So you’re looking to play poker online and wondering which poker site is the best one to play at. Well, that all depends on what is most important to you as a player. Although we all want to have some fun and make money playing poker, there are certainly other factors to consider. In this article we look into the thought process you should be working through when choosing an online poker room. You have to decide what you’re looking for in a poker room before you can find the right fit.
Some of the different features to consider when choosing an online poker room are: the promotions and bonuses offered; the graphics and software; player traffic; do they have featured pros playing at the tables; what are the multi-tabling abilities; the ease or difficulty in depositing and withdrawing funds; reputation of the site; safety and security of your funds; the player competition (how many fish there are on the site); customer support; bad beat jackpot tables offered; game types and stakes available.
You can plainly see that there are many different factors or reasons why you might choose one online poker room over another. Since the Black Friday allegations that completely changed the landscape of online poker, first and foremost on the minds of many players is the safety and security of player funds. Its no secret that PokerStars, Full Tilt Poker and the CEREUS Network poker rooms of Absolute Poker and Ultimate Bet were indicted in the U.S. for violating the Unlawful Internet Gambling Enforcement Act (UIGEA). The legalities of playing poker online from the U.S. are still being sorted out due to the vagueness of the wording of the UIGEA. However, with individual states preparing to legalize Internet poker in the absence of a federal framework, if you’re an American player, online poker will be coming soon to a neighborhood near you.
After the smoke has cleared from the ramifications of Black Friday, one factor remains clear. PokerStars was the only one of the indicted sites that to this day has paid back all its players. Not only that, but they have come away from the mess as the top poker site in the world in terms of player traffic by a very wide margin. You can rest assured that your funds are safe at the world’s largest poker site. Other large or well-established sites are also good choices where you can play poker without having to worry if your money is safe. Rooms such as William Hill, in the gambling business for more than 75 years primarily in the UK, or Party Poker, who rank second in worldwide player traffic to PokerStars, and had the wisdom and foresight to remove themselves from the U.S. online poker industry following passage of the UIGEA, are solid rooms to choose and where your money is undoubtedly safe.
Some players look to graphics and software when determining which poker site to play on. There is nothing worse than trying to play at a poker room where the software lacks smoothness and seems “clunky.” If there is not fluid playability and you don’t have a good feeling about playing there, find another site. Its very important to feel comfortable while playing. Also, you want to play at a site where you can navigate easily from the lobby to selecting tables, as well as clicking on your account information and visiting the cashier with ease. There is no way to determine the smoothness unless you actually try several sites. Fortunately, you can test the sites by establishing an account and playing with play or fun money before you actually decide to deposit and play there for real money. Another software feature that is a must for some players are multi-tabling capabilities. If you happen to be a multi-tabler, of course you will select a site that allows for playing on many tables simultaneously. Some sites only permit a handful at a time, while others, such as PokerStars, have software in place that enables players to play 24 tables at once.
The deposit bonuses and promotions offered by poker rooms is another variant that players use to choose one site over another. Titan Poker and William Hill currently offer the industry’s top first-time deposit bonuses at 200% up to $2,000. That’s free bonus money that you receive just for playing at the site. A deposit of $1,000 is worth $2,000 by collecting the required number of points within a specified time period. Falling under the promotions category are a site’s VIP loyalty program. Typically, to entice you to continue playing at their poker room and to call it your poker-playing home, many sites offer goodies such as free tickets to tournaments and cashback rewards programs that will put extra money in your pocket when you redeem the points you earned by playing for cash bonuses. Both PokerStars and Party Poker have excellent cashback incentives for their most loyal players who climb the ladder of the VIP program and earn elite statuses in the poker rooms.
Player competition is another area that players look at when deciding where to play online poker. Some sites tend to develop a reputation as being more “fishy” than others. It is widely believed in the online poker industry that poker rooms that also offer casino games and sports betting have some of the worst poker players and easiest competition around. The reason being that many online blackjack, slots, and roulette players, as well as sports bettors, will saunter over to the poker room with a click of their mouse to play a few hands of Texas Hold’em without being very knowledgeable in the game. William Hill would certainly fit this bill as they have been providing sports betting services for three-quarters of a century, so you may want to deposit there if you’re looking for easy action.
Some players are enticed by poker rooms that have a large stable of pros that play online and chat with other players during the games. Other poker players may be more interested in sites that feature jackpot tables where usually 50 cents of every pot is continuously added to a jackpot that is eventually won by a player who loses with four of a kind. Still others may enjoy poker rooms that offer more exotic games than the standard Texas Hold’em and Omaha mainstays, such as Razz or Badugi. Or perhaps customer service is something that is critical to you. Many poker rooms now feature customer service reps who speak a variety of languages to assist players properly from all over the world. In my opinion, it’s very disheartening to play at a site that is not there for you when you really need to speak to someone or get an answer quickly. I once was not able to register for a tournament in which I was given a free ticket. For some reason, it would not accept my free entry. Not long after the start of the tourney, a representative from the site phoned me and apologized profusely for the problem, setting me up with two free tourney entries. Now that’s the kind of poker room that I want to play at!
Perhaps the most crucial aspect to poker players is the ease in which deposits and withdrawals are processed. If its a hassle to deposit or takes too long to receive a cashout, you certainly don’t want to play there. Or maybe you’re looking for a wide variety of tournaments that are starting seemingly every few minutes. Being the largest online poker site, PokerStars offers that convenience like no one else can. A huge variety of game types and stakes for every imaginable taste.
Once you’ve decided the features of a poker room that are most important to you, it is then your aim to find the site that offers the most of what you are looking for. There are literally hundreds of poker rooms or skins to choose from. For safety, reliability, player traffic, solid graphics and excellent cashback reward programs, the two major sites of PokerStars and Party Poker are certainly worthy of a look. For those awesome $2,000 deposit bonuses that will really kickstart your bankroll, William Hill and Titan Poker are excellent choices. But no matter what poker room you happen to choose, just make sure that you feel comfortable playing there and the site offers the best or most features that happen to be vital to you.
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