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Carbon Poker Review

carbonpoker_bannerCARBON POKER 200% BONUS: Our new players are now eligible for a private 200% bonus with a massive cap of $5,000. This is 50% more than the standard bonus amount and can only be claimed by players signing up via our links and using the CARBONPK bonus code at the cashier.

 FREE POKER TRACKING SOFTWARE: Carbon Poker is now offering a complete poker tracking software to our new players, which can be downloaded for free from their website following the signup process. This is an interesting promotion as this package provides the same features and statistics of paid software that was often banned by the former online poker powerhouses. The tracking software works alongside the game software to provide statistics on your own play, average winning percentages, and tendencies of your opponents after gathering play data on them. See our “Bonus and Promotions” section below for more details.

 FREE POKER TRAINING: Individual poker strategy lessons from a professional team of trainers is provided immediately and free of charge to our players. Normally this feature costs $30 per month from the training site or for free to the highest VIP tiers. For players signing up through our site it is now offered immediately as a free feature.

carbonmobileiOS/Android software: One of the most overlooked advantages of Carbon to its US-facing brethren is the mobile software, which is browser-based and compatible with any iOS, Android, Windows Phone, or other market-share-deprived smartphone or tablet. Every cash game available on the native PC/Mac standalone client is available on the mobile site. This is currently the only way to play real-money poker in the US on a smartphone or tablet, which is both a coup for Carbon and an absurd realization of how behind their competition is. I can’t overstate the significance of US poker players finally getting to play real-money hands on the go.

usdeposits  As with just about every remaining US option Carbon Poker has downsized their cashier but made it more efficient. With essentially no functional e-wallets left they stick to two proven methods: credit/debit cards and cash transfer. Fortunately, credit card processing has largely been perfected at the more significant US poker rooms, realizing that these convenient deposits are responsible for keeping them in business. The minimum deposit of $10 is one of the lowest in the industry and can be extremely useful for sampling the real money games without much investment.

Every player has a credit card and can reach for their wallet. Not every player is willing to visit a cash transfer kiosk. There are no fees for credit card deposits and they are processed at a near-100% rate thanks to the processors used. Debit cards may process at a higher rate in the rare instance that you have trouble with a credit-only card. The deposit limits start at $150 but can be raised with successful deposits and/or completing their photo ID verification.

Cash transfer centers are probably located in every square mile in America and sometimes can be processed online by using the respective service’s website. Input your deposit amount in the cashier and you’ll receive instructions on where exactly to send the cash. There are fairly high fees involved of probably 5-10% on average so I always recommend asking the poker room to cover them, especially if depositing more than a couple hundred dollars.

Overall:  4.5/5

One of the most pleasant success stories to come out of the poker market in recent years has to be Carbon Poker. With its roots as a gimmicky brand for freeroll hunters this poker room has emerged as one of the top players in the US poker market with a large amount of strong features for more serious players. With US poker rooms dropping out of the market left and right they have shown a sincere commitment to remaining open to US players, which is important in my overall rankings. The extremely poor player quality is also a breath of fresh air from the increasingly tight tables found elsewhere online. The use of new deposit processors has also been an enormous boon, turning previously-tepid success rates to all-time highs at near-100% levels for US credit and debit cards.

Besides allowing US players, the excellent private bonus for our players, improving tournament schedule, busier cash games, and one of the best software packages online makes Carbon Poker one of our top-rated poker rooms in a number of key categories. The aforementioned bonus has actually been more than tripled over the standard offer for our new players to 200% with a maximum cap of $5,000. Depending on your deposit amount this has the potential to be one of the largest total dollar bonuses online. The promotional system has also received a major overhaul with features few, if any, other poker rooms have caught up to with free personalized poker training, cash rebates on gameplay, and the best VIP program in the US market.

Previously, one of the weakest aspects was the paltry player traffic, which affected both cash games and tournament attendance. With the sizable influx of US players looking for a new home Carbon Poker actually now provides some of the highest traffic levels of any US poker room. They have also opened up a new casino and sports section with one central cashier for those who dabble in multiple gaming facets. Combined with the much looser-than-average player quality the cash games can be extremely profitable for experienced players. While it doesn’t have the brand recognition of some of the longer-tenured sites this brand should seriously be considered by players who prioritize easy deposits, strong software, a laundry list of promotions, and loose tables.

Bonus (200% up to $5,000 plus free software and training) and Promotions:   5/5

One of the benefits of going with Carbon Poker specifically over other Merge network rooms is the exclusive bonus offer they’re giving to our players. The deposit bonus now has a massive cap at 200% up to $5,000. Please note that players must sign up via our links and use bonus code CARBONPK at the cashier in order to eligible. The minimum deposit is extrememly low at $10, which is a big positive for newer players or those looking for a test of the deposit process. With the increase for our players this is actually one of the largest bonuses in terms of both percentage and dollar amounts online.

The bonus payout terms are fairly straightforward and similar to other poker rooms. This is a play-through bonus and you’ll be paid out every time you earn $5 in bonus money. With 150 VIP points required for every dollar of bonus I would estimate that you’ll earn between $1-2 on average at each $1/2 NL table, which is slightly above-average compared to play-through bonuses elsewhere. While small-stakes players may not earn the entire bonus middle and higher-stakes players shouldn’t have trouble cashing out at least most of it, especially if playing multiple tables simultaneously.

Aside from the increased deposit bonus Carbon Poker promotions have to be considered the best in the US market. They have added a private new depositor freeroll, which seems to be standard issue at poker rooms these days, but the prize pool is considerably larger at $10,000. While they do have many of the usual suspects, which are still appreciated, such as rake races and tournament leaderboards, the most notable offers are a couple that no other poker room has yet to match.

The first is a free odds calculator app that installs and works in tandem with the poker room software. While these may be a dime a dozen to experienced grinders it is remarkable that it is actually encouraged and provided by the actual poker room or our players. The same type of calculating software that was banned years ago from being used by the major poker rooms can be downloaded and easily integrated by our Carbon Poker players. Aside from tracking your own personal play statistics and the software silently gathers information on the hands your opponents holds at showdown and their reaction tendencies to build a profile that you can refer to at your next encounter with them.

The other significant investment made for our players is to provide unlimited professional coaching. By returning to the Carbon Poker website after signing up players can request a personal professional to advise them on their strengths and potential leaks. Carbon values this at $30 per month. It is interesting that carbon is recognizing some of the methods that players usually seek out on their own to improve and subsidizing them into their player rewards.

Both of these tools can be useful for newer players trying to learn general smart strategy and experienced players trying to perfect their approach. It may not seem self-serving for a poker room to improve the skill of their player base as a whole but fortunately these features remain largely hidden to the masses as, aside from our players, they’re only offered to the higher VIP tiers.

Aside from the training tools Carbon Poker rotates a number of play-based promotions such as Race for Riches and Last Man Standing. Both award a set number of prizes, some of them up to several thousand dollars, for consistently earning VIP points throughout a calendar month, mostly via cash game play. There are also a couple of hand-based bonuses such as awarding multiples of the big blind for hitting four 5s or a Royal Flush.

The Carbon Poker VIP program offers several tiers based on accumulated points per month with the most significant rewards coming to the highest levels, of course. Scaling rewards include quicker customer service, free check payouts, and higher point-to-cash conversion rates. While those highest levels will be unattainable to most players every players is entitled to the highlight of the program: cash rebates paid on gameplay automatically paid into your player account daily. Very few poker rooms offer a comparable service, which can add up to a hundred dollars or more per month even for semi-regular mid-stakes players.

This section may seem lengthy but Carbon Poker simply has a lot ground to cover. The promotional system has evolved for years to its current (and best) state. This easily earns them a top score for the increased bonus, cash rebate system, and the free training tools offered to our players.

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Fish:   5/5 

One of the top draws of playing here is the extremely poor level of competition, especially in comparison to the largest poker rooms that house thousands of full-time grinders. Professional (or those who like to think of themselves as professional) online players tend to avoid Carbon Poker and the Merge network due to its lack of long-term reputation or humongous tournaments. As a result, the rest of us can enjoy tables largely filled with casual calling stations and outright maniacs. The community feel of the software lends itself to a more relaxed playing environment where players gamble more often on weaker hands simply to stay in the hand.

The average table numbers are indicative of soft play with flop percentages averaging 25-30% at full 9-handed no-limit tables and average pots usually ranging between 20-25 big blinds. Those numbers are at least double the monolithic poker rooms, displaying one of the biggest benefits of staying away from the big boys. Unfortunately, we’re in an age of online poker where players are becoming longer-tenured and more educated about strategy with substantially fewer brand-new players entering the game. The result is an increasing amount of smarter tight play around the game. Carbon Poker largely bucks that trend with a new-player-friendly atmosphere and certainly earns our top Fish Rating.

Tournaments:   4/5

The tournaments at are still a bit of a work in progress but still comprise a solid overall schedule. The historical lack of player traffic have hampered the number of big tournaments but the increased player numbers of late have certainly helped. They offer about 15-20 daily guarantees with prize pools ranging from a few hundred dollars to $7,500. Some of the best values include $2,000 guarantees with a $3-5 buy-in, a $7,500 with a $20 buy-in, and a $3,000 guarantee with a $10 buy-in. There are also a number of rebuy and add-on events, although I’m not a fan of that format. There are typically at least 8 or so tournaments per hour during peak times.

The big weekly tournament is a $125,000 guarantee with a $100 buy-in. This is one of the largest weekly tournaments in the US market and can be more attractive than the massive non-US events for a few reasons: even if you make it to the final table you can complete it within a few hours of time, there is an overlay of several thousand dollars when less than 500 players show up for the guaranteed prize pool, and you’ll have less players to withstand to get into the money.

Carbon Poker also offers bounty tournaments, in which half of your buy-in serves as a bounty for the player who knocks you out. Bounties add a twist to the strategy and allows players a chance to at least break even without even getting into the money. This poker room may not be the first choice for serious tournament players yet but they do host enough guarantees and events throughout the day to hold the interest of mid-range players.

Software:   4.5/5

One of the gems of Carbon Poker that often seems to get overlooked is the unique software package. While the bird’s-eye view and table graphics are standard online poker fare, spending a bit more time playing here uncovers a number of interesting features that I’m surprised haven’t become industry standards. Starting on the functionality side Carbon Poker employs the commonly used filter system to allow only specific game types to show up in the lobby, making it easier to find your desired game. Multiple tables can also be tabbed similar to your internet browser to avoid having your entire monitor filled with cascading windows. This is also one of the very few sites to support Macs with their own native software client.

Each player is able to choose a custom player image and, interestingly, display trophies or stars next to their screen name for tournament wins or, in the case of stars, for a growing player history. While I almost always disable player chat Carbon Poker persuaded me to allow it by offering a number of animated emotes for different situations. It has no consequence on the gameplay but it just adds a bit of interest to be able to play with the emoticons between hands.

Other different features of the software include rabbit-hunting to see the results of folded hands, the ability to only show one card, and winning percentages during all-ins. Along with the quick game speed of 60-70 hands per hour for 9-handed tables it just feels like one of the most cohesive and interesting software packages out there. It doesn’t get a whole lot of attention from players but I would confidently say that this software is one of the top few in online poker.

Also significant is, as noted near the top of the review, Carbon Poker is currently the only US-facing real-money online poker room that was logical and innovative enough to make their games available to mobile players. With the irreversible trend of internet users on their PCs less and mobile devices more it’s a crime that the online poker market within the US hasn’t taken advantage.

While I understand the limitations faced by any US poker room to get native software on the App Store or Google Play (it isn’t going to happen) Carbon created a browser-only solution that works on any iOS, Android, Windows Phone, or other phone/tablet. Simply follow our links to get the signup exclusives and then visit the mobile site from that point forward. Real-money poker from anywhere you could possibly be? It’s an incredible long-time-coming feat that has yet to be matched by their competition.

US Payouts:   4.5/5 

A couple of years ago the payouts at Carbon Poker were a constant source of frustration for me. There is never an excuse for payouts via electronic withdrawal methods such as Moneybookers to take more than 24-48 hours yet they took at least a week to process here. Fortunately, they now seem to have learned that quick payouts are essential to keep players loyal to the poker room. Electronic withdrawals now seem to only take 12-24 hours for non-US players and checks take about 4 weeks or so to arrive for US players, which is slightly better than the industry average. Checks are sent via Fedex for both speed and ease of tracking. Payouts can now be considered a strength.

Customer Service:   4.5/5

Falling short only in terms of telephone support Carbon Poker does provide live support in the form of chat when you don’t feel like waiting for an e-mail reply. Generally I’ve found the representatives to be knowledgeable and be able to help with minor issues while I wait. E-mail would be the next option with reply times typically being within an hour or two. Supposedly, the new VIP program allows for special priority support for the higher tiers.

Player Traffic

With the recent explosion of traffic of US players looking for a new home this site may have finally turned the corner on the biggest thorn in their side: player traffic. Online player numbers have been exceeding 10,000 and the once-sparse cash games have been filling up. While it won’t equal peak times at the largest networks Carbon usually draws about 10-15 active cash games at each level up to $1/2 NL with a few active tables at higher stakes. Some of the larger tournaments draw almost 1,000 players with everyday guarantees drawing at least several hundred.

Best Features

Excellent US credit card processing. Finally undergoing a cashier overhaul US credit cards are now processed at near-flawless levels.

Open to US Players. With poker rooms leaving the market seemingly every other day this is one of the top few sites remaining for US players.

Large exclusive bonus and unique promotions. The bonus percentage is increased to 200% for our players with a very large cap of $5,000. Additionally, the exclusive offer of free individual poker training and tracking software is above and beyond what the competition is offering in terms of promotions.

Loose Tables. The quality of active games will always be more important than the quantity. For players coming from the stuffy mega-sites this site is a haven filled with inexperienced players.

Interesting Software. With little innovation in online poker software over the past few years Carbon Poker stands out with unique little touches like all-in winning percentages and rabbit-hunting.

Game Selection: Hold’em, Omaha, Stud, Draw

Limits: Limit: 2c/4c up to $20/40    No-Limit: 2c/4c up to $10/20

Deposit Methods: NETeller (non-US), Moneybookers (non-US), Click2Pay (non-US), major credit cards, and cash transfer.

Minimum Deposit: $10

Tips: If you’ve studied poker strategy for long you already know that the strongest hands in Texas Hold’em win much more often against fewer opponents. The odds simply favor a random hand drawing out on premium pocket pairs when more and more hands get involved in the pot. With the loose-passive (calling-station) style of play common at most Carbon Poker tables you might consider a more specific strategy for thinning out the field and retaining the strength of your dominant hands. While most poker strategists call for a standard rise of 3-4x the big blind pre-flop in no-limit Hold’em I often increase my range to 4-6x the big blind here.

This larger raise makes passive players have to pay a bit more attention before blindly calling with a garbage hand. A slightly larger raise also provides the benefit of building the pot that much higher for what you presume will be a winning hand. If you’re going to vary your raise amounts it’s important to mix in those larger raises into some of your non-premium hands to avoid telegraphing when you have a big hand. While it may seem counterintuitive to discourage action with a premium hand like pocket Aces or Kings your average winning percentages skyrocket when less opponents are involved. At looser sites like Carbon make it your goal to build the pot quickly from a small pool of opponents.

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