Bovada Poker, as it has come to be known among United States-based players, is a rather unique poker network that kept its doors open for Americans despite the stringent regulations and the recent US Government’s crackdown on online gambling. What makes Bovada so special is the fact that the site has been always marketed to recreational players instead of people who turned poker into their profession; consequently, the network introduced a number of interesting features such as its trademark anonymous tables, which are supposed to make it difficult for poker veterans to hunt newcomers or use tracking software to gain an advantage.
The Bovada downloadable software is available both for Windows PC and Mac, which is quite important since neither site offers any kind of browser-based instant play option. The software sports a familiar Bovada red, black and white theme and allows you to browse the available games by table name, poker game, stakes, limit, the number of players, the average size of the pot and the average number of players who go to see the flop. Unlike on other sites which allow you to play in as many as 10 cash games or more, the maximum number of cash game and Sit & Go tables you can open on Bovada is 4.
On the other hand, the room allows you to play up to twenty Multi-Table Tournament tables simultaneously, but keep in mind that to utilize this feature you’ll need a lot of screen real estate and, preferably, two or three displays. Other than that, Bovada distinguishes itself from other networks by introducing the aforementioned anonymous tables, an in-client blackjack option and a special Rabbit Cam feature, which allows you to check what the next card would have been after any completed hand to satisfy your curiosity. All things considered, while the unique features of the Bovada software might seem tempting for poker newbies, the limited multi-tabling functionality might prove to be a deal breaker for seasoned grinders.
The available card games include Texas Hold’em, Omaha Hi, Omaha Hi/Lo, 7 Card Stud as well as 7 Card Stud Hi/Lo and come in Fixed Limit, Pot Limit and No Limit varieties. Furthermore, the game you can play range from heads-up through short-handed all the way up to full-ring, while the stakes start with $0,01/$0,02 micros and go all the way up to $30/$60. Aside from cash games, Bovada offers a wide variety of Sit & Go tournaments, which are also available in Turbo and Multi-Table versions with the biggest starting as soon as 45 players sign up. What’s more, the network hosts its own brand of fast fold poker, which is dubbed Zone Poker and as you’d expect transitions you to another table as soon as you fold your hand. Finally, Bovada hosts numerous scheduled tournaments with guaranteed prize pools ranging from $500 all the way up to $100,000. Those tournaments are available in numerous formats and usually have a high turnout.
Bovada isn’t the most popular poker network out there, but that doesn’t mean that traffic is low. The network currently ranks eighth in the prestigious PokerScout rankings with a seven day average of 1320 cash game players online and over 2900 unique users in peak hours, which places it close to PartyPoker or 888 as far as traffic spike is concerned. As a result, the tables tend to be filled with people as long as you aren’t playing at odd hours and you certainly won’t have to stare at the lobby for hours until your Sit & Go tournament finally kicks off.
As you’d expect from a network that offers so many beginner-friendly features and anonymous tables, the competition is extremely soft and the number of die-hard regulars is surprisingly low. Obviously, this situation changes if you opt to play higher stakes, but all things considered you’re going to find more fish than in other popular rooms regardless of the tables you choose to play on. The scheduled tournaments are also very popular with plenty of players signing up, so the final prize pools tend to exceed the guarantee regardless of the necessary buy-in amount.
Bovada offers a 100% Welcome Bonus, which allows you to score up to $1,000 in cash bonuses by making a first deposit and accumulating enough poker points to claim the entire amount. The bonus is released in six levels – for getting your first 50 points you’ll receive $10, 250 will get you $40, 750 – $40, 1,500 – $150, 3,000 – $300 and 5,000 – $400. Keep in mind that the bonus is available only for 60 days, so you’ll have to grind quite a lot in order to secure the entire package, especially with the limited multi-tabling functionality.
Other than that, Bovada invites new customers to six exclusive qualifier’s for the $100,000 Guaranteed Sunday Tournament, a special $1,000 Bad Beat Bonus as well as $5,000 freerolls. What’s more, Bovada has recently launched its own series of live events dubbed Anonymous Poker series with qualifier buy-ins starting as low as $0.66. Last, but definitely not least, returning players will be able to convert their Poker Points into tournament tickets or exchange them for cash with 100 points being worth exactly $1. Keep in mind that while this exchange rate is standard for most tickets, better rates are sometimes offered for a limited selection of tournaments or promotions.
At a Glance
To conclude, Bovada should be an excellent choice for anyone new to the poker game. The generous bonuses and freerolls allow you to experience the thrill of competing for high prizes without having to deal with excessive sign-up fees, while the diverse game selection will you a chance to check out all but the most exotic variants of the game. For American players, Bovada Poker is probably the only decent choice, as the remaining US-facing networks tend to suffer from low traffic issues and generally speaking don’t offer the same quality of software and support.