It has been a long time since I played any more than a few hands of poker. As a poker writer for more than a decade, I have focused my work on telling stories, recapping tournaments, and reporting news about players, events, and legislation. I have never been one of those in the poker media who wanted to transition to poker pro, so it was never a priority to spend time at the tables.
When real-money online poker was available in the United States, I occasionally played a few hands, but I rarely downloaded a site if it didn’t have a work purpose. And since Black Friday, I have not played any poker online, not even on any of the mobile apps available.
But when WPT released its PlayWPT social poker and casino platform, I decided to give it a shot. What did I have to lose, besides self-respect and dignity if I lost all of my play-money chips?
The World Poker Tour launched the website with an August 31 announcement this summer in coordination with parent company Ourgame International. PlayWPT was then available to customers around the world with social poker and slot games on the menu. Action is currently available on desktop and through Facebook, though a mobile app is preparing to launch in the coming weeks.
The poker games are fairly self-explanatory with options that include ring games, tournaments, sit-n-gos, and all-in/fold games. There are low, medium, and high stakes with tables consisting of two, six, or nine seats. As for the slot side, the offering is a three-game series called Time Slots, which involves an adventure of sorts for the players and the possibility of hitting a virtual jackpot.
PlayWPT was created to be a fun and social game, not a poker learning tool or even a way to satellite into live World Poker Tour events. The press release announcing the launch touted the game’s features and functions for players on a global scale.
WriterJen Becomes a Social Poker Pro
I opened the PlayWPT site in a new window on my laptop and signed up, which was very quick and easy. I had to enter my email address for verification, but when I received the email and tried to verify my account through the link within the email, I received an error message written in some kind of Chinese (presumably) characters. It could have easily been the compatibility of PlayWPT with my Google Chrome or my ancient Windows 7 setup, but within a very short time after contacting the WPT, I not only had a link that worked, but the tech team was in contact with me to try to diagnose and solve the problem so it does not happen again.
- Customer Service: A
After being given a choice of a male or female avatar, I chose the female, who is dressed to the nines and looks like she might be headed to a nightclub after the game. Once my account was verified, I went to the virtual store in my uncomfortable outfit to get something more casual and comfortable. I only had enough play money for a different dressy top or a kimono or some kind, and the only casual looking woman required 10,000 play coins! She still has rather excessive cleavage, but she looks more comfy in her hat and tank top. I’m now playing solely to afford that outfit with my coins.
- Avatars for Women: C
For a few dollars, chips are available. A massive 280K chip stack is available for $4.99, and players can buy up to 6.1 million coins for $99.99. There are also ways to accumulate points to cash in for chips, as well as numerous items to buy with chips.
However, there are plenty of free chips available at the start. It does require some cautious play in order to build up the stack instead of losing it all with a couple of careless all-in moves, but it is set up to keep players from doing just that.
- Currency: A
As for the look of the site that the press release touted as marrying a “vibrant presentation and dynamic animations with instinctive functionality,” that may be a little dramatic. I do agree with the premise, though. The site’s colors are in line with the World Poker Tour logo and signage themes, and the poker tables are set up complete with commentator desk on the side. (And it looked like a certain Lynn Gilmartin is seated there instead of Mike Sexton and Vince Van Patten.) The entire platform is simple yet contains all that a social online poker player needs.
It also should be noted that there was no download necessary, so access to the site was immediate. And with only poker and slot options, navigating the site is also a breeze.
- Presentation: A
If I was completely new to poker, I would say that it would be nice to have a primer page, something that showed the hand rankings and gave some basic poker tips on blinds, position, and betting. Even a directions page to explain the basics of the various types of poker tables available would be helpful to someone unfamiliar with poker.
In general, there is an FAQ page to be found at the very bottom right of the home screen, which offers answers to some questions about chips, gifts, etc. However, a welcome screen linked to the player’s account might be more helpful to players visiting the site for the first time.
- N00b Information: C
After playing for two days, I was able to run my chip stack up from 2K to 8.3K through solid poker play, well-timed decisions, and an amazing table presence. It was a show of social poker skills like few had ever seen, and I fully intend to continue my PlayWPT domination during further sessions. Based on my cards, I must say that the RNG looks fine with no signs of rigging.
Also, note that there are no hand histories available, so you simply have to believe what I am telling you.
- My Performance: A+
In all seriousness, PlayWPT is fun and has been a refreshing reminder of how much fun poker can be. It is a great way to practice poker skills, learn how to read other online players, and simply spend time with the cards without risking the rent money.
If you give it a try, let me know what you think.