This social club has been playing poker weekly since 2008, missing only a handful of weeks over that stretch of time.
Our last in-person game was in March, but we have been managing to play together despite social isolation by going online using private tournaments at PokerStars.net.
That has worked out well, but the tournament format means people need to show up at the same time. Stars has the ability to play a ring game, but in particular we like to play pot limit Omaha Hi-Lo (PLO/8) and the options for ring games did not really meet our needs.
So as soon as I learned about Faded Spade offering a private card club online, I was eager to give the platform a try.
So far, the experience has been very good. If you are interested in getting a private group together online to play poker, Faded Spade is a must see.
Ease of Use
There are two entry points for the Faded Spade card club: a public room, called Hearts, where games are open to all; and a private area of reserved game, called Spades. Players register to get a username and password. There is no charge for a player to register and join games.
Reserving a private table is done through the Faded Spade online store.
Options currently include reserving a table, hosting a regularly scheduled multi-table tournament, and co-branded options for commercial entities that want to run marketing events.
We selected two tables of PLO/8 for $20 per month per table. You have to choose ahead of time what game you will be playing at the table (more on that later) but the variety is good, including Hold ‘Em, Omaha, 5 card Omaha, Stud, with lowball and split pot variants available, and various limit structures as well.
You name your table, choose a password for players to access the reserved table, and can even provide a logo to go on to the table surface.
One set up, you are good to go. Players can find the reserved table from the lobby and start playing.
Faded Spade offers a rich set of features and configuration options for players:
- A four-color deck is available
- Various audio cues (dealing sounds, check and bet sounds, etc) for the game may be turned on or off individually
- There is a note feature available to record observations on varioous players
- In game chat, with the option to break it out into a larger window
- Full hand history with a save feature
- Game stats
- In game controls that you expect for options to sit out, check, call, fold, raise in variable amounts or fixed portions of the pot
- There is even an option to straddle!
Game play is done through a Web browser. There is no client to install. We had players logging in from various OS and browser combinations, as well as tablet devices.
That is not to say we had no issues. Our first foray saw a lot of our players getting the same error message when trying to sit at a table. We reached out to support and there was a fix within 12 hours, but those were some critical hours over Saturday night where we would like to have been playing.
Moreover, it would be great if, as a subscriber, there were an admin panel available for basic maintenance of table settings that did not require contacting support. In particular it would be nice to switch games to take advantage of the wide variety offered already.
But overall the service has been good and responsive. Which is what makes it worth paying for a subscription when the competition is free. Stars is a good option for home games right now, but it is a marketing tool for the site. I would not expect Stars to respond to any issue, and indeed there were outages of the home tournaments just last week.
The reserved tables at Faded Spade are already a solid offering, and I expect new features to be rolling out to make it an even better place to play (again, game rotation would be a great one, for all those home games that play dealer’s choice and a mix of games, and adding some draw games would be a nice treat).
We will be using it and reporting on updates. Definitely give it a look as an option for your private game.