How to spot a good online poker platform
Where can you safely play poker online?
Playing poker online is easy. You find a platform, sign up, deposit some cash, and you’re good to go. There’s only one problem — which platform do you opt for?
Since the online poker boom of the early 2000s, scores of poker providers have entered the industry. While this means that players are spoilt for choice, it also means that there can be some confusion involved in choosing the one that’s right for you.
With this in mind, we’ve created another how to guide (like our recent one on identifying loose online slots) outlining some of the key things to look out for that will help you separate the good from the bad, and hopefully help find the perfect poker platform.
Look for the name you know
While we love to give the little guys a shoutout every now and then, when it comes to an online poker platform, a recognised brand can make all the difference. You see, running an online poker platform is no mean feat. You have thousands of registered players that require the best of security and seamless gameplay. That means investing heavily in the latest technology and employing the very best software developers.
Yes, smaller platforms and startups may have great security and software, but it’s the big names that have the finances to consistently update and maintain their services and security protocols. So, look for the names you know and, if you don’t know any, then just checking out who the biggest providers in the industry are is a good start.
What are the gaming options?
Texas Hold em is the most popular variation of poker
Yes, you want to play poker, but what about tournaments? Most platforms will run live tournaments at set times each week or month. These should include a variety of options, from Sit & Go to Satellite Tournaments, so you’re sure to find a game that suits your skill level and budget.
Have a look what tables the sites have in their poker rooms. Can you play variations of poker such as Omaha hi-lo and Texas Hold em? It rarely happens, but the last thing you want is to find yourself limited in your choice of game. It’s fun to mix things up once in a while, so make sure that you can.
You also might want to check to see if the platform has any free-to-play options. These free tournaments are often played with virtual cash, so all you win are the bragging rights. This is a great way to practice your skills in a real-time environment without putting your bankroll in danger.
Look at the features
If you really want to narrow down your choices then it’s time to talk about features. Most online poker providers will have their own spin on the game, but it’s the heavyweights of the industry that are often head and shoulders above the rest. One of the biggest platforms out there is 888poker and they really do go the extra mile. On their website, www.888poker.com, players will find unique features such as BLAST and SNAP. BLAST gives players the chance to play for a pot of up to 10,000 times their buy-in, while SNAP significantly cuts down on waiting time by moving players to another table as soon as they fold.
These are just a couple of examples of unique features that a poker platform can offer. There are many, many more, but it all comes down to your personal preferences and even your skills level. So take the time to really delve deep and compare the unique benefits that the most popular platforms provide. You might even discover some features that you didn’t even realise existed.
Check the terms and conditions
No one reads the small print, right? Well, when it comes to matters of finance, you really should. Poker platforms generally tend to have similar terms and conditions that relate to the security of your private data and so on. What you’re really on the lookout for here is anything that involves financial penalties for withdrawing your winnings or removing yourself from the platform.
Of course, the vast majority of poker platforms would never do such a thing and, if you’re opting for one of the bigger brand names, then you should be okay. Still, it doesn’t hurt to check it out.
Reputation is everything
This is possibly the most important tip and one that you can apply to every product or service you buy — reputation is everything, so read all the reviews you can find.
Google is your friend; use it well. What you want to be looking for are independent reviews on trusted sites and forums. Pay close attention to what people are saying about payout times. This can be a real bone of contention with online poker players, as some platforms are seemingly notoriously slow at getting your winnings to you. However, the truth is that delayed payments are often down to your payment gateway of choice. Just read up and see what people are saying.
Remember though that one or two bad reviews are perfectly normal for any platform. If you see a bigger pattern, that’s when it’s time to worry.
While you’re reading the reviews, you might also want to look out for mentions of customer service and specifically how quick the platform is when replying to customers about their problems. You’re looking for prompt support that is easy to contact and that will generally resolve any issues. Again, you will certainly find one or two people complaining about how slow or unprofessional the support is for any service provider. Don’t dwell on the few. Try to get the bigger picture by reading as many reviews as you can.
Aside from your own personal preferences with regards to games and playing style, that’s pretty much all there is to it. Just remember that no matter how amazing a platform may seem, you really need to read those reviews to get a real feel for whether or not it will be the right choice for you. Happy gaming and remember to let us know if you find out anything interesting about a particular poker platform.
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