In December 2013, Unibet announced that they were refocusing their poker strategy to focus on more recreational players. Allied to that strategy was a move from Microgaming’s MPN poker network to brand new poker software, created by Estonian-based Relax Gaming.
Another positive of this move would mean that Unibet Poker would then become available for mobile poker players to enjoy, although at the present moment in time, only the iOS (Apple) version of the software is currently available.
An Android version is expected to be released very shortly.
Similar to PKR3D, who took an innovative new approach to the traditional table-based poker game that predominates the online and mobile market, Unibet Poker may seem a tad simplistic for more involved players, but its offerings are ideally suited to the beginner to intermediate player who wants to play mobile poker with a slightly different focus.
From its quirky caricature avatars that signify your player at the table, to the games it offers, Unibet Poker on mobile does offer something unique in the mobile poker industry and it was with a high degree of interest that I downloaded the app ready to review it.
Here’s what I found.
Unibet Poker mobile software at-a-glance
Currently, Unibet Poker is an app that is available for download from the App Store and as such, it is only available on iOS (Apple) devices. I investigated whether the app would work on an Android tablet (Samsung Galaxy Tab 3), however when I searched for a Unibet Poker app, or visited the Unibet site, there were no options for poker for an Android tablet.
You can play from a desktop PC, so I would imagine that an Android-compatible version of the app, or of the Unibet poker website, should be available in the not-too distant future.
A quick search in the App Store on Apple revealed that Unibet has two apps available to download, a casino and the poker app.
It is easy to locate if you search for “Unibet Poker” and downloading onto your device is quick and easy. Certainly for iPhone and iPad users, the Unibet Poker app is quick and easy to locate and download onto your chosen mobile device.
What I would flag here however is that once the app is downloaded there did seem to be a real issue regarding registering with the Unibet site via a mobile device.
This led to other seemingly illogical complications too (which I will deal with in more detail in the Overview section). Suffice to say at this point, registering and depositing cash into your mobile Unibet account was an unnecessarily complex and more expensive process than I envisaged.
However, once you get past that initial issue, the Unibet software runs very smoothly on iOS devices and there are no real issues with access beyond the initial registration.
You can elect to play at any one of a number of Texas Hold’em or Omaha Cash Games, ranging in prices from €0.02/€0.04 to €2/€4 if you prefer to play higher stakes cash table games.
There is also the option to play a variation of speed poker (called Fast Hold’em on the Unibet Poker app) and again, this type of game offers users the chance to play at a choice of two stake levels 0.02/€0.04 and 0.05/€0.10.
The alternative is to play on the Sit & Go tables on the Unibet Poker app. There is a choice of 5-seat and 2-seat Sit & Go tables, and when you have decided which table type you prefer, you then select what level of buy in you desire, ranging from €1 or €4 at the lower stakes €10 or €25 at mid stakes and €50 or €100 at the higher stakes tables.
Once you have selected which of the buy in levels you want to play, you will be able to see how many other players are waiting to play at your chosen stake level. You may have to wait a little while for other players to join your table before your Sit & Go game begins, though if you are the last player to join, your game will begin almost immediately.
Any other software restrictions
At present, it seems that Unibet is rolling out its mobile poker products in phases, as currently only the iPad/iPhone version of the software is available.
That said, an Android app is scheduled for release shortly, although why it was not released at the same time as the Apple version remains a mystery.
Other than the usual age restrictions for gambling products, there are no other software restrictions that I have come across when reviewing the app.
Unibet Poker Mobile – overview
The first thing to note about Unibet Mobile Poker is that the aim of the company is not really to address the needs of the committed poker player. The company have changed focus, offering a version of the game that is tailored more to the casual player and that is evident by the tone of the site, where the focus is very much on fun and enjoyment.
Yet interestingly, it can be argued that such an approach can prove counter-productive.
If Unibet Poker is attempting to appeal to non-specialist poker players, then you can be sure that the many more able poker players who see these kinds of players as fish in a barrel, will be making Unibet Poker one of their first port of calls when they are grinding at the tables. They will be trying to increase their bankroll at the expense of lesser able players.
This is certainly what happens at many other poker sites where there is a significant number of more casual players and where you see the same names, day in day out, grinding away at the tables, trying to separate lesser players from their money.
Therefore, it would be naive to assume that all the players you face off against on the Unibet Mobile Poker tables are likely to be of a significantly lesser ability than you would find elsewhere and certainly from reviewing the site, I have found this to be the case.
That said, the level of play is not so terrifically difficult as to discourage players from winning either. In the games I played, I found that even adherence to basic strategy and poker principles tended to yield decent results.
Before that however, I must point out the serious and illogical issues I encountered when registering with the Unibet site.
While locating the app in the App Store was quick and easy, as was downloading, when I loaded the app for the first time and clicked on the “Register” link to join the site, I was taken out of the app and into a browser in Safari.
Unfortunately, every time that this happened, the website would not load up and the software seemed to go into a never ending loop of trying to load up the site, failing, then trying to reload once again and failing.
I later accessed the Unibet website of the same address on a Samsung Galaxy Tab via Chrome and the website loaded up first time without any issues, although there was no poker option available.
Clearly, there seems to be an issue with the compatibility of the Unibet Registration site and the iPad’s default browser. This is potentially a serious issue as it means that I could not register for the Unibet Poker site from my iPad and therefore, I could potentially not be able to use the software as a paying customer.
However, undaunted, I loaded up the Unibet Poker site on my laptop and registered, without any problems via the website. I noted down my log in details and paid a £20 deposit into my account and accepted the 100% deposit bonus they offered me.
I then returned to my iPad and loaded up the software once again and logged in with my new details. My details were duly accepted however, when I checked my balance, it read €0.00. What I had not realised is that unlike every other mobile poker site linked to an online version, Unibet seemed to have separate accounts for users operating via mobile, as opposed to a desktop.
Unable to play any games as I had no money in my account, I had to make ANOTHER deposit into my mobile account just to enable me to play the games via iPad.
I double checked this a day later just in case the software simply had not updated, but when I logged into by account via my iPad, my balance was the same as the night before and on the website version, my balance was still £20, plus another £20 as part of my new player bonus.
This was hugely confusing and at the time, I could only assume that Unibet had separate accounts for mobile poker players, compared to desktop players. However, when I logged into the site via my desktop, my cash available altered to the amount I could see on my iPad!
Confused? You bet I was!
It was only a day later when I spoke with a Unibet Representative via their live chat facility that the situation was explained to me in full. When you register with Unibet, there is an option to receive a 100% deposit bonus. I assumed this was for poker as that is the site I had accessed to register with, but it was not.
The 100% deposit bonus is for sports book bets only – so if you accept it, your bonus and your cash cannot be used for Poker.
However, if you do not accept the offer, then you can use your deposit for poker, plus you will receive the advertised £10 free tournament ticket. My argument is though, this was not made clear at any point during the sign up process and as I had shown, the potential for confusion here was massive.
This inflexibility with your account contrasts sharply with companies like Sky Poker, Bet365 Poker or 888 Poker and their sister sites where one log in and one account is enough to access all the sites as well as the desktop and mobile versions of their software. This makes playing and maintaining your accounts so much easier, safer and simpler to understand.
Therefore, when I began to actually investigate the Unibet Poker app in a little more detail I did so from a somewhat dispirited and annoyed state of mind. You can imagine that any player considering joining Unibet Poker and encountering these issues would probably consider that it is not worth the effort, especially when compared to how easy it is to manage your account on other competitor sites.
That would be a shame though as once I’d got past the initial registration nightmare, I found that Unibet Poker certainly had plenty to offer and enough to keep the majority of UK poker players playing at the table.
There is a decent range of cash table games available on the site as well as a small number of Speed Poker games. These are your standard offering in terms of the game design and stake levels and don’t differ a great deal from the micro and lower stakes tables on offer on other sites.
Where Unibet Poker does differ however is that they offer a small number of 2-player and 5-player Sit & Go tables. This is always a very welcome bonus on a mobile site as relatively few sites offer these games. This is certainly a big plus point for Unibet Poker and of all the tables offered, I found myself enjoying the 5-seater Sit & Go games more than any other games on the site.
In addition to the Sit & Go offerings, what is also good about Unibet Poker is the presentation. When you join, you get to create a caricature avatar to represent you at the table. These are generally rather funny to look at and there’s plenty of them to choose from.
The cartoon-like feel to the presentation continues to the tables, where you play, by default, initially on what is a snooker table. The graphics are bright and colourful and there are the usual options to help you set up the game as you want. It’s not a huge change from the table-representation found on other similar sites, but it is different and imaginative and as a result, I feel that this is a positive.
The poker games themselves however do tend to be played at a slower pace than on other sites.
Again, this is very much a case of good or bad news depending on your point of view. For beginners, the extra time between decisions can be a real bonus, but for grinders and players who prefer a quicker pace, the wait between turns can be a tad tiresome.
The level of play on the site was, I would suggest, average. The site may be trying to appeal to the more casual player, but in doing so, I think they attract players who will view these games as easy pickings and as such, it tends to become tougher to win. At the moment though, I found winning not particularly difficult, even just adopting a basic tight/aggressive strategy, but I would certainly say that there isn’t a predominance of lesser ability players on the site.
Overall, there’s lots to like about Unibet poker but there are some glaring issues as I have already mentioned. Let’s take a look at some of the positive and negative points of the site before drawing our conclusion as to where it stands in the UK mobile poker community at present.
Unibet Poker Mobile – the positive points
Once you’ve logged into the site there are some nice touches that make Unibet Poker stand out from the crowd somewhat. Namely:
New Player Bonus – After some initial confusion (which I detailed earlier about the ‘right’ and ‘wrong’ poker bonuses) the £10 tournament token is a decent offer for players. You have 7 days to begin using the token but if you play within 7 days, you get another 7 days from that time to play again. So you can in effect play once a week and keep your bonus going. You need to play 750 hands to the flop in order to release any funds in your bonus ticket, so the fact you can extend this offer every 7 days is a real boon.
It was great to see the Unibet Poker mobile app offer Sit & Go games to users. Far too many mobile sites and apps only offer cash games and/or speed poker to users and don’t offer MTT’s or Sit & Go games. While MTT’s I can take or leave being honest, I think for beginner players Sit & Go games offer a great chance to play meaningful, elimination poker and by including this on their site, I think this elevates Unibet Mobile Poker immediately over many of its peers.
I’d also applaud the style of the site. You can tell from the design of the room and the cartoon-style avatars you select to represent you at the table, that this is a site very much tongue in cheek and it fits in well with its brief to be aimed at the more casual player. The games available also reflect this with no real options for players who want to play more serious bigger money games. That’s not a bad thing if you are a lower or micro stakes player and likely to stay that way.
Unibet mobile poker is never going to be a challenger to serious poker sites, such as PokerStars, but for a casual player or a beginner seeking a more relaxed game, it certainly caters for this sector of the market well and as such, should be credited.
That said, there were several issues I had with the site and unfortunately some of them were rather important when reviewing the playability of the site for the casual player.
Unibet Poker Mobile – the negative points
While understanding that Unibet Mobile Poker is not attempting to attract the same clientele as a site like Sky Poker or PokerStars, it is fair to say that even taking that into consideration, there are some basic precepts for a poker app that have to work and work well and unfortunately Unibet Mobile Poker dropped a real clanger here.
The first issue I found was registering via an iPad. The website would not load up via Safari and as such, it was impossible to register for the app using the app. I dread to think how many customers would be put off playing on the site because when they download it and try to register they are unable to do so. I would assume this is an error that Unibet are well aware of and are working quickly to rectify. It certainly needs to be done as a matter of expediency. I spoke to customer services about this, but they seemed to think it was a problem with my iPad and that I just needed to clear the browser history and cache. I did this and the problem still persisted.
Depositing money also had hiccups. After being unable to register with the site through the app, I joined via the website and deposited £20, receiving a 100% deposit bonus, however when I logged into my account via the app, I had no money in the account and had to deposit more cash into the app to play the mobile version. The reason for this was because I had accepted the 100% deposit bonus offer on the site which is for sports book bets only – be aware of this, if you accept this offer then you won’t be able to use that money for poker.
I don’t think it is fair to criticise Unibet Mobile Poker for not offering more games for medium to high roller players as this is not their intended clientele. However, I would say that the speed of play at the tables is a little slow for my liking, though I can understand why this would be the case given the sites desire to attract more casual gamers. That said, I felt that most poker players, even beginners, may be a tad frustrated at the somewhat sedate pace of play on the site.
Obviously the issues surrounding the registration and two accounts for online gaming and mobile gaming are the big sticking points with Unibet Mobile Poker at present. I would hope that during the review stage of their app, these errors and oversights can be rectified as they significantly detract from what would otherwise be a pretty decent poker app.
Unibet Poker Mobile – the conclusion – 7/10
Given the problems with registering and the different accounts for mobile and online play, I can’t give Unibet Mobile Poker one of the higher marks.
These are fundamentals of a poker app and to have these, in my view, wrong and not fully working is not just an oversight, it is unforgiveable really as it makes playing the game so much more complicated and involved than it actually needs to be. The casual player is unlikely to go through the rigmarole of sign up as I did in order to play as it is simply too much effort.
This is a real pity as once you get past this, the Unibet Mobile app does have plenty of positives about it. I like the way the new player bonus is immediate (although the information given about bonuses is confused and misleading on the site). I also like the design of the site, it is quirky, imaginative and a refreshing change from the traditional poker tables found on most other apps.
The types of games available are also good, with Sit & Go games a really big addition to the site (and pushing the score up by a couple of points alone) though the speed poker and cash table options are also very good and it is always good to have a game of Omaha now and then too.
Overall, Unibet Mobile Poker could be a very good app, but until it sorts out the fundamentals, it is unlikely to garner the success it deserves as the steps you have to go through in order to play it and how the cash is organised on site, makes you question whether it is worth playing in the first place.
It is worth trying out but how the Unibet bonus system works should be simpler, and more clearly explained.