Pala Poker was created by Pala Interactive, the digital gaming arm of the San Diego-based Pala Band of Mission Indians. The Pala tribe operates the land-based Pala Casino Spa and Resort in California and is partnered with Borgata Hotel Casino & Spa in New Jersey to offer online poker as well as online casino games and bingo in the state.
Pala opened its NJ online poker room in June 2017, becoming the seventh brand to do so (two are now defunct) since the industry went legal in 2013. Unlike other sites, which have banded together to share player pools and software platforms, Pala’s offering was developed in-house from scratch and is not connected to any other network.
Operating solo in the small Garden State market will likely hinder Pala’s ability to build the critical mass of players necessary to keep the games running. The company seems to be in the game for the potential long-term rewards, however, and will refine its software in the hopes of deploying it in other states, should they legalize iGaming. Read on for our review of Pala’s nascent New Jersey poker room!
Pala Poker Bonus Offer
Create a Pala Poker account using the links on this page, along with the bonus code NJOG, and get $25 absolutely free. When you make your first real money deposit, you’ll receive an additional bonus of 100% of the deposit amount, up to $500.
Pala Poker Bonus Code & Details
|Online Poker Site||Pala Poker|
|Promo Code||None – Just click through our link|
|No Deposit Bonus||$25 Free|
|Deposit Bonus||100% up to $500|
|Atlantic City Partner||Borgata Hotel & Casino|
How the Bonus Works
When you create a new account at Pala Poker with us, you’ll receive a $25 no deposit bonus to try the site’s poker games. Here’s how it breaks down:
- $10 for poker tournaments: $10 in tournament dollars
- $15 for casino: $15 in bonuses at Pala Casino Online after you register.
Pala’s 100% match deposit bonus is released in $5 cash increments for every 1,250 Status Points earned on the site. Therefore, you’ll effectively need to contribute $25 in rake to release each $5 chunk.
Rather than piggyback off of one of the better-known software providers, Pala Poker has built its own proprietary client. The platform has just made the jump from beta to gold, so it wouldn’t be quite fair to judge it against its more established, polished competitors. That said, here are my initial thoughts.
Aesthetically, the tables look nice, and have an almost PokerStars-style sleekness to them. Unfortunately, the cards are a similar color to the background and blend in a bit, which sometimes makes it difficult to see at a glance which opponents still hold cards.
This wouldn’t be an issue if we had the option of changing theme colors and backgrounds for the table, but unfortunately, that is not yet an option. Customizability is basically nonexistent in Pala Poker, but there is a good chance that this will improve over time
The gameplay worries me a bit, specifically the lag I experience when playing. Using the arrows provided to make your bets is tough when a second or two delay occurs between your click and the bet adjustment.
Couple that with a quick and unforgiving time bank and you really need to be on your toes and ready to act at all times when you are in a hand. Timing out of a big pot because you can’t get your bet in due to a lag is enough to tilt anyone!
When you do timeout, the sound effect played is a loud buzzer which can only be described as an old-school minor league hockey goal horn, but twice as obnoxious. If Pala decided to use this as a deterrent for players not to time out, it was a genius move. Thankfully, turning sounds off and on is one of the few game options available (along with a couple of other important ones like four-color decks and custom bet sliders).
We will revise this section as Pala pushes out updates to the software.
To ensure that you are never far from the action, Pala has developed a mobile app for use with both iOS and Android mobile operating systems. My first impressions of the app is that it’s polished and easy to use. The ability to access the cashier for quick deposits and withdrawals within the app, as opposed to leaving the app for a browser, is a welcome convenience.
You can also check your Status Level, register for a tournament or Sit & Go, and get in touch with support with ease.
The app offers more than just options and conveniences, however. The core gameplay is what’s most important in the Pala Poker app, which boasts high functionality in addition to modern UI elements.
Tables run very smoothly, even better than on the desktop client, in fact. Selecting the poker variant of your choice is a breeze, and the experience is quite enjoyable due to the sleek interface.
The most impressive benefit of the app is the ability to play up to four different tables at a time. The tab based Interface alerts you when you need to make your move by flashing when it is your turn to act. This feature in itself raises the bar for competing New Jersey online poker operators.
The one minor gripe that I have is that the betting buttons could be bigger. Fortunately, that is something that can easily be fixed.
At the moment, Pala seems to be focusing on building a lower stakes, No Limit Hold‘em base and working its way up. Low stakes cash games and Sit & Gos fill most of the lobby, but there are a decent amount of small guarantee No Limit tournaments as well, and even more now that the site is out of beta.
Given the size of the NJ market and Pala’s newness to online poker, it’s understandable that the tourney guarantees aren’t too large. If anything, we find them aggressive given the traffic on the site, evidenced by their propensity to produce overlays.
At present, Pala’s Weekly Mega Tournaments feature $6,000 in guarantees, spread across three $2k GTD MTTs.
Pala Poker is currently just out of beta and therefore does not yet have a large player base. Even with time, though, the site will have a tough task ahead of itself if it wants to lure players away from the other established NJ poker sites.
Pala Poker does not offer its games around the clock, making it the only NJ poker site to close shop for part of every day.
Cash games open to the public daily at 1 p.m. ET, and the first tournament usually begins at 4 p.m. The poker room typically closes around 1 a.m., although any table that is already running at that time can continue until it breaks.
Pala takes a 5% rake on No Limit, Pot Limit and Fixed Limit games, with maximums varying by stakes. The lowest rake cap is set at $1 for micro stakes games, with the highest being $4 at select higher limit tables.
Pala Poker Loyalty Program
Players are automatically enrolled in the Pala Privileges rewards program, where they can earn exclusive rewards and bonuses every time they play at Pala websites.
Status Points (SPs) are what Pala uses to determine your loyalty level, which affects the amount you can earn in rakeback through the acquisition of Reward Points (RPs).
|Level||Monthly Status Points|
As you earn Status Points by playing your favorite poker games, you’ll also earn Reward Points. RPs can be used to purchase loyalty rewards in the Points Store. Currently, you can buy $1 for every 5,000 RPs you spend.
The higher your Status Level, the easier it is to earn Reward Points.
|Level||Reward Points Ratio to Status Points|
|Privileges||4 to 1|
|Pearl Privileges||4 to 1|
|Gold Privileges||6 to 1|
|Platinum Privileges||8 to 1|
|Elite Privileges||10 to 1|
To illustrate the system a bit more, say you wanted to reward yourself by converting all your Reward Points to cash when you hit the Gold Privileges status level, which requires that 7,500 SPs be earned in a month. Referring to the above table, we see Rewards Points for the first two loyalty levels are earned at a 4 to 1 ratio to Status Points. Therefore, 7,500*4 = 30,000 RPs earned.
At the rate of 5,000 RPs per dollar, you will get back $6.
7,500 Status Points in a month at 50 SPs per dollar in rake paid means you paid $150 in rake to get Gold Privileges. A $6 reward on $150 rake paid is 4% rakeback for the first two Status Levels. As you move up in levels the percentage gets higher.
If you prefer to get paid in tournament dollars, Pala offers a slightly better rate of 4,900 RPs per tournament dollar.
Apart from Pala’s generous Welcome Package, the site entices real money players with a free daily spin on its $1 million slot machine. The grand prize is a seven-figure payout to be awarded in 40 equal installments. Players can win smaller amounts, but are paid out in Pala bonus dollars which come with a 20X play through requirement.
You can make deposits and withdrawals at Pala Poker according to the following table:
|Method||Deposit limits (24 hours)||Withdrawal Option?|
|Pala + Prepaid Card||No limit||Yes|
|Borgata Cashier||No limit||Yes|
|Check by mail||N/A||Yes|
Pala offers numerous ways to get in touch with its friendly support team at all hours of the day or night. The email response I received was prompt and helpful, but if you are like me and need everything done instantly, Pala has you covered. Live chat is offered 24/7, and although I haven’t tested it at 3 AM yet, both times I have used it, the agents have been friendly, lightning quick and deadly accurate. Hopefully, Pala can keep up this high level of customer service as their player volume grows.
In addition, the site boasts an FAQ section which provides answers to common questions. If you can’t find your fix there, you can reach Pala by phone at 1-844-FOR-PALA.
- Very generous Welcome Bonus and deposit bonus
- Sleek software design
- Impressive, polished mobile app
- Ability to multi-table on mobile
- Convert Rewards Points into cash through Pala Privileges loyalty program
- PayPal deposit and withdrawal option
- Extremely efficient customer support
- Few software customizability options
- Slight delay in placing bets needs to be fixed
- Obnoxious game sounds
- Low traffic as the site is just getting off the ground
- Only open from 1 p.m. to 1 a.m.