So, you’ve decided that you want to play poker Online, and your look for the perfect site has begun. But alas, you can find literally hundreds of poker sites on the Internet. How do you discriminate between many of these available sites, to find that desired site ? There are several key criteria that you need to be conscious of, in your quest to find the poker site that is perfect for you. Understanding these criteria, and being able to utilize them as a cause for comparison, will significantly simplify your selection process:
Free Poker – If you’re trying to play online poker for pure recreation, and not for cash, make certain that your website you’re interested in accommodates “free” players. Most online poker sites do focus on free players.
Software Download vs. Web-based – Most, if not totally all, online poker sites require you to download their poker client software onto your personal computer system to run. If you’re adverse to downloading such software onto the body, then you definitely should check to see if the poker site alternatively includes a web-based poker interface, which enables you to play poker on the site from within your browser. Software installs run the potential threat of viruses and/or adware being loaded onto the body (although most of the reputable firms would never do that), but software installs on your desktop generally run a lot faster than web-based sessions. Software installations harness the energy of your local PC’s CPU, whereas web-based interfaces depend on downloading any screen real-estate updates within the Internet during play. This can be slow, particularly, if you’re running over a slow internet connection (e.g., a dialup line). Hence, if you’re after speed, select local software installations; if you’re concerned about your computer’s safety or cannot spend the money for disk space used by a pc software installation, select a web-based poker site.
Types of Deposit/Withdrawal – If you’re planning to play poker for cash within the Internet, it is vital to think about the methods of deposit and withdrawal that the poker site supports. Several sites permit major charge cards to be used, which be seemingly the universal deposit mechanism of choice visit site. Others permit the usage of bank transfer, ACH transfer, checks, and wire transfer from banks. Most poker sites also support some kind of third party eWallets, which provide an intermediary between banking institutions and the poker site itself. The main criteria to look at are: 1) What ways of deposit/withdrawal are supported by the poker site, and how several methods are supported by the locale that you reside in ?; 2) Is it legal to fund/withdraw to/from a poker site, from the jurisdiction that you will be playing in ?; 3) What’re the fees associated with another party eWallet firms that you can use, and how reliable are they (this latter question can be researched on some of the poker message forum boards) ?
Locale Restrictions – Some poker sites restrict the playing for cash (and even free play sometimes), based on your locale, and the laws governing gambling in your locale. You need to check with the laws of your local jurisdiction and check with the poker site, to see if you can find any imposed restrictions on play, based on your locale.
Support – You should truly consider the ways of support that the poker site offers. Poker sites generally provide one (or more) ways of support including: telephone support, fax support, Email support, and live chat support. The more of those that the poker site offers, the better. For telephone support, check and see if the poker site offers toll-free support from your playing jurisdiction or not.
Game Variety – Depending on your level of poker playing expertise and your fascination with variety, it is important to find out which game types the poker site supports. Almost all of the sites offer Texas Holdem, but depending on your level of interest, you should check to see if they offer games like Five and Seven Card Stud, Omaha Poker (and each of its variations), Blackjack (not poker, but often included as a game title option), Stud (and its variations), Draw poker, Tournament support, and limit and pot limit games. Tournaments in particular are very favored by online poker sites, and some site tournaments offer large prize pools.
Bonuses – Most, but not totally all, of the poker sites offer some kind of bonus to the player, once you initially subscribe with the site. Each site’s bonus is somewhat different, but of the one’s that offer first time bonus, it is usually predicated on a minimum initial deposit. Many bonuses may also be calculated based on the amount of money deposited and allocated to the site. Additionally, many sites offer reload bonuses, which are bonuses that are agreed to existing customers, beyond their initial deposit bonus, and as an incentive to keep you as a customer.
Graphics and Useability – This is an essential consideration. Every poker site includes a different look and feel to it. If you will be playing poker for cash, it is essential that you feel comfortable with the screen graphics and your ability to navigate (via mouse or keyboard clicks) through the poker program. If you feel uncomfortable at all with the poker site, you should truly not consider playing at it for money. You need to always test a poker site out in “free” mode first, before actually considering it for real-money wagering.
Game Features – You need to always consider the overall game features that are available with certain poker site. Game features such as hand history, multiple simultaneous playing windows, player notes, audible and visual indicators, player statistics, connection status indicator, player chat, turbo games, and screen options should always be considered.
Rake – Rake is the total amount of the pot that the poker site takes (as section of its fee for doing business), from each hand. You need to always be aware of just how much rake a poker site takes (compared to some other site). Poker sites usually use a Weighted Contribution rake method or an Average Contribution method, when calculating rake. Obviously, the lower the rake, the more money you’ll take home available wins, but this criteria by itself shouldn’t dictate which poker site you use, since all the above factors have to be taken into account as well. In conclusion, the aforementioned criteria should always be used, when deciding which Poker site is best for you. Depending on your preferences, many of these criteria should be given more weight than others. Happy Poker site hunting !!
Douglas Hayman, President of Expert Software Systems, is a database and web engineer, who designs, develops, and hosts several informational websites, including: