Empire Poker Update
Empire Poker has closed down and is recommending players create an account at Party Poker. All links will redirect to Party Poker.
Empire Poker is a part of Party Poker, one of the world’s largest poker rooms. Party Poker owns the network and has Empire Poker as a skin to share traffic. Unfortunately, both rooms do not accept US players. Even without players from the United States this is still a great room to check out if you’re located elsewhere!
You can take advantage of each of these great poker rooms by signing up to both! Read our sign-up guidelines for EmpirePoker to learn how!
Empire Poker is licensed and regulated by the Government of Gibraltar. It is easy, safe and secure, offering prompt payouts and lots of games at many different limits (Hold’em, Omaha, Omaha Hi/Lo, 7 Card Stud, 7 Card Stud Hi/Lo). Stakes start as low as $.01 – $.02 and go all the way up to $250 – $500. Even though they lost their US player base, there are still plenty of players and action across all levels. Of course, most are playing NLHE (mainly in the low-mid stake range), but you will always see action on quite a few tables ranging all the way up to $10/$20 off-peak. During off-peak times the non-Hold’em games can hurt for traffic. Games like PLO have been rising in popularity and will still have a few tables at each level between $10 PLO and $400 PLO running at all times. Stud games are a bit sparse, there may be only 1-2 total games running during non-peak hours.
Empire Poker’s tournament and Sit & Go traffic has rebounded a lot in the last few years. Party/Empire were the tournament dominators back in the pre-UIGEA days but that action has since gone over to PokerStars and Full Tilt. However, you can still find a wide variety of tournaments every month. Their biggest event is the monthly Sunday $1,000,000 guaranteed, which has a $215 buy-in. This is one of the better Sunday tournaments out there as it always seems to have an overlay and there are constantly satellites running starting as low as $1; this adds a lot of fish to the player base! As for other tournaments, they offer various MTTs ranging from $2 ($1000 guaranteed + rebuy), $9 ($5000 guaranteed), $33 ($10,000 guaranteed + rebuy) and so on, up to their largest buy-in $530 ($50,000 guaranteed) throughout the week. The player base isn’t as large as it used to be, with an average of 50-500 players for Empire’s MTTs and around 7,000 for freerolls. There are a wide variety of Sit and Go’s offered at Empire. Starting as low as $1 and going up to $5000, finding one for your bankroll won’t be hard. There are hundreds running every 24 hours, most under the $100 level. Empire offers 10 player regular and turbo, 6 max regular and turbo, heads-up, satellites, and STEPs in their SnG selection.
Empire Poker’s software is very easy to use and offers some nice features. EmpirePoker.com’s interface is almost identical to PartyPoker’s except the color scheme is different (blue). The biggest change is the table layout, which features blocky CG avatars. In the Lobby it’s very easy to find the game and stakes you are looking for, and you can sort the list by the size of the average pot, which is very important in table selection strategy. The major difference between Party and Empire is PartyPoker allows players to play up to 16 tables at once. At Empire, players can only open up to 4 tables which will severely limit your ability to clear bonuses and earn player points. You can still cascade or tile your tiles, but they have not yet incorporated the “stack” option PartyPoker uses.
The EmpirePoker table game interface is solid. Although not the prettiest to look at, the software is very stable and has some nice features, such as right clicking on your opponent to take notes, and right clicking on yourself to see your session’s statistics. When you take notes on someone, a little yellow sticky note appears on the corner of that opponent. If you sit down at a table and you see someone with yellow sticky note, then you know you’ve played with them before and wrote yourself a reminder. A simple right-click on the opponent opens the note. The statistics are also a nice feature, but the statistics report is limited to your current session and there’s no way of keeping those statistics averaged over several sessions. Another nice feature while playing at the tables is the ability to resize. This improves playability over a wide range of monitor screens.
Betting is very easy on the No-limit tables: there is a slider that you can use or a text box to type in your bet. The bet amounts and pot amounts show the actual dollar figures under the chips so it is very easy to see the pot and bets and calculate your odds.
There are three action buttons during play – Fold, Check/Call, and Bet/Raise buttons. The buttons change depending on the action. However one drawback is that the Check and Call buttons share the same placement. As a result you may mistakenly call a bet when all you wanted to do was check. It can happen so be careful.
EmpirePoker does lack a good buddy finder (or fish finder). It would be nice to maintain a list of players to keep an eye on and have EmpirePoker tell you what tables they’re playing at. EmpirePoker’s Buddy List will inform you if a certain player is logged in, but not where they are. Considering the multitude of tables at Party, it’s very difficult to target your fish.
EmpirePoker (like many other poker rooms) offers hand histories which you can save to your computer. Previously, you had to request these via e-mail (a big hassle) but now you can automatically save them and import to Poker Tracker for easy progress.
Overall, the EmpirePoker software interface and usability is very comfortable for the player and they are constantly improving it.
Poker Room Action
Since UIGEA legislation was passed in 2006, Empire Poker along with PartyPoker have seen a drop-off in their player pools. This is mainly due to the sites shutting their doors to American poker players. While they have lost some customers, they still remain the largest network that does not accept US players. However, Black Friday has caused traffic at Party Poker to surge. At any given time there can be easily more than 10,000 players logged on across the skins which creates a lot of action at the micro, low, and mid-stakes games.
There are plenty of cash game tables up and running around the clock and as long as you aren’t a high-stakes professional, you should have little trouble finding a game. The same can be said for SNGs as Empire has a wide variety of games, stakes, and formats that are constantly running.
Ease of Game, Ease of Making Money, Fish Rating
It is widely known that non-US sites are the fishiest around. Empire Poker is no exception as their games are quite soft all the way up to the higher limits. You will find a wide variety of fish from over-aggressive maniacs to loose-passive calling stations. Playing a tight-solid game will pay off big time as you clear your bonus and feed off of the overly loose players.
Whether you enjoy playing cash games or SNGs you should have no trouble finding a lot of players that are much worse than you. The largest amount of fish can be found in the $1-$5 buy-in SNGs and the $10-$100nl levels. Games like PLO are also full of players who seem to just be there to gamble.
Bonuses and Promotions
Unfortunately, there’s no first deposit bonus at Empire Poker. Nevertheless, you should use the Empire Poker bonus code FTR150 when creating your account so that you don’t miss out on any exclusive promos to which you are entitled.
Rather than issuing an upfront bonus to new players, Empire offers value every month through ongoing promotions. As a new player, you can enter the $1.5k New Player Freeroll as long as you’ve made an initial deposit. In addition to this large freeroll, you can enter certain freerolls every day depending on what country you’re from. This is a great way to build your bankroll from a small initial account balance.
Mid- and high-stakes Sit N Go players will appreciate the selection of single-table tournaments available at Empire Poker. The site runs SNGs from $200 – $5000 with a fee of only $10! This means that if you play a $5,000 event, you’ll only be paying 0.2% in fees, much better than at other sites.
Customer and Technical Support
We haven’t had any major issues with EmpirePoker.com, so we haven’t had to use their support very often. The cashouts have been easy and prompt.
Empire Poker.com’s support staff is always vigilantly battling online collusion efforts, tracking any player trends and IP addresses that are suspicious. After signing up to EmpirePoker.com (if you are already a member of PartyPoker) you may receive a phone call to confirm the information. This extra diligent effort to prevent account theft makes you feel very comfortable playing at EmpirePoker. Equally reassuring is that EmpirePoker employs a technology that bans one person from playing two spots on a table.
As for e-mail support, they seem a little bit hit or miss. Sometimes you receive a reply to a question within an hour, and other times it can take days. They also have a live chat feature but you need to be a VIP member to use it.