GamesGrid is one of the internet backgammon pioneers, exists since 1997, they are licensed by the Lotteries and Gaming Authority of Malta.
To understand what is going on at this site, it is necessary to know they offer Backgammon and Poker, for guests and members and they are pushing real hard towards membership and poker. From the index page of their website over the client software up to almost every single window or page, you will find a link to real money poker play for members almost instantly, but finding anything about backgammon for guests requires some searching.
Once you made it into the backgammon lobby, you will find several 100´s players logged on around the clock, where most of these are guests. As long as you are logged on as a guest, you will get the impression there are no real members other than a few robot players, which are indicated as such, but once you become a member, you will discover at least 100 members logged on almost any time; it is just that guests cannot see regular members in lobby unless you know their nicks and add them to your friends list. They do not have specific restrictions but only a general expression in their terms, saying you may not participate in the site if it violates any law in your location.
The software is a downloadable client, which installs and updates automatically, currently version 3.6.1. On first view it looks like a Java applet, or some kind of GNU cross platform software, but it is a real client software written for Windows 98 or later.
The client software and connection to the server appears a bit unstable, even upon fast connections such as DSL, I’ve had frequent disconnects and no connection when trying to reconnect.
Window updates and speed of game play is average, compared to the amount of active users it is acceptable.
Compared to any other online backgammon software, the GamesGrid software is heavily overloaded with options, up to the point that you don´t find anything anymore in between several dozen individual settings. From the main lobby window itself, which can be split in tiles or cascade, over lobby chat, where you have fancy features like a list of gagged and blinded players, up to settings for the backgammon board itself, where about anything one can imagine is an optional setting, from 2D/3D board over board scheme and texture up to play options like auto play forced moves.
Options during game play are almost unlimited, up to tiny details like the die size relative to checkers and the delay for automatically played forced moves, the software has about any feature one can imagine and most of it is even optional including sound effects.
You can kibitz other players, and even chat with the players at the tables, but there is just one chat window where all chat messages from lobby and tables are mixed together including system messages and tournament announcements, meaning it is very hard to keep the overview, especially when using the features of gagged and blinded players it is about impossible to keep track who actually sees a message you type or which of all the messages are actually for you.
The software offers log files, once again optional and even in several formats to choose from.
GamesGrid Backgammon have lobby chat, table chat and private messaging, members can create their own profile including picture upload, but once again, the amount of available information is so overwhelming, it requires big skills in multitasking to keep the overview. No forum.
There is only one room for backgammon, where all players meet and even though there are multiple columns showing a whole lot of detailed information about every player logged on plus the option to sort the list by any column, if you aren’t used to it, on first view it looks like a complete chaos.
They have a rating but only for members, it seems accurate and follows the FIBS formula.
They offer play for real money as well as play money, a small range of possible deposit and withdrawal options, including credit card and Neteller. Processing time is reasonably fast, withdrawals take 1 – 2 days.
GamesGrid charges by far the lowest rake on the entire web, but they also charge membership fees, meaning how much a game effectively costs there depends how many games one plays per month.
From a monthly subscription for $12.95 over yearly subscription for $79.95 up to a lifetime subscription for $500, they offer multiple options, but when calculating the effective rake you always have to consider this as some kind of fixed upfront rake.
Once GamesGrid membership fee is covered, you can enjoy a very unique rake structure which is so low that you almost don´t notice paying any rake at all. There are small differences depending on stakes and limits, but in general they charge 1.9% cubeless, meaning you pay 19 cents for every $10 on stake, but regardless of cube value; i.e. a moneygame for $10, winning a gammon at cube value 4 wins $80, but still costs only 19 cents rake.
Software downloads and usage, signups, deposits and play for play money are free of charge, but limited to unrated 3 point matches, anything else requires membership and therefore is not for free anymore.
They offer a wide range of tournaments, even in several unusual formats like “Nack Blitz”, but once again, while tournaments are announced in lobby, in between all the other lobby and table chat, it is almost impossible to keep the overview. They have a tournament calendar, but even that is hard to understand, it is split up into daily, monthly and monthly money tournaments, each with different rules and restrictions.
They pay some big bonuses, such as up to $400 first deposit bonus, but once again, there is no overview. If you click the help in the backgammon client, choose membership and click deposit on the next page, you end up on a page asking you to deposit money into your Poker account, you can´t even tell whether a bonus offer is valid for backgammon.
GamesGrid has a reputation as one of the oldest servers on the web, almost any backgammon player in the world knows it, so it is no wonder that they have 100s of active players, but due to this unbelievable chaos with 100s of options and settings in addition to a public rating and their continuous pushing for Poker, it is no wonder either that, even upon the lowest rake on the web, they do not have many real money backgammon players.
If you like getting drowned in almost unlimited information, if you are willing to invest the time to learn how all the options work and where to find things and if you are willing to pay a membership fee for having all your personal info stored and published (optional of course), then GamesGrid is the place to go.