Hollywood Poker - It's really a shame that this site closed down to US players because it was quite profitable for me, as well as other people I talk to, including PokerPeaker, who also writes posts for Pokerworks. It was one of the last online poker sites I deposited into, but I certainly came out a winner.
Advantages: There are not many good players on the site and it's quite easy to build your bankroll there. The bonuses are somewhat easy to cover and, in the process, the points one builds makes certain freerolls available. They also offer cash games with multiple set numbers of players, three, four and five, not just 6-max and full ring. So if one's preference is shorthanded games, then one will definitely enjoy playing on Hollywood. In addition, they offer ticket SnG's for larger buy-in SnG's, which I took advantage of. For instance, for $3, one can win a ticket to a $30 SnG and enjoy a nice profit in the end. Lastly, they offer a handful of "Celebrity Tournaments" every week where, if one knocks out a certain number of celebrities, they get rewarded with a bounty cash prize and get their name posted on the website as a bounty collector, which I have personally seen. It's always a good feeling to see your name on a poker website after playing good poker.
Disadvantages: I only had two complaints about Hollywood and they are just personal preference, but regardless, they are worth mentioning. The majority of their SnG's are 10-person, rather than the usual 9-person tables. This may seem to be insignificant to most people, but if one is just starting off, and is used to the usual 9-person SnG's, then it does make a notable difference. One can eventually adjust to this table format, but for the inexperienced player, it's uncomfortable when first starting to play there. Also, the slide bar for betting on their table interface is difficult to place on the exact amount of chips that one wants to bet in the allotted amount of time during a hand, which is a common occurrence with a few poker sites that I will mention. Other than that, I enjoyed my experience there and miss the site greatly.
Titan Poker - Titan is a site that I went bust on the first time I deposited there. But the second time I made back all of my losses plus more. It's another site that closed off US players, but is still open to European players and players elsewhere. Many people have numerous complaints about the site, but I never really experienced them myself while playing there.
Advantages: More bad players. The cash games are soft and their SNG's have a decent format. They used to start the players with T1000 chips, but have changed that to the more common T1500, which is a plus. The biggest advantage is that they offer "Jackpot SnG's" where, if one wins a certain number of them in a row, you win the jackpot. The jackpot depends on the buy-in price and how many one needs to win in a row to collect the prize. Personally, I was playing the $20 6-max SNG's and had won two in a row before having to cash out due to the new legislation. Four more wins in a row and I would have collected $20,000 as the jackpot for those SNG's. Wishful thinking, but I had a chance.
Disadvantages: One, the slide bar again. If one is used to just playing one or two tables and typing in bets manually, this doesn't present a problem. However, if one is more prone to relying on a quick slide of the bar to place a bet, it presents a problem. Also, the interface does have a few minor problems in regards to being perfect, but they are easily manageable.
Nine.com - This will be a short one since I didn't play there for very long since I opened an account right before they too shut down US players.
Advantages: Two words: Chinese Poker. It's the only site that I'm aware of that offers this entertaining game and it was enjoyable while it lasted.
Disadvantages: Their clientele is very low. Numerous times I sat at tables for five to ten minutes before someone showed up. Even their NLHE tables took a while to fill. Unfortunately for them, I'm sure it's even lower now.
Poker.com - A very interesting site. I never had to deposit money there, but did get some free money from playing a blogger freeroll and finishing 7th of 97 players. I don't play there often, but it's a decent site.
Advantages: They have a very good interface which even tells players what they folded while the hand is being played out. Also, for the very new players, it tells the status of their cards if one is still playing the hand, meaning, on the board it will display "Two pair, Kings and Jacks" or "A full house, 8's full of Aces" etc. If you are a HU match fan, this is also a very good site. The blinds increase according to the number of hands played, rather than being time-based as are the other sites. This makes for an interesting adjustment to one's game and allows for differ rent strategies to play an opponent.
Disadvantages: It's one of the lower clientele sites as well. They have strange auto-buttons to press for bets that may confuse a newer player. I, myself, have placed a bet with these tabs and afterwards thought, "I didn't want to bet that amount," so be careful in adjusting to those quick-tabs.
Absolute Poker - A decent poker site which I play off and on and usually enjoy my experience there. Absolute is one of the earlier sites I started playing and although it's not as popular as the bigger name sites, it's still a recommended site in my opinion.
Advantages: Their bonuses are easy to cover and one quickly accumulates frequent player points in covering these deposit bonuses. The points can be used for super satellites and satellites to their 100K guarantee tournaments which I also took advantage of and had some success with. Also, like many sites, they'll send free money into a player's account if they want them back playing at the site. This is advantageous because from all the sites that I have played, they offer the lowest buy-in SnG's out of all of them, down to $0.50, so a few free dollars can go a long way if one is just looking to see some cards and play for a while.
Disadvantages: There aren't many. They also use the wide-range, set increments of bets/raises for their slide bar, but it's manageable once you get used to it. The players are bad enough to be able to take advantage of them. In addition, even though they haven't shut down US players, it seems that a good portion of their tournaments start at approximately 3:00am or 4:00am EST, or somewhere else in the middle of the night. They don't offer as many large MTT's as other sites, so I find this strange since it seems to be favoring non-US players.
Continued in Part II