In evaluating online poker software and networks, many factors must be taken into account. They range from the number of tables available and the number of players participating to their skill levels, the variety of games offered, the reliability and reputation of the provider, the sophistication of the user interface, and much, much more. Currently some 613 online poker rooms exist, of which 493 offer services in English and 187 accept play from the United States.
Following are ten of the very best online poker software providers and networks, as recommended by players, industry watchdogs and online poker trade media. The information provided here was correct and up-to-date at the time of publication, but circumstances change quickly on the Internet, so players should always confirm claims for themselves before committing funds to any related accounts.
- Bwin.Party – Party Poker is the world’s current #1 among online poker rooms, and its technology is second to none thanks to the merger of Bwin Interactive Entertainment and PartyGaming in 2011. The downloadable poker software is sophisticated and easy to use; tournaments are plentiful and game variety is excellent. Poker rooms powered by Bwin.Party include Coral Poker, Betfair Poker, EuroPoker.com, RedKings Poker, Hollywood Poker and many more.
- OnGame Network – Linking the various Bwin.Party poker rooms is the massive OnGame Network, allowing up to 40,000 players to compete online at a time. Acquired by Bwin.Party in 2005, OnGame was sold to Shuffle Master in 2012, which can only add to the network’s success.
- Playtech – One of the most trusted names in online gaming applications, Playtech provides the code that powers a huge number of the world’s top poker sites. Among them are bet365 Poker, William Hill Poker, Betfred Poker, Titan Poker, Expekt Poker, Sun Poker, myBet Poker, Poker770, Mansion Poker, BetSpace Poker, Genting Poker and Notable Poker.
- iPoker Network – Honored by the EGR Awards as the 2012 Poker Network of the Year, iPoker brings together the poker rooms powered by Playtech. As many as 60,000 players may be online at any given time. TST certification and state-of-the-art collusion prevention and detection tools ensure a secure and fair gaming experience.
- Microgaming – A huge name in gaming software since 1994, Microgaming’s product portfolio offers over 300 casino and poker games. The Microgaming Poker Network (MPN) includes Ladbrokes Poker, 32Red Poker, Unibet Poker, Wild Jack Poker, Poker Time and BetWay Poker, to name just a few.
- Cake Gaming – When it comes to software and network development, this company is all about quality and less interested in quantity. The downloadable Cake Gaming poker application features photo-realistic tables, web-shared hand histories, player tracking protection and other high-tech aspects that players truly love. The Cake Gaming Network hosts not only Cake Poker but also Sports Interaction Poker, Power Poker, Players Only and Tower Gaming.
- Merge Gaming – Offering a world-class digital poker platform, this young company has been bringing a challenge to its older and larger competitors. The Merge Gaming Network includes Carbon Poker, GR88 Poker, Cool Hand Poker and a number of other highly reputable sites.
- 888 – Based in Gibraltar, the 888 Group has recently completed the branding transition of its world-renowned Pacific Poker to 888 Poker, along with programming upgrades for the long-lived poker room. Other sites powered by 888 poker software include the World Series of Poker Online and LuckyAcePoker. A recent tie-in with Caesars International has led to speculation of even bigger things to come, such as a foothold in the U.S. via Nevada.
- GTECH G2 – This company’s poker product offers an authentic player experience with exceptional graphics, plus multi-table tournaments that recreate the excitement and strategic battles of a real life poker room. Sites employing GTECH G2 software include InterPoker, Poker Heaven, Virgin Poker, Sportingbet, Poker Kings and Casino Club Poker, among others. Poker rooms are interlinked through the company’s own International Poker Network (IPN).
- IGT Interactive – Better known as a supplier of gaming machines to land-based casinos, IGT has burst onto the Internet poker scene by providing the software that powers Victor Chandler Poker. The company is building a network in Europe based on business-to-business expertise, and currently claims partnerships with iGame, Betsson, BetVictor, RedBet, PokerMambo and other noteworthy poker purveyors.
Those are the top ten, but it would be unfair to some of the world’s largest poker sites to leave out those that run on proprietary software. They include the PokerStars network with its dot-EU, dot-FR, dot-BE and dot-IT sites, as well as the U.K.’s popular Sky Poker based in Aldernay and the wonderful 3-D games of PKR France. Also, Bodog’s many poker rooms run on custom platforms developed especially for their branded franchisees, including the newly launched Bovada Poker out of Latvia.