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Sportsbook Poker Review

Sportsbook Poker Review

rigth-instant-pokerUS CREDIT CARDS ARE NOT BLOCKED: One of the best aspects of Sportsbook Poker is the fact that virtually all US credit cards are accepted for deposits directly through the cashier. The acceptance rate is nearly 100% and you shouldn’t experience a block with any US credit card. The low minimum deposit is also a positive for low-limit players at $20. From personal experience I can report that a major US bank credit card was used successfully for deposits in under a minute or two. This same card had always been denied at other poker sites.

As an alternate deposit option ask a Sportsbook Poker live chat or e-mail support representative to provide you with their cash transfer details. Physical cash transfer stations are located in essentially every grocery, convenience, or drug store in the country. The cash transfer provider’s web site also allows online purchases for most transactions using a credit card. There are fees involved with sending money via this method but this poker room is usually flexible about refunding fees associated with deposits, especially for larger amounts.

Overall:  4.5/5

After a brief hiatus from accepting any new players Sportsbook Poker has returned to US online poker players desperate for options in an ever-changing and ever-shrinking market. The same factors that once made this my top-rated overall poker room remain just as attractive in the current online poker landscape: the ability to deposit smoothly using US credit cards, the collection of extremely loose tables, and the combination of an instant deposit bonus coupled with a larger play-through bonus. With their move to the Merge network Sportsbook Poker also retained their ultra-soft player base and improved their software package significantly.

As is typical for an all-in-one sportsbook/casino/poker gaming site this site attracts some of the worst players online. Flop percentages and average pot sizes are more than double than the usual numbers at the larger networks. In terms of deposits, they use third-party credit cards processors built right into the cashier and even major US banks don’t block the transactions. You can fund your account in literally 30 seconds. At this poker room you can actually do what you want with your own money for a change. That is a significant statement in the current US online poker landscape.

Besides the excellent deposit system, Sportsbook Poker also has a strong promotional system with an increased 200% deposit bonus for our players, an extra 10-25% instant cash for use in the sportsbook or casino, and above-average customer service. While it may not have the brand recognition of the larger sites Sportsbook does offer a number of improvements over the juggernauts with block-free deposits and, perhaps most importantly, one of the few remaining havens for loose cash tables. Sportsbook Poker offers service strictly to the US and other limited markets, which is an odd route to take in the current industry state. Fortunately, they also do one of the best jobs overall at understanding and overcoming the market hurdles, earning strong scores across the board.

Bonus (200% up to $2,000 plus 10-25% instantly) and Promotions:   4.5/5

On the promotional side, I have always given high scores to Sportsbook Poker for the simple deposit bonus system, which includes an instant cash portion added on to all first-time deposits. While that instant portion still exists the overall structure of bonuses has been adjusted, largely for the better. The instant bonus is now 10% for all deposits from $20-199 and 25% for deposits of $200 or more, which is larger than ever. The catch is that it can no longer which be used in the poker and has to be used in the sportsbook or casino.

As a strict poker-only player I initially found this disappointing, however it still serves as completely free entertainment in a gaming sector I rarely partake of. Sportsbook Poker credits this bonus instantly to your real money sports/casino account so players can use it immediately after deposit. It’s certainly worth taking the time to bet with the free portion of your deposit, as you have a fair chance at building into something more significant. Winnings can even eventually be transferred back to the poker room once the rollover requirements are met. Giving anything extra immediately without strings is quite generous in a poker industry now largely devoid of instant offers. It’s a great offer for players that already may have tried the other games and serves as at least a free distraction for the rest of us.

In addition to the instant bonus our new players now earn an increased 200% play-through bonus, which is 100% greater than the standard offer. The maximum bonus up is very large at $2,000. Please note that you’ll need to use one of our links to Sportsbook Poker when downloading the software as you’ll only receive 100% otherwise. More important than the play-through bonus amount is the fact that most mid-level players should be able to earn the full amount without jumping through hoops or struggling to meet exorbitant playing requirements.

As is now standard at just about every poker room, Sportsbook Poker has a player rewards system that gives players VIP points both for cash game activity and tournament fees. The system is based on rake so higher-stakes players will obviously earn VIP points at a higher rate. As players consistently earn a designated number of VIP points per month their VIP level rises on a scale from 2-high to Ace-high. Fortunately for microstakes players, points are still given for contributed rake as little as 10 cents. The 200% play-through bonus is disbursed in $5 increments with 150 VIP points earning each dollar. My personal experience shows that this equates to an above-average payout of about $1-2 per hour at each $1/2 NL table, which is an average-to-above-average rate.

The same VIP points earned at Sportsbook Poker may then be used for rewards like freerolls up to $8,000 or as entry into any real-money tournament. More interesting to me were the abilities to exchange points for cash 3 times per month beginning at the 7-high VIP level. These can be done with larger cash amounts as players earn more cumulative VIP points. Finally, other promotions include a $12,000 monthly Sit and Go leaderboard and a Bad Beat Jackpot that often reaches at least $50,000. Overall, the promotional system is one of the best in the US market with the large 200% deposit bonus, up to 25% extra upfront with one of the few instant bonuses left in the industry, and the player point system that offers above-average rewards.

Fish  5/5

It is refreshing to see a current US poker room still hosting such truly terrible players. With most other US poker room slowing to a crawl in terms of loose action over the past several years, Sportsbook Poker is an isolated throwback to the wild online poker pioneer days of yore. The average flop percentage and pot numbers are incredible with double or triple the numbers found at the larger non-US rooms. A 35-40% flop percentage is about average at 9-handed tables with pot sizes ranging between 20-30x the big blind. This is truly a haven for loose tables.

As its name implies, Sportsbook Poker began as an offshoot from a long-tenured online sportsbook. Sports players that enter the poker room with little experience are largely more aggressive and much more willing to gamble on speculative hands simply for quick thrills and large bankroll swings. Methodical poker players can take advantage of loose-aggressive players by isolating them, allowing them to control the action to build the pot, and then crushing them with strong made hands. As is typical with other crossover gaming sites, the poker traffic is extremely loose. Giving this poker room a 5 Fish Rating may not be sufficient.

To give you an example of some of the action that you’ll find here, I have frequently run into players who buy in for the maximum table limit and then go all-in every single hand until they go broke. Other players will routinely go, or call, all-in on inside straight draws. I have bluffed at pots in position, drew 3 callers, picked up 3rd pair on the river, and then still won the hand at showdown.

At Sportsbook Poker you’ll routinely see tournament-style plays of preflop all-ins with small pocket pairs matched against weak overcards. The pots usually grow quickly and often preflop with this unbridled aggression only surpassed by the number of calling stations ignoring the value of their starting hands. Aside from hosting inexperienced sports and casino players I believe that the high credit card deposit rates are a major factor in helping to keep the tables loose. With deposits so easy to come by, players aren’t required to be constantly aware of their bankroll for fear of redeposit difficulties.

I recommend that patient and observant players try to break the bank at this poker room while the tables are still so loose. Sportsbook Poker and its greater network tends to be ignored by the elitist online poker community that focuses exclusively on the larger games and massive tournaments at the more well-known conglomerates. The result is a beginner-friendly poker room that is extremely profitable for patient players who tighten up and extract maximum value from premium hands.


Tournaments:   4/5

One aspect that smaller networks typically struggle with is tournament traffic. Fortunately, Sportsbook Poker is on an established network in Merge with fair existing traffic and an above-average number of events. While the network cannot compete with the largest non-US poker rooms for sheer tournament attendance they do offer a number of unique variations that require a lower time commitment and, most importantly, provide substantial overlay opportunities. With the massive tournaments of the mid-2000s simply not an option for US players at this point Sportsbook is one of the busiest left standing.

Most of the hosted tournaments here are events with guaranteed prize pools yet the player entries rarely cover the prize pool. For example, one of the more popular nightly tournaments is the $7,500 freezeout yet only 245 players showed up and paid the $20 buy-in. This forces the poker room to add more than $2,000 to the prize pool in order to cover the guarantee. The value in such overlays is excellent with players essentially beginning the tournament with tens of players already knocked out. Most tournaments have an overlay with the largest usually being the Sunday $100,000 event.

The best guaranteed tournaments at Sportsbook Poker draw about 300 or so players and typically have buy-ins ranging from $5-30. Most tournaments offer a guarantee on the prize pool of between $2,000 to $7,500. Some of the better values include multiple daily $7,500 guarantees with a $20 buy-ins, multiple $3,000 guarantees with a $10 buy-in, a $2,000 guaranteed turbo bounty event for $10, and a Saturday $5,250 guarantee for $30. Sunday holds the most significant tournaments with the $100,000 guarantee being joined by $15,000 guarantee with a $11 buy-in, $15,000 for $11, $65,000 for $215, $25,000 for $33, and $70,000 for $530. Phew! The fact that all of these occur at the same hour is a bit overwhelming but it also gives a wide range of buy-ins a go-to event at a time slot that can become a weekly routine.

Another tournament style hosted at Sportsbook Poker that I would like to see more sites adopt is the Bounty tournament. The Bounty events are run throughout the day with about half of the buy-in being your bounty. Every time you knock out a player you’ll collect their bounty. The rest of the prize pool is distributed normally amongst the top finishers. These tournaments increase action and you have an interesting way to win some cash regardless of how you finish in the tournament. Another totally random tournament variation is the all in or fold event, which air fairly popular despite their lack of required skill.

With player traffic continuing to increase steadily the network has been able to add a $100,000 guaranteed weekly event every Sunday at 5PM EST. The buy-in is $109, which I feel is just about the sweet spot for larger tournaments. That level is attainable for more casual tournament players but also sizeable enough to offer substantial prizes to the top finishers. Sit and Gos are also popular, especially the shorthanded 6-seaters, without much of a waiting period up to the $20 level.

One Sit and Go style offered here that should be at every other poker room is the Double-Up event. This unique structure offers 5 of the table entrants nothing and the other 5 twice the buy-in. It’s an extremely addictive style that has become very popular on the network. Even during off-peak hours the Double-Ups fill up fairly quickly up to the $30 level. While the traditional 3-player payout system is still a very effective way for seasoned players to make a consistent profit the Double-Up adds an entirely different set of strategy and is a refreshing change of pace from the typical grind.

Software:   4.5/5

One of the main reasons that I was pleased about Sportsbook Poker switching over to Merge from the old Cake network was the software package, which, in my opinion, should be rated as one of the top 3 online. This underrated software platform receives little attention from players, but spending time with it uncovers numerous unique features that really should become standards in the industry. The overall graphical look is a sharp bird’s-eye racetrack view with players able to customize their personal image. The lobby is also fully customizable and each table window can be resized or shrunk down to a Mini mode, which can easily be tiled on multi-table players with lower screen resolutions.

The software package also gives players graphical accolades like stars for playing experience or trophies then, when hovered over, show special tournament wins. Other quirks unique to this platform include animated chat emoticons, the ability to rabbit-hunt when you win a hand prior to the river, a deal it twice option for all-ins, a spotlight over the active player, a colored action timer, and TV-style average winning percentages when players are all-in. These are excellent features that seem minor but as a whole really make the experience stand out. I’m truly surprised that the larger rooms haven’t mimicked the Merge software.

Perhaps more important than the fun but extraneous features is the game speed, which is much higher than average. Full 9-handed NL cash games usually settle between 60-70 hands per hour, which is a comfortable pace. The software does not feature a player time bank, which helps to speed up the game overall and eliminates the obnoxious posturing common at poker rooms supporting extra time. The recent update helped to speed up action further by adding a colored timer that counts down above the active player’s screen name. There are also quick-betting buttons that increase game speed and, I believe, encourages loose action, including 2x, 4x, half-pot, and full-pot options.

US Payouts:  4/5

Sportsbook Poker allows 3 different withdrawal methods for US players: paper check, gift card, and direct bank wire transfer. While paper checks are a given for every online poker room in the industry the inclusion of both gift cards and wire transfers is noteworthy. The former is extremely handy for withdrawing funds as cash at an ATM or used directly at retail for purchases if you prefer to avoid the hassle of banks. Even though wire transfers are only offered for payouts of more than $500 it’s extremely convenient and offered at very few US poker rooms. After providing your banking information wire transfers are sent directly to your bank account without the need to deposit anything.

Sportsbook Poker quotes safe US-market-standard payout times of 6-8 weeks, although they are often quicker, especially for wires. Paper checks are sent via courier for larger amounts, which is certainly appreciated both for speed and tracking ability. One nice perk of the payout system is that one withdrawal is completely free per month, whereas most other poker rooms charge some sort of fee for every request. The free withdrawal is especially useful for wire payouts, which has a higher fee structure than other methods. Overall this is one of the most dependable payout systems in the US market, beating most of their competitors in speed and available methods.

Customer Service  4.5/5

My first time playing here left me with several minor questions about how the site worked in terms of bonuses and functionality of the software. Instead of waiting around for an e-mail response I just used their Live Chat option. There was no wait-time in order to connect with a representative and I received accurate answers from someone who seemed to be familiar with the poker room. Sportsbook Poker also provides toll-free phone number support, which is a gesture that I’ve always respected from any online poker room.  

Player Traffic

Sportsbook Poker is attracting fairly strong traffic even though they’re on a “newer” network. With the majority of other US poker rooms either losing their credibility or ability to operate entirely I expect traffic for both cash games and tournaments to continue to increase. Typically, you’ll find at least 2 or 3 full 9-handed cash games up to the $1/2 NL level and double that in 6-handed tables. Scatted tables are often active up to the $5/10 level. Naturally, microlimit tables are most popular with a dozen games at each level. Interestingly, this network draws regularly-active Omaha tables also. Including freeroll entries, overall player traffic is at about 5,000 during peak hours and typical tournament traffic is about 200-300 per event.

Best Features

US credit cards are not blocked. This has to be the easiest site to fund with virtually all credit cards being accepted.

Awful players. I’m not sure if I have seen a worse population of players at an online poker site.

Above-average player rewards. The 200% bonus is extremely earnable on top of the instant cash.

Strong traffic. Fortunately, you can find 5-10 active cash games at many limits with the bankroll sizes having little correlation to player skill.

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

Limits: Limit: 2c/4c up to $50/$100    No-Limit: 2c/4c up to $50/$100

Deposit Methods: Visa and cash transfer. Please see the top of the page and the “US CREDIT CARDS ARE NOT BLOCKED” section for more information. Along with our other top-rated US poker rooms this is one of the only sites available that should not encounter a block when attempting to deposit using any US credit card. This has been verified by personally by using a major US bank. This is certainly one the easiest sites for US players to deposit with. Cash transfer is also a viable alternative that can be done either at a ubiquitous physical kiosk or online.

Minimum Deposit: $20

Tips: As I’ve mentioned throughout this review, Sportsbook Poker is a very beatable site overall if you make the necessary adjustments. Typically, you’ll have more than one fish at your table with this profile: very aggressive preflop, likes to draw, and puts in too much money with marginal hands. This is an extremely profitable type of player, but it means that you’ll probably need to tighten up. While it may be cliche advice by now it is still correct to mostly be playing the opposite style of the majority of the table.

Because you’ll be faced with so many preflop raises, you can play it safe by waiting for your strongest starting hands. Instead of trying to suck out maximum value with big pocket pairs by setting traps, you can usually make larger-than-average raises and still get plenty of action. You also should isolate the loose players with these premium hands as they hold up much more often against fewer opponents.

When playing at cash tables at Sportsbook don’t hesitate to make a substantial (or even all-in) raise with big pocket pairs or other monster hands for fear of wasting your value. This includes when you hit hands like nut straights, flushes, and full houses. Why bother slowplaying if you can get your big bets paid off? You’re still maximizing your EV if you get called occasionally with huge bets as opposed to getting paid off most of the time with conservative bets.   

Player Review Received via E-Mail:I wanted to thank you for tipping me off to Sportsbook Poker. I just signed up there and played there for the first time tonight and I immediately made money. You weren’t exaggerating about the Fish there! I also like their bonus structure a lot and it was easy to make a deposit via credit card. When you combine the 100% bonus match and all the fish it is a no brainer…in fact, it seems like free money. I thought the software was ok, but I prefer Bodog because the games seem to move along a little faster. Anyhow, thanks for the tip….I am going to keep playing there and it looks like it is going to make me quite a bit of money. Brian O’Neil — Arlington, VA”


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