Taken 14 February 2017 09:44.
A game of poker in progress.
Choice of tables to join.
Gala are a relatively new provider to online poker despite already being one of the top online gaming companies in the UK today. They also have a strong presence in the bingo and casino markets on the high street. With their plentiful experience in the market, you would expect their poker offering to be of a high quality; Gala does not disappoint.
It is part of the huge iPoker network, which is used by many of the largest poker sites, and uses Playtech software to give Gala customers access to all of the most popular versions of the game, as well as some big welcome offers for new customers, a loyalty points programme, lots of tournaments and a busy schedule of games at a variety of prices. For some reason, Gala have chosen to make the site a sub-section of their online casino, but there is no need to sign up to the casino to play poker and it really should be seen as a standalone offering.
Playtech are one of the most popular online games developers and they have a huge range of slots, table games and video poker games. These are all featured at Gala Poker, whose members can enjoy Texas Holdem, Omaha, Omaha Hi/Lo, 5-Card Stud, 7-Card Stud and Razz. Players will also see Speed Holdem games, where they change tables after every hand, and the highly popular anonymous tables, where no-one knows who they are playing against, or what skill level their opponents have.
Like most online poker, the Gala site needs downloading before it can be played, mostly because the level of interaction between players is too high to be trusted to a broadband connection. The software doesn't use up much memory and should be installed on any decent PC in just a minute or so. Once downloaded, new customers can sign up quickly and easily and then access the range of games and tournaments via the Lobby area. This clearly displays the table name, stakes, game type, number of players and average pot, making it easy for any visitor to find a game to suit them. As well as cash games, there are numerous scheduled and Sit and Go tournaments to be joined, including the $200,000 Steps tournaments, Jackpot Sit and Go, and special multi-stage tournaments where any player who wins several in a row gets a big jackpot prize.
Being part of the world's biggest independent poker network, there are always thousands of players online, many of whom have migrated across from various casino, sports betting and bingo sites and are therefore relatively inexperienced. There is no poker school here, so anyone new to online poker will need to practice at low-stakes tables and learn the art of playing before moving onto the big stakes games.
Anyone familiar with Playtech software will know that the quality is hard to beat, and the poker tables are presented in pin-sharp detail, with a nice blue colour scheme, lots of options to customise the game information, smooth animations and good sound effects.
There are many different promotions going on here at any one time, although they do get updated quite frequently. New players will usually get a welcome bonus equal to several times the amount of their first deposit. Like many poker bonuses, it is paid out in stages, related to the amount of rake generated, and tournament entry fees paid. At Gala, customers earn Status Points each time they play and they will need to earn enough of them to get a further payment of the welcome bonus. Once released, these funds can either be played through at any part of the Gala casino site, including the poker section, or simply cashed out.
As well as Status Points, once they have become a regular player, customers also earn Poker Player Points (PPPs) for each hand in which they contribute money to the pot, as well as when they buy in to a tournament. The number of PPPs earned increase with promotion up the VIP scheme. This eight-stage scheme can change the number of points earned 1 per status point, to 1.7 per status point.
Although many sites have similar schemes, it does seem somewhat over the top having two loyalty points schemes, but it's quite easy to understand once actually playing the games. Other promotions include regular race tournaments, side games freerolls, new player freerolls for anyone who had made their first deposit the previous month and lots of themed tournaments which offer special twists to the regular ones.
There are plenty of deposit and withdrawal options available for customers to use, including a number of the most widely used credit and debit cards, e-wallets, or online money transfer systems, a couple of prepaid cards and vouchers, or bank transfers. Most deposits will be credited to the players account straight away and withdrawal requests are processed impressively fast as well, although the payment provider will often need to process the request also so it can be a few days before the money is available for the player to use. If a card or e-wallet is used to make a deposit, any withdrawn funds will automatically be returned to the same card or transfer system. Gala use secure software to transfer money, keeping players personal and financial details safe.
There is a good choice when it comes to contact methods, with the customer support team available all day, every day. Players can either use a freephone number (from the UK), live chat, email, or e-message (when logged into their account). All of the support team are very responsive, knowledgeable and well practiced in answering any questions that a customer may have.
Most aspects of Gala Poker are excellent, with access to top-quality games in a substantial network and a huge player base ensuring that the choice of tables is always extensive. Bonuses are competitive with lots of tournament action, and player skills range from absolute beginners to highly experienced pros. It would be nice to have seen a poker school here, or regular re-load bonuses, but generally, Gala Poker offers everything that a player will ever need or want.
|Part of a very big Poker network.|
|Excellent software, with realistic tables.|
|Slightly confusing and overlapping loyalty points schemes.|
|No Poker school.|
|License Number: 39069|
|Registration Number: 266|
Appointed in March 2015 and previously managing director of Ladbrokes Digital since November 2013, Jim Mullen is the current chief executive of Ladbrokes Coral Group which employs over 14,700 people.