Now that you’ve made the decision to play poker online, your search has begun for the perfect site. You will be surprised to learn that there are literally hundreds upon hundreds on the Internet. How can you pick the best site from the multitude of available options? When searching for the right poker site, there are some key criteria you should keep in mind. It will simplify your selection process by understanding these criteria and being able compare them.
Play Free Poker. If you want to play online poker solely for entertainment and not for any financial gain, you should ensure that there are “free” players on the site. Most online poker sites do cater to free players.
Software download or web-based. Most online poker sites will require you to download the poker client software onto your system in order to play. If you don’t want to install such software on your system, you might check to see what alternative poker sites offer. These interfaces allow you to play poker directly from your browser. There is a chance that software will be installed onto your computer with viruses and/or spyware. However, it’s much faster to install software on your computer than for web-based sessions. Software installations are powered by your local PC’s CPU. While web-based interfaces depend on downloading screen real estate updates via the Internet, software installations can harness the power and speed of your computer’s CPU. This can slow down your computer, especially if it is connected to a slow internet network (e.g. dialup). Choose local software installations if speed is important to you. A web-based poker site is a better choice if your computer is not safe or you cannot afford the disk space needed by software installations.
Withdrawal and Deposit Methods. If you’re looking to play poker online for money, it’s important to check the withdrawal and deposit methods offered by a site. Many sites allow credit cards, which are the preferred deposit method. Others allow the use of bank transfers, ACH transfer checks and wire transfers from banks. The majority of poker sites offer some type of third party eWallets. This allows for an intermediary to banks and the poker website. These are the main factors to be aware of: 1) What deposit/withdrawal options are offered by the poker site and 2) Which of these options are supported by your local jurisdiction? 2) Is it possible to withdraw money from or fund a poker website, regardless of where you live? 3) What are the fees and reliability of 3rd party eWallet providers that you are able use (this question can be looked into on some poker message forums).
Limitations on Local Play. Some poker sites have restrictions on playing for money, or free play at times. This is based upon your location and the laws governing gambling there. To find out if restrictions have been placed on play based on your location, check the laws in your area and consult the poker site.
Support It’s important to consider the different support methods that a poker website offers. Poker sites typically offer one or more methods of support. These include telephone support (fax support), email support, live chat support, and email support. The more support options a poker site provides, the better. You can check to see if the site offers free telephone support in your area.
Game Variety. It is important that you determine which poker sites allow you to play. This will depend on your level and what type of poker you are comfortable with. Most poker sites offer Texas Holdem. You should however check with the site to determine if they offer other game types, such as Omaha Poker (and all its variations), Five and Seven Card Stud, Omaha Poker(and all its variations), Blackjack, Stud (and its variations), Draw Poker, Tournament support and limit or pot limit games. Online poker sites especially love tournaments. Many offer large prize pools.
Promotions – Almost all poker sites offer some kind of bonus for players who sign up initially. Each site’s bonus offers are different. The ones that offer first-time bonuses usually require a minimum deposit. Many bonuses are also calculated according to how much money has been spent on the site. Many sites offer reload bonus offers to customers who have already deposited money. This is an incentive to continue to be a customer.
Graphics – This important aspect of graphics and useability is very important. Each poker site has a unique look and feel. It is crucial that you are comfortable using the screen graphics and the keyboard clicks to navigate the poker site. You should never play on a poker site that makes you uncomfortable. Before you start real-money wagering, it is best to first test a poker website in free mode.
Game Feature Always look at the game features offered by a given poker site. Consider game features like hand history (multiple simultaneous playing windows), player notes, audible or visual indicators and player statistics as well as connection status indicators, player chat, turbo games and screen options.
Rake — The amount of pot the poker site collects (as part their fee for doing business), after each hand. The rake taken by a poker website is different from another site. The rake calculation is usually done using either an Average Contribution or a Weighted contribution rake method. Although the rake is lower, you will make more on hand wins. This criteria should not determine which poker site to use. These criteria should always be considered when deciding which Poker website is the best. You may give some criteria more weight depending on what you prefer. Have fun on your search for the best poker site! !