Party Gammon review
Date of review: 21.03.2007
Party Gammon exists since 2006, their server location is Gibraltar.
You can find about 200 active players logged on around the clock, playing all kind of games and matches, for all kind of stakes, play money and real money, it rarely takes more than a few seconds to find a match.
They do not accept US players and their main website is partially blocked by Italian authorities, meaning not all parts of their site are accessible for everyone.
The Partygammon software is a downloadable client, which installs and updates automatically, available in English and German. They named their software version “Build Number 109/19”, without any indication what that means.
The client software and connection to the server appears stable upon fast connections such as DSL, dialup connections get frequently disconnected.
Window updates such as refreshing the list of games in progress are slow; in tournament pages refreshes often freeze the whole page, displaying only a fraction of the pairings.
Speed of game play is about the slowest I have seen from downloadable clients, only browser based applications are slower.
Graphics in lobbies are limited to text only, columns in list views can be sorted, but not all sort functions are working, especially in tournament lobbies sorting the list of games in progress doesn´t work at all.
The board is a default 3D design without alternatives, no skins to choose, no option for 2D view.
Options during game play are limited to left and right click and drag and drop plus optional auto roll and auto bear off, where auto bear off doesn´t work properly.
The software has a few small sound effects, but only for dice rolls and your own moves, there is no sound during opponents’ moves nor a sound notification when it becomes your turn.
You can kibitz other players, and (except of tournaments) players can disable kibitzing; if kibitzing is open, there is no indication whether anyone is watching; sound for kibitzers is limited to dice rolls.
The Party Gammon software automatically saves logs from all games and matches, even from other players when kibitzing; the format of the log files isn´t recognized by any standard backgammon software, even the option to save a log as a standard text file doesn´t follow Snowie or Jellyfish standards; one can replay saved games within the client, but to run an analysis with Snowie or GNU requires to convert the log into a proper format.
If you get disconnected at any time during a game or match, it will save only an empty log, containing only player names and basic settings of the game, but no moves.
Chat is limited to a tiny window at the tables, where any halfway long sentence will already exceed the size of the window, system messages are mixed into the chat, all without any sound, meaning most of the time you won´t even notice when your opponent tries to tell you something.
No lobby chat, no private messaging, no forum.
There are several rooms to choose, separated by type of game, play money or real money, single games and matches, even different types of tournaments, everything has its own room, organized in a tree structure similar to Windows Explorer.
They used to have a rating but they recently dropped it, meaning it is not public displayed anymore, but they did not really eliminate it; log files still show ratings for both players, meaning one can easily look up the rating of any player by kibitzing him until a log file is saved.
This way the rating has become a plain abusive feature for professional sharks, while strong players who play for fun don´t care and casual players aren´t even aware of its existence.
The rating is supposed to follow the FIBS formula, but there is a bug in the calculation, resulting in low ratings dropping even lower and high ratings rising even higher.
Aside of this bug, the ratings are accurate, since they aren´t obvious visible, casual players aren´t aware of them, and the difference in rating makes no difference on the rake, there is no point for rating cheaters to manipulate them.
They offer play for real money as well as play money, a wide range of possible deposit and withdrawal options, including credit card, bank wire, Neteller, Moneybookers and several others.
Processing time is about the fastest I know of, once identity verification is complete, deposits are usually instantly and withdrawals take less than 6 hours for all standard methods.
With one exception, they do not charge any kind of fees other than rake and tournament registrations.
Software downloads and usage, signups, membership, deposits and withdrawals, and play for play money are absolute free of charge, they only charge an idle fee for real money players who don´t play any games in over 180 days.
The rake structure is a flat fee depending on stakes and type of game, still the structure is very complicated to overview.
In general they charge a rake “per player”, but winner pays both, which means all rakes are for the winner twice as much as the page shows.
Upon high stakes of $100 or more in match play they charge 2.75% per player plus an additional 0.25% per game point scored above 1, capped at a maximum of $5 per player, means you pay almost always a flat $10 rake in high stakes matches.
Upon smaller stakes the percentages increase, the smaller the stakes are the higher the rake%, up to 12% in single games and 14% in long matches upon stakes under $25.
They offer a wide range of possible stakes to play for, from $0.50 to $500, but the vast majority of games and matches are played for stakes under $10, meaning their average rake is 12% in single games and 14% in matches
They offer various types of regular tournaments, mostly small stakes, for play money and for real money, all together about 50 scheduled tournaments per day plus a variety of Sit and Go events; registration fee is usually 10% of buy in.
Players seem not to like any of the offers, most tournaments end up as a head to head match with only 2 participants; there are rarely more than 10 players in a tournament, not even for play money.
They also offer several special events, such as a weekly 10k tournament, but these are stretched over several prequalifying tournaments and players seem not to like that either.
The only heavy frequented type of tournament they offer are occasional freerolls, but these don´t pay a direct prize, all you can win there is a free entry to one of the prequalifying events for their special events, meaning even if you win a freeroll tournament, you still have to win 2 or 3 further tournaments before you get any prize.
Last but not least the software has several serious bugs and a whole lot of missing features.
It doesn´t even enforce all rules of backgammon, i.e. in a forced move position, where you can move only one of the two dice, rules say you must move the bigger die, but this software allows you to choose to play the smaller one.
In the heavy frequented freeroll tournaments the server usually collapses, tables often don´t open automatically, meaning the first 2 or 3 rounds of such a tournament aren´t played, whoever wins the initial roll will time out after 5 minutes, the opponent advances and only after enough players have been eliminated so that the server can handle the load, the last few rounds will be played.
Features like auto bear off exist as an option, but do not work properly, as long as there is a gap in your home board, it won´t bear off anything at all.
Other features like skip roll when no legal moves or auto play forced moves don´t exist at all on the Party gammon software.