There are countless online poker sites out there. If you were to simply do a Google search for “online poker,” you’d get so many results that it would probably take you days to really go through them all. On the surface, this is a great thing, as more choice means you are much more likely to find exactly what you’re looking for.
However, with the online poker industry being such a big moneymaker, it attracts all sorts of people with all sorts of agendas. This means that not all poker rooms you’ll find online will have your best interests at heart. Some are just there to make as much money as possible in as little time as possible.
So, the question that comes naturally is: how do you know which online poker room to choose? While there are plenty of choices out there each catering to the tastes of even the most discerning online poker player, there are certain things you should look for an examine before you sign up and trust a poker room with your money. Going through our short five-point checklist should help a lot.
1. Longevity and Reputation
One of the best indicators that a poker room is the real deal is its longevity and the general reputation it enjoys with the players. If a room has been around for a decade or more without any serious complaints or scandals, it’s more than likely it can be trusted.
Of course, it’s hard to find a poker site that hasn’t been through some kind of controversy if they’ve been around long enough. But checking out how they dealt with a crisis, how they communicated with the players, and what they did to handle the situation will tell you a lot.
2. Software Quality
There is a huge difference between playing on a quality online poker platform and trying to make things work on a low-budget one. Poker is difficult enough as it is as you are constantly under pressure to make right decisions. The last thing you need is to be distracted by software crashes, weird bugs, and disconnects in the middle of a hand.
The quality of the software also speaks heaps about how serious the company behind it is. Rushed-out and patched-up solutions scream “danger”. If the operator is OK with releasing a bugged, unstable, and visually unappealing platform this usually indicates they aren’t really thinking about sticking around for a long time, nor that they care much about players (rather only about deposits being made).
3. Bonuses, Rakeback, and Promotions
Those who like to gamble online will tell you that bonuses play a huge role in their decision where to play. Some of the best casino sites offer great bonuses and promotions for their players and places such as xfire.com make it their mission to list and review these casinos to make it easier for the players.
With that said, bonuses aren’t reserved just for casino players. Many poker rooms also offer nice welcome bonuses that can really help with building your bankroll. Beyond this, you’ll also find many of them offer solid rakeback deals, additional deposit bonuses, and other promotions to reward the time you spend at the tables. So, make sure to check out this all-important aspect as well before making up your mind about where to play poker online.
4. Player Traffic
Even the best poker software and the most generous of bonuses won’t help if the site you choose to play on is a ghost town. Liquidity is key for an online poker room’s success. In other words, there have to be enough players online for games to run at enough hours during each 24-hour period. One of the best things about online poker is the freedom it provides to play whenever you feel like playing and organize your schedule around your other obligations. If you want a poker game at 4am, you need a poker room that’ll give you one!
This is only possible on those rooms that have good player numbers. There are sites out there that constantly track this information and help you figure out if the room you want to try is worth your time. Without enough players logging in to play every day, you just won’t be able to hit your goals.
5. Tournament Schedule / Guarantees
This one may not be that important to you if you’re a cash game player but even cash players will benefit from a rich tournament schedule with a good number of appealing daily and weekly guarantees. A room with a solid MTT schedule will usually attract a fair number of players, at least during those hours when there are most events happening. Many of those players might choose to multi-table in cash games simultaneously.
Poker rooms that aren’t able to offer good guarantees usually struggle with the traffic in general. While you may be able to make money playing on one of these rooms still, it will usually be for a very specific game type or stake, severely limiting your options.