Expert Advice on How to Spot and Avoid Poker Scams at Online Casinos

By James Guill
May 02, 2023

When thinking of online poker scams, we often think of collusion, HUDs, super users, or bots. However, other poker scams are just as dangerous to players. Today, we will look at common poker scams that you may see at online casinos.

For these scams, we are focusing less on player scams and more on sitewide scams. The easiest way to avoid these scams is by playing at the best online casinos in the USA that are certified scam-free by sites like

scam alert

Anonymous or No Verification Sites

Some people think online gambling and online poker should be completely anonymous. Some casinos have preyed on this belief, and many people have been scammed at anonymous casinos.

Anonymous casinos allow you to register and deposit with minimal information. Bitcoin online casinos flourished under this model. So did scammers. Some of these anonymous casinos would withhold payouts claiming fraud, and players could not prove it was them playing. Alternatively, your account and deposits were unrecoverable if you lost or forgot your login at an anonymous site.

This is one reason that Know Your Customer, aka KYC verification, is essential. While entering your personal data and verifying your account may be inconvenient, it adds a level of protection to your account. The top online casinos in the USA use KYC Verification, and most legitimate global casinos and poker rooms do so.

Proprietary Games

One of the most common poker scams we’ve seen in the past is the use of proprietary games. Proprietary poker and casino games are those developed in-house or by an unknown third party. Often, these games are heavily rigged in favor of the casino or poker room.

Most trusted online casinos and poker rooms use software from established online gaming providers. It is easy to track down information on these games, including data on RTP, design elements, and more.

In the early day of Bitcoin gambling, many Bitcoin casinos only offered proprietary games. Unfortunately, this led to a large number of scams when players found the games unbeatable.

Yes, we realize that a few well-known safe online casinos use proprietary games. However, in those instances, the sites are licensed, regulated, and verified by third parties.

Clone Casinos and Poker Rooms

While this scam is less common than in past years, there are still times when a clone casino will pop up. These casinos or online poker rooms are designed to look like legitimate rooms. In many cases, they will have similar-sounding names. For example, instead of 888poker, a clone might be 8888 Poker. Instead of PokerStars, you have PokerStar.

The level of scam varies. In some cases, the casino may appear to run legitimately for a while but suddenly stop paying players. Other times, a casino will run a short amount of time with rigged games and then quickly close up shop.

The safest online casinos USA have unique layouts and designs. While they may have elements common to all casinos, they will not be a direct copy of other websites.

Please note that a clone casino is not the same as a skin. Online casinos and poker room skins are copies of sites operating in different markets and under other brand names. They share the same games and sometimes the same promotions, but these are still authorized and licensed entities that can be traced back to the same parent company. You don’t see any of this with cloned casinos.

The Site or Casino is Unlicensed

An easy rule of thumb to remember is “If a casino or poker room is unlicensed, DO NOT PLAY THERE.” If a poker room or casino does not have licensing information on display or claims to be “self-regulated,” you have zero protections from that site.

The best online casinos that payout in the USA are licensed by one or more established regulators. Various online regulators license online casinos and poker rooms, and the process is relatively straightforward.

There’s no excuse for a casino or poker room not to hold a license. While holding a license doesn’t necessarily guarantee that a casino will act in the best interest of its customers, your odds are much better at licensed casinos than at unlicensed ones.

Investigate Any Casino or Poker Room Before Playing

Our top recommendation is that players conduct due diligence on any new or unfamiliar online casino or poker room they wish to play at. While the number of online casino scams is lower than ten years ago, they still exist.

Scammer prey on those who are overly trusting or fail to take precautions. While it may seem like a pain to research a new casino, a few minutes of research could save you a lot of headaches and money.

Ultimately, if a casino or poker room raises red flags or you feel uneasy about playing there, don’t do it. There are plenty of legitimate online casinos and poker rooms out there, so don’t risk your money on a potential scam.



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James Guill poker author
Written By.

James Guill

James Guill started his poker career playing semi-professionally from 2006 to 2008. In 2008, a colleague suggested he try his hand at poker writing and the rest was history. Since 2008, James has written for numerous publications including PokerNews, PokerUpdate, Ivey Poker, PokerJunkie, PokerListings and PokerNews Australia. James also spent several years providing content for […]

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