Summary (Rated 8 out of 10)
As the online poker industry navigates its way through this period of boom and expansion it is sites like bwin that are leading the way. Slick graphics, extensive game selection, and all-round high standards, including players, make this is one of the most enjoyable and competitive playing experiences available. It is a place for good players to play good players for big stakes.
Game Selection (Rated 9 out of 10)
bwin's game selection is one area in which they particularly excel with most players and every major game choice present and correct. Cash game options include limit, pot limit, and no-limit Texas Hold’em, regular and Hi/Lo 7-card stud and Omaha, and even 5-card draw. Each of these games are available pretty high on the stakes scale with, for example, limit Hold’em up to $500/$1000 and NL up to $50/$100, though there is a relative lack of games for the low-limit player with 25c/50c generally being their bottom rung. One fairly unique opportunity at bwin is the option to set-up private games, both of the cash and tournament varieties.
Tournament play in general is equally extensive though again with a more restrictive buy-in range than some other rooms. Scheduled games provide more options for the low-roll player than the site in general with a few freeroll, $1 and $2 tournaments thrown into the mix, though the majority begin at $5, ranging right up to the $1000 mark. Within these there is a lot of imagination and variety in terms of re-buys, prize pools, and satellites, including many to WPT events.
These events can also be accessed through the huge selection of sit-and-go’s, which is somewhere the more low stakes players will likely be drawn due to the number of $1 games available. Among the very few weaknesses at bwin in terms of game selection are the lack of non-hold’em tournaments and perhaps the lack of multi-table non-satellite games but, if these details are enough to put you off, then it may be fair to say that you are spending too much good poker playing time thinking about it.
Quality of Players (Rated 9 out of 10)
Player quality at bwin can very much be equated to other high quality yet relatively low traffic sites such as Full Tilt – that is, very high player quality. The many attractive aspects of the site combined with its suitability for players who are willing to commit a higher bankroll means that there are large amounts of strong opponents to be faced here. This can be said to be pretty well true of the site as a whole although quality will, of course, increase proportionately as the stakes go up.
Even low stakes games here will be made up of an unusually high concentration of solid players, most likely using the site as the good practice tool it is. The inevitable number of weaker players will most likely be found in low buy-in or freeroll tournaments but, with the amount of people entering these games usually rising to four figures, the weakness of players is largely irrelevant since getting through two thousand bad players isn’t exactly a walk in the park. On the upside though, the quality of this site will eventually draw a lot more players of every standard.
Software (Rated 9 out of 10)
The software at bwin is, again, a cut above what is average or industry standard. The basics of the set-up process are about as smooth and simple as can be hoped and there are several little pieces of original thinking which set the site apart. Examples of this include an online, no-download game play option, a version of the site for mobile phones and excellent internet support such as info bubbles when the cursor is floated over the various areas of the interface. The clarity and smoothness of their in-game play also matches any other room out there. Chat capability is exceptional as well.
Each aspect of the main user interface runs efficiently and combined cover all the necessary options, such as quick access to online support, player and table finding capabilities and information guides to each table as well as each player at those tables. There are also note-taking opportunities about each opponent. One slight weakness is the minor awkwardness in accessing account and cashier information, though it must be stressed that this is a minor problem. Furthermore, bwin is also available for Mac users.
Graphics (Rated 8 out of 10)
There seem to be two ways which online poker sites approach design and looks, either fun and funky or stylish and atmospheric. bwin certainly sits in the latter of these two categories and most likely sits at the top of it. The main interface is sleek and original but ultimately very usable, dividing games into ‘Ring Games’ and ‘Tournaments’ and sub-dividing them in a well-organized and attractive way.
bwin’s table graphics attempt and achieve a high level of realistic, 3-dimensional animation, going for the ‘final table at a casino’ atmosphere. Everything, from the look of the dealer at the table to the rope surrounding it, add to this feel and therefore to the enjoyment of playing. Surprisingly though, the avatar options at bwin aren’t very versatile. Despite a high level of realism and personality in the animation, each player has no choice as to which avatar he/she is, this depending entirely on which seat you are in. This is a slight pity since it means that every table you play on at bwin looks identical in every way to the last one.
Profitability (Rated 5 out of 10)
For low-rollers bwin can be considered a good site to play at but the higher the stakes go, the harder it is to make money. Opponents aren't the easiest in low limit games either but there is some cash that can always be made. If you're looking to practice against tougher opponents in medium or high limit games, then bwin is the place for you. However, if you are in search of weaker players then you should look elsewhere because these players might just end up breaking you.