Compare Poker Sites
Some poker sites are better than others — that’s a fact. And you don’t want to get stuck playing at one of the bad ones. It’s no fun having to deal with poor software, a lack of games, or a tapped-out pool of fish. Thus you should know how to compare poker sites before you make a deposit. Picking the best poker site is, to a degree, a subjective process. You’ll certainly have to decide what features you value, and weigh your decision accordingly. But in order to do that properly, you need to know all the variables involved.
Every poker player is different and has unique questions about online poker. Whether a serious inquiry about sites with the most traffic or a mere curiosity about Bitcoin poker sites, simply click on the topic below to find out more.
The poker environment in the United States is uniquely complicated. We break it down with explanations of federal and state laws, and what it all means to online poker players in various parts of the US.
The United Kingdom regulated online poker several years ago, and the new system is constantly being amended. However, the overall regulations set out by the UK Gambling Commission are fairly straightforward and easy to understand.
Canada is one of the largest online poker markets in the world. This means there are multitudes of choices when it comes to online poker operators, so it can help to see some site reviews and sort through the many options.
As recently as 2017, the Australian government passed new laws pertaining to online gambling. This means most online poker sites left that lucrative market, but some remain to handle the online poker needs of the Aussies. Find out which ones are left.
More online poker players today seek sites that don’t require a download, as they want to save space on their laptops or mobile devices for other programs. There are many sites that no longer require downloads, and players can find out which ones to search for in their web browsers.
Traffic makes a different. With more players on a site, there will be more game variations, more stakes for different bankrolls, and more lucrative tournaments. In addition to the biggest sites in the world, others are remaining competitive by sharing online poker liquidity on poker networks.
How can a player tell if their chosen online poker site is safe? Sites often take precautions to protect their customers’ data, but it is helpful to know which operators submit to audits, report to regulators, and put up extra layers of security.
Players who gain some experience and improve their skills look for sites with players who have fewer skills and are more likely to make bad plays, otherwise known as fish. We see enough to know which ones are the softest – or fishiest.
When picking a poker site online, it’s best to know which deposit and withdrawal methods are available before signing up for a new account. Find out which ones are available and where so the payment processing method is as simple as possible.
Everyone wants to talk about bitcoin! Some poker operators have heard the call and now offer bitcoin as a deposit and withdrawal method. More sites are jumping on the cryptocurrency train every day, so find out which ones are on board.
Most online poker sites offer low minimum deposits, usually around the $10 or $20 range. But it is important to know what the deposits are before signing up for a new poker online account, as a person should be prepared in advance.
Most countries have some laws regarding poker, though many of them pertain to land-based poker and were passed long before technology brought online poker into our world. The laws can get complicated and confusing, but we bring the basics to you.
A legal poker site is one that is licensed and regulated. The confusion sets in when those regulations don’t exactly match up with the laws of particular countries. Let our experts guide you through the details of the various sites and their statuses.
More than half of online poker players access games via mobile devices today. This has led to most poker sites offering mobile apps or access for iPhones, iPads, and Android devices. It’s important to know if your favorite site will hook up properly with your devices.
Payment processors for online poker withdrawals can take anywhere from one day to nearly one month, depending upon the options available. Find out which sites offer methods to get your hands on your winnings faster than others.
Within the last few years, PayPal has begun cooperating with the online poker industry and processing payments in certain markets. Sites that are able to work with PayPal do because so many players demand the option. Find out which ones are connected.
There are big differences between play-money poker and real-money poker online. Most players eventually take a dip in the real-money pool, so we tell you which ones are the best for transitioning from free-play and which provide the best real-poker for the money.
Difference From One Poker Site to Another
The differences between poker sites can be subtle. After all, poker is a pretty standardized game. So what you need to look at is how well or how poorly certain rooms implement certain features. I’ve found there to be roughly four main features you’ll want to compare across poker sites: software quality, value of promotional offers, variety of games spread, and fish-to-regular ratio. To help you compare poker sites, I want to go over both the subjective and objective aspects you should consider in each category.
Comparing Sites by Software
Probably the biggest differences between poker sites have to do with software quality. Some rooms are way ahead of the pack in terms of usability and stability, and others are more advanced in terms of special features and graphics. In the end, it all comes down to what you value in a poker client.
Consider how fast a poker client runs on your computer, and how responsive the client is to your actions at the table. Some poker rooms have poorly-coded software marred by latency and sticky buttons. This could be a big problem for you if you’re a multi-tabler, or if you’re just impatient.
Make sure a poker client has all the standard game-enhancing features. These include a four-color deck, an auto-rebuy option, and multi-tabling tools like resizable tables that can be arranged easily. Also consider that some poker rooms go way above and beyond in terms of extras. For example, 888 poker has just introduced ‘PokerCam’ tables, at which you can set your avatar to be a live webcam feed rather than a static picture. A feature like this can sway your decision, depending on what you’re looking for.
Make sure that a site’s poker software is compatible with your computer. If you’re running a PC with Windows installed, don’t worry about this — you’re good. But if you’re a Mac or Linux user, make sure a prospective poker room has a Mac- or Linux-compatible client. Often these will be web-based Flash clients. But some rooms like Party Poker do offer native MacOS clients. If you don’t like playing on a web-based client, this could sway your decision.
Comparing Sites by Promotional Offers
Do you like free money? If so, make sure you compare bonuses and promotional offers across poker sites.
A common form of bonus in the poker industry is the first deposit bonus. This type of bonus rewards you for choosing a poker room by giving you free money upon your first deposit. The amount of money you can receive depends on how much you load in. Generally, you’ll be offered anywhere from 50% to 200% of the value of your deposit. Obviously, the higher this percentage, the more free money you get. Look out for the best first-deposit bonuses when you compare poker sites.
Another popular form of bonus is the reload bonus. This type of bonus rewards you for making a deposit above and beyond your first one. Generally a poker room will run reload bonuses temporarily over short periods of time; so you’ll want to know how often, if ever, the poker room you’re considering does this. Reload bonuses can be a great source of extra income if you play a lot of poker.
Poker rooms also run special value-added promotions as incentives for players to stick around. These come in the form of freeroll tournaments, VIP schemes, and landmark competitions. 888 Poker, for example, runs a bunch of first-depositor freerolls that only newbies may play. These freerolls give you a shot at padding your bankroll, with no investment required.
Comparing Sites by Game Spread
Some poker rooms have more traffic than others. As a general rule, poker sites with high traffic spread a greater variety of poker games. So if you’re into playing lesser-known forms of poker, you will probably be better off at a high-traffic room.
For example, say you like playing Seven Card Stud. Most sites have Stud tables. But very few have a decent-sized pool of Stud players. So if you pick a site too hastily, you might end up sitting in at empty tables. A site like Party Poker is great for Stud players because there’s enough traffic to keep games going all the time. Other sites might not have enough traffic to run Stud except at peak hours. Make sure you compare poker sites in this respect before diving into play.
Comparing the Fish-to-Regular Ratio
It’s kinda tough to figure out which sites have soft tables and which sites have tough tables before you actually play on them. What you might want to do is open up a poker room’s software before you deposit, and watch the games for a little while. Most poker rooms will allow you to do this.
Watch the tables for five or ten minutes. This is enough time to get a general feel for the player pool. If you see tables mainly full of nitty or aggressive players, chances are these tables are a good representation of the site as a whole. If you see lots of weak, passive play at the tables, chances are you’ve found a goldmine.