But in March 2005, the company also launched its own online poker room.
By January 2012, Winamax Poker was the busiest online poker room in France and to capitalise on the burgeoning market for mobile poker and to expand their brand name across the globe, the company released its own mobile poker app shortly afterwards.
The app is now viewable in French and English, although its design and room names are clearly Gallic in origin and quite different to the design of apps developed in the US or the UK.
But is that necessarily a bad thing? We took a closer look at the Winamax Mobile Poker app to find out and for the purposes of this review, we took a look at the site via the iPhone 5S and the iPad.
And it is fair to say that overall, we were pleasantly surprised by what we found.
Winamax Poker app software at-a-glance
One of the most appealing aspects of the Winamax Poker app is that it is actually an app, and not just a website you visit (though it appears that you can also log in via your browser and play on the site that way, if you have a Flash-compatible device).
Currently, you can download an app for the iPhone (iOS 4.3 or later), iPad and it is also compatible with the iPod Touch if it is running a compatible operating system. The app has been optimised for the iPhone 5 series.
In addition, you can download the Winamax Poker app onto your Android smartphone and tablet, provided that it has an ARMv7 processor.
This app can be downloaded direct from the Winamax site as it is not currently available on Google Play. What is pleasing is that Winamax have seemingly tested a large number of different Android devices and found that the following are compatible with the app:
HTC Desire HD
LG Optimus Black
Samsung Galaxy S
HTC Desire S
Sony Ericsson Xperia ARC
Sony Ericsson Xperia PLAY
Samsung Nexus S
LG Optimus 3G
While this list is not exhaustive, you will need to have an Android tablet or smartphone running at least an ARMv7 processor and a later operating system in order to get the device to work.
Currently, it is unclear whether the app would work on Windows, Nokia or BlackBerry devices, though users of these devices may be able to access the site via their browser and play that way. We were unable to test this during the review process.
Finding the Winamax Poker app is relatively straightforward.
If you are an Apple customer you can download it from the App Store relatively easily and you can also link to the app store from the Winamax website (though when we tested it, the link didn’t seem to work all the time).
Unfortunately for Android users, there’s no link to a Winamax app in the Google Play store, so you do have to download the software directly from the Winamax site.
Installation was quick but the actual registration process (as you’ll discover below) was a somewhat lengthy process requiring additional information that is generally not asked for on other sites (and which if you are not at home – can be somewhat difficult to get hold of easily).
Once you are registered though, the app is very responsive and you can quickly access the poker screens to select a game to play without a problem.
Once you are in and on the Winamax Poker app then you are taken to their somewhat simple home page, where you can select whether you want to play a New Game, Play Expresso Poker (more on this later), undergo what the app calls Training (which is basically free poker for play chips).
An interesting addition to the screen is the bar which says in the picture “No Running Games” this is particularly handy if you are logged out of a game or tournament you are playing due to a bad connection or software glitch.
You simply close the Winamax app, reload it, log in and then any games you are currently involved in will appear here.
A quick click on the bar takes you to the lobby where you can rejoin the table.
This is actually a very useful little addition to the app and during testing, certainly came in useful when we experienced connection issues when playing (which were down to our local WiFi, rather than the app itself). By completely closing down the Winamax app and reopening it and using this bar, we were able to rejoin the table, often before the next hand, missing none of the action.
The Play Expresso option is a form of poker in which 3 players pay a set fee to join the game (between €1 and €10) and a random number generator decides how much money you are playing for. The smallest amount being double your initial stake, or you can play for up to 1000 times your stake if you hit the big money.
This is very similar, if not exactly the same, as the Twister Poker offer that is currently available on a number of online poker sites at present, such as Bet365 Poker and Poker770. The only difference being that instead of a spinning wheel to select your prize, on Winamax the prizes flick through randomly before a prize is selected.
For those unfamiliar with this type of poker game, you may want to try it out. Sign up now and you can make good use of a Bet365 Poker bonus referrer code. Or if you prefer, go for a Poker770 signup bonus.
But back to Winamax! To see the full range of games available however, you need to click on the New Game button.
What is certainly pleasing about Winamax and immediately counts in its favour is the choice of games. There are cash games available, as well as a wide choice of sit & go and multi table tournaments to pick from too.
Once you have selected which type of game you want to play, you can then scroll through the list of games and sort the list by a number of factors, such as the number of players at the table, the buy in required or the starting time of the game in question.
On the cash tables, you can see information about the average pot size, the players per flop and hands player per hour that will help experienced players make informed decisions about which cash tables to target.
There is a wide choice of games for different buy in levels, though the vast majority of games offered are for micro to low stakes, with relatively few options available for higher stakes poker players.
Overall though, the choice of games available, particularly for the beginner player, is excellent and certainly compares well with many apps which only offer cash table games to mobile poker players at present.
Any other software restrictions
It does say on the download that you have to be at least 17 to download the software, though this may not be the case in the UK and other countries where the legal gambling age is 18.
Winamax Poker app – overview
After a quick scan of the Winamax Poker app, we were generally impressed at the games on offer and the quality of the app in general, however we did encounter a couple of annoying rather than worrying issues when we attempted to register ourselves as a user and deposit cash with the app.
The first of these was the amount of data on a user that the Winamax Poker app demands from you when you are joining.
If you are joining from the EU, then in addition to all the usual registration information you are usually obliged to complete when joining a site, the Winamax Poker app also asks you for your International Banking Number (IBAN) and Banking Identity Code (BIC).
Now these are not snippets of information that most people have readily on hand, though they can usually be found on your bank statement, by calling your bank or by logging into your account online. However if you are not going to use your bank account to pay directly into, or withdraw money from into the poker account, why should you have to provide these details?
One can only assume that this is done to prevent fraud, but I, like many other Internet users, do not like to put in my bank details directly into a poker company’s account. I prefer to use another form of payment (such as PayPal) to fund and receive withdrawals from my poker account as I like that added layer of security.
This then led me directly to issue two, as when I had registered and dug out by BIC and IBAN numbers, I clicked on the deposit by PayPal option but I was informed that PayPal payments are only allowed for people who reside in France.
Quite why this is, I am not sure, so once again, I was forced to provide information to Winamax that I didn’t really want to provide them with, in this case my credit card details to make a payment.
While some people won’t worry too much about providing Winamax with this information, I can foresee many players, especially those who like to keep their personal financial details private and who use PayPal to fund and receive payments from their accounts, not being too keen to join Winamax simply because of this.
Another thing to note is that many advertisements for Winamax online suggest that users will receive €5 or €10 free when they register, however there is no mention of this on the Winamax site at present and one can only assume these offers have expired.
There is a 100% deposit bonus that is worth up to €500, which is released in €20 increments when the player has accumulated enough loyalty points on the site through playing real cash games.
As bonus offers go, it is pretty bog standard and the lack of any other incentives really don’t help make this offer particularly attractive, especially when on other apps, such as 888 Poker, you receive not just a 100% deposit bonus, but a free cash bonus and entry into freeroll events.
The choice of games on the Winamax app however is a big positive.
Regardless of whether you want to play cash games, sit & go games or multi table tournaments, there are a wealth of options available in each of these categories to select from.
The graphics are not particularly spectacular, but the speed of the app is generally very good and the animations are smooth and the sounds also enhance the play too.
Unfortunately, there are not many options available to personalise the playing screen to your own tastes.
Personally, I like to play with a four colour deck as it makes spotting flushes much easier, but this option was not available on the Winamax app.
The gameplay itself moves along at a relatively rapid pace and the time each player is given to act is set at a sensible level, so that if someone is disconnected (which did seem to happen relatively frequently), the speed of the gameplay at the table is not unduly affected.
A nice touch for difficult decisions was a players ability to click on a timer button which gave them an additional 60 seconds time to make a key decision, although you can only use this option once in each hand. It was a nice feature however and certainly helped out when facing a tricky call that required a little additional thinking time.
The Expresso games are worth a look as they give players a chance to play for much larger potential cash wins than their buy in would ordinarily allow and given that only three players are at each table, your chances of success are generally pretty good, if you are a half-decent player.
Certainly, there is a lot to like about the Winamax app, so let’s take a look at these positive points, plus a few of the negative in a bit more detail.
Winamax Poker app – the positive points
I have to admit, I approached the review of this app with a degree of trepidation, not expecting a great deal from it, but I was pleasantly surprised by several different aspects of the app, those which I thought were particularly good or effective were:
Finding and download the site was nice and easy from the App Store.
Once you have registered and made your deposit, the choice of games available on the app is excellent. The fact you can play a wide range of cash table games, sit & go tournaments and MTT’s really helps add a great deal of appeal and longevity to the app as it makes sure it appeals across the broad range of poker players.
The app’s design is very well done. Clicking through the app and navigating to the pages is smooth and very simple. It is intuitively designed so where you think a button should be, it usually is and you can easily sort all the tables to find the game you want to play at a price you can afford.
While the table graphics are hardly groundbreaking, the speed of play during games ensures that players don’t become distracted or bored waiting for other players to act. The animations too are very smooth.
The standard of gameplay on the site in the games I certainly played in, was not particularly strong when compared to some of the other poker sites available. A good player should not find it unduly daunting to make a bit of cash on Winamax Poker, chiefly through grinding through the lower stakes games and tables.
The inclusion of the Expresso Poker game and the Billionth Hand Promotion (below) also give players another couple of games or promotions to keep an eye on when joining.
There was certainly a lot to like about the Winamax app and generally, the positives did outweigh the negatives, but certainly there were also a few issues which we felt negatively impacted on the general quality of the app.
Winamax Poker app – the negative points
Unfortunately, there were quite a few that I come across.
Almost all of them are minor niggles however which could be sorted with just a little more thought in the design and development process, which in turn makes their appearance in the app all the more frustrating.
On the registration section, you must, if you are an EU citizen, enter your international bank details and BIC code in order to join.
Why does Winamax need this if you are only going to fund your game via credit card, PayPal or similar? This seems wholly unnecessary and this information is not always so easy to find, especially if you are not at home when you register.
The introductory offer for the site is hardly groundbreaking. A 100% deposit bonus is really the basic level I would say is an acceptable offer to entice new people to the site.
It does pale against some of the far better new player offers available for mobile poker players that are available today.
The fact that you cannot pay via PayPal unless you are a French citizen is very annoying, especially if, like us, you prefer to use PayPal to fund your poker gaming.
We did find that the software did crash from time to time when in poker rooms. At first we put this down to our connection but it still happened when other devices were using the Internet without an issue.
The button on the start screen does help get you back into the game quickly however.
The lack of options on the poker table to change the colours of the cards to a four colour deck, for example, is a small oversight but one which many players, especially beginners, can find a problem when playing.
The site has a fantastic choice of lower stakes games, but at the higher stakes the number of players available at any time does drop off significantly meaning that a higher stakes player may not find the site as useful as a lower or micro stakes poker player.
When you do win a game the sense of doing so is very underwhelming. Unlike other sites which greet a win in a shower of confetti, you simply get this simple screen following your victory which hardly is the most exciting thing to see.
The good news for Winamax is that these issues are generally small niggles and can be fixed relatively quickly and easily with a couple of updates.
Winamax Poker app – the conclusion – 7/10
Although I’ve outlined several niggles with the Winamax Poker app outlined above, I feel that this is certainly one of the better apps I’ve reviewed in recent weeks for mobile users and certainly puts apps from established companies like Full Tilt, Party Poker, Switch Poker and Winner Poker well in the shade.
The sheer number of games available in the Winamax App is what gives it the majority of its points, as does its clever, intuitive design which makes using the app easy and simple.
I like the fact that Winamax have not simply copied other apps, which all seem very generic, but have their own distinctive look to their app and I think that should be applauded too.
However, it doesn’t get the top marks because of several key issues, the somewhat bog standard new player offer, the overly-long registration process which you need to provide too much details for, the lack of payment options for EU players, software crashes and a lack of options in the poker room being the chief complaints.
That said, these are minor niggles and once you are playing on Winamax, it is certainly one of the sites with the most long-term appeal I’ve played via mobile and it is certainly worth taking a close look at if you are based in France or the EU.