Online Poker Room:  How to Choose

by J. Phillip Vogel
Updated 2010

It wasn’t too long ago that choosing an online poker room was easy. The reason was simply that they were few and far in-between. Things certainly have changed. The sheer number of rooms today makes it difficult to say which one is a good fit for you.
A quality online poker room will have very specific features and player incentives to assist in determining whether the room deserves your attention.
Those that have a number of banking options and show you how to play the poker games are among the best.
As are the online poker rooms that offer tutorials on how to play.

Here are 10 tips or guidelines for selecting an online poker room:

1. Games, Games and even more games!

Despite the fact that the obvious game of choice at present is Texas Hold ‘em, there may come a time when you may want to try to find a poker room that has gone beyond the singular craze and offers you a choice of other games that may not be so “trendy”.
Classic games such as 5 Card Stud, 7 Card Stud, Triple Draw, Omaha, Crazy Pineapple, Omaha 8/B, 5 Card Draw and others.
Additionally, you will want to choose from limit, no limit, ring, single table, heads-up (which is limited to 2 players) and multi-table tournaments. Along with buy and no re-buy options as well.

2. Player Volume
Along with wanting a good selection of games and formats (single table, multi-table, no limit, etc.) the site of choice must also have an ample number of players who access the site at all hours of the day. The online poker rooms that offer the best player incentives will have plenty of players at all times.
The more players in a pool, the more action there is and winnings then follow. The rooms that are established may have as many as 50,000 players at any given time! The seats at the tables in these rooms fill up fast.

3. Wide Range of Limits
All poker rooms will differ in the betting limits that are allowed.
It’s very important that you be able to play in a room that offers you the widest range possible – perhaps $0.02/$0.04 to perhaps $100/$200.
This is important especially to new players because it offers the ability to be able to adjust the game according to their bankroll and skills level.
What is considered to be an appropriate bankroll is a debatable subject. As a general rule of thumb however, solid players say that 2-3 hundred times the value of the big blind is about the right amount to start with.

This means that if you want to be able to comfortably play at tables in the $2/$4 range you will have to have a bankroll that falls into the range of $800-$1200.
As you play the game, you will make adjustments to your table limits based on your success at a given level and the bankroll that you have. If you are playing at a $1/$2 table and you are losing, you may want to drop a level or even two to recoup some of your losses and enter a game that better suits you.
Now you know why it’s always good to be in a room that offers table limits in the widest possible range.

4. Player Incentives

Free cash is helpful in making a big difference in your bankroll not to mention the fact that it helps to add to the sustainability that the poker tables.
The best online poker rooms will offer a combination of incentives that will keep this bankroll healthy throughout game play.
Among these comps will be the standard new player bonus (the initial deposit bonus), comp points (known as VIP Points or Frequent Player Points), and monthly bonuses based on deposits. These deposit bonuses are announced at the site.

As you research each poker site, be sure to make note of the comps presently being offered and how often they are distributed.
You also want to carefully read the rules regarding the usage and availability of the bonuses.
Some will require certain amounts of playtime before you are able to cash out.
It is wise to create a checklist that you can use to compare the different comp options between all of the sites as to which are presently offering the most lucrative rewards.
Let’s take a look at an example:
Site X is offering a 100% deposit bonus but after that, they offer no additional comps or reload cash for players who return.
Site Y offers a 40% deposit bonus and then a 20% deposit bonus on the reload every month. Now let’s assume that you were going to deposit about $200 each month. Which site offers the best program over the long term? See chart below:
Site Initial Deposit New Player Bonus Total Starting Bankroll Monthly Bonus
6 months
Total Comps Earned
X $200.00 100% $400.00 $0.00 $200.00
Y $200.00 40% $280.00 $40/month $320.00
It’s plain to see that those who have chosen online poker room Y are getting comps that are substantially better than those offered by X, so while on the surface it would appear that X offers the larger bonus, the reality is that Y is the better deal.
On the other hand, if you aren’t planning on staying at the poker room for very long and you are only looking to get a feel for the play, then the better deal might be X in this case. It’s all relative to what your plans are.

5. Online Poker Room Banking Options & Payouts
Just like their online casino counter-parts, a quality online poker room will provide a number of different banking options that are designed to suit a wide range of player choices.
If you are like many others that don’t like waiting for your deposit to hit the poker room, then you are going to want to make sure that they have at least one option available that will put your deposit into your account instantly. Most online poker rooms do offer this option.
Also, payouts should be of the 'instant variety'. A good poker room should give confirmations via e-mail or calls for transactions.

6. Dedicated Support
You will want to make sure that you are able to contact support anytime, day or night, 24/7 because problems can and do happen whether it’s the server crashing at a crucial point of the tournament or your bankroll showing at less than the deposit that you made.
The best online poker rooms take care of this possibility by offering multiple support options such as live chat, telephone support, email and other methods.
Anything less than several phone numbers and email addresses in this age of technology is less than acceptable.

7. Eye Pleasing Graphics
Is the poker room environment appealing? Are the graphics interesting and pleasing to the eye even after long hours of playing?
Even with the technological advances, most online poker rooms are not entirely accurate representations of the traditional poker room, but there has been much improvement over the years.
For the most enjoyable game you will want to opt to play at sites that have the best games with software that is as realistic as possible. This essentially helps to recreate the poker setting and lends an increased level of entertainment and comfort value to the experience.
8. Safety and Privacy
Does the online poker room prioritize safety and privacy? Look for the protection that is enforced by the online poker room and whether their servers are secure.
Check the kind of algorithm they use for card shuffling. The higher the level of unpredictability in shuffling, the better the algorithm.  Determine the security employed on issues of collusion, hacker intrusion, game rigging and others.

9. Special Online Poker Room Features
When you are making your decision about which rooms to play at, make sure that you consider any unique features that are offered by the site.
A good poker room should offer beginners some free play action.
Also, new players might like to have access to a strategy library that will teach the nuances of the game. If it is your dream to eventually become a poker legend then you will want to consider the availability of satellites to the major land-based poker events like the World Poker Tour, or the granddaddy of all poker tournaments, the World Series of Poker.

10. More Tips & Features
Does the online poker room offer tournaments, free rolls, special promotions and/or pay out a determined amount of winnings/month?
How about rewarding frequent play or high hand payouts?
Other features may be tracking the best players, the best statistics, offering columns to good players, beta testing new games, etc.
These additional features are sure to play a part in your decision and designates specific poker rooms as serious contenders for your business. 

Lastly, all online poker rooms offer a mix of features unique to that poker room. It’s up to you to make note of which features are most important to you when you are choosing your site(s).
So, you can now see that there are many different factors that are involved in choosing an online poker room.
No one can legitimately boast superiority in every category that is crucially indicative of an excellent room; the best ones will offer a mixture of the best features that will set them apart. 

Free Poker Online follows Online Poker Room
Return to How to Play Poker Program 1
Continue with Online Gambling Guide

Gambling Teachers Home

Return to Top of Page

GT is attentive about getting the word out about our free programs, lessons and add-ons offered, however, we ask your assistance and consideration in promoting us.
Click link below that reads, "Enjoy this page? Please pay it forward. Here's how..." to add a link to your site, blog or personal page.

good luck from gambling pros

Tips, Terms & Wins

A Bad Beat progressive jackpot online set the stage for an unbelievable poker tale.
At a $1/$2 bad beat table, ‘DoctorHowser’ held pocket nines versus ‘Eldkvarn’s 10c-8c.
A flop of 7c-9c-6c turned the weaker hand into the nut straight flush, at the same time giving DoctorHowser the third nine. Eldkvarn called the $8 bet and the turn showed the 8s promoting the all-in push for $13.50 and call from Eldkvarn.
But the river turned this bad read into a bad beat. Out came the 9d giving DoctorHowser 4 nines and though still not improving his hand to beat Eldkvarn, it did give him a good enough hand to take home the $32,484 bad beat jackpot.

GT Series add-ons

gambling quiz series

25 Gambling Quiz

fast track game tips series

10 Fast Track Game Tips

casino terms lingo

12 Casino Terms-Lingo