Introduced a few years ago, 888poker's PokerCam remains a distinctive offering when it comes to online poker, offering players a unique hybrid of live and online poker.
888poker's PokerCam tables give online players a chance to experience certain aspects of live poker while playing at home, which not only can make poker more enjoyable but also round out players' experiences in ways that can help them improve their games.
Playing on PokerCam Tables on 888poker
For those who aren't familiar with 888poker's PokerCam tables, here's a quick rundown of how they work.
First you need to have a standard, functioning webcam connected to your computer (most laptops have them built in already). Then in the 888poker lobby look for the PokerCam icon next to the table name — it resembles a small portable webcam. Choose your table, click on a seat, and start playing. Your webcam and computer's microphone will be enabled automatically once you sit down.
You can't multi-table PokerCam tables, although you can play one PokerCam table while sitting at other, non-PokerCam tables. The tables can be resized, and you have the ability to mute others or block their video, if you wish.
There are rules about behaving at the tables (just like at non-PokerCam tables), and 888poker reserves the right to ban players if they get out of line. For other particulars, the 888poker site provides all of the PokerCam Rules as well as other PokerCam FAQ.
There's a good variety of stakes for cash games on the PokerCam tables, from penny games all of the way up to $10/$20. The games are typically six-handed, which accommodates for table space needed to show the players' video feeds around the table.
PokerCam-specific tournaments are often offered (and have proven popular). You can also set up private PokerCam tournaments and play with friends — a neat way to have a virtual "home game" online.
888poker's PokerCam Tables: Entertaining and Educational
As mentioned, playing on the PokerCam tables on 888poker provides a kind of combination or hybrid of both live and online poker that can actually benefit players looking both to increase their enjoyment of poker and to improve their games.
In many respects it still plays like most online poker, with betting amounts displayed for you and the action all automated so there's never anyone acting out of turn or other idiosyncracies that crop up when playing live. But the cameras showing players' faces and reactions — and enabling real "table talk" as hands play out — add an extra layer of interaction that can be both entertaining and educational, especially for players without a lot of live experience.
Players will sometimes give away information with their look or demeanor when playing hands, or by their talk before, during, or after their actions. You'll find some players on the PokerCam tables being extremely social, while others are less so. The pace of play is generally faster than live poker, though not quite as fast as other online games without the cameras and audio — it depends a lot on how social people are.
Playing with such players provides experiences that are at least analogous to what happens in live games. You'll see the "overacting" players sometimes try to mislead an opponent — e.g., acting disappointed while betting or raising (the old "weak means strong" tell). All of this can be informative, especially for players new to the experience.
Another unique benefit — and something you can't really experience in the live game — is being able to see yourself while you're playing. Ever wonder what your "poker face" really looks like? You can find out on the PokerCam tables.
New players in particular struggle sometimes to hide tells when playing, and are probably better off focusing on other strategic considerations and trying to minimize their own tells rather than focus too greatly on trying to read others' tells. By monitoring your own expressions during hands, you can train yourself to stop smiling when you've filled your draw and made that nut flush, or furrowing your brow when you've missed.
Occasionally you might encounter players on the tables who go against the spirit of things and have turned their webcams toward the ceiling or a blank wall. But for the most part those who choose the PokerCam tables do so deliberately, looking for exactly the kind of live-ish poker experience the tables provide.
Lights, Camera... Action!
Speaking of the types of players the PokerCam tables attract, the player pool does lean a bit toward the casual or "recreational" player, although as is often true at all online poker tables these days, there are some solid, skilled players mixed in as well.
The fact that players cannot multi-table PokerCam tables also skews things toward the non-"grinders" who like to typically play a dozen tables or more in order to accumulate as much volume as they can.
In fact, many sitting at the PokerCam tables are only playing one table. This translates into fewer "pros" or full-time players sitting at these tables, but also means those who are at them are usually reasonably focused on the action, perhaps more so than at non-PokerCam tables where it's easy to get distracted playing on other tables, checking email and Twitter, surfing the web, and so on.
Especially at the lower-stakes tables, you'll encounter that same sort of loose play that sometimes comes up in low-limit live cash games. Depending on how social the table is, you'll see that phenomenon occur sometimes where the "vibe" of the table starts affecting the play, and therefore altering what the best strategy might be to succeed.
Players might begin encouraging each other to gamble more, making bigger preflop raises, bigger postflop bets, and calling bets more often in order to grow pots. That can happen in non-PokerCam online games, but with the added conversation and "peer pressure" the process can happen more quickly at the PokerCam tables — perhaps even within just a hand or two.
If you haven't given the PokerCam tables on 888poker a try, they're worth checking out both for the entertainment value and for the more practical benefits they can add to your game.
If you don't already have an account on 888poker, now's a good time since you can get an account and get in the game without even making a deposit. Create your free 888poker through PokerNews and you'll be awarded a free sign-up bonus of $88 (£20 in the UK) which includes $8 in free cash and tournament tickets and an $80 bonus. In other words, you can try out PokerCam and all of the other games on 888poker without it costing you a cent!