Betfair Poker is an additional arm of the Betfair Betting Exchange – owned by a UK public limited company (The Sporting Exchange Ltd) and originally established in June 2000. When first added to the site, Betfair Poker was purely a skin on the Cryptologic Network; however in 2006 Betfair acquired PokerChamps.com and integrated its software and customer base into the main site.
Based in London, with the poker game server located in Malta, Betfair offers a very limited choice of games – Texas Hold´em, Stud and Omaha – however has a very loyal client base and active poker forum. Even though the majority of players on the site have migrated from the betting exchanges, the standard of play remains fairly high.
Notable professionals Sorel Mizzi, John Tabatabai and Annette Obrestad have all been sponsored at one stage in their careers by Betfair Poker, and have enjoyed an excellent qualification structure for some of the worlds most popular tournaments – WSOP; WSOPE (for which Betfair Poker are the main sponsors), European Poker Tour, Betfair Live! and Aussie Millions. Betfair also host a daily $12.000 guaranteed freezeout multi-table tournament and weekly $100.000 guaranteed event which is frequently undersubscribed – a comment which applies to many of their daily off-peak competitions.
The freeroll program on Betfair Poker is very limited, however some of the promotions offered to new and existing players more than compensate for this. The initial sign-up bonus is self-determined. You are able to choose from $50, $500 or $1500 bonus, irrespective of the amount you deposit, and targeted on the number of raked hands you play within the first two months. During this period you are also eligible for one of the highest industry rates of rakeback, event-specific bonus competitions, free seats on some of the Betfair Poker sponsored APAT (UK) tour and, for players into social networking, random cash bonuses distributed to their followers on Facebook and Twitter. Betfair runs a “Leaderboard Challenge” for all tournaments and cash games, with prizes and freeroll entries available to the top 100 in each category.
Despite having over two million visitors to the betting exchange each week, the poker side of the business is relatively small. Traffic through the site happens most frequently during the European afternoon and evening (American players are not permitted), peaking at between 1200 and 1500 players and dropping quite dramatically beyond midnight GMT. The software, which is only available for Windows users, is basic with only a limited amount of options available to customize. However it plays solidly and is sufficiently flexible to allow 24 tables to be played simultaneously.
Betfair Poker has a number of unique features including a $10 cap on tournament entry fees (ie $500 + $10 rather than $500 + $30), a transferable player points system which reduces commission charged on sports action, poker based exchange games and a refer-a-friend program which encourages you to get five friends to join Betfair Poker, at which point the company organize a tournament for just the 6 of you – with $100 added prize money! Betfair are renowned for their excellent support services and easy, secure choice of banking options and, as a stand alone poker site, frequently sees as much traffic as some of the more heavily marketed networks.