So, you’ve made the decision to play poker online, and the search for the ideal site has begun. However, there are hundreds of poker sites available on the Internet. How do you sort through all of the available sites to discover the one you want? In your search for the best poker site for you, there are a few crucial factors to consider. Understanding these characteristics and being able to utilize them as a comparison point can make your choosing process much easier:
Free Poker – If you’re only interested in playing online poker for fun, not for money, make sure the site you’re interested in allows “free” players. The majority of online poker sites accept free players.
Downloadable software vs. web-based software – Most, if not all, online poker sites demand you to download and install their poker client software on your computer before you can play. If you don’t want to install software on your computer, examine if the poker site has a web-based poker interface, which allows you to play poker right from your browser. Although there is a chance of viruses and/or adware being installed on your system (although most trustworthy companies would never do so), software installs on your computer run far faster than web-based sessions. Web-based interfaces rely on downloading any screen real estate updates over the Internet during play, whereas software installations use the power of your local PC’s CPU. This can take a long time, especially if you’re using a sluggish internet connection (e.g., a dialup line). As a result, choose local software installations if you want speed; choose a web-based poker site if you want to protect your computer or can’t afford the disk space required by a program installation.
Locale Restrictions – Some poker sites limit your ability to play for real money (or even for free) based on your location and the laws governing gaming in your area. You should examine your local jurisdiction’s regulations as well as the poker site’s rules to see if there are any limits on play depending on your location.
Deposit/Withdrawal Methods – If you intend to play poker for money over the Internet, it is critical to investigate the deposit and withdrawal methods that a poker site supports. Many of these sites accept major credit cards, which appear to be the most popular method of deposit. Others allow for bank transfers, ACH transfers, cheques, and bank wire transfers. Most poker sites also accept 3rd-party eWallets, which act as a middleman between banks and the poker site. The following are the main criteria to consider: 1) What deposit/withdrawal methods are supported by the poker site, and how many of these methods are supported by the locale in which you live? 2) Is it legal to fund/withdraw to/from a poker site from the jurisdiction in which you are playing? 3) What are the fees associated with the 3rd party eWallet companies that you are able to use, and how reliable are they (this latter question can be researched on some of the poker message boards).