The first and most obvious point one must make when writing about Hollywood Poker relates to the ‘celebrity-factor.’ Along with rivals Celebrity Poker, Hollywood Poker has apparently cornered a novel and interesting niche market here in that they claim to attract a regular stream of celebs to their tables. It is, of course, easy to be sceptical about such claims, but when one plays for a while at Hollywood Poker, it becomes apparent that their claim would appear to be true. ‘Mimi Rogers has just logged in,’ declares the lobby in bold, red font, to which there are audible – ok, not audible, but you know what I mean – gasps of amazement: ‘ Wow, Mimi Rogers – you’re kidding me!’ It goes without saying that Mimi is known to be a competent and enthusiastic poker player, but it is still a surprise to see such a name appear. For some reason I didn’t hunt her down for a game, but I’m sure there will be other opportunities.

Actors Michael and James Woods and WPT host Vince van Patten (who has THE most Hollywood resumé you’ll read) are Hollywood Poker’s stalwarts, appearing in most of their publicity and banner ads; the Woods brothers are, as evidenced by their lobby chat, gentlemen who are happy to answer questions, help novices along with their game, and generally exchange banter with us common folk, while Vince is by all accounts a little quieter. Whether the appeal of celebs is enough to attract the hardened gambler to Hollywood Poker is open to question, but it certainly does – and will always – attract Joe Public; the modern-day fascination (obsession?) with celebrities should see to that. And I must admit, although not a celeb watcher myself, I was certainly impressed with some of the names Hollywood Poker can drop… Log in yourself, sit in the lobby awhile, and wait for the bold, red text. And then, as audibly as you can possibly manage to be with a keyboard, gasp.

Features

‘No-download’ play via browser / java platform (part of the OnGame Network along with PokerRoom, Holdem Poker, Euro Poker, AmericasCardroom etc). A choice of five bonuses. Celebrity players. Bounties awarded for knocking the celebs out of featured tourneys.
Enhanced stats menu with options for analysing your play in Texas Hold ’em, Omaha, Stud and Tournaments;
shortcut keys; full or reduced screen size; player notes; lobby chat window; create your own tournament; removeable avatars; auto login on startup.

Stakes

Limit Texas Hold ’em $0.15/0.30 to $500/1000, Pot & NL Texas Hold ’em $0.10/0.10 to $100/100
Limit Omaha $0.25/0.50 to $25/50, Pot and NL Omaha $0.25/0.25 to $2/2
Limit Omaha hi/lo $0.50/1 to $25/50 Pot and NL Omaha hi/lo $0.25/0.25 to $20/20
Limit Seven Card Stud $0.50/1 to $25/50
Limit Seven Card Stud hi/lo $0.50/1 to $25/50
Limit Five Card Draw $1/2 to $10/20 Pot Limit Five Card Draw $0.25/0.25 to $2/2

Freerolls

Lots of small freerolls ($20 & $30 pools) some of which require 10 player points and are restricted to 200 players. There are three $250 freerolls every week with the only requirement being that entrants must be registered as ‘real money’ players.

Hollywood Poker Bonus

Hollywood Poker is the only online poker room to offer a choice of five sign-up bonuses. They are as follows (each comes with a Red Carpet tournament ticket, much the same as PokerRoom’s Shark Cage ticket, worth $2):

A ‘Michael Woods Celebrity Invitational’ Tournament Ticket.
A 100% bonus up to $50, $75 or $100
A 500% bonus up to $1000

Player Numbers and Growth

The OnGame network is currently the 3rd largest online poker network with around 5 million members in the player pool. Given the no-download platform, the attractive-looking software, the big promos, the superb selection of games, and of course, the celeb factor, Hollywood Poker’s future looks rosy.

Promotions

Create your own tournament: mark up all the specifications yourself; you can even schedule a game 30 days in advance of its start date.
Hollywood Poker Celebrity Classic: every Sunday 2pm ET, $500 added, celebrity scalps $20-$100, $10+1 buy-in.
$10,000 Freeroll Week III: accumulate points between Dec 5 – Jan 9 to qualify for the four freerolls scheduled for 10-14 jan inclusive. 100 points buys an entry into the first, a $1k event, 200 qualifies for the next, a $2k event, 300 for the $3k and 500 for the $4k; each event features a $25 bounty for those who ko a star.

FAQ:

1. How easy is the bonus(es) to clear?
2. What are the negative points, if any?

ANS 1:

The first Hollywood Poker bonus, ie the Michael Woods ticket, is a bit tight-fisted in our opinion. Players must earn 75 points before they can claim the ticket; surely, when taking into consideration the number of online poker rooms which are currently paying players $10 just to sign up, it should just be a freebie? Player points are earned at the rate of 0.7 per dollar raked. Let’s say the average rake is $1.50 – you’ll have to play 54 hands before you can claim the ticket. Alternatively, points are earned at the rate of 5 per $1 in tourney fees; that’s 15 $10+1 sit ‘n’ go’s you have to play before reaching the target.

The second bonus, 100% up to $50, is equally tight. Players have 30 days to reach the point requirement (90 per $10), and there are no incremental payments. Therefore, deposit $20 and you need 180 points, $30 and you need 270, $40 360, $50 450. Again, if the average rake is $1.50 that works out at 129 hands for a $20 bonus, 193 for $30, 257 for $40,  321 for $50. The rates are not too bad, it’s the lack of incremental payments that makes the bonus unattractive. A $10+1 tourney player depositing $50 will have to play 90 tourneys to clear the bonus.

The third bonus, 100% up to $75, requires 100 points per $10, or 750 for the full $75. You can figure these out for yourselves now. The fourth bonus, 100% up to $100, requires 120 points per $10; finally, the 500% up to $1000 requires 17 points per $10 – that’s 17000 points to clear the full bonus on a $200 deposit. At least you have 60 days to clear this one (12,143 raked hands @ $1.50 average rake, or 3400 $10+1 tourneys. 56x $10+1 tourneys per day or 5.6 $100+10 tourneys per day. Every day. For 60 days. LOL).

ANS 2:

I am not going to highlight the bonus system at Hollywood Poker as a drawback here, because we do have a choice, after all. Obviously the bigger staking players will want to have a crack at the $1k bonus, while the smaller stakes players should really go for bonus 1 or 2. Bonuses 3 and 4 are neither here no there, really. The drawback I will highlight is the response time of Hollywood Poker’s customer service department. We emailed them three times and each time they took over 24 hours to respond. There is a live support in the lobby, but their presence is intermittent and you cannot use that system for imparting confidential information.

Rake

Industry standard 5% to a max $3

Deposit options

Visa, Mastercard, NETeller, Firepay, InstaCash, ePassporte

Security

SSL encryption

Customer Services

Available via email. Very slow. Recently, Hollywood have added 24/7 support via the game client, so good for them!

Conclusion

A nice online poker room with an interesting and novel twist and an excellent selection of games. The bonus option should be chosen carefully, however. Overall, we’d recommend you try it out for yourself as the positives far outweigh the negatives.