The Ongame Network is the world's 10th biggest poker network and 23rd in overall traffic, with up to 4000 players online during the busiest hours.
The Ongame Network was officially created and opened in 2004 after Pokerroom.com took their software and created a network consisting of 9 poker sites. However the network is seen to have been created in 1999 when Pokerroom.com opened their poker site.
Pokerroom opened as a standalone site in 1999 offering play-money games to players. In 2001 they opened up for real-money games and accepted players from all over the world, including American players. Pokerroom was a very popular site, having around 1.5 million signups during the first years of operation.
After the creation of the Ongame Network in 2004, the estimated player registration pool was 3.5 million players, making the network the biggest poker network in the world at the time.
The Ongame Network accepted American players until 2006 where the American Congress passed the Unlawful Internet Gambling Enforcement Act (UIGEA). When the bill was passed, Ongame decided not to accept American players, following in the footsteps of Party Poker.
In 2006 the Ongame Network was sold to Betandwin (now Bwin) for a whopping $570 million, making it the first major sale in the online poker industry. With the purchase of the Ongame Network, Bwin became the largest listed betting company on the stock exchange.
Ongame's popularity continued to rise every year and in 2010 Betfair decided to close their own poker room to join the Ongame Network. With the instant boost in traffic, Ongame became the second biggest network in the world, after Ipoker.
In 2011 Bwin decides to merge with PartyGaming, making it the biggest merger the online gambling industry had ever seen. The merge was part of a long term strategy from Bwin to optimize their profit and the industry started speculating on the sale of the Ongame Network.
In October 2012 Bwin sold the Ongame Network to the online casino company Amaya. The network was sold cash and debt free for €15 million, with an additional €10 million to be paid if there would be regulated poker in the USA within the next 5 years. The price of the sale was a shock to the industry as Amaya only paid around 7% of the price Bwin paid for the network.
Not long after the sale of the network, Bwin moved from Ongame to PartyGaming, removing an estimated 50% of the total network traffic. The lack of traffic forced other operators like Betfair into finding better options and moving to new networks.
Ongame now operates in regulated markets, having their own poker network in Italy as well as providing regulated gaming for countries such as Denmark and Belgium.
Software and Games
The Ongame Network's software is provided by their own software team, using the software created in 1999. The software has been kept mostly untouched throughout the years, but got a major overhaul in 2010 when Ongame launched the P5 software update. The P5 software update was part of a long term plan to take the software to the next level and to be able to integrate new products. The software launch was not very successful as it was full of bugs and errors, which took Ongame one year to completely eliminate.
The new software had a brand new graphical interface, with a classical race track theme for easy multitabling and a popular avatar theme. The lobby look was improved to make it more user-friendly and the game speed became significantly faster.
Ongame offers a downloadable poker client for both Mac and PC's. The software runs good on all newer devices and have all the features players need. With sophisticated filters, easy scrolling and great graphic interface, Ongame offers a very popular poker software.
Ongame also offers mobile poker to their customers through a downloadable app. Players can play wherever they are directly on their mobile, if they have an active internet connection. The mobile application is not available on all Ongame sites.
Ongame offers a few different poker variants, which can be played as cash game, sit 'n' go or tournament.
Variants of Poker
Ongame offers 4 different variants of poker in their poker software:
- Texas Hold'em
- Omaha Hi
- Omaha Hi/Lo
- 5 Card Draw
The selection of games covers the most popular poker games.
Strobe Poker is Ongame's version of the popular fast-fold game. Launched in March 2013, Strobe Poker was made available to all Ongame's partners and players. Strobe Poker is a poker format where players will be moved to a new table and dealt a new hand instantly after folding their previous hand. The speed of the game intrigues players and made the format popular among many poker players.
Strobe Poker is available on $0.05/$0.10 up to $1/$2 stakes.
Ongame offers a great tournament schedule for the recreational player, having lots of guaranteed prize pool tournaments with a small buy-in. They offer unique "All-in Tilt" tournaments, where players are forced all in every hand and the winner takes it all, as well as satellites to live tournaments all over the world.
Ongame hosts around 300 tournaments a day, ensuring players can always find a tournament to play whenever they are checking in.
Ongame has a Sunday main event, the so called "ChampionChip". The ChampionChip guarantees a prize pool of $75,000 for a buy-in of $200.
Ongame hosts their own live tournament series called "The Grand Live". The series used to be named GSOP, but changed name in 2013 to fit the tournament series better. The reason for the name is that the tournaments costs €1000 + fee to enter, therefore "The Grand".
The Grand takes place all over Europe and has a great attendance. The tournament series has been popular from the beginning, with its great prize pools and good organization. Besides the main event, there are also plenty of good side events as well as cash games to attract players.
The Ongame Network uses their own rake allocation system called "Essence". The essence system divides players into different categories, giving losing players a bigger part of the paid rake than winning players. By using this system, Ongame rewards the network sites that brings in recreational players and penalizes those who mainly bring grinders and regulars.
No one knows exactly how the essence system works, how it divides players into different pools and so on but many partners of the network are happy to see that a network does something to improve the overall poker ecology.
Ongame charges 5-6.6% rake on all cash games tables and 5-10% for sit 'n' go and tournaments. The rake percentage is the industry standard.
The Ongame Network is known to be one of the most rewarding networks to play on. Players get VIP program, bonuses, rake races and other promotions to make it rewarding to play at.
There is no flat rakeback on Ongame, but a VIP system that provides players with cashback depending on the amount of VIP points earned. Ongame used to offer flat rakeback to its players, but removed it to ensure that rakeback war would not occur within the network.
The essence rake allocation system makes it harder for players to calculate their exact cashback percentage from the VIP system, since most players are not aware of which category they are placed in.
Security and Fairness
To ensure fair gaming, Ongame uses a Random Number Generator (RNG). The RNG is used to decide the outcome of what hands are dealt to players, as well as to decide which community cards will be shown. Ongame's RNG is tested and certified by Gaming Laboratories International (GLI), a leading RNG testing company. GLI checks the algorithms used in the software as well as check for any anomalies there might be.