Choosing between real money poker sites can create a dilemma – particularly if you are making the transition from play money to real money online poker. Whereas many players may look at the headline bonuses and make their decision that way, there is more involved to choosing between real money poker sites if you want to avoid blowing your bankroll in a short space of time.
The level of skill required, the volume of traffic and the integrity of the site are all considerations that should be taken into account when choosing between real money poker sites. There is also a massive gulf between playing online poker for play money and playing for cash – so we will concentrate on that first for any novice players reading this page.
No Skill at Free Play Sites
There is no lack of free play poker opportunities. As well as the play money sections on real money poker sites, there are thousands of poker apps available that provide players with the opportunity to play poker for free. This is fine if you want to play recreational poker with no fear of loss, but the standard of poker played on free play poker tables is not at all representative of what you will find on real money poker sites.
Poor play is evident everywhere on free play poker tables. Players get involved in too many hands with poor opening cards, remain in hands longer than they should and make bad betting decisions based on there being no loss (other than some play money chips) if their decisions are wrong.
Sometimes the worst possible thing can happen – bad players win big pots with bad cards. This gives them a false sense of how to play poker properly and encourages them to get into real money cash games of poker with the wrong impression. Furthermore, because play money poker is a recreational pursuit, little consideration is given to important elements of the game such as position and noting your opponents betting actions.
If you want to make the transition from play money poker to real money poker without losing a whole stack of money, your best option is to start off playing in micro-stakes games. Even if you have the bankroll to play at much higher stakes, most micro-stakes players take the game sufficiently seriously to give you a good introduction to playing online poker for real money.
Real Money Online Poker – Which Site to Choose?
The options currently available to online poker players are much slimmer than they once were prior to Black Friday in 2011. However, some excellent choices remain that allow players to enjoy a potentially lucrative poker experience.
We mentioned above that the level of skill required, the volume of traffic and the integrity of the site are all considerations that should be taken into account when choosing a real money online poker site. But how do you find out about all of these factors without creating an account and playing real money online poker?
Naturally I would suggest that you read poker site reviews to determine the level of skill required, but – on some sites – you can download poker room software and cancel the login procedure.
By cancelling the login procedure you will be able to observe tables without having to take part in the games or risk any money. Observing the tables will give you a good indication of the level of competition you are likely to encounter.
By cancelling the login procedure, you will also be able to see how many players are present at the tables, what format of game they are playing, and what stakes they are playing at. This is a far more accurate way of determining player volumes than referring to a traffic monitoring website, as you will also be able to see extra factors such as:
- The number of players waiting to join a table,
- The average pot value per hand,
- The percentage of players seeing flop each hand, and
- The number of hands being played each hour.
Unfortunately there is no accurate way to confirm the integrity of online poker sites – regulated or unregulated. Online poker forums exist that allow players to share their experiences but, as in other areas of life, the majority of contributors have negative comments to write. Few players share positive experiences about their poker sites because they have chosen the right site to play at and they are too busy winning money!
How to Deposit at Real Money Poker Sites
Online poker sites try to make it as easy as possible for players to fund their accounts and offer many different deposit options. The options vary according to different jurisdictions, but typically include the most commonly accepted credit and debit cards, P2P money transfers and e-wallets. Many online poker sites also offer the option to deposit and withdraw via Bitcoin – the Bitcoin value being converted into dollars to play with at the tables.
The process for depositing with an online poker site is also made as easy as possible. Usually there is an unmistakable icon to click on that will take you to a secure web or in-client cashier. There players are given the choice of which option they would like to use and asked to input the amount they wish to deposit. Most deposits are processed immediately (P2P money transfers being the primary exception), after which the funds are ready to use.
Whenever possible, withdrawals are paid back to the same source as was used for funding the account. So, for example, if you have made a deposit using Bitcoin, any cashouts you request will automatically be paid back to your Bitcoin wallet. Where a withdrawal to the funding source is not possible, the option of a check or wire transfer is usually available. Whatever source of funding you use, you must verify your account prior to requesting a cashout.