The 888.com poker network is an “easy-to-remember” trade name for Virtual Holdings Limited, a Gibraltar based publicly listed company which was founded in 1997. The company´s first enterprise into the gaming industry was the “Casino-on-net” brand which was joined in 2002 by the “Reef Club Casino”, and “Pacific Poker” – 888.coms first foray into the online poker explosion.
In 2006, 888.com took the decision to ban USA players from its sites, and consequently its market share dipped. Whereas it was once in a healthy “Top 5” position amongst the most popular web sites, it now only sees an average of around 800 cash players at any one time, with peak figures of 1500 during its busiest times. Despite a rebranding (from Pacific Poker to 888.com Pacific Poker) and various improvements to its software and functionality, the 888 Network is still to recover the lost ground due to UIGEA.
888 Poker has since been joined by several other companies looking to expand into the online poker boom including the football pools company Littlewoods, and the number one online horseracing web site – The Racing Post. The fact that many of 888 Pokers own players have migrated from their casino and sports book operation, and their new clients are derived from football and horserace enthusiasts, has given the 888.com Network a reputation for very loose “fishy” play.
888 Network Software
The software for the site has been developed in-house and is known as Cassava. Although it provides the basics for game play, the graphics leave a lot to be desired and 888.com were only recently able to introduce multi-tabling to their site – now allowing up to 16 tables to be played simultaneously. The action on the network seems to take place very quickly – cards are dealt almost at once, whisked away with undue haste at the end of game and players are only allowed 20 seconds in which to select their action.
There are a number of nice touches for players at the tables, with a unique way of making notes, instant statistics and a choice of avatars and backgrounds/themes to try to make the software look better, but even with those and the easy to navigate lobby area, the interface still feels “chunky” and old-fashioned. One other, slightly crazy thing, is that the game server is set to GMT, yet games played at 14.00pm (according to the server) have names such as “Late Night Madness” and “Midnight Mania” – At this time of day, it is only midnight in certain Pacific locations! Fortunately, the software uses little space on the computer and is available in Windows and Mac – with a limited Flash version also available.
All the sites on the 888 Network operate the same popular bonus scheme of 100% initial deposit bonus up to $400, with 25% of the bonus amount credited to players´ accounts immediately.
They also run a series of networked “Beginner” freeroll tournaments, exclusively for players who have made a cash deposit with $3.500 in total prize funds available to boost the winners´ bankrolls. They also have a daily “Challenge Series” which operates similar to a steps program and has some exceptionally valuable final games which are often undersubscribed. Furthermore, they run an excellent loyalty points program and each site on the network has an outstanding record in their customer services department.
There is very little traffic for games beyond Texas Hold´em, even though the network provides options for Omaha and 7 Card Stud. Tournaments are almost exclusively reserved for Texas Hold´em and focus largely around the Challenge Series.
Sites within the 888 Network