Less HUDs, More Heroes

Less HUDs, More Heroes

Monday, 11 August 2014

Eve Goodman looks at Unibet Poker.

If you don't venture outside of poker much, you might not have heard of Unibet. If not, then here's the edited highlights: they've been a major player in the gambling industry for well over a decade, providing sports betting and casino games to a whopping 8.9 million people in over 100 countries. Now, however, they've boiled up a very different kettle of fish, and decided to try their hand at creating a poker client. You might be wondering if a company that primarily deals with sportsbook and casino has what it takes to properly pull off poker. Well, luckily at Bluff Europe we're all a bunch of nosy bastards, so we find out for you by peering into all the nooks and crannies of the new kid on the block: Unibet Poker.

Gaggles of Games:
Before checking out how it looks and plays, we scouted out the most important thing in a poker client: the variety of games on offer. As it turns out, cash games are available in both Hold'em and Pot-Limit Omaha, starting from €0.02/€0.04 and going all the way up to €2/€4, while tournaments and Sit & Gos have buy-ins ranging from between €1 and €100. Obviously, there's not much for high rollers, but then that's not who they are trying to attract – forget career pros, Unibet Poker is all about regular players who play for fun and don't need ridiculously sky-high buy-ins. That's definitely not to say it's boring, however – there is a veritable ton of different tourneys to get stuck into, as well as a 'Fast Hold'em' offering for adrenaline junkies. Oh, and there are also online qualifiers for Unibet Open, which is handy if you fancy trying your luck at bagging a cheap seat to an ever-popular live tournament. Snazzy.

Unibet is largely focused towards the Average Joe who doesn't have a madly baller bankroll (yet)! There are plenty of cash games, Sit & Gos and tournaments to get stuck in to, including an action-packed 'Fast Hold'em' option. Tournaments in particular certainly won't break the bank, yet still manage to offer some very juicy returns on your cash.


Player Pool:
As we've mentioned, it's no secret that Unibet is mainly known for sports-betting and casino games. So why would you want to play poker there? Well, picture this: thousands of recreational gamblers all in one place. Now, imagine they fancy a punt at something different after they've laid a bet on the footie, and as it happens, the poker is only a few clicks away. Fish galore! We had a go, and the rumours are true – for the vast majority of players, the standard of play is generally softer than a baby's bum. You heard it here first.

In terms of player traffic, it got some pretty swish numbers upon launching, and players seem to be increasing day on day. Obviously it's still growing, but there's an active lobby and we never had to wait to find a game.

In terms of liquidity, there's a growing pool of players that are mostly of a sports-betting ilk. As a result, there's plenty of action to be found, and we can almost smell the seabass from here.


No HUDs Allowed:
Old school players can rejoice, because the determination to keep poker fun is one of the biggest parts of the Unibet philosophy. To put it simply, Unibet are putting their foot down. In their efforts to put the fun back in poker, they're saying no – no to bum-hunting, no to results-tracking websites, and most of all, no to the unfair advantage given to players using HUDs. In fact, HUDs are banned on Unibet altogether – although you can still go over hand histories, there's no hand 'grabber', meaning that HUDs such as Hold'em Manager and PokerTracker simply won't work alongside the software. As well as refusing to let players hide behind third-party software, Unibet is going all out to avoid something that has become a major problem on bigger sites: bum-hunting and general predatory behaviour. No longer can grinders relentlessly target players who they perceive to be weaker than them, while refusing to play anyone else. One of the ways they have achieved this is by swerving the table selection facility that can be so easily abused; instead, you simply select what limit and type of game you want to play in, and it will automatically locate you a free seat. Also, unlike other sites who limit you a single alias and make it difficult for you to change your avatar, Unibet allows you to have five identities at a time, which you can switch between freely.

Unibet have sharpened their stakes against any HUD-using 'vampires' threatening to suck the creativity out of poker. Leave all third-party software at the door, because all you can use here are your wits.

The Unibet software was all created in-house, and is clearly not intended for the jaded, wearily multi-tabling grinder. Instead, it's all about razzmatazz and fun – the avatars are cartoonish and bonkers, and you can skip through them according to your mood (we're currently rocking the mad scientist look, although we do have a soft spot for the Viking with the bitchin' beard). It's a nice change from all the sites that take themselves too seriously, and is sure to attract recreational players like fat kids to a cake convention.

As for the overall interface, everything is designed for easy navigation, and the lobby is clean and uncluttered. There's no getting lost in a sea of empty tables and hidden filters; all you have to do is pick whether you want to play a cash game, sit & go, or tournament, choose between Hold'em, Omaha, or Fast Hold'em, then pick your limit. Again, this simplicity is refreshing to see, especially compared to some other sites; no more will you find yourself in that all-too-familiar predicament of sobbing hopelessly in a corner because man alive, you just wanted to register for a small freeze-out, but the lobby is so complicated all you can find is twelve empty tables of a $200 ultra-turbo rebuy shootout Razz tournament (not that we're bitter or anything).

The in-house creation means that all software is slick and quirky, but most of all, a piece of piss to navigate. Go on, we dare you to find anything that's been unnecessarily complicated.


Why so serious?:
Finally, if there's one thing that Unibet have really pulled out all the stops on, it's the fun factor. In the poker industry, it's no secret that all too many people yammer on about putting the enjoyment back into poker, yet shy away from putting their money where their mouth is. In our opinion, this is where Unibet really stands out from the herd. Their lobby is packed with different quests, missions and hilarious achievements (we love some of the names) of varying difficulty to pursue.

Their 'Challenges' blow the cobwebs off the dusty old concept of the generic VIP scheme that is used by most sites; instead, you earn loyalty points by completing two steps in tandem – a 'minor' step (something you complete pre-flop, e.g. 'Be dealt T-2') and a 'major' step (achieved post-flop, e.g. 'See a flop that contains at least two 7s'). This adds some spice to the process of earning points, rather than just being a slave to the rake.

As for the 'Missions', some give out prizes upon completion, for example free tournament tickets and other goodies, while others simply reward you with that good ol' sense of accomplishment that comes from defeating a difficult level in your favourite video game. After all, poker is a bloody brilliant game, and we'd all be a bunch of twits if we didn't endeavour to enjoy it to the fullest (profound, I know).

Unibet made the decision to prioritise having fun, and as such there are a buttload of fancy missions that you can complete in return for free credit, tickets, and other prizes. We really like the creativity that's gone into the little details – there's plenty to prevent playing from ever becoming a tedious grind.

A fun user experience is at the top of the list in this software, and it's clear Unibet have worked hard to put their stamp on it – there's plenty of action to be had, and I guarantee you'll be chuckling at some of the subtle touches. If you're hesitant to give it a go, Unibet have sweetened the deal by offering all new UK customers £10 free, as well as a €500 playthrough bonus, so you can't really say fairer than that. A fishy player pool doesn't hurt either, but shhh... don't tell anyone I said that.

Intrigued? Check it out for yourself at: www.unibet.co.uk/poker.

Tags: Eve Goodman, Unibet Poker