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Ignition Poker Review

ignitionwb_promobannerPRIVATE FREEROLL ENTRIES: Our new players now receive 6 private freeroll entries with any first deposit. Placing first in one of them earns a seat in the Sunday $100,000 guaranteed tournaments, which usually has a $150 buy-in. Places 2-10 earn a token valid for any $17 satellite entry. The freeroll field is restricted to new depositors, making the competition and time commitment smaller. Please note that this is valid for all players visiting Ignition from our links with freerolls taking place on Tuesdays, Thursdays, and Saturdays. Players receive entry to every event for 2 weeks.

 50% FREE INSTANT BET: Despite removing the classic 10% instant cash bonus with the brand name change to Ignition our new players now receive a free instant bet in their sports section with a chance to win more bonus funds. While this isn’t technically a poker promotion the same deposit at the poker room is valid across all of the gaming sections so a poker deposit also entitles players to the sports and/or casino offers.

After making an initial deposit 50% of it (up to $250) will be credited in the sports section as a free bet amount. A bet must then be placed within 30 days for the entire amount and any winnings are then credited as bonus funds that can be cashed out via play across any of the gaming sections, including poker. Even if you never touch their sports section again it’s an entertaining opportunity to increase your bonus without risk.

usdeposits  US players have the two most reliable deposit options at Ignition, which has traditionally been one of the better online poker rooms in terms of banking. This poker room was one of the early pioneers of the e-check model, which was mostly abandoned in late 2006 and is now essentially a pipe dream in search of a friendlier future market. The easiest option for most US players is going to be the major credit card route. The minimum of $20 should be greatly appreciated by players on a tight budget or those just testing the deposit waters. Unfortunately, credit card deposits now incur a 4.9% fee, although it is waived for our players on their first deposit.

While I was incredibly off-put by this fee structure when it was introduced the fact is that the high success rates and sizable maximum deposit make it worth the small fee in this market. If you’re a regular player you will probably have success in asking support to reimburse you for the fees following your deposit. Bovada has one of the better credit card success rates in the industry but should your deposit be blocked by your bank I would suggest trying a debit card, which as a rule tends to have greater processing success. I should note again that the site does waive the credit card fee for your first deposit, which is appreciated.

The second US deposit method offered is cash transfer with both popular services accepted. As many veteran online poker players are familiar with now cash transfer has locations at every drug/convenience/grocery store in the country with some modest paperwork filled out when sending each transfer. Cashouts can also be requested via this method and picked up at the same location. I have also had success in the past sending money via the cash transfer service’s website. Choose cash transfer and your deposit amount in the poker room cashier to view the next steps you should take to initiate the transfer.

One aspect that has always set Ignition apart in my experience has been the willingness for personal support and accommodating individual requests. To that end I’ve been able to successfully request that the fairly high fees that the cash transfer services charge be added on to my deposit. You may need a more substantial playing history to achieve this but it’s certainly worth a request for both subsequent credit card deposits and any cash transfers. With the implosion of US e-wallets these are likely to be the two available banking methods for the foreseeable future. Fortunately, cash transfer will never give you an issue as a backup if your credit card does..

Overall:  4.5/5

Ignition (formerly Bovada) and its poker room has had an interesting history filled with an outlandish CEO, government seizures, and various sports entertainment ventures. At its core this is a one-stop-shop for online gaming and the company has been able to maintain a solid foundation of player trust since its founding in 1994. Already successful for its betting and casino aspects Ignition launched an independent poker room during the online poker boom of the mid-2000s largely as a tacked-on feature for its existing player base. Fast-forward a few years and they have become one of the longest-tenured poker rooms left in the US market and certainly one of its best.

Despite excelling in key areas such as easy banking, personalized customer service, loose tables, and strong software this poker room has always flown under the radar of the larger poker-only operations. With the events of April 2011 wiping out most of its US competition Ignition  is clearly one of the strongest poker rooms in the American market. Player loyalty runs high for those that do discover this semi-hidden gem. Since sampling its bare-bones poker section in 2005 Ignition has perennially been one of my personal favorite poker rooms for cash games.

The three main draws the poker room has had for years for new players remain just as relevant in today’s market: and strong deposit bonus, beatable loose cash games, and quick payout processing. The cash games have largely gone against the trend of tighter tougher games thanks to a steady stream of young American sports bettors and inexperienced crossover players. This is also one of the only remaining US poker rooms that can actually have check withdrawals delivered to you within 7-10 days of being requested.

The overarching theme of my reviews is to encourage players to choose a poker room based on their priorities. Bovada will appeal to players looking for a simple yet large deposit bonus, easy US banking, and loose cash games. This isn’t the top destination for tournaments or substantial game variety and is probably best suited for regular no-limit cash game players. As a veteran Ignition player it’s easy to recommend this poker room because of the obvious professionalism they display in a constantly evolving market.

Bonus (100% up to $1,000 + 50% free bet) and Promotions:   4.5/5

While it may have seemed like a small gesture I was always partial to the bonus at Ignition because of the instant 10% portion. Despite them quietly removing this classic long-time offer that I was so fond of this remains the longest-tenured poker room of the few contenders standing in the US market with strong ratings across the board. The brand name change seems to have brought with it a bit of a change in identity, focusing less on the younger sports demographic and defiant attitude and more on confidently offering a less-flamboyant but solid product.

As odd as it may feel for this brand to lack cockiness and a polarizing CEO it knows its place in the market and it serves it very well. Independent of its history Ignition is still one of the best in the business. That being said, they have gotten leaner in their number of promotions, following the trend set by other all-in-one gaming sites when it comes to their poker division. However, the offers that are still around are straightforward and certainly above-average. To begin with our new players receive 2 weeks worth of private freerolls with prizes ranging from $100 tournament coupons to $17 satellite entries.

Our new players also receive a play-through bonus of a full 100% match, good up to $1,000. The $1,000 cap is one of the largest in the US market and Ignition is fairly generous with the playing requirements. As it is based on contributed rake (issued as Poker Points to your account) larger players will obviously cash out the bonus sooner. I would estimate that playing at $.50/1 NL or above would net you at least $3 or so of bonus per hour, which is in the upper tier of bonus payout rates. The play-through bonus is released in strange increments of $10, $50, $150, $300, $600, and $1,000. If your maximum bonus falls between one of those levels you get the remainder as soon as you earn the required Poker Points.

Another interesting addition for our new players is the 50% free bet bonus, which is detailed fully at the top of this page. Essentially, any new poker deposit also credits 50% of it in the sports section as a free bet, up to $250. Place and win that bet within 30 days and you then receive all of the winnings added to your bonus account, which can be cashed out via any gaming channel like the standard play-through poker bonus. It’s a risk-free offer that doesn’t quite replicate the generosity of the classic instant 10% but is an amusing way to directly influence the size of your bonus.

Other uses for Poker Points include using them for bimonthly $7,500 freeroll entries or converting them into real money at the rate of 100 per $1 when Ignition has that promotion active. Our new players also receive 6 private freeroll entries for a chance to win a seat to the Sunday $100,000 guarantee. There is a standard Bad Beat bonus of 100x the big blind for getting beaten with Aces full of Kings or better and 50x the big blind for making a Royal Flush with both hole cards. What’s nice about how the former two promotions are run is that the Bad Beat bonus only requires a reasonable hand and the Royal Flush bonus doesn’t require the hand to go to showdown. Overall, Ignition doesn’t have a huge number of promotions compared to other poker-only outfits but the ones they do offer are certainly above-average.

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Fish  5/5

Aside from the obvious promotions and the subtle positives like customer service the no-limit cash games have always given players the most incentive to stick around. Perhaps due to a combination of its sports and casino clientele and a marketing campaign that focuses on younger players Ignition has always hosted some of the loosest tables online. Typical flop percentages often exceed 40% for 9-seated tables and over 50% for 6-seated tables. Average pot sizes are usually at least 15-20x the big blind and my anecdotal evidence confirms that most Bovada players tend to be willing to commit to larger pots than most other poker rooms.

Those massive table numbers were an oasis in the desert during the post-UIGEA years, which featured outrageously tight games with single-digit flop percentages at the former big-name US poker rooms. Surprisingly, the games have grown a bit softer again overall with the US market shrinking to its smallest point in 2011 but Ignition remains one of the most beatable choices for cash games. Regardless of the limits the tables tend to be filled with either inexperienced players who are out of their betting comfort zone in the poker room or those that simply try to run over you with blind aggression.

An effective strategy for your strong hands that combats the frequent multiplayer action you’ll be facing on the flop is to eliminate some of the calling stations early with larger-than-average bets and continue betting for value against the clueless or stubborn players rather than bother disguising your hand. While the overall traffic may not be what it once was it remains one of the potentially most profitable for players adjusting to the incredibly loose style of play.

Tournaments:   4/5

Even with the slight drop in traffic due to restricting US signups for a short period this is still one of the better US tournament options. During the peak evening hours Bovada usually hosts 5 or 6 events per hour with the majority either being standalone guarantees or qualifiers for the Sunday $100,000. The daily guarantees have prize pools between $1,000 and $10,000 with buy-ins ranging from $1 up to $75. Some of the best values are in the daily $4,000 guarantees with a $10 buy-in at 6:30 PM. Usually the poker room draws 500+ players to these, which creates a prize pool of over $5,000. Also, Ignition has reversed on their rebuy position in the last couple of years with the vast majority of tournaments being straight freezouts outside of a few low buy-in events.

The center of the Ignition tournament universe has always been the $100,000 guarantee, which takes place every Sunday at 1:00 PM. Unfortunately the buy-in was raised from $100 to $150 recently, although this is still one of the top 2 weekly events left in the US market. One of the advantages over Merge and their larger buy-in is the smaller time commitment required and the fewer opponents you’ll have to outlast in order to see any prize money. The Sunday Ignition event also features one of the best overlay opportunities in online poker with the poker room often having to make up the shortfall in entrants due to the minimum guaranteed prize pool. The difference between the paid entry fees and the minimum prize pool is often at least $10,000, which essentially means you’re starting the tournament with at least 70 players that have contributed to the prize pool but have already been eliminated.

Most of the sub-$55 buy-in tournaments draw at least 300-400 players, which is quite strong for the current US market. They doesn’t host an incredible variety of tournaments but still have a solid schedule overall due to the dozens of daily guarantees and the high attendance. Rounding out the tournament schedule are satellites to the Sunday $100,000 and a handful of Poker Point-based freerolls. The satellites usually either a $7 or a $16 buy-in and run several times daily. The freerolls take place twice per month with a 1,000 Poker Point buy-in and offer a $7,500 prize pool each, which is quite a bit more than similar frequent player freerolls at other rooms. Our new depositing players also receive 6 private freeroll entries with the top prize of each being a $150 coupon to the Sunday $100,000 guarantee.

Software:   4.5/5

Although I was a fan of the original unique but extremely barebones software incarnation the overhaul that took place several years ago has produced one of the better software packages online. Unlike the old Ignition software players are clearly delineated by a grid with a user-friendly spotlight indicating the active player. The actual table viewpoint and graphics are certainly not remarkable compared to the last 5 years of online poker software but the swift game speed, customization, and usability adds to the overall comfort of the game. Players are able to upload their own custom photo, write a player profile, and choose the table felt hue from a color wheel. Bovada has also always been one of the fastest choices for cash games with 9-handed tables running at 60-70 hands per hour.

Ignition also seems to have made an effort to present the lobby as minimalistic and simple to get into the desired game. You’re greeted with 3 big buttons for either cash games, Sit and Gos, or multitable tournaments. Once you make your selection you can easily filter the results by game type and limit, as is the case with most poker rooms these days. Active promotions are also nicely integrated as graphical buttons into the bottom of the main lobby. This is also one of the few poker rooms to display text describing the strength of your hand. While you’re unlikely to need this if you’re paying attention to your hand it can save you from disastrous fold if you mentally missed making a rare hand like a straight flush. Ignition offers a quietly solid software package that excels in every area without any glaring drawback.

One controversial new and very unique feature of the software is that players are no longer identifiable at the table. As opposed to the standard industry use of a screen name Ignition assigns arbitrarily assigns each player at the table a number from 1-9. It is certainly an interesting approach with both positive and negative effects. The negatives will mostly affect players using stat-tracking programs and those who like to take notes on others at the table. The main positive that prompted the introduce anonymous tables is the ability to stay hidden from advanced players using stat-tracking programs to use historic gameplay to their advantage.

The theory is that the stat-tracking sharks will avoid playing at Ignition and thus cultivate the loose tables they’ve been known for since its inception. Although I wouldn’t like to see this become an industry-wide feature I think that Ignition is making a smart move by introducing this. I think it could be highly effective at keeping professional grinders from overpopulating the tables. While the potential for player collusion is a greater fear players have to trust that poker operations will continue to closely monitor gameplay.

US Payouts:  5/5

Ignition has always seemed to be one-up in the payment processing route and that’s still evident in the way they handle US payouts. The withdrawal options are check, wire transfer, or cash transfer with checks being the most popular. Once requested checks only day a day or two to process unlike the 2-4 weeks taken by some US sites. After being processed the typical delivery time is only 5-7 days, which is outstanding in the current market conditions.

Players are offered a free check or wire transfer payout per month with subsequent ones incurring a fee, unfortunately. The quick turnaround time is probably worth the trade-off of less-frequent requests. Wire transfers, which aren’t even offered by most US poker rooms, have a high minimum of $2,500 but can be extremely convenient for large payouts as they’re electronically sent directly to your bank account. Cash transfers can be picked up immediately as cash but incur fairly large fees and require visiting a supported retail location. For non-US players e-wallet withdrawals to NETeller or Moneybookers are sent within 24 hours.

Customer Service  5/5

As one of the few poker rooms that I’ve had to contact regularly over the years Ignition has always impressed me with their professionalism. They’re also one of the few poker rooms remaining that actually publishes its phone number. Despite that being a basic form of communication for customers to get help quickly with virtually every other business it’s surprising how few online poker rooms will invest in a call center. I’ve called in previously for cash transfer deposit instructions and was guided through the process easily by an English speaker. They were also able to quickly confirm by phone that they received the transfer.

E-mail replies have been quick and personal such as when I suspected a player at my table of blatantly abusing the all-in protection. Finally, I’ve occasionally gotten e-mail promotions directly from one of their managers who I proceeded to exchange several personal e-mails with asking about the offer. Ignition usually keeps players happy on the customer service front, largely because they offer phone support, personalized service, and encourage player feedback.

Player Traffic

Ignition is about in the middle of the pack in terms of player traffic at remaining US poker rooms. Their overall player base numbers took a bit of a hit after they stopped actively seeking US players but should rebound now that they are re-entering the market in full force. As expected, no-limit cash games dominate the lobby with smaller stakes achieving 10+ active tables at each limit during peak hours.

For higher limits such as $.50/1 and $1/2 there will typically be about 5 active tables at each limit. Occasionally tables will be populated at the $2/4, $3/6, and $5/10 levels. The split between populated 6 and 9-seated tables is about 60/40 with the shorthanded tables having the advantage. Omaha and Stud games are surprisingly active with 1 or 2 active games around the clock. Tournament traffic can be quite good with larger daily guarantees drawing 300-500 players.

Best Features

Solid history in the market. Ignition is one of the longest-tenured names in online gaming having been founded in 1994.

Loose tables. This poker room still boasts some of the highest flop percentages and largest average pots online.

Large bonus. Despite removing the classic 10% instant bonus the 100% offer of up to $1,000 still makes this one of the largest dollar value bonuses online.

Quick payouts. The turnaround time for checks of about a week beats every other US poker room.

Game Selection: Hold’em, Omaha, Stud

Limits: Limit: 5c/10c up to $30/$60    No-Limit: 2c/5c up to $10/$20

Deposit Methods: Please see the “Easy US Deposits” section at the top of the page for more information. In short, Ignition accepts major credit cards and cash transfer, which is now available online. Their credit card success rates tend to be some of the best in the industry. Should a credit-only card not be accepted players are encouraged to try a debit card if possible. Non-US players can use popular e-wallets such as NETeller, Moneybookers, and Instadebit.

Minimum Deposit: $20

Tips: As indicated by the high average flop percentage the typical Ignition player doesn’t mind gambling a small amount pre-flop with an unmade hand hoping for a killer flop. Of course, blithely allowing a multiway pot with 4 or 5 players is highly detrimental to premade hands like pocket Aces or Kings. The average winning percentage of the strongest preflop hands decreases exponentially with every extra player in the pot. The most profitable strategy against the current breed of players to simply bet for value with your made hands both to build a pot that you expect to win and to thin the field of low-to-medium strength hands that are easy to disguise on a ragged flop. With loose gamble-centric players that are likely jaded by standard raises of 3-4x the big blind I recommend increasing your raise to 5-6x the big blind against calling stations.

When I launched Beat The Fish in 2005 a viable strategy against the absurdly wild games was to simply allow the overly aggressive players to hang themselves with their own mistakes. While you still may encounter the random maniac at Ignition the days of rampant unbridled aggression are largely finished. Whereas several years ago you could allow your opponents to build a pot for you by check-raising or waiting until the river to raise you’ll find even inexperienced players to be timid and guarded these days. Repeatedly acting weak when you’re strong against timid players allows them free or cheap draws that will eventually come back to haunt you.

With players much more likely to call moderate-sized bets post-flop (1/2 to 2/3 of the pot) than to fall for a check-raise or try to bluff you off a hand simply try betting for value when you have a strong hand. After almost a decade of the poker explosion and several years into US deposit difficulties even inexperienced players are more learned and tight with their bankroll. Don’t rob yourself out of a potential sizeable pot by trying fancy weak plays.

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