I’m looking to try new things to pass the time while self-quarantining, so I gave Global Poker a test drive. Do I recommend it to American poker players with limited online poker options? That answer isn’t so easy, as you’ll better understand after reading this review.
The live poker scene in the US is currently taking an extended nap. Less than 30 cash games were running across the country Wednesday evening, according to the Bravo Poker app. And you’ll be hard-pressed to find a tournament at any brick-and-mortar card room in the coming weeks.
That means Americans will have to find other ways to play this great game until the global health crisis calms. Sure, you can join a local home game to get your poker fix in, but you’ll be spitting on the health experts who are begging and pleading for everyone to abide by social-distancing guidelines. That leaves you with online poker as the only viable option, unless you want to tempt your fate and risk harming others.
I don’t have to tell you just how depressingly bad the online poker scene is in the US. Only four states have legal poker sites — Pennsylvania, Nevada, New Jersey, and Delaware. There are some unregulated sites out there for American players, but most are a bit sketchy. So, what about Global Poker?
‘Sweeps’ Model Keeping It Real
Global Poker isn’t technically a real money poker site, even though it actually is. Let me explain. The site’s operators found a loophole in the law which they claim makes their “sweepstakes” model completely legal in the US. And given that it launched nearly four years ago, that model seems to be working effectively.
They use carefully chosen wording such as “sweepstakes” instead of “real-money poker” as part of their effort to keep it legal. When you make a deposit (via credit card or Skrill), your money goes toward Gold Coins, which can be used for play-money games similar to Zynga Poker. But with them, for free, you get Sweeps Coins, which is essentially the same money you bought in with but labeled differently.
The conversion rate is 1 Sweeps Coin = $1 when you cash out.
To cash out you click on “redeem prize,” which is their way of saying withdrawal.
Who Would Enjoy Global Poker?
If your name is Stephen Chidwick, Daniel Negreanu, or Phil Ivey, you probably won’t find a game you like at Global Poker. But if you’re a micro, low, or mid-stakes cash game grinder, or recreational player who is desperately in search of a poker game during the coronavirus pandemic, you’ve come to the right place.
The cash games at Global Poker range from $0.05/$0.10 … excuse me, SC 0.05/0.10 all the way up to SC 10/20. Traffic is likely up while everyone is stuck at home. But for the time being, there are quite a few cash games running, even at the $10/$20 … oops, there I go again .. the SC 10/20 and SC 5/10 levels. Like any other poker site, the lower-stakes levels always seem to have more games spread at any given time.
Global Poker offers hold’em and Pot-Limit Omaha games. If you’re a cash game specialist and you’ve run out of things to discuss with your family, bust out the laptop and crush the site’s ridiculously soft games.
Stick with Cash Games
The cash games are solid at Global Poker, by US poker site standards. But unless you’re just having some fun and killing time while self-quarantining, and aren’t concerned with maximizing expected value (EV), you’re better off staying away from most of the SNGs and MTTs.
Most SNGs that run require far more luck than skill to cash. The turbo SNGs are in a 6- or 9-player format, which is standard, but you only start with 50 big blinds and play five-minute levels. Ten minutes into the game and the starting stacks are down to less than 20 big blinds.
It’s even more of a crap-shoot in the super turbo SNGs. Players start with just 500 chips and the blinds increase every three minutes. You’re better off testing your luck on the penny slots.
The MTTs aren’t much better, although you’ll find a few hidden gems in there with a decent structure and a juicy prize pool. Most MTTs are micro-stakes and play fast.
Minor Issues with Platform
Global Poker is simple to use, even for the technologically challenged. You won’t have to download any apps and can play straight from your web browser on a laptop, iPhone, Android, or any iOS device.
The platform is set up just like most poker sites, with SNGs, MTTs, and cash games separated by tabs. You can sort the games easily by stakes. The graphics are nothing special, but I really love how easy it is to sign-up, deposit (credit card, Skrill, etc.), and find a game to play.
Global Poker is convenient, easy to use, and doesn’t take up any memory on your phone. As far as the game-play goes, I had no problems at all.
Global Poker … Yay or Nay?
We don’t yet know yet how many people will be at least temporarily unemployed thanks to the coronavirus. Most poker rooms around the country are closed. Millions are stuck at home with limited entertainment options to help pass the time. Eventually, you’re going to run out of interesting shows to watch on Netflix.
That’s where online poker can help prevent you from going insane. Unfortunately, there aren’t many reliable options available for US players. I do, however, recommend Global Poker for those of you who play micro to mid-stakes cash games or simply can’t go without poker for a month or two.
Will Global Poker remind you of the PokerStars/Full Tilt Poker days prior to Black Friday? Absolutely not. Unless you live outside the US, you won’t find poker sites of that quality. But Global Poker does serve as a reliable alternative, especially if you’re running out of ways to survive the coronavirus self-quarantine.