Important News Regarding Absolute Poker:
Due to a recent change in policy at Absolute Poker, to recieve the 35% deposit bonus you must use the bonus code AP35.
General: Lately my favorite place to play has been Absolute Poker. The traffic here has really been picking up, and Absolute is right on the verge of breaking into the elite group of poker rooms in every sense. Absolute has been refferred to as the "rising star" of online poker, and for good reason. The traffic here has catapulted up to over 8000 during peak hours (nearly double what it was when I first wrote this review in October). With this juicy action at every kind of table you can imagine coupled with great promotions like a 35% first deposit bonus, many reload bonuses, and around 20 freerolls a day, it's easy to understand why experienced players and fish alike are swarming to and sticking with Absolute Poker.
In addition they offer one uniquely cool promotion in the 2005 World Series of Poker Freeroll challenge. Yep, one person a month will be winning a trip to the WSOP next May totally FREE. (Just as to not confuse anyone, this would be winning a trip to the WSOP as a fan, not as a player. There are seperate satellite tournaments available to win entry into the World Series, but they're not free.)
Games: Hold 'Em, Omaha, 7 Card Stud, Omaha Hi/Lo, 7 Card Stud Hi/Lo
If you're looking for a place with a lot of low limit options, Absolute should suit you nicely. They not only have $0.02./$0.04 hold 'em tables, but also have sit-n-goes starting as low as $0.50 + $0.10. This makes it a good option for poor college students or people freshly born into the world of poker.
On the upper end of the stakes scale, there are limit tables up to $25/$50 along with no limit tables. In the tournament arena Absolute offers sit-n-goes as high as $200 + $10, and their most expensive multi-table tournaments are WSOP and World Poker Tour satellites which cost $100 + $8 and $150 + $12 respectively. In case you're not too familiar with the standard tournament fees, Absolute's are quite reasonable (about half of what Party Poker charges.) Their rakes, likewise, are half of that of Party Poker.
Additionally Absolute offers some tournaments with guarenteed prize pools. There is a $1000 guarenteed tournament daily and a $6000 and $12,000 each weekly.
Absolute Poker offers twenty freerolls daily. As I mentioned earlier there are the WSOP Freeroll Challenge tournaments of which there are several a day. The top five finishers in each of those freerolls will earn entry to another tournament to be held at the end of each month. There are also more standard daily freerolls each offering a $50 prize pool.
Software/Servers: The Absolute Poker software isn't too bad. Graphically and soundwise it is pretty standard stuff. It also has stats available at the table to help you analyze your play.
A couple of times it has gotten hung up for me, and I wasn't able to type anything into the chat. One time I couldn't click anything on the screen and I had to restart the program.
As for the servers I have witnessed one case of down time. For about 10 minutes people were regularly getting kicked off and signing back on, which is no fun when you're in the middle of a hand. After that there were a few minutes where everything was down. To their credit, they did get the situation taken care of quickly and effectively. I've played there a lot recently and it seems this was an isolated inccident.
Absolute Poker Fun Fact: The traffic at Absolute's play money tables seems extraordinarily high for a site of its size. In seeking out the reason for this I discovered that Absolute has a $15 million play chip hall of fame. When a player earns $15 million in play chips, they have $50 in real money deposited in their account and are inducted to the Hall of Fame list.
Bonus: Absolute offers a 35% bonus on first deposits up to $210 along with the standard $50 refer a friend program. (Be sure to enter the bonus code AP35 as this is now the only way to recieve the bonus.) The Absolute Rewards Program also offers player points to be used for tournament entry and eventually merchandise in an Absolute store.
Conclusion: With the freerolls, extra cheap tables and lower rakes and tournament fees, Absolute Poker would be a good choice for someone looking to make their first deposit. It'd even be a good choice for someone just looking for a place to play for play money. I also seem to do well there, personally, so it's become a favorite. A lot of the people that play at Absolute swear by it, and that is probably the best endorsement a poker room can have. As the traffic here continues to grow this is becoming a better and better place to play all the time.
8.5 out of 10
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