William Hill Poker has had an interesting history, beginning life as CD Poker during the poker explosion of the mid-2000s. What was then a small network with gimmicky pseudo-first-person software has grown to one of the largest poker networks in the world hosted by one of Europe’s premier betting houses. This is one of the larger skins on the now-massive iPoker collection of poker rooms. From its humble beginnings iPoker is now the #3 in terms of overall player traffic worldwide. Aside from its size this site is one of the better non-US poker rooms excelling in tournament schedule, abundant cash games, and some pretty large promotions.
While every iPoker skin has identical tournaments and cash games the main reason for choosing William Hill Poker over lesser-known skins is the brand name protection and increased promotions. Although rare there have been instances where fly-by-night no-name skin management has disappeared and left players with little recourse to recover their funds. With William Hill having hundreds of locations in the UK alone and being publicly traded there is no risk of financial stability. There is also the luxury of being able to visit a physical location tied to your gaming account.
Overall, William Hill Poker is a reasonable choice for any non-US player as they succeed in many aspects without any glaring weaknesses. They don’t have a clear-cut advantage of its larger competition but the bonus is sizable for larger depositors, the cash tables are generally soft, and the tournament schedule is busy. The poker room may seem to be secondary to the parent company’s betting house but iPoker has become a strong enough network that simply offering the basics makes for a good overall experience.
Bonus (200% up to $2,000) and Promotions: 4/5
The promotions at William Hill Poker are strong overall, if not particular exceptional or unique. The overall promotional system is structured similarly to many other online poker rooms with the main pillars being a first-deposit bonus, a VIP player rewards program, and miscellaneous other offers like freerolls and Sit and Go jackpots. In terms of the bonus our new players receive 200% extra, valid up to $2,000.
The total bonus cap is extremely high and 200% is certainly more generous than most of the competition. However, it is only released to your cash account at an average-to-below-average rate of $5 per 500 VIP points (called WHPoints). I would estimate I received about $1 of bonus per hour per $1/2 NL table. William Hill Poker does give an above-average 60 days to earn the bonus, but only regular Speed Poker player or high-limit players are likely to do so easily. In addition, our new players receive 5 private freeroll entries, including 4 $1,000 events taking place on Wednesdays and a Saturday event that features a physical prize like high-end electronics.
The same WHPoints that are earned via gameplay or tournament entries to clear the deposit bonus are also used to move you up to a higher level in the VIP Club. Similar to other poker rooms this is a tiered rewards program, which provides increasing benefits as more WHPoints are earned per month. Although it is now common throughout the industry the main issue I take it the requirement that a certain number of WHPoints are earned each and ever month to maintain your VIP level. The actual rewards may be basic in freeroll entries for cash or free real-money tournament entries but they are certainly worthwhile with up to a $5,000 prize pool for the higher tiers. The best part of the VIP Club is the ability to exchange your WHPoints for real money.
Other promotions at William Hill Poker include a regular cash Sit and Go leaderboard with $10,000+ spread out to the top players, large freerolls for players earning WHPoints for a certain number of days in the month, and the long-running Jackpot Sit and Go. Although the Jackpot Sit and Go is more of a gimmick that an attainable goal to reach for the premise. Winning 4-6 consecutive times for buy-ins ranging from $2-50 grants a bonus of up to $50,000.
The marketing scheme here seems to attract new players and this is a positive for experienced hands looking to try out a new site. As the majority of these players are relatively new to poker, I find that they play too many hands and stick with them despite not improving. If you can punish maniacs and calling stations for their thin draws when you have a strong hand you can often build large pots simply by betting for value. Interestingly, William Hill Poker offers a Beginner section in the lobby that is only open to newly registered players. This section only offers lower limits and, unfortunately, isn’t typically looser than the higher-limit counterparts.
In terms of aggressiveness, players looking for action with their pocket Kings and Aces shouldn’t be let down at this poker room with average pot values typically at 20-30x the big blind. I recommend that more conservative players consider raising premium hands more than normal to thin the field and give your hand a better chance of standing up at showdown. The software forces players to make decisions fairly quickly at William Hill Poker and I think that it probably flusters new players (especially in no-limit games) into making poor decisions.
Typically, the tournament traffic hasn’t been very high at this poker room but the number of players has grown substantially on the network with several previously-sizable independent poker rooms coming aboard. They’re offering some better weekly tournaments such as $10,000 or $20,000 guarantees a few times per day and $2,000+ guarantees every hour. Buy-ins are typically less than $20 with many offering rebuys and add-ons. William Hill Poker also offers regular Bounty events, which is one of my favorite tournament variations where knocking out each player earns you an instant payout, as well as the bizarre luck-dependent All-In tournaments where players have to go all-in every hand.
The largest weekly event is currently a $200,000 weekly guarantee. It takes place every Sunday for a $200 buy-in and there are numerous daily multi-table satellites to win cheaper seats. While the buy-in is more than comparable events at the larger sites the advantage can be found for some in the smaller field. A more compact player count cuts down on both the staggering number of opponents battling to reach the payout spots and the time commitment required. Other notable tournaments include a $30,000 guarantee on Saturdays for $100 and a $50,000 guarantee on Fridays also for $100, although the latter does allow rebuys and add-ons. Daily events take place for $50 with guarantees between $10,000-20,000.
The rest of the tournament offerings at William Hill Poker are mostly suited for players who prefer smaller buy-ins. The most popular events have buy-ins under $10 and draw several hundred players during peak hours. The tournament schedule is easy to understand since they have several events that take place every day or every week at the same time. Sit and Gos are also popular up to the $50 level with short wait times for standard, turbo, and double-stack variations. The popular double-up variant is also now offered where half the table doubles their buy-in. Since the ring game traffic is inexperienced it largely spills over into the tournaments and observant players should be able to consistently finish well. The buy-ins are fairly high for the larger guarantees but overall this site has a strong tournament section with numerous events per hour.
The software has a strong package both in terms of graphics and ease of use. Each player is able to choose their own avatar at the table, although the choices are limited to about a dozen 3D renders, and it now appears in a small box beside your screen name. At the table, the cards are an easy-to-see large size and the table visuals are pleasant. I also prefer the William Hill Poker hand history feature over the larger poker rooms as it uses a graphical interface as opposed to the typical tough-to-read text layout.
William Hill Poker had been using the classic Playtech software platform for several years, which I always find to be extremely user-friendly if lacking in advanced customization features. While still developed by Playtech the graphics have undergone an overhaul, now sporting sharp minimalistic graphics. Players are familiar with the simple layout, which results in above-average game speed of 60-70 hands per hour at full 9-seated cash games. There are a number of new features such as a friend list, a number of lobby filters, integration if the VIP Club into each table, and keyboard shortcuts for table actions.
William Hill Poker and its parent iPoker network at large have added what they’re branding as “Speed Poker”, a remarkable new way to play cash games that I hope becomes standard at every online poker room within the next few years. By clicking the Speed Poker section of the lobby you’ll find a single entry for each limit, both in 6 and 9-seated versions, listing the total number of players seated across all tables.
What’s different is that William Hill pools every player to make new tables constantly and virtually eliminate wait-time. Each time you fold you’re immediately placed a new table with cards waiting against other player who have just done the same thing. Players can typically see 150-200 hands per hour per table, which is incredible and eliminates the need to multi-table, although doing so with multiple Speed Poker entries is an option. Speed Poker is extremely addicting and allows you to play an extreme number of hands per hour with little-to-no downtime between hands to lull you into making poor plays simply to be entertained.
One of the benefits of working with an established poker room such as William Hill Poker is the history of financial stability and quick cashouts. Electronic services such as Moneybookers and NETeller will receive withdrawals within 12 hours and often within minutes. Even slower methods such as wire transfer or paper checks are received within about a week. The cashier is massive with just about every Canadian and European withdrawal method available.
Customer Service: 4.5/5
Customer service is one of the strong points as they offer the 3 most important service methods: live support, telephone support, and direct e-mail support. I usually just stick with the live chat and take any possible opportunity not to have to pick up the phone. The few times I’ve used the chat service I’ve been impressed with the knowledge base of the representatives. Another feature that users might like is the stand-by chat support built into the cashier to assist with any deposit issues.
When I first tried out William Hill Poker and the overall network full no-limit ring games were difficult to find at the middle stakes. Fortunately, the site traffic has truly exploded as a number of previously-autonomous poker rooms have been gobbled up by the iPoker network. During the evening hours for Europeans this is one of the busiest poker room networks online. No-limit ring game traffic is excellent with 50-60 active ring games at each limit up to the $1/2 level.
As the stakes increase to $2/4 and beyond there are still typically 10-20 active tables. Fixed limit players can also find at least 5-10 active tables up to the $5/10 level in addition to a a dozen or so active Omaha tables. Tournament traffic has also highly benefited with nightly guaranteed events attracting about 800-1,000 players. Players from areas other than Europe should be aware that the network cash games shrink to less than half of its normal player count during overnight European hours.
Financial stability of William Hill. With so many skins now on iPoker that tend to blend together Will Hill stands out because of its association with one of Europe’s largest betting houses. Your funds aren’t ever going to be at risk at this publicly-traded company.
Large bonus with 60 days to earn it. Even though the clearing rate isn’t great the 200% offer for our players makes it one of the largest online.
Speed Poker eliminates waiting time between hands. Now my preferred way to play cash games all iPoker skins now offer Speed Poker that finds you a new table full of players as soon as you fold your hand.
Game Selection: Hold’em, Omaha, Stud
Limits: Limit: 2c/4c up to $300/$600 No-Limit: 1c/2c up to $200/$400
Deposit Methods: NETeller, major credit cards, Moneybookers, Instadebit, UseMyBank, Ukash, Click2Buy, WebMoney, wire transfer, and numerous other region-specific methods for Canada and Europe.
Minimum Deposit: $20
Tips: As with most loose online sites, I recommend a tight-aggressive style of play at William Hill Poker. As Doyle Brunson recommends in his Super System books, you usually want to be playing the opposite style that most of the table is playing. With most players willing to gamble it up at this site, I would tighten up and play strong cards. Be willing to snap them off if they’re on a draw, and certainly make them pay to do it.
In no-limit play you’ll want to bet at least the size of the pot with two suited or connected cards showing on the board. This will statistically make it a mistake for your opponents to call with a straight or flush draw. You’ll be giving them 2:1 odds on hitting their straight or flush on the turn, but they’re only a little less than a 4:1 favorite to hit it by the next card.
If your opponents weakly call your bet, you’re most likely correct in your assumption that he’s on his draw. I would suggest betting even more on the turn if a blank falls to protect your hand. I have learned to make my opponent pay a hefty price to draw after many under-bets on the turn trying to keep him in the pot. Unfortunately, I was just giving him better odds to stay in with his draw.