There has been a lot of commotion since April in terms of which sites are and are not operative and/or open to U.S. players. It gets confusing. Let me see if I can manage to list them without screwing something up.
Tuesday, October 11, 2011
1. Bodog. This is the one I use the most, as I've been telling you lately. With the exception of the one time that I got a prepaid debit card instead of a check in the mail (which actually might have been my own fault; I might have clicked the wrong box on the cashout page), taking my profits off of Bodog has always been fast, easy, and reliable.
The latest news is that Bodog, per se, will cease to service the U.S. market later this year. They have also announced a complete overhaul of their poker software, due out in November. As I understand it, a new skin of the site will take over U.S. accounts, which, in theory, means that one will continue to be able to play, on Bodog, though it won't quite actually be on Bodog, if you see what I mean. I don't really understand why the change is happening, but I hope it goes smoothly.
2. Everleaf network. I set up an account on Everleaf via the LuvinPoker skin a year ago, as I reported here and here. I have barely touched it since the first few days of experimentation. Today it occurred to me to look in and see if my money was still there. It was. I noticed a $5 single-table SNG with two players signed up, so I decided to join them. The three of us sat there for three hours before a fourth person joined, and it was another hour after that before we finally had a table of ten and could start.
Once it got underway, it drove me crazy because it was so ssssslllllloooooowwwww. Seriously, half of the players took the full 20 seconds for EVERY decision. I don't know why, but it was maddening. I did not know that online poker could move so slowly. The final insult was that I had a commanding chip lead on the bubble--over half the chips in play--then lost them all in a series of four all-in pre-flop confrontations, in which I had the other player dominated each time (i.e., 75-80% favorite), and lost four in a row to bubble the damn thing. Had I been playing at the Stratosphere, I would have jumped off the tower.
I submitted a request to cash out the $79 that remained from my original $100 deposit and plan never to go back. Mind you, it wasn't the bad beats that prompted that; it was the ridiculous lack of traffic. It's just pointless to sign up for games that aren't going to go for hours, if at all.
3. Cake. I have an account on the flagship skin, Cake Poker. I ran the balance down to zero a couple of years ago and haven't touched it since. I don't plan to put any money on it until they clean up their act. People I know and trust have been trying to cash out for months, running into all sorts of excuses and delays, with no money forthcoming. That ain't good, and I don't want to get mired in it.
4. Merge. I had an account on Carbon Poker, ran my initial small deposit down to nothing and didn't go back. A few months ago there was a good offer from another skin, Black Chip Poker, so I signed up and made a $100 deposit. I dinked around with it in a couple of small events, but otherwise have let it just sit there. After I finish my current Bodog SNG experiments, I think I will try to do the same sort of thing on Black Chip and see if I can run up my balance to an amount that's worth something.
5. Yatahay. Strangely, I have had an account on this network for longer than just about any other--from long before I moved to Nevada, in fact. It's on the True Poker skin. Theirs was the first 3-D software, so I was curious and signed up for it. It was positively wretched--ugly and slow as molasses. As a result, my money just sat there for years. I finally cashed out sometime after moving to Vegas. In April, 2008, something reminded me of the site, and for reasons that I can no longer remember or justify, I threw another $50 onto it, played a microstakes game or two, then forgot about it again.
This odd, obscure little poker network came back to mind in January, when DoylesRoom announced that it would be moving from Cake to Yatahay. I had heard rumors about the move in advance, and I didn't want to play on Yatahay because of my prior bad experience with the software, so I put in a withdrawal request--which never got completed. A couple of times over the ensuing months I remembered that I had never received my money, emailed the DR support people, and was always ignored. Sometime in the summer I tried logging on, and the new software would not recognize me as a former player from the old site, despite promises made during the move that everything would stay intact. I wrote the support people again, explaining that I had money tied up in the old system, the new wouldn't recognize me, etc. Again, it was like throwing a message in a bottle into the ocean--no reply. I gave up, and mentally wrote the money off as a loss.
Today I was reminded of it again, because of the announcement that DoylesRoom will cease to exist. It is being absorbed by another Yatahay skin, America's Cardroom. I decided to give it one last try, because if the account info wasn't completely lost moving from one network to another, it likely would be with this next transfer. I tried the DR live-chat option, and after just a couple of minutes waiting, got a real person on the other end. Within ten minutes, he or she had found my old account and set it up on the new network. I checked, and sure enough--there was my $188. This was rather astonishing responsiveness, given the months of being ignored when using email to try to accomplish the same task.
In theory, within a few days the money will be transferred to the America's Cardroom site. We'll see. If it survives the transition, I'll try the allegedly updated Yatahay software before deciding whether it's worth keeping some funds there versus pulling it all out.
I think that's all the real-money sites that are available to U.S. players. If there are others I've left out, please let me know in the comments. I would like to have an account at all of them, even if I don't fund or use it. Why? I dunno--just seems like the thing to do. But all the problems are a reminder that keeping money in online poker accounts is an inherently risky thing to be doing these days. It could all vanish in a flash, without warning, because of site mismanagement or because of governmental actions. Be careful out there.
A few minutes after posting the above, I decided to see if I could locate any other poker networks operating in the U.S. I checked PokerScout, and, to my surprise, found four more: First Fidelity (YouWager), World Poker Exchange, Atlantis, and Legendz. I had never heard of any of these. The user reviews posted on PokerScout for all of them say the same thing: There's nobody there, literally not a single table going most of the time, don't bother. That is advice that I think I will take.