Bovada Poker Network
Bovada is the US version of the well-known gambling enterprise Bodog. Since 2000 they have offered multiple products including casino games, sports, horse betting and, yes, poker.
What stands out most to me (about Bovada) is that over the last 4-5 years that I’ve been involved with online gambling, I’ve not heard anything negative about their poker games or software. Granted, there are always things that rub people the wrong way, like Bovada’s attempt to discourage grinders from taking over their tables. But if you’re a recreational players, or grinder that can look past things like a 4-table maximum or not being allowed to use your HUD, it’s a solid site to be signed up to. They have equally solid software – one of the best available to US players today. Read on, and see for yourself.
Bovada provides a native poker download for both PC and Mac operating systems. The download process takes a couple of minutes to download and install to your computer.
They don’t have a real money poker app though, nor do they have a flash version that you could play on instead. The only sections that are mobile ready is sportsbetting and casino. The mobile casino section is limited in how many games are available. The selection is still good though; you an play games like blackjack, craps and slots.
Available Games & Stakes at Bovada
The games you can choose from at Bovada include holdem, omaha and 7-card stud. These games are included in all formats including cash, SNGs and MTTs, and formats. The one exception is Zone Poker – the only games available are holdem and omaha. Depending on the game you play, stakes will vary from .02/.05 to $30/60 to $200.
There are several tournament variations to choose from too. You can play single, multi-table, qualifier and live events. There are turbos, hyper-turbos, 6-max and guaranteed tournaments too. In fact, Bovada guarantees more than $170,000 in tournaments every Sunday.
An exciting addition to Bovada’s lineup of games is Zone Poker, the only fast-fold product (like Zoom or Rush Poker) available to American players. They launched this in August 2013. It’s a unique game, not only because of the fast fold element, but because it’s fast fold combined with the anonymity that Bovada is now known for.
Overall, the selection of games and stakes is average compared to other networks. You’ll find more games at Merge and fewer at networks like Chico or Winning. Bovada is somewhere in the middle. More importantly though, Bovada receives the most traffic than any other network. So they have players to fill their tables up and keep them running.
Lobby & Table Software Features
Bovada’s lobby is simple to use. Above the list of tables (which takes up 80% of the lobby) is their filter. This simple, yet effective tool helps you to quickly find the games you want to play. Starting from the left you’ll choose whether you want to play Zone Poker, cash games, SNGs or MTTs. As you move to the right you’ll choose what variations, games, stakes and limits you want to play. Once you’ve made your choices only those tables will be shown below.
The one thing you’ll notice about the lobby that’s different from other sites is that they don’t show what players are at what tables. You don’t have a ‘buddy list’ either. This is all apart of Bovada’s attempt to discourage grinders and create a more even playing field for all players.
That carries over to the tables too. You’ll notice that screen names aren’t used to identify each player. Numbers are. Furthermore, all notes you take are only good for the session you’re currently playing. Once you or the opponents you’re taking notes on leave, your notes are deleted. Holdem Manager, Poker Tracker and other data mining tools aren’t allowed either, so you’ll never know if or when you’re seated with a player more than once. This is all in the name of improving the poker economy.
Other than the anonymity, what’s unique about Bovada’s tables is their spotlight. This light follows the action around the table. I like it because you can play on (a max of) 4 tables, and even if you’re not paying attention you can quickly figure out whose turn it is next.
And, of course, Bovada has your standard options like 4-color decks, animation, a display of bet / pot amounts, rabbit cards and the option to tile, stack or cascade your tables.
Based on my research and experience on other networks, Bovada’s software is above par.
What I Like
What I like most about Bovada’s software is how nice it looks. There are only 4 colors to choose from, and they’re all easy on the eyes. They don’t distract you from the action, which is important if you’re going to multi-table.
I’m also a fan of Zone Poker, especially given that they’re the only network to offer it to US players.
What I Don’t Like
Being that I used to grind 8-12 tables at once, I don’t like the anonymity aspect of Bovada. That I can’t use Holdem Manager or play more than 4 tables at once.
That said, if you’re not a grinder than you’ll feel right at home at Bovada. They’ve created an atmosphere that’s safe from sharks. You don’t have to worry about being singled out because you’re a weaker player. You can play at your own pace and have a good time. No one can complain about that.