.
  • Fixed Limit and Stud games haven’t been offered for months, yet menu tabs are still prominently displayed in the cash game lobby.
  • The “My Account” link directs to an outside web browser, whereas most operators integrate this functionality into their clients.
  • Promotional emails often lack pertinent details or are riddled with misinformation. According to one player, the Poker Checklist promotional email did not list the start/end dates of the promo, nor was the qualifying deposit amount accurate.
  • Freeroll tickets are often not dispensed on time. Example.

On the plus side, I’ve noticed less lag and server hangups than I have in the past. Also the inclusion of PayPal as a depositing option is a nice touch, and one that should prove a viable alternative to players who have had difficulty depositing via debit/credit card in the past.

But from what it appears, meaningful software upgrades are not high up on 888’s agenda. Granted, that hasn’t stopped the operator from increasing its stranglehold on the number two spot worldwide, but I can see NJ players becoming less tolerant of 888’s very mediocre and flawed desktop and mobile clients once PokerStars launches.

Grade: C- (C)

Customer service: The problem lies not with the reps, but the site

I have a great deal of sympathy for 888’s customer support team, as they constantly have to deal with operational issues.

Be it unclear promotional terms, players not receiving their tournament tickets or bonuses in a timely fashion, or payment processing issues, there always seems to be a new challenge that must be dealt with.

Given this, it’s difficult to entirely blame the team for their mostly useless email responses, which more often than not, state that they do not have an answer but will forward the concern to the appropriate team.

Live chat (only available from 3 pm – 11 pm) and telephone interactions (24/7) are nearly as futile, with the rep often directing players to the site’s outdated policy pages. Useless.

It also doesn’t help that the site does not have a dedicated page on the two plus two forums. Instead, there is one 192 page thread, which is so buried that it often isn’t updated for over a month or more at a time.

Grade: C (C)

Overall: Too many lingering issues to recommend

Earning player trust is the cornerstone of any successful online poker operation, and 888 has done little to convince me that it cares about its players.

Sure, there are a great many things to like about the site, including its numerous freerolls, soft competition, varied cashiering options and favorable rakeback rates. But at the end of the day, 888 has shown little desire to address issues that have persisted for years, some of which are costing players money.

It’s difficult to imagine it taking more than a week or two for the operator to clean up its client, apply a fresh coat of paint to its website and ensure that its promotional emails contain the correct information. Yet, it doesn’t happen.

What’s more, 888’s lazy approach to promotions does little to attract new and returning players back to the site, leading me to believe that the operator is seemingly content to let WSOP do the heavy lifting.

Grade: C (C)

Review from June 2015

Traffic: WSOP.com promotions prompt slight rebound

After trailing off the better part of three months, cash game traffic on 888 is on the rise. However, the recent surge appears to be more the result of WSOP.com’s cross-promotional efforts with the live Series than it does an increased effort on 888’s part. If anything, 888 is just capitalizing on being at the right place, at the right time.

  • According to Poker Industry PRO via PokerScout.com, WSOP / 888 is averaging roughly 170 cash game players, down 26% since early-March, but up a modest 6% since Memorial Day.
  • Network cash game traffic peaks are currently hovering in the 400 – 450 player range, and trending upward. However, a significant portion of that peak (I’d estimate 20%), is exclusive to WSOP.com.
  • Sit & Go traffic remains on the low side, although it has increased somewhat now that 888 shares SNG liquidity with WSOP.com at stakes $5 and below.
  • Tournaments independent to 888 either miss their guarantees by a small margin, or just get by. Shared MTTs perform more admirably.
  • Of New Jersey’s four regulated poker skins, I’d guess that 888’s is the least traversed.

Cash Games

Expect to see approximately 40 cash games, most of them at NLHE stakes $.25/$.50 and below, during prime time hours.

PLO games have become something of a rarity, and O8, Stud and Fixed Limit Hold’em are nonexistent.

No Limit Hold’em games $1/$2 and above are also rather scarce, usually comprising less than 15% of cash game activity.

There are far better playing options in New Jersey.

Tournaments

There really aren’t too many good reasons to play Sit & Goes on 888, as it’s the only NJ site not to offer a SNG leader board promotion. Furthermore, the level of competition and rake are no better or worse than that of other sites.

As such, the only SNGs that run with any frequency are those that share liquidity with WSOP ($5 and below).

In terms of turnouts, it’s very uncommon to find more than 10 concurrent games running, even during peak hours. And for most of the day, 888’s SNG lobby is a barren wasteland.

Moving on to MTTs, 888’s tournament schedule can best be described as diverse, balanced and safe.

As expected, MTTs shared with WSOP.com offer by far the biggest guaranteed prize pools (up to $10,000 on weekdays and $40,000 on weekdays). By comparison, 888 exclusive tournaments rarely guarantee more than $2,000. That being said, it’s refreshing to see a NJ poker site offer such a wide array of low buy-in MTTs.

$1 – $5 buy-in tournaments are relatively commonplace on 888, and there’s a decent balance between Rebuy/Add-on and Freeze-out formats. My only complaint is that the guarantees for these tournaments are so low, that even casual players might take a pass.

Small buy-in tournaments generally attract anywhere from 25 – 60 players, with shared MTTs bringing in anywhere from 100 – 225 players.

It should be noted, that as of early-June, WSOP.com and 888 are sharing over a dozen tournaments that were previously exclusive to WSOP.

If 888 were still out on its own, it’d be hard to imagine traffic ranking higher than a “D” grade, but I guess that’s why small market consolidation is a good thing.

Grade: C+ (B-)

Promotions/value: High rakeback only distinguishing appeal left

I distinctly remember a time when 888 took little issue throwing monetary incentives at its players. That well has long since dried.

What little value remains, presents itself via the following:

  • 100% match bonus up to $888: While 888’s welcome bonus features the second-highest cap among NJ poker sites, it only clears at a 20% cashback rate, and must be cleared within 90 days.
  • 888Poker rewards: New players immediately start to earn 5% cashback on all rake and entry fees paid. That number quickly swells to 10% once a player has accumulated 200 Status Points (earned at a clip of 2 points per $1 in fees), and 20% at 6,000 points. For the casual and semi-serious New Jersey player, there is no better deal available.
  • Miscellaneous promotions: These are rarely exciting or lucrative. To wit, 888 players that pay $700 in fees from now until June 20, will receive an additional $75 cashback, or about 11% cashback.

It’s also worth mentioning that 888’s offers weekly and monthly freerolls to its VIPs, yet the number of freerolls available to the public have decreased dramatically.

In 888’s defense, it was difficult to envision it hosting $60,000 worth of freerolls on a monthly basis forever, but hardly did I think  it’d eliminate them nearly altogether.

Sadly, there isn’t great value to be had playing tournaments on the site either. The guarantees are simply far too conservative to generate substantial overlays, and considering that 888 has yet to host an exclusive tournament series, it’s unlikely that one-off value plays will present themselves.

Of the overlays that do exist, most are small (10% or less), and rarely equate to more than $100 in added value – not exactly enough to draw participants in the absence of another incentive.

Grade: C (B+)

Software: Lingering issues remain unaddressed

Like WSOP.com, 888 Poker NJ looks and plays almost exactly the same as it did when regulated online poker first launched in New Jersey two Novembers ago.

That would be permissible if 888 launched a product on par with say PokerStars.com, but the software was outdated then and even more so now. Going further, the platform is riddled with minor annoyances, such as:

  • The VIP link still directs to a page branded “Coming Soon.” 888 launched its VIP program over a year ago.
  • Players have reported instances of improper table balancing during a tournament’s late stages.
  • The Stud, Omaha Hi/Lo and Fixed Limit lobbies are barren, although it’s been suggested that FL games are on their way back.
  • The “Contact Us” link leads to a FAQ page. No contact information is directly available from the page.
  • VIP progress cannot be viewed from anywhere but a table.

These are not big issues, which is why I find it alarming that they have yet to be addressed.

There have also been scattered rumblings regarding issues related to payment processing, particularly manual withdrawal processing from the Caesars casino cage, although I have yet to experience any of my own.

Lastly, 888’s mobile offering, while adequate, has been surpassed by Party / Borgata’s tablet and smartphone app.

Grade: C (B)

Customer service: Support can be hit or miss, but more often miss

888’s support team can be contacted via one of three means:

Of the two live interactions, only the phone hotline is accessible 24/7, with live chat available during the rather odd hours of 3 pm – 11 pm – although I suppose that makes sense given that site traffic is generally at its highest during those hours.

Responses to email inquiries vary widely both in punctuality and quality, with the overwhelming majority providing rather useless links to unwieldy policies and little more. That being said, I have had a few instances where the representative offered a thorough and helpful answer.

Live chat isn’t much better. I get the impression that reps wear several hats (VIP program specialist, software expert, payment processing guru), and none of them particularly well. If that is the case, why even bother asking the user to categorize their inquiry?

More than once, I was told by a representative that they can only provide information that is publicly available via the site’s policy pages. That tells me that if a policy is updated behind the scenes, but not on the policy page (which does happen), that neither players nor reps will know about the change until it is brought to their attention via some other means. That’s a tough pill to swallow.

So is the lack of a dedicated page on the 2 + 2 Internet Poker forums. The best players receive is a single 190 page thread dedicated to the US arm of 888’s online poker operation.

That being said, I have noted an improvement in both response time and quality of answer from 888’s official site representative. But that still doesn’t make up for the lack of an identifiable figure associated with the 888 Poker NJ brand.

Grade: C (D+)

Overall: 888 Poker NJ has been become too reliant on WSOP.com

888’s liquidity sharing arrangement with WSOP was not an excuse for the former to take a long vacation, yet that’s the way it comes off.

Since January, there have been a lack of notable promotions, an utter dearth of platform upgrades, and only nominal improvement in the area of customer service.

I’m of the mind that in order for a poker network to survive, each and every skin must bring something to the table. Otherwise, the skin carrying all the weight may decide to go rogue.

Right now, I have to wonder if WSOP.com would be better off on its own. I’m not there yet, but it’s getting close.

Grade: C (B-)

Review from February 2015

888 Poker NJ’s partial liquidity  sharing agreement with WSOP.com in New Jersey prompted a massive traffic surge on the site, particularly at the lower stakes.

High stakes, alternative format and Sit & Go traffic were largely unaffected by the change, and the two sites continue to maintain different promotional schedules and player loyalty programs.

Traffic: 888 suddenly a player in New Jersey

Just a few months ago it appeared that 888 was on the fast track towards obscurity, but a string of aggressive moves has propelled the once struggling site back into contention.

Here’s how it went down:

  •  In mid-November, 7-day cash game averages sunk to a near low point of 57.
  • Towards the end of the month, the network hosted three $10,000 anniversary themed freerolls, prompting a small liquidity surge.
  • Favorable seasonal trends and the launch of the network’s Double Points promo in early-January brought daily player averages up towards 85.
  • On January 12, the network began pooling players with WSOP at low-stakes cash game tables and some tournaments. The pooling had an immediate and positive impact on site activity.

According to Poker Industry PRO via PokerScout.com 7-day cash game averages on WSOP/888 New Jersey are hovering between 240 and 250. Approximately two-thirds of that number is accounted for by player pooling, with independent 888 sign-ins comprising about one-third of the remainder.

A bit of number crunching reveals that average daily traffic on 888 lies somewhere in the vicinity of 190 – 200 – about 10% less than on WSOP, and 10% more than on Party/Borgata.

Cash Games

888 players are going to notice an influx of activity at stakes $.25/$.50 and below, where it isn’t uncommon to see 50 or more tables running at peak hours. Mid-to-high stakes and alternative format games get off with a much lower frequency – expect no more than 10 tables at these stakes and formats, except on weekends.

It’s particularly uncommon to see stakes above $2/$4 spread on 888. Thus, high rollers are advised to take their business elsewhere.

Full ring games are also a rarity at any significant stakes, with over 80% of NLHE spread at a 6-Max table.

Given this, 888 is well advised to consider a full liquidity sharing arrangement, that includes all NLHE games of all stakes, and PLO.

Tournaments

888 does little to promote its Sit & Goes, and turnout figures reflect. For the majority of the day there are maybe 1 – 3 low buy-in games running. That number swells to about 10 – 12 during prime time, but of those, the overwhelming majority are $1 – $5 6-Max turbos.

Really, 888’s lackluster showing in the Sit & Go department comes as little surprise, as its sister site offers virtually the same games, at the same rake, but sweetens the pot with a recurrent Sit & Go Leader Board promotion.

Perhaps the only reason to preference 888’s SNGs over WSOP’s is that competition on 888 is quite a bit softer. But in my book, that’s hardly offsets $20,000 in added monthly value.

On to MTTs:

888’s MTT schedule won’t be winning any awards for ingenuity, but now that its shares some tournaments with WSOP, the site’s daily MTT schedule is the most diversified in New Jersey.

Guarantees run the gamut from $100 to $10,000, with buy-ins tailored towards both the casual player ($1 – $10) and the serious grinder ($100).

888 is also the only NJ site that hosts a swatch of $15 – $35 buy-in tournaments. And unlike WSOP, which preferences R&A formats, 888’s schedule boasts a fairly balanced array of rebuy and freezeout tournaments.

Unfortunately, the overwhelming majority of 888’s independently run tournaments attract less than 100 runners, which makes for relatively low prize pool-to-buy-in ratios.

Grade: B- (D) (last review grade in parenthesis)

Value/promotions: Promotional schedule lazy yet mostly effective

888’s promotional schedule may be overly simplistic, but its not without its merits.

The site typically runs two promotions a month.

Freerolls

  • The first awards players who complete daily challenges with tickets into nightly freerolls.
  • Freeroll prize pools are usually $1,000, but occasionally the site will splurge and throw a $2,000 or even $10,000 freeroll into the mix.
  • As for the daily challenges, completing them is little more than a mere formality. For instance, the average challenge might tasks players with playing a handful of raked cash hands or signing up for a few tournaments – nothing that even the most casual player can’t handle.

Rakeback

  • The second promo is usually some sort of rakeback deal.
  • Unfortunately, the days of 50 – 80% rakeback deals are seemingly long gone, but the combination of the site’s decent player loyalty program and frequent double points promos still makes for a fairly lucrative deal.
  • In addition to increased rakeback rewards, players that climb 888’s loyalty tiers will also be invited to exclusive freerolls, bringing the total amount of free money awarded by the site each month to $70,000, give or take. That’s fairly significant in a market as niche as New Jersey’s.

888’s welcome bonus, a 100% match up to $888, is the second most potentially lucrative in New Jersey. However, casual players should note that the bonus only clears at an 20% rakeback rate, meaning that players will have to grind out nearly 9,000 status points to unlock the full amount.

The no deposit bonus the site offers is a nice sweetener.

Overlays on 888 are largely a thing of the past, with MTT value now coming from its vastly increased guaranteed prize pools. Again, this is thanks to its liquidity sharing agreement with WSOP.

If only 888 incorporated just a smidgen of the same effort that WSOP puts into its promotional vehicle, and somehow increased its brand recognition, it might become NJ’s premier poker playing establishment.

In either case, 888 offers decent enough value for both casual and hardcore grinders alike.

Grade: B+ (B)

Software: Stable, but nothing to write home about

Sadly, my once lofty expectations of what a regulated poker client should look and play like have been mostly subdued. These days, if a client manages to maintain a stable connection, regardless of how feature-lite or ugly its interface, it gets my seal of approval.

And that’s exactly what 888’s software is – visually unappealing, lacking all but the most fundamental features, and sturdy.

Personally, I haven’t been dropped from the server (and I’ve played on PC, Mac and mobile) for a good six months. That being said, there are scattered accounts of players having minor connectivity issues, but their occurrence is nowhere near as prevalent as on Party/Borgata.

A few other minor gripes:

  • From the lobby, the “VIP” menu option directs to a website that states “Coming Soon,” when in fact a VIP program has been in place since May. Oversights like this may mislead new players into believing that 888 doesn’t offer rakeback.
  • Players must sit at a ring game table in order to view their loyalty status.
  • The interface customization options have a lot to be desired.

Overall, 888 Poker NJ is a shadow of most modern ROW sites, and I’d even go as far to say that PokerStars ala 2008 was a more robust poker client than the current version of 888’s NJ software.

But considering that NJ poker launched with two sites that looked like they were programmed by second year Computer Science students (Ultimate Poker and Betfair), and another that has yet to resolve its technological failings (Party/Borgata), I’ll take 888 Poker (and WSOP.com), and its antiquated yet reliable poker product, any day.

Grade: B (B)

Customer service: Fewer complaints mask poor efforts

Just because players are taking less issue with 888’s practices than in days past, doesn’t excuse the operator from taking a lazy approach to customer interaction.

Part of the issue is that players have no go-to guy to whom they can direct their inquiries. WSOP has Bill Rini, Party/Borgata has Jeffrey Haas and until recently had Warren Lush, but 888 NJ lacks that recognizable name players can depend on for in-depth, informed answers and opinions.

Furthermore, 888 is the only NJ operator lacking a dedicated Two Plus Two forum. Instead, players are forced to dig through the Internet Forums to locate a solitary 888poker USA thread.

I’ll give 888’s representative on the forums some credit for responding to player questions in a perfunctory matter, but the answers given are typically of the stock variety.

Unfortunately, the same minimal level of credit cannot be assigned to 888’s customer service team, most of whom lack the knowledge to answer all but the most rudimentary questions.

Compounding matters further are the elongated response times. Regardless of whether a player contacts 888 via email, live chat or telephone, expect a significant wait and less than informative answers.

My hope is that as 888 expands its presence in the United States, which should happen at an accelerated rate in 2015, management will start to see the value in hiring and training a more efficient team. Until then, I’m sincerely hoping that I don’t have to contact them.

Grade: D+ (D)

Overall: 888 a network on the rise

888’s ROW poker room has been outperforming global industry averages for years, and today resides as the second most heavily trafficked site in the world.

I expect a similar trend to emerge in the United States, where PokerStars becomes top dog and a unified All American Poker Network positions itself right behind the online poker behemoth. Who knows, if enough states disallow Stars’, 888/WSOP may become the face of U.S. regulated poker.

The operator has already taken the first few steps, via its planned poker room and pending liquidity sharing agreement with WSOP in Nevada, and now a partial liquidity sharing arrangement. The next steps will entail merging fully with WSOP in the Garden State, and emerging as the face of Nevada and Delaware’s interstate compact.

However, in order to truly thrive, 888 must turn up the aggression. Rote promotions, poor customer service, and a bare-bones client diminish what is otherwise a solid poker operation.

Now that 888 has fixed their immediate traffic issues, it’s time to focus on other goals.

Grade: B- (C)

Review from November 2014

Traffic: Holds steady at mediocre

Note: WSOP and 888 began sharing some of their player pool in January of 2015. We will be updating our reviews to reflect shortly. Promotions and bonuses at the networks remain separate.

Average cash game flow on 888 is not nearly as volatile as it was in the spring and early-summer months, largely due to the site’s newfound reluctance to host cashback promos.

While promotions such as 80% Rakeback effectively filled the void left by the lack of a player rewards program, they did little to increase long term liquidity. Now that 888Poker Rewards is in place, it’s understandable why they were abandoned.

Cash Games

Since July, average cash game traffic on the network has fallen an industry average 12% from 65 to 57, a far cry from February’s high water mark of 146, but still above its dismal June numbers.

Players can typically expect to find somewhere between 15 – 20 cash game tables running during peak weekday hours, most of them of the NLHE variety. Stakes run the gamut from a casual-friendly $.05/$.10 to $2/$4 and sometimes $5/$10.

I’d go as far to say that over 80% of hands played on 888 are decided over a 6-Max NLHE table. It follows that PLO grinders, especially those that favor mid-stakes, are best off taking their business elsewhere.

Tournaments

Same goes for Sit & Go players. Unlike its two major competitors, 888 has done absolutely nothing to increase the value of its single table tournaments. What results is an SNG lobby virtually devoid of activity, unless you count the occasional $1 – $5 HU SNG as activity.

Tournaments, on the other hand, do attract reasonable volume, although the price of admission, and subsequently the guarantees, tend towards the low side. That’s not to say the network doesn’t run its fair share of mid-to-high stakes tournaments, just not at the same frequency as say Party / Borgata.

Most MTTs attract fewer than 100 participants, the sole exception being the site’s numerous freerolls, which generally draw anywhere between 200 and 500 runners.

While most of 888’s tournaments do meet their conservative guarantees, first place payouts rarely exceed $1,000. Combine this with the fact that SNG and cash game volume are a fraction of what they are on WSOP.com and Party / Borgata, and it’s hard to justify doling out anything but the lowest of passing grades.

Grade: (last review grade in parenthesis): D (D+)

Value/promotions: 888’s promotional schedule is generous yet uninspired

What 888’s promotional schedule lacks in ambition it makes up for in value.

Although the network hasn’t run a rakeback promotion since the summer, it continues to give away money at a rate that exceeds its competitors, and certainly beyond what one would expect from a small market basement dweller.

To illustrate:

  • From October 1 – November 23, 888 will have hosted over $120,000 worth of promotional freerolls. That’s in addition to its regularly scheduled daily and rewards freerolls, which gift out an additional $10,000 a month.
  • The network’s player loyalty scheme boasts better cashback rates than either WSOP.com or Party / Borgata – up to 10% for casuals, and 35% to regs.
  • Despite only clearing at a 20% rate, 888’s 100% match welcome bonus up to $888 + $10 free is still the second most lucrative new registrant bonus in New Jersey, trailing only PartyPoker’s in potential value.

So then why does 888 only have approximately half the player liquidity of its closest rival, WSOP?

There’s no definitive answer to that question.

My Theories

  • It’s conceivable that some players on 888 participate in the nightly freerolls and then immediately transfer any winnings over to a different site, reason being that NJ’s other networks afford more opportunities to parlay small sums into four or five-digit scores.
  • 888 lacks a proven means of keeping players loyal to its brand. Its nightly tournament schedule is too flaccid to attract the state’s high rollers, there are no promotional leader boards or random giveaways, and its marketing and cross-promotional efforts with Caesars AC are inadequate, at best.
  • The customer service team is the pits.
  • Along similar lines, 888 lacks the instant brand recognition of the Borgata and WSOP.

Expanding upon the latter point: Because 888 was never a real presence in the U.S. market prior to Black Friday (Pacific Poker pulled out in 2006), it must do more than its competitors if it hopes to gain relevancy in New Jersey. Increasing cash liquidity via freerolls is part of the equation, but without a focused long-term retention plan, 888 may either be forced to forge a compact with WSOP (which isn’t a bad idea), or abandon ship.

That being said, the overall value of playing on the network, especially for new and recreational players, is currently quite high.

Grade: B (B-)

Software: Adequate, but largely unimproved

888’s New Jersey poker software is essentially a stripped down version of its ROW client. While it functions well enough, there is very little that differentiates it from say, the average poker software of the mid-2000s.

The only worthwhile upgrade that I’ve noticed since July is that players can now connect to the network’s mobile software with 4G LTE. Otherwise, the mobile and desktop clients are as frills-free as boring as they’ve ever been.

That’s not necessarily a bad thing, as most poker players will trade aesthetic appeal for responsiveness and reliability any day.

Compared to WSOP.com, which utilizes the same client, 888’s software is slightly less susceptible to disconnects, is a bit more responsive on Macs, and less inundated with pop-ups.

A few inconveniences:

  • There have been multiple accounts of players not receiving 888 emails, particularly those who have had a token sent to their registered address.
  • 888’s software apparently does not write hand histories for tournaments whose title contains special characters (e.g. / \ : * ? < > |).
  • Basic Auto-rebuy and add-on functionality has yet to be implemented.

It’s sad that U.S. regulated poker rooms pale in comparison to what was available in the states three years ago. That being said, relative to other NJ-based poker clients, 888poker is head of the class.

But its still miles behind what the big boys in Europe are currently offering.

Grade: B (B)

Customer Service: Misinformation and ambiguity abound

Getting a straight answer out of an 888 customer representative is the equivalent of asking Sheldon Adelson to loosen his stance against online gambling – not going to happen.

It’s gotten so bad, that some players have called for the site to abandon its numerous freerolls and instead use that money to hire a team of poker experts.

In the department’s defense, it’s really management that’s to blame for hiring a team that lacks fundamental knowledge of the game and isn’t kept up to speed as to the latest promotional and procedural changes. But from the average player’s perspective, who the blame lies with is largely irrelevant.

I wish I could say 888’s representation on the Two Plus Two forums and Twitter more than makes up for its ineptitude elsewhere, but that’s hardly the case. Forum complaints are typically addressed by 888rep with a stock “We are aware of the issue and will report back” type of response – only a response, and subsequent resolution, rarely come.

Even locating 888’s USA thread is a chore, more so considering that every other NJ network has their own dedicated Internet forum thread.

Way to completely alienate your user base, 888.

Grade: D (C-)

Overall: Generous value only partially offsets other deficiencies

I can certainty see why players participate in 888’s promotional events – they’re ripe with value.

Just as clearly, I see why there is a tendency among players to take their freeroll winnings and gamble them elsewhere.

888’s nightly tournament schedule is too tepid and its promotions too unimaginative for the site to reliably attract and retain regular players – which wouldn’t be so bad if it did more to raise consumer awareness for its largely unrecognizable brand.

Also, there’s simply no reason why 888’s representatives shouldn’t be able to provide clarity regarding fundamental questions such as payouts, promotions and disconnect policies.

My advice to 888’s NJ team: take a good, hard look at how your industry second best ROW operation is conducted and mimic it, albeit on a more conservative scale, in New Jersey. Either that, or link up with WSOP.com in NJ, combining the best of your operation with the best of theirs.

Grade: C (C)

Read Robert's July 2014 review of 888
Review from July 9th, 2014

Traffic: Promotions pull 888 from the brink of obscurity

If it wasn’t for seasonal promotions and generous freerolls, 888 would  probably have already gone the way of the dinosaur. But as for now, the site is in the midst of a modest resurgence.

However, since April 2016, 7-day cash-game averages have fallen 18 percent. Though that’s a far cry from the 43.5 percent dropp from late-April to early June.

Still, at a current average of 64 concurrent ring game players, traffic is down 56 percent from its February peak of 146.

See what I mean by volatile?

On an average weekday it’s not uncommon to find between 20 and 25 ring games running on 888, although those looking for variation are best headed elsewhere, as over 90 percent of active tables are NLHE 6-Max. The remainder tend to be of the low stakes PLO ($0.10 / $0.25 – $.5 / $1) variety.

As for the 6-Max games, I’ve rarely seen stakes higher than $1/$2.

Sit & Go’s are not popular on 888, which is unsurprising considering there is absolutely zero incentive to play.

Daily tournament guarantees are low, with most ranging from $100 to at most $2,000. Due to the low buy-in to guaranteed ratio, overlays on 888 are a rarity, with only the high roller and Major events typically featuring increased value.

I do however give 888 at least some credit for hosting a varied daily tournament schedule. Re-buy and standard format MTTs are balanced proportionately, as are full-ring and 6-max offerings. Buy-ins typically range from $1 to $100 on weekdays, and up to $200 on Sundays.

But paid entry tournaments boasting more than 100 runners are a novelty, and for that reason, along with 888’s general inability to retain players, it’s traffic grade suffers.

Grade: D+ (C-)

Value/promotions: Ranges from average to otherworldly

I’ll say this, 888 sure knows how to run a promotion.

Just when 888 appears to be teetering on the brink of irrelevance, it’ll roll out a lucrative cashback promo. First, it was a 50% cashback deal, then an 80%.

And now, grinders who make at least one deposit during the promotional period are entitled to twice the loyalty points.

A celebration of the site’s newly implemented player loyalty program, the aptly named Double Points promo effectively hoists the amount of rakeback players can receive up to 70 percent.

With even the most casual players receiving a dime back for every buck they contribute to the pot, Double Points is far and away the best standalone promotion in New Jersey.

888Poker Rewards

But even without twice the rakeback, 888’s long awaited 888Poker Rewards scheme is the most accessible and worthwhile in NJ – although given the competition that still isn’t saying much.

There there are the daily freerolls. Each day grinders who play 30 raked hands or sign up for five tourneys will receive two tickets to a $5,000 free entry MTT. That’s in addition to the two tickets they’ll receive for free.

All told, 888 is putting out $250,000, all in the hopes of attracting new players.

One problem: After the promotion ends, what reason do these players have to stick around?

Having a fairly generous player loyalty program is a nice start, but compared to its sister site WSOP, 888’s promotional schedule is lacking. Even its 100% first time deposit bonus up to $888, which was once the best in NJ, comes up short in comparison to what WSOP and Party are currently offering.

Regardless of its dubiously aggressive approach to promotions, the value to be had by playing cash-games and freerolls on 888 is nearly unprecedented. But I wouldn’t be surprised if another 50 percent of its fair-weather patrons abandon ship once the free money stops flowing.

Give 888 credit for running a promotion that makes players legitimately earn their status, whilst still making life easier on them, but I have to question how long the site can rely on its current promotional strategy.

Grade: B- (C-)

Software: With time comes stability

888’s poker client is the same one utilized by WSOP. As such, they are aesthetic and functional mirrors of one another. WSOP features slightly crisper graphics, appears a bit more prone to crashes and tends to give Mac users a few more headaches. Beyond that, they’re virtually the same.

Where 888 has really made strides is in the mobile arena. Two months ago, I couldn’t even log-on to the mobile app. Now, more times than not I’m provided with a relatively seamless on-the-go poker playing experience.

I’d be lying if the system verified my location with 100 percent accuracy, but because the app (which again, is virtually identical to WSOP’s mobile offering) is generally so responsive, I’m willing to forgive the occasional geo-targeting glitch.

Yet, the intermittent server crash prevents me from bolstering 888’s software up a half grade.

Grade: B (B)

Customer service: Reps are uninformed

The biggest issue I take with 888’s customer service team lies not with its representatives, but with management.

Customer service reps are rarely informed about the sites new promotions, leaving them unable to answer the simplest question. And the fact that 888 tends to bury the rigid terms of its promos deep within the recesses of their fine print doesn’t help matters.

The site’s Two Plus Two forum rep rarely provides clarity, instead choosing to escalate select issues to the proper department. Rarely do I see accounts of customers who’ve had their issues resolved.

That, and 888 is the only network not to feature a dedicated forum page. The best players get is a single 888poker USA thread, rendering issues players deserve to know about exceedingly difficult to find.

But maybe that’s all part of the site’s grand scheme. After all, would they really want the masses knowing how poorly it handles tournament cancellations?

Probably not.

Grade: C- (C-)

Overall: Too inconsistent to recommend

My advice to hardcore NJ players: play on 888 whenever it hosts a rakeback promotion, but read the fine print first. All too often, player expectations do not line up with what 888 is actually selling. It’s these kinds of shady, deceptive practices that leaves me skeptical about making 888 my go-to site.

The reality is that 888 is a ticking time-bomb. Eventually, it’ll stop handing out barrels of free cash, and when in does, unless its communication and policies vastly improve, I can’t see it surviving.

Probably it’s best bet would be to share liquidity with WSOP, and let the latter call the shots. That way, at least WSOP/888 would stand a greater chance once online poker behemoth PokerStars enters the mix.

But based solely on the merits of its improved mobile app and recent promos, I’ll bump 888 up a half grade, but I can’t see them ever going much higher.

Grade C (C-)

Visit 888Poker NJ

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Read Robert's April review of 888 NJ
Review from April 24th, 2014.
The All American Poker Network is currently comprised of only one site, 888 poker, and currently stands as the third largest poker network in the Garden State.

Back in February, 888 seemed poised to make a push for NJ’s top spot, but its nearly non-existent promotional efforts, lack of a genuine VIP rewards program, and poor communication with players have caused the site to lose ground to WSOP.

Traffic: Volume on 888 volatile

Despite two significant traffic spikes in late March and early April, overall cash-game traffic on 888 is spiraling downward.

Since 7-day averages peaked at 146 on February 18th, 888 has lost a whopping 41 percent of its player base. Current volume levels are at a yearly low, with little reason to believe they’ll trend upward anytime soon.

Players on 888 should expect to find approximately 25 – 30 NLHE and perhaps 1 – 2 PLO tables running during peak hours.

Stakes tend to be on the smallish side – $.25 / $.50 and $.50 / $1 are the most popular blind levels. Higher stakes games do get off, but don’t expect to find much in the way of nosebleed stakes.

The site’s SNG scene is virtually barren, with maybe five micro-stakes SNGs running in parallel on weekday nights, and generally none during the afternoon and morning hours.

MTTs fare slightly better, but approximately half fail to meet their guarantee. Even the “Big Sunday” $10k guarantee typically falls short by a half dozen players or so.

Give 888 credit for hosting one of the more varied tournament schedules in NJ. Daily buy-ins run the gamut from $1 to $100, with at least one PLO and one NLO8 tourneys sprinkled into the mix. Were more players to traverse NJ’s perennial third place poker site, I would assume that the tournament schedule would only get even better.

But as it stands, the traffic levels on 888 are nothing to get excited about.

Grade: C- (C)

Value/promotions: 888 will be hard-pressed to top 80% rakeback promo

888’s 80 percent rakeback promotion was a risky maneuver. Equal parts unsustainable and virtually impossible to top, the promo was meant as a band-aid solution to the site’s noticeably absent VIP rewards program. And for a time it worked.

But now that the promotional period is coming to a close, players who reaped its benefits will have little reason to play on the site. New players arguably haven’t had a motivation since early February.

888 is finally launching its VIP program next month. Players can technically start earning status points now, as any accumulated points will be applied to their starting tier once the VIP scheme goes live.

888 is also rewarding its more loyal patrons with exclusive invitations into $3,000 freeroll events. That’s a nice touch, but it comes across as too little, too late.

In terms of value, cash-games, for the reasons listed above, offer either tremendous value or none at all.

Approximately half of the site’s tournaments hit their guarantee, with the other half usually coming up a hair short. Big paydays are few and far between.

The site did host a series of $8,888 freerolls last month, which culminated in a $88,888 grand finale. And it does offer the second biggest match bonus among NJ poker sites.

But 888 is going to be hard pressed to attract the same level of interest as it did back in January. Hindsight is 20/20.

Grade: C- (C+)

Software: Patch addresses location verification bugs, but mobile app fails

888 poker is virtually identical to WSOP.com, which makes sense considering both sites are affiliated with 888 and Caesars Interactive. And while in some ways, 888 poker is superior to its more heavily trafficked counterpart, in another it fails entirely.

Disconnect rates on Macs and laptops are much improved, thanks to a software patch rolled out last month. Gone are the days of location verification failures at regular 15 minute intervals.

Players can now log onto both WSOP.com and 888 poker at the same time – another plus.

But the site’s recently launched mobile app has its fair share of issues, and that’s putting it mildly. As an existing customer, I could not even access the app and was forced to create a new account just to check it out.

Grade: B ( B-)

Customer service: 888 representatives fail to provide clarity

888’s customer service department, namely its Two Plus Two forum rep, leaves a lot to be desired.

For one, the site is prone to making decisions without consulting players. Take the recent status points fiasco, for instance.

In late March the site reset player status points, effectively stripping players of something they thought possessed monetary value. Turns out, the status points were worthless.

That’s all fine and good, as 888 was under no obligation to convert status points into rakeback. But the room might have wanted to tell players beforehand. Otherwise they’re going to assume, and rightfully so, that the points they’ve earned hold some sort of intrinsic worth.

888 has since partially rectified this grievous communication error, as status points will now determine a player’s starting VIP tier, but all of this could have easily been avoided.

Instead, the 888 rep continues to either ignore or provide vague answers to player inquiries. Even worse, 888 is the only NJ poker operation without its own dedicated Two Plus Two forum.

At least the actual customer service team does an efficient, if cold and mechanical job.

Grade: C- (C)

Overall: 888 is marred by inconsistency

888 seemingly abides by the credo “two steps forward, two steps back,” as for every outstanding software patch or player appreciation promotion there is an equally jarring communication error or technical oddity.

But 888’s biggest flaw is not its software, nor its customer service department. It’s that it came out swinging, seemingly in search of a first round knockout, without much of a plan in place. Unfortunately, someone forgot to tell them that the online poker business is a 15 round grudge match.

As for now, expect 888 to remain in third place, which by all accounts is now last place – as our final room surveyed is in grave danger of falling out of the regulated iGaming picture altogether.

Grade: C- (C) 

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Read Robert's March review of 888
Review from March 2nd, 2014

888poker.com has undoubtedly made strides in NJ’s iGaming market, gaining considerable ground on both PartyPoker and WSOP over the past six weeks.

But 888’s gains can be attributed mostly to the sheer amount of money it gives away – hardly the ideal long-term sustainability model.

Traffic: Notable gains solidify 888s hold over third-place

Last time around, I hinted at the prospect of 888poker one day becoming the Garden State’s iGaming market king. Those days have passed.

It’s not because 888’s numbers are on the decline, quite the contrary.

Instead, it’s the fact that 888 is still in third-place despite giving away more free money than a tourist at the Taj.

Here’s where 888’s peak weekday traffic numbers currently stand:

  • My guess is that the number of players online hovers around 600 – 700.
  • At least 90% of cash-games running are NLHE. The remaining 10% or so are PLO.
  • Expect 45 – 50 concurrent cash-games, about 75% of them 6-max. Stakes range from $0.01 / $0.02 to $2 / $4 and occasionally higher.
  • Witnessing more than 10 simultaneously running SNGs would be a rare feat.
  • Scheduled guaranteed tournament typically anywhere from 20 to 100 runners, rarely more.
  • After topping out at 146 on February 18th, 7-day cash game traffic numbers are at ~130 and trending downward ever so slightly. That being said, 7-day averages were hovering around 70 two months ago.

The Sunday Majors don’t fare much better. The “$10,000 – Big Sunday,” and I use the term “Big” loosely, rarely exceeds its guarantee, despite modest expectations.

With the occasional exception, the next biggest scheduled guarantee is a trifling $1,500.

Most of 888’s other nightly tournaments either hit their guarantee, or come so close that the difference is negligible.

Give 888 some credit for being the only NJ site to offer mid-stakes tournaments. It’s refreshing to see a few $30 – $40 buy-in MTT mixed in with the usual swatch of micros.

Value: Good for most players, incredible for some

Anyone lucky enough to get in on 888’s 80% Rakeback promo has really no reason to play cash games on any other site. At least not until the conditions expire in May.

In my ten years of playing online poker, I’ve never seen a promotion come close to what 888 offers its faithful. I suppose 888 should be commended for that.

And for those who didn’t manage to capitalize on the deal, 888 still offers players modest value, largely through its plethora of nightly freerolls.

Unfortunately, the days of no-strings attached freerolls appear to be over. Now, only new players can revel in the site’s 24/7 Freerolls promo, and even that’s coming to an end on March 1st.

The site also offers a $500 first-time deposit match bonus – commendable, but less than what two of its competitors are currently offering.

888 has certainly exhibited an unparalleled willingness so throw money around. Yet I can’t help but wonder how it plans to keep its players once the well runs dry.

The most obvious solution would be to implement a VIP program. It’s absolutely mind-boggling to me why this hasn’t happened yet.

Compounding matters, 888poker clearly has the means to do so, evident by its 10-tiered VIP schema enjoyed by its international player base.

Three months is a long time to wait for a rewards structure, and I’d bet my full house against your flush draw that if 888 doesn’t get one up by May, players will be headed out the virtual doors.

Think about it. All things being equal, would you rather play on the site with arguably the best VIP schema (WSOP.com) or the one with none? That’s the not-so-difficult dilemma players will face should 888 fail to get its act together.

Service and Software ranks third

888poker uses the same skin as WSOP.com, and as such the interface functions nearly identically.

That being said, I can’t help but feel that WSOP’s site is a bit more vibrant and exciting. Maybe it has something to do with the number of players online, or the better color scheme.

In terms of the software itself, it’s much improved over two months ago. Disconnects occur far less frequently, and I can’t remember the last time I had a geolocation error from either my PC or Mac.

888 is the only New Jersey poker site to not host a dedicated forum on Two Plus Two. Instead, players have to address questions to the 888Rep from the Internet Poker forum.

Queries are answered in a perfunctory and cold matter, and it often takes days for representatives of the site to answer more than the simplest questions, if they do at all.

Consensus

After winning players over through its stellar winter promotions, 888poker has done little to hold their interest. Unless the site either offers something new, or implements a VIP structure soon, expect traffic to nosedive into, dare I say it, Betfair territory.

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Read Robert's January review of 888
Review from January 6th, 2014

When I know within five minutes of navigating a site that I would never deposit money onto it unless something changed, that’s a big deal. Such is the case with 888poker.

In many ways similar to WSOP (888 Holdings is the driving force behind both), 888Poker lacks the one thing that makes WSOP.com a vastly superior site: a VIP program.

How 888poker could launch without implementing a VIP schema is nearly unfathomable. It’s bad enough that the site looks thoroughly outdated and lacks any initial appeal, but to not provide players with a reasonable rakeback incentive is unforgivable.

With that said, many of my initial gripes with 888poker have been resolved. So much so, that when they do finally roll-out a tiered rewards system, it might be hard not to recommend it.

As a result, 888poker has shown modest traffic gains, with peak cash-game traffic growing by nearly 30 percent over the past week.

Full traffic statistics for all NJ iGaming poker sites can be found on PokerScout.

So what’s improved?

As a sort of band-aid solution to its glaring lack of a rewards structure, 888poker launched a Winter Sale promotion. From now until January 7, players will be refunded 50% of all rake and tournament fees paid.

While it’s no substitute for a VIP program, make no mistake: the Winter Sale is the single best promotion currently available on any NJ poker site. Combined with the site’s match deposit bonus up to $500, and there is at least some incentive to register an account and dump a few dollars on 888.

But as of the time of this writing, I wouldn’t even bother making a deposit, if only because 888poker is still running $10,000 daily freerolls.

That and you’ll be missing out on the more consistent rakeback opportunities offered by other sites.

Could 888 eventually be number one in New Jersey?

Maybe. It’s tournament schedule is even more varied than WSOP’s, sprinkling in just enough PLO/O8 and mid-to-high buy-in tournaments to keep things interesting. And it has displayed a willingness to give away free cash – over $400,000 via the $10k freerolls alone.

That said, I have unresolved issues with 888poker beyond its omitted rewards structure:

1) For weeks, I have been not able to connect to the server via my PC, only my Mac. I do not experience this issue with any other site, even the much maligned Betfair. Funny enough, even though I’m unable to log-in, I still received an email notification that I’ve successfully logged in. Annoying.

2) Even on my Mac, the site will occasionally hang on the loading screen or boot me off the server.

3) Deposit and withdrawal options are extremely limited at this time.

The Bottom Line

I’ll come back to 888poker someday. Given its outstanding reception in Europe, I have to think it’ll be worth a second chance. But that day won’t be today.

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Robert DellaFave
- Robert DellaFave is a game designer and avid poker player. He writes for several online poker publications and dreams of one day programming a poker simulation clever enough to beat the pros. Read more by following @RobertDellaFave on Twitter.