Staying Safe While Playing Unregulated Online Poker

By James Guill
April 16, 2017

Last week, the United States Department of Justice announced that the remission process for former Absolute Poker and UB players is underway. It’s been six years since Black Friday, but some players will finally be able to recoup at least some of their former bankrolls on those sites.

If we learned anything from the Black Friday saga, it is how dangerous it can be to play on an unregulated online poker site. At least that’s the popular talking point we like to claim.

Most American poker players will claim that they want regulated online poker, but there are some who have voted with their dollars by choosing to play on unregulated sites like ACR or Ignition.

Some of you are going to choose to play on these sites regardless of other people’s warnings or any past or future shutdowns or scandals. All we can do is offer some advice on how to stay safe while playing unregulated online poker and hope you keep your wits about you.

Pay Close Attention to Player Sentiment and Problems

Whenever you deal with an unregulated online poker site, you are taking the risk that the site will not pay out. At some point, they could suddenly shut down and abscond with your funds (Lock Poker, anyone?).

There are almost always warning signs when this happens and you need to pay close attention to them. Players will start complaining about difficulties making deposits, withdrawals, and in some cases will even report suspicious activities on the site or amongst those running the company.

This information leaks out and soon you will be able to read all about it on Twitter, Facebook, 2+2, or any popular poker forum. As such, you need to pay attention to the general climate of the site and if things start to go south, get out.

Use Bitcoin for Online Transactions

Players are increasingly switching over to bitcoin for online poker transfers for both speed and security. For those who somehow haven’t heard about bitcoin yet, it is an electronic currency that has been growing in popularity over the last couple of years or so.

Many major retailers are jumping onto the bitcoin bandwagon and online casinos have begun doing the same. For instance, BitStarz claims to be the first online casino to accept bitcoin and some online poker rooms have also started using it as a payment processing method.

Ignition and ACR both accept bitcoin and both heavily promote the use of the cryptocurrency. What are the advantages? Deposits are immediate and you don’t have to worry about getting a prepaid credit card or about “verification processes.”

Also, when you try to withdraw funds, you’ll get your funds within minutes or hours instead of waiting for days or weeks.

Refrain From Playing on Unregulated Sites

Of course, if you want to guarantee that your online bankroll will remain safe, then you should refrain from playing on unregulated online poker sites in the first place. This is an option most of you don’t like to hear, but there’s simply no other true guarantee that your funds will remain safe.

Even if U.S.-facing sites meet their obligations to players, there’s still no guarantee that the DOJ will not decide at some point to hold “Black Friday – Part II.” There are no legitimate indicators out there that the DOJ won’t decide to indict people running online poker and casino operators offering unregulated iGaming in the U.S.

So, just as a reminder, every time you log in to play online poker at unregulated online poker sites, you are gambling with your bankroll. If they do eventually end up getting shut down, there might eventually be a remission process where you can recoup your bankroll. But will that process happen in two weeks, as was the case with PokerStars in 2011, or will the process drag on for 6 years like with AP and UB? Only time will tell.



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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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