Welcome Bonus: 20% Cash Back Up To $100
Playing Currency: US Dollars
Other Jackpots: Weekly Free Roll Giveaways ($1000/$2000)
Game Selection: Texas Hold’em, 7Card Stud, Omaha High and Omaha High/Low, Stud 8 or Better.
Free Play: Yes
Deposit Options: Visa, MasterCard, NETeller, FirePay, Western Union
Customer Service: 24/7 email firstname.lastname@example.org
Best feature: Shares tables with Party Poker.
Empire Poker is a Party Poker under a different brand name. It was created as a spin off by Party Poker and operates as a separate company. Players benefit in a number of ways including table sharing arrangements (you could be playing against either a Party Poker player or an Empire player with all the traffic that combining brings), different table layouts and different tournaments.
We would summarise the experience as being a different variety but to the same high standard. Picking a favorite is a matter of personal choice, although there are a number of subtle minor differences to note.
Empire Poker offers Hold’em, Omaha, Omaha Hi/Lo, 7-Card Stud, 7-Card Stud Hi/Lo, heads up and tournament play. Hold’em variants include no limit, pot limit, and limited play poker. Tournament play allows single table, multi table and competition tournaments.
Satellite games take place throughout the week for the big $200 buy in No-Limit game held every Saturday and Sunday. Average prize pool for the Saturday and Sunday games can be as high as $400,000.
Empire Poker shares with Party our vote for best provider of Tournament Texas hold’em poker games online today. The sheer number of registered users (discussed below) supports multiple tournament play 24 hours a day. Players can opt for Single Table, Multi Table or Satellite games to suit all budgets. Tournaments often don’t have a start time (common across most other providers), the games start as soon as each table fills with players. At any time of the day or night I have not had to wait more than 3 minutes for a tournament to start.
Empire had a problem with their server’s inability to refresh traffic levels at tournament tables. This led us to attempt to enter a number of tables with say 5 seats left only to find them gone and the game started a couple of seconds later when attempting to join. Essentially traffic was so great that tables filled within seconds. New servers appear to have been fitted in January 2004 as we have not come across the problem since late last year despite a huge increase in players. The server additions enable players to find a table and sit down at it before all those with Broadband leap in and take the seats!
Empire offers their own wide selection of tournaments to suit all players and table types and some are distinct from Party Poker. They are currently running a $1,300,000 Dream Team Tournament Prize Pool. To our knowledge Empire offer the widest range of Freeroll games (you don’t pay to enter but there are prizes) on the web. We feel it is worth downloading both sites for the extra range of tournament options.
Limits & Rake
Table limits only go so far as to allow $100 No Limit games. This is middle ground for poker providers and probably represents a safe place for the poker room to position themselves. We are not fans of unlimited buy-in No Limit games because you can always be caught out with a BadBeat – Empire Poker has the balance just about right.
The rake at this site is standard. The site uses standard 5 per cent capped at $3 for medium limit games. For lower limit games a max of $1 for $1/$2 games and 50 cents for $0.5/$1 games is taken out of the pot. However, this is only taken if the pot reaches $20 and $5 respectively. For higher limit games Empire Poker offer good value with significantly less than 5 per cent taken out of each pot.
Software and Extra Features
We like Empire Poker’s 3D layout best of all. It is plainer than Party Poker which we prefer. You can turn 3D into 2D by turning off the characters leaving just the chairs (popular option for those of you familiar with 2D layouts) but we prefer to leave the players on as they add something. In our opinion, the subtle changes make the site less cluttered than Party.
Overall connectivity was found to be good even on a 56k modem during peak play on a Saturday evening. As mentioned above, tournament table updates can be slow. Disconnects when they do occur are taken care of quickly with the software making repeated automatic attempts to reconnect with the server.
The software at Empire Poker runs very smoothly and account download and setup could not be smoother. One advantage of playing Empire Poker is your 20% bonus on any amount of money you deposit (first deposit only) into your poker playing account up to a maximum of a $100 bonus.
Customer Service is excellent with 24/7 email support and fast message turnaround.
As you would expect given the links to Party Poker, security is taken very seriously. The site processing center uses the highest levels of data encryption – 128 bit encryption to ensure the highest level of privacy and confidentiality of your data both to and from the online poker room.