5 Things You Should Look For Before Joining a Poker Site
Licensing: Somewhere on the front page of every online poker site, typically at the bottom, a paragraph of information should list the licensing of the website. Most sites are licensed via the Gibraltar Gaming Commission, Alderney Gambling Control Commission, or Malta Gaming Authority. Registration with these governments shows intent to submit to company audits and adhere to online gaming regulations. Poker players in the UK should also look for licensing by the UK Gambling Commission, a double registration that shows the seriousness of the operator to comply with all major jurisdictions and laws.
Office Location: Along with the licensing information, there should be a company name and office location listed. There should be a street address, city, and country that a person could use to verify the information if needed, and it should all correspond to the information on the license.
Copyright: The copyright date should be current. It is also a sign that company management pays attention to details.
Security Registration: The site should post a logo, usually at the bottom of the home page, of a company used to secure the website and encrypt information for player security. Thawte is one service often used, iTech Labs and Gaming Labs are others commonly used for online poker to provide layers of SSL security. This protects player account information from cyber attacks.
Extra Steps to Verify if the Site is Trustworthy
The best real-money poker sites go many steps further to present information that proves the operator can be trusted and took the necessary steps to protect the site and its players. Some of the following are relatively new and may not yet be implemented on some sites, but most are commonplace in the industry.
Responsible Gambling Information: As part of new responsible gambling campaigns in Europe and beyond, online poker operators are taking steps to provide more information to their players regarding responsible gambling and betting. This includes some type of informational page regarding signs of problem gambling and ways to obtain help, as well as links to organizations like GamCare and Gamblers Anonymous.
Randomness Verification: One of the main concerns about online poker is the possibility of cheating by way of fixing the decks of cards. This is why the best sites often provide a logo or link to a company that verifies and certifies that their games are tested for randomness. All sites should be equipped with random number generators and able to prove this to players.
Google: Do searches for various factors pertaining to online poker that are most important, such as customer service response times, timely withdrawals, or range of buy-ins or stakes. There will inevitably be numerous review sites, but look for the customer reviews and comments sections in order to see what real customers say about the sites.
Poker Forums: When there is a problem with an online poker site, many players take their complaints to a popular internet forum specific to the poker community. Search for the site name to find any threads or particular comments to see if any concerns have been raised and if they have been legitimized.
Social Media: Ask around or do searches on Twitter or other social media sites for comments about particular poker sites, as players with payment problems or other concerns often air their grievances on social media.
The Top Sites Have a Stellar Track Record
Nearly two decades into the online poker industry have shown that there are bad apples in every tree. While most online poker operators are legitimate and remain honest with customers no matter the levels of success achieved, there are several over the years that have shown themselves to be untrustworthy. Those sites not only went out of business but ran off with customer funds. Some companies that responded badly – or not at all – to customer complaints and inquiries may not have folded immediately but eventually did.
There are names that have proven themselves trustworthy time and time again. The biggest and brightest among them are PokerStars, PartyPoker, and 888poker. Others without the same high traffic but still significant in the poker community include Bodog and Bovada and Bet365, to name a few, that have continued to show their legitimacy through years of top customer service, payment processing, and forward-thinking technology.
Ultimately, poker news sites are some of the best sources for reporting on illegitimate sites and scandals within the community.
Player forums and social media circles are also highly responsive when inquiring about various poker sites. There is a camaraderie among players that pushes them to stand up and try to prevent even their most serious competitors from getting taken advantage of by a dishonest operator.