You want to play online poker on the best sites, so how does Paddy Power measure up?
Paddy Power(PP) bookmaker is the largest betting service in Ireland, with over €881.6 million in revenue. Poker is only a small part of their empire, with their major profits coming from other forms of betting. Their site is quite obviously catering to novice level players, as evidenced by the types of advice they give to their players. Taking a quick look at their Strategy School (where you can learn the rules of poker) is a laugh, with their top ten tips first telling you to keep the best players to the right of you, and then practically the next sentence is telling you to keep the worst players to your right! While the info might not all be good, there are some very good concepts to be learned for novice players. They do have some good advice on bank roll management and keeping tilt out of your game, so new players could use their school for very general information. Don’t think that just because you live in Ireland you need to play on PP. As you’ll see, they are lacking in some departments and aren’t a great fit for everyone. PS: if you want to learn to play poker at the micros, check out our strategy guide.
Bonus Information and Rakeback
PP has a huge strength: their marketing department. They have cornered the Irish market, with many players unaware of the other (potentially better) options available to them.
There are two different choices of signup bonuses. Choice A is to deposit at least 5€, and earn a PP Point to earn 25€ worth of tournament tokens used for various different styles of low buyin tournaments, from fast paced heads up no their “no lose” tournament where everyone either cashes or gets their buyin right back. Choice B is to get a 100% deposit match of up to 200€.
Want to read more about their bonus programs? Their official website is the best resource available.
Once you have cashed in your bonus, the quality of games and the rakeback are what keep you on a gambling site. So how does PP compare? PP’s rakeback scheme is called their “VIP Loyalty Scheme”, and features 6 tiers of “power levels” with increasing rake-back percentages.
New players all receive 6.6% rakeback. As you earn Power Points, you earn a higher “Power Level” which brings with it higher rakeback, capped at 22.2%.
How do you earn points? As you for real money you earn 20 points every EUR €1 of rake or tournament fee. Once you have earn 1 point a month, you level up to “Power Two” where you receive 10% rakeback.
The monthly requirements for each level of rakeback are as follows:
Power One: 0 required for 6.6%
Power Two: 1 required for 10%
Power Three: 200 required for 13.3% (€10 of rake paid)
Power Four: 1,000 required for 15.4% (€50 of rake paid)
Power Five: 4,000 required for 20% (€200 of rake paid)
Max Power: 12,000 required for 22.2% (€600 of rake paid)
Paddy Power Rake Comparison review
Rooms make their money by taking rake from pots played. Generally, the higher the stakes you play, the lower the percentage of rake that you have to pay.
For No-Limit Texas Holdem, PP has some of the highest rake levels of all sites.
The breakdown is as follows for each of the blind levels:
$0.01/$0.02 – $0.05/$0.10 = 6.6%
$0.10/$0.20 – $25/$50 = 5%
At some levels, you are paying double the rake that you would have on Stars. However, the percentages do not tell the true story of how much rake you would pay. For example, let’s look at the lowest stakes and compare Stars to PP.
In this case, two players have a large stack of $10 at the $0.01/$0.02 game. They both go all in, and player A is the winner. How much rake does he pay on the $20 pot?
On PP, he would pay 6.6% of $20, which amounts to $1.2 – capped at $1.00. At PP, you have to pay an entire dollar.
On Stars he would pay 3.3% of $20, which amounts to $.60 – capped at $0.30. On Stars, you never pay more than $0.30 in rake at the $0.01/$0.02 game.
So what does this mean? PP simply has much worse rake than Stars, especially at the lowest stakes. You pay a higher percentage, and if you like to go all-in, you are punished with higher caps.
However, PP rake is not that much worse than 888 (but Paddy Power doesn’t have a no-deposit bonus. (If you want to get free money, check out our article on the best no-deposit required bonuses.)
What’s the conclusion? PP rake is not great – but that means that there will be less professionals (and hey, you will earn higher levels of Power quicker!).
If you want to play the microstakes, you might be better off at Stars, even though the competition will be tougher.
Games offered and traffic
PP offers Texas Holdem, Omaha, Omaha H/L, Stud games, and Razz. However, only Texas Holdem has the player pool to run at most times. Even on the weekend, there are often no other game types running.
PP followed Stars in offering speed games and a variant on Spin and Go’s called twister (fast paced 3 man tournaments with randomized prize pools). There are also MTTs with decent prize pools, and free games for those who are just learning the rules of poker.
Here’s what you can expect in terms of speed options on a Saturday night.
People have complained about Paddy Power’s software in the past. Their site runs on the Ipoker network, which has featured some major updates during the past year to address problems that have arisen. One of the key difficulties is connection problems which still do persist.
PP also is the only site we have seen which allows one “all-in event” per day for players who lose internet connection halfway through a hand. Basically, a player who disconnects in a hand while have a side pot created for them which they will win or lose depending on their holdings if they disconnect from the game. They have measures to stop abuse from players, and it shows how they are more inclined to offer an environment favourable to recreational players. No one who plays for fun enjoys frantically trying to reconnect to the internet when they have the stone cold nuts!
Software is often a matter of preference. If you do get the occasional connection problem, we recommend that you play until you have a single disconnect, take advantage of the all-in event, and then stop playing for the day.
Security and Support
You’ve heard it a million times before: online poker is rigged! (If you haven’t count yourself lucky. Spend an hour or two on the tables, and after a brutal suckout the fish are sure to complain.) PP uses random numbers certified by the independent body TST TECHNICAL SYSTEMS TESTING. As you use their client and services, make sure that you see a “padlock symbol” at the bottom right of your page for any transactions as this shows that the information transmitted will be encrypted. There is a 24 hour dedicated security team working around the clock to ensure security is protected.
We tested out the support ourselves using their live chat option, and asking whether they had ever had a loss of player data before or other security breaches caused by hacking. It connected within a minute. We were waiting for roughly seven minutes before the agent was able to realize that he did not have any information on hand, but that he would have to escalate it.
What does this show? Sometimes, support chat just wants to get you off the line. Personally, I have had terrible experiences where support would prefer to guess the answer instead of taking the time to research it themselves, admit that they do not have the information, and escalate it to a department that does. While the first line of support did do their job well, and I received an email confirming that the query was escalated, nothing ever came of it. If this is the standard process for answering players questions, then you may find yourself in frustrating situations when things go wrong in the future for you.
Paddy Power’s advertising thrives on controversy, and apparently their motto is that all publicity is a good thing, even when it involves people complaining about advertisements featuring blind footballers kicking cats and taking bets on whether or not President Obama would be assassinated. Whatever they are doing, it worked, with them cornering a large part of the Irish market.
PP is unique in that they have such a strong connection to their bookmaking and gambling sites. That means that when gamblers win a big score (aka whales) they sometimes like to try their luck at the tables . If you practice proper game selection, you can find some of the juiciest games available online.
How to deposit
As long as your regional laws allow deposit by credit card, the simplest way to deposit is by Visa or Mastercard. You can also use EntroPay, which is a prepaid account which gives you a Virtual Visa Card. Careful though – there are fees! As well, you will want to check with your card provider whether you can withdraw using the card. European MasterCard is an example of a card which does not allow withdrawals to be credited to the card.
You can also use debit, PP Cash Cards, Mobeybookers/Skrill, Neteller, Paypal, Cheques (in EUR and GBP), and Bank Transfers. Generally with gambling sites, a healthy range of withdrawal and depositing options is a sign that they are doing everything above board, and PP certainly has many options available. While PP does not charge for depositing, each method can have individual fees.
PP has done a great job at setting up a website and client that appeals to recreational players. What recreational players do not always pay attention to is how much rake they are paying! While you might want to take advantage of Paddy Power’s deposit bonuses to try out the site, it is likely that once you realize how much rake you are paying that you might want to switch to a different site. Take a look at our article comparing deposit bonuses or learn how to get free poker money.