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Intertops Instant Play Poker: Anything but the 'Tops

Intertops and Juicy Stakes Logo

Intertops and Juicy Stakes Poker have long boasted about the Mac- and mobile-friendly Instant Play version of their Horizon Network software. However, in recent months, this boasting has been just that: mere words about a solution that was "down for maintenance" with no target date for the resumption of service. On May 18, 2017, both sites announced on their Facebook pages that a new Instant Play client was now ready to go, so we decided to take a look at it.

Games Offered

You'll encounter NL Hold'em at $0.02/$0.04 through $10/$20 and Pot Limit Omaha at these same stakes, which correspond to what's available in the desktop poker client. Pot Limit Hold'em is the only other cash game spread on the browser-based software…or is it? We discovered that Pot Limit Hold'em stakes run up to $50/$100, well in excess of the top $5/$10 level available through the download poker program. Further investigation revealed that these were actually miscoded or misfiltered Fixed Limit tables.

So there's NLHE, legitimate PL Hold'em, LHE mistakenly labeled Pot Limit Holdem, and Pot Limit Omaha to choose from. There's no Omaha Hi-Lo in any betting structure, and the unusual game Telesina, present in the download version, isn't supported by the mobile client. There's another omission, and it's a big one: THERE ARE NO 9-MAX TABLES whatsoever in the web browser poker product. There are 8-player ring games, which is basically full-ring, so fans of long-handed poker aren't completely out of luck, but any real nine-man games that are populated across the network are inaccessible from mobile or Mac. Given the less than bustling poker traffic at Horizon Network, the failure to include any tables of this popular size is inexcusable.

Tables Mislabed in Intertops Instant Play

Moving over to SNGs, it seems Intertops actually has its house in order. At a glance, it appears as though every contest listed in the normal software is open to players on the Instant Play platform, including multi-table SNGs, although there's some confusion again regarding Pot Limit and Fixed Limit games.

LHE SNG Mislabeled at Intertops Instant Play

The sit-and-gos weren't so bad; is the selection of upcoming multi-table tournaments also what you would expect? No. Remember the lack of full-ring cash tables that we just discussed? Well, this is the case in tournaments as well! Since most tourneys have nine individuals to a table, this excludes the overwhelming majority of tournaments hosted by the Horizon Network. In fact, at the time we observed the Instant Play MTT lobby, there were only eight contests that you could register for.

Lobbies and Settings

When you log into poker from Intertops' website, you'll see a list of the games available to the right of your screen and a bunch of selectors and filters to the left. You can choose from Ring Games, Tournaments, and Sit N Go, and you can opt to see only Hold'em, just Omaha, or both. Click on a filter to change the settings. The ring game lobby is all right, but you can't see players/flop, average pot, or hands/hour like you can in the Windows download program. There also isn't any waitlist functionality implemented.

Cash Lobby in Intertops Instant Play

Over on the MTT side, you'll find a list of tournaments both running and scheduled for the future. Clicking on any of them brings up a small box with a description of the event and some of the key information. Given the brevity of the facts shown, we feel that some of the wasted space in the tournament box could have been better utilized. In particular, it would be nice to know – for currently running tourneys – what the top prizes are to be won and who the current chipleaders are.

MTT Lobby at Intertops Instant Play

The sit-n-go lobby suffers from some of the same issues as the MTT one does, but SNGs tend to be simpler and more straightforward affairs than large-field tournaments, so the failure to display volumes of data isn't as critical.

By pressing an image that looks like the outline of a person on the top-left of the lobby, you can open up a menu that allows you to go to the cashier, view your rewards, and contact support. There's an icon of a gear that brings up the settings dialog, but the options contained within are very few.

Settings Menu at Intertops Instant Play

Joining a Game

You just have to tap on a cash game to open it up; then select any empty seat to join. Once you do so, you'll see the buy-in window. Decide how much money you want to put in your stack, and then choose "Buy-In."

Buying into a Cash Game at Intertops Instant Play

For tournaments, the procedure is similar. When you click "Register," you'll see a window showing your balance, the amount the tourney costs, and the name of the event. Hit "Register" again if everything looks OK, and you'll be enrolled in the tournament.

Registering for a Tournament at Intertops Instant Play

Instant Play Tables

The tables in the mobile- and Mac-compatible Intertops poker software are very basic, lacking even chatboxes and note-taking capabilities. Yet, this isn't the most disturbing thing about them. The "feature" that's the most off-the-wall is the fact that your hole cards are displayed in the bottom-center of the table – regardless of which seat you happen to occupy! They could have gone live with preferred seating, even if the "preferred" seat was simply locked at the one closest to the bottom-middle of the table. But, alas, the developers have opted not to do so, making for the unsettling experience of seeing your cards displayed with players who are not yourself on either side of them, in between chips from the calls and raises that occur ahead of or behind you.

You can auto-check or auto-fold before the action gets to you. If you intend to bet or raise, then you have a harrowing ordeal to put yourself through. When it's your turn, you can enter your betsize through an imprecise slider or by using one of the "1/2 pot," "2/3 pot," "pot," or "all in" buttons. There's no way for you to directly type in the exact amount of chips you seek to add to the pot. This is awkward, particularly preflop when you might wish to bet in increments of the big blind rather than fractions of the pot.

Intertops Instant Play Betting Controls

Through a menu near the top of the table, it's possible to close the current table, unpost blinds, and more. In the event that you're multi-tabling, you'll also be able to switch to another table from here. The multi-tabling limit is three, and whenever the action is on you at a table, that table will be automatically brought to the front. To find another table to play at without closing the current one, click on the plus sign on the left of the table. This will bring you to the lobby.

Table Menu at Intertops Instant Play

Intertops Instant Play First Impressions

Our initial view of the Instant Play poker client at Intertops is, to put it mildly, unfavorable. Bizarre table layout decisions, a frustrating-to-use betting interface, and the lack of all full-ring cash games and tournaments are just a few of the mistakes that we disapprove of. It's true that this is the first release of the new software, but Intertops has had its experiences from the previous one to draw upon. Not to mention the fact that the company prides itself on being a pioneer in the internet gambling space.

We would like to see the Horizon Network use its resources to improve the current offering, which leaves a lot to be desired. And when we speak of "resources," we don't just mean throwing money at the problems until they become better. Nine-player ring tables and unused screen real estate on customers' devices are a couple of things that are already in existence and shouldn't be too hard to leverage to make poker more fulfilling for Mac and mobile players.

Try Out Intertops Instant Play Today

Despite all its flaws, web-accessible poker from Intertops does expand the possibilities for those with Macs, Androids, iPhones, and other non-Windows systems. There are only a few poker options for these individuals, and so Instant Play poker on Horizon might be just good enough for them. Anyone creating an account at Intertops for the first time will receive a 200% up to $1,000 bonus and the chance to request 36% dealt rakeback. Juicy Stakes is a sister site of Intertops, and it confers almost all of the same benefits as its senior partner does, including access to the Instant Play poker interface.

If you feel like Intertops has dropped the ball, and you're looking for a different poker room that works with Macs, smartphones, and tablets, then either BetOnline or may be the answer. Each of these rooms has long had a dedicated Mac download, and they've recently launched quite feature-packed mobile apps as well.