Sin city, with its dazzling neon lights changed gambling forever. Outside of the Nevada haven of Las Vegas, there’s very few places where betting is permitted. The notion, of course, is that with gambling comes crime and unsavory characters. Which is a disservice to all the normal gamblers out there who want to place a wager on a card game.
Gambling on sporting contests has severely loosened up, but for those who like to control their destiny at the poker tables, it’s still a dicey proposition. You can host your own little home game, and maybe run afoul of the law. You could drag yourself to the nearest riverboat, Indian, or independent casino, if there’s one in your area. Otherwise, you’re fairly burnt.
Choosing an Online Poker Room
As Vegas altered the gambling landscape in America, now the digital landscape is being changed by gambling. There’s an increasing demand among the home gambler to have quality poker, with smart payment methods, that can be trusted. Unfortunately, very few of the poker websites fit the bill.
Know Your Local Laws
When you’re selecting your poker room, the first thing to note is that many won’t allow you to gamble with real money on cards, if you’re reaching in from the United States. Before you try to ante up, you need to be sure that when it comes time to collect your winnings, you’ll be able to do so. Since many online poker rooms operate internationally, you can quickly run afoul of the long arm of justice, if you’re not careful.
The trick here is fairly simple. Read up on statutes in your area, or engage an attorney for a free consultation, and ask about gambling. A good lawyer can load you up with information, if you find one. But, make sure it’s someone who specializes in the area where you live. City, county, and state laws – to say nothing of the feds – can quickly come into play when you start betting. Being clear on what is and isn’t legal will behoove you.
Aim For Big Rooms
The advantage to a poker website – or an online casino with a poker option – is that you’re playing against other gamblers. If you end up on a smaller site – like Intertops – you’re going to be playing against the same people again and again, because the user base is limited. The good games and the winning plays come out of bigger rooms with lots of fresh fish for you to snap up and snack on.
If you end up in a smaller place, you’re going to be slugging it out with regulars who have nothing better to do. It will become apparent in a few hours of play whether you’re in a big pond, or stuck in a small one with a few apex predators.
Always Start Small
The way to test out a website is to hit the penny or $0.02/$0.05 tables. Not only is this to save your wallet while you try out the service, you’re going to get a sense of the kind of people who frequent that site. See if these are smart players you need to avoid, or full of fools you can bilk.
When selecting our top poker sites, we sought the easiest prey, though easy prey always brings the big dogs out. So, be aware that while our rooms are the best, you still need to tread lightly and keep an eye on your chips.
Read The Forums
Online gambling sites have a lot of money to throw around. Which means they can buy a lot of advertising to get you in. Then you find out you’ve been swindled by misinformation. That’s why we suggest going to gambling forums or Reddit to run background on websites before you make the first deposit. The crowd will tell you what you can trust, you just need to stockpile the information.
Watch For Cheating
This is the big one. Online casinos are shut down all the time because they rob customers. Granted, all casinos rob customers, but typically they do it aboveboard. Online sites control the cards and thus can affect how much you win. You need to always be on the lookout for uncouth programming. It’s worse than a Blackjack dealer named ‘Widowmaker.’
Even more than watching for cards that don’t seem kosher, be mindful of players who arrive quickly, play a big hand, often defeating the field all the way at the River card turn. These sort of ringers aren’t uncommon, and work in conjunction with the card programming to rob you blind.
Even the good online casinos need to be watched, and even smart players can find themselves taken for a ride by a place they thought they could trust. Ignition casino specifically had many reports of malfeasance. Which is why the name was changed a few years ago. The bad blood and bad press was sinking the ship. Luckily, Ignition seems on the up and up, now. Though, they’re also much harder to get into to play.
Check The Payout
Payout speed and fees are both a major concern when picking your casino. Online gambling shops don’t have the same rules, and your winnings can quickly be eaten up by hidden charges, or the deposit process is deadly slow, making your hard hours waiting for a decent hand that much more frustrating.
For Our Money, Here’s The Best Poker Rooms Online
In our betting journeys, these are the most enjoyable places we’ve found to play poker, with the most respectable card programming, players you can manipulate, lots of games at all times, and reasonable payouts. Sadly, the list is short, but in the next five years, more states are poised to legalize gambling, which means you should keep your ear to the ground for upcoming poker sites ready to take your kids’ college fund.
One of the longest established names in the poker world, BetOnline works on your computer or most mobile devices. The interface is clunky, but the people are plentiful, the payouts aren’t too painful, and the whole experience is good, if it does feel a little dated. A slick interface upgrade would do wonders for BO.
Bodog is the home for Canadian players – or players with a VPN (Virtual Private Network) that hides them in the Great White North. Being Canadian, it’s polite, the people are friendly, and Americans are treated well. Not always the case in rooms where the US isn’t popular thanks to troublesome foreign policy.
There’s loads of tournaments, the cards are quite honorable, payouts are quick, for online casinos, and the whole operation feels sleek and streamlined, particularly when put up against BetOnline. The two services are very similar, with the Bodog interface being highly prized over BetOnline’s grinding method.
888 or Triple 8 is an online institution. It’s earned that by paying out quickly, and providing a service experience that is overall among the most pleasant of anything online. That said, the software can give you problems, and most Americans aren’t going to be able to get past the digital gatekeeper. It’s nice work if you can get in the door, but that’s a challenge.
Like 888, the biggest issue with Ignition isn’t the games as much as getting to the tables. After legal issues hit Ignition hard, the company really cleaned up and flies right. It still isn’t amazing, but as an up-and-comer that you’ll want to watch for gambling, Ignition has some chops. Though, it also has an arduous payout process, and tends to ignore customer needs. Experience varies, but the actual play is better here than almost anywhere else. Which is why it’s included here in spite of its flaws.
There are other options out there, but the words that best describe them are ‘buggy’ and ‘awkward,’ and that’s before we even discuss getting your money out of them. You’re going to have a hard enough time fighting with the casinos listed. If you go off book, the action is often worse, with higher risks and fewer rewards.
Gamble carefully, and if you feel you have a gambling problem, reach out to Gambler’s Anonymous, as they can help you get control of your life.