There is no denying the popularity of online poker. For a novice, marginal, or even hardcore poker aficionados, there are dozens of serviceable options to choose from.
In the U.S., access to legal online poker rooms where players have real money on the line is scarce at best.
But there are poker rooms that offer tournaments for prizes or an opportunity to win sweepstakes entries.
So, there are places to scratch the itch.
I’m not sure how far behind the U.S. is on this issue, but I do believe it’s coming sooner rather than later.
The 2 experiences may seem vastly different, and, in some respects, they’re very different.
Look at the most popular online poker rooms in both the U.S. and U.K. and you’ll start to see how similar they are.
Whether playing for real money or just the chance to have a chance at real money, these real money poker sites fulfill the same purpose. They provide players with an avenue after a long day to sit at a virtual poker table and enjoy going heads up with other players around the world.
Sure, some pros make a living playing card games and that is great for them. Some professionals are paid to play baseball. That’s their job.
But you and I go to games for entertainment.
I’m going to shed light on what the most popular online poker rooms have in common. The good sites all have some basic similarities. There may be a thing or two that the real money sites do that the others aren’t able and vice versa.
Diversity of Opponents
Poker is a unique endeavor in the online casino world because instead of playing the house (1 opponent) you are heads up against your fellow gambler. I don’t always want to play with the top players, I’d much rather save myself the frustration and embarrassment of getting fleeced for all my chips. For me, it’s much more enjoyable to go to a smaller stakes table with other marginal players and give myself a shot at growing my stack.
The best online poker rooms understand this and provide a range of tables. These tables are geared to everyone from novice players up to the elite players. Don’t worry though, if you’re a beginner wanting to test your mettle, you can still ante up with the big guns.
It’s going to cost you though.
Good Signup Bonuses
I can’t talk about any form of online gambling without mentioning the signup bonus. The surefire way to grow your online poker room is obviously to attract new players.
Player traffic is the bread and butter of any online poker room, and the sites will spend truckloads of money attracting players to their virtual poker rooms.
Every popular online poker room offers a generous reward or bonus for opening a new player account and making a deposit.
The most common bonus is a deposit match offer.
So, if you open your account with $100 and the poker room has a 100% matching bonus, you’ll receive $100 in free money to play with.
Typically, it’s not an unreasonable ask and the number of hands required is fair to all parties.
Online poker room bonuses can vary greatly. So, before you sign up for a site, be sure to shop around for the best bonus for you. Don’t forget to read the terms and conditions to understand how to unlock this money
However, you’ll receive all sorts of promotional offers and free tournaments where you may be able to gain entry to a live tournament at a casino.
The most popular online poker rooms know that you have options, and they desperately want you to choose their product.
Let the bonus wars begin.
Security and Safety
Online security is a priority for everyone. Online poker rooms understand this, and the top companies go to extensive lengths to protect your valuable data.
Some individuals seem to prey on others exclusively online. Luckily, the safest online poker rooms take security extremely seriously.
They try to curb these hackers before they can strike.
The software used by the top online poker rooms is developed by the top security software developers and is tested by independent third-party companies to ensure you are getting the safest online gaming.
There’s no chance taken when it comes to protecting the players in all of the most popular online poker rooms.
Smaller poker rooms can easily run a single table quickly. One thing that separates the most popular poker rooms from the rest is the ability to accommodate a serious multi-table player.
The gameplay must continue smoothly and without any buffering. The ability to organize tables on the screen and minimize or shift screens on the fly is a huge draw.
I’ve seen it many times where a player loses connection and it costs them a pot. Fortunately, I’ve never been on the receiving end of disconnecting from a table or running out the timer due to lag.
Popular poker sites have safeguards in place to minimize the loss when you experience an interruption, but these certainly aren’t something you want to depend on when playing high stakes poker.
I’ll admit that convenience is of premier importance to me. I play in the cozy surroundings of my home office or anywhere with a stable internet connection.
Poker players around the world aren’t much different; playing on their commute to work, in their own office or at the pub over a beer after the workday.
The most popular online poker rooms provide players with tools to make play easier and as convenient as possible.
Here are some of the tools from the top poker rooms:
- Hot Keys – These allow players to call, bet, raise, fold, and other actions when playing games like Texas Holdem, with a single key. There are programs offered that work as hot keys, but anything not offered by your poker room should be looked at cautiously.
- Player Notes – Notes help you keep track of opponents. This can make playing more profitable if you can find a table full of players you’ve marked as loose players, and players may choose to avoid other players they have tagged as sharks or reckless.
- Statistics – This often-overlooked feature is a personal favorite. Scouring over data and trends appeals to my analytic sensibilities. I recommend you have a look for yourself — it may very well improve your gameplay
Not all players will use each of these, and a few may ignore them altogether, but the keen online poker player will use these features to their advantage. You should do the same.
The most popular online poker rooms all have these benefits and features in common. After all, imitation is the sincerest form of flattery. Businesses have modelled themselves on already established companies for centuries and the online poker scene is no different.
There’s another explanation for the similarities though. See, there are only a handful of software providers that have a heavy stake in the market.
Nearly all online poker rooms offer things like VIP programs, bonuses, and other promotions to lure in new gamblers.
But only the best online poker rooms are going to do them well.
With the information you have learned here, it should be easy to spot the wannabes from the real deal.