Online Poker Room Selection Criteria

Security and Privacy

When you’re playing poker for real money, you want as much reassurance that your credit info is safe, your identity and contact info won’t be sold and that game conditions are as safe and as fair as possible (e.g. that the software isn’t vulnerable to manipulation; players aren’t colluding because a system of checks is in place; etc.). Secure servers are a necessity. Sports Betting Sites should elaborate on the encryption system that they use. All good sites should address the above issues to your satisfaction. Do they discuss issues like their card-shuffling algorithm? Also, what kind of RNG (random number generator) do they use? The best ones increase the level of unpredictability in the cards being played. What other safeguards do they have in place to prevent game-rigging, collusion, hacker intrusions, etc.? You should always read a site’s privacy policy, including the small print.

 Action

How many players log on to the games? Can you get action in the poker game of your choice anytime, day or night? Do they have diverse offerings with enough players to keep tables full? The larger the pool, the more action you’ll see in both gameplay and cash winnings. We visit the sites at different times to see what the overall action is like as well as the variety of players in all games offered.

  Gameplay

If your money and personal info are secure but the ease of gameplay and visuals suck, then chances are you’re not going to return. We look at the variety of poker games offered and keep a close eye on how well a site creates a good poker environment. How easy is it to play? Converse with other players (or mute them, if you wish)? Are the graphics and sounds fun? Interesting? Can I play even if my system doesn’t support the absolutely latest graphics, etc.? Is all the information needed to play easy-to-access and clearly stated? Some sites definitely have more appealing gameplay than others.

 Customer Service

Ok, so you love the initial gameplay but then you run into a problem. Your computer crashes. Or the server goes down. Or you’re having problems trying to cashout.How easy is it to find the contact info on the site and have someone help you? How responsive is the customer service? Is it truly 24-7?  We like toll-free numbers (although this doesn’t help our readers from non-U.S. Countries). But best of all, we like speed. If we get fast responses to our questions and fair resolutions to our problems, we are happy. E-mail works.

 Connectivity

How often does the game crash due to server issues at the online poker room’s end? How bad are the delays in transfer of info? What about disconnection’s? Are they repeated? Anything that disrupts gameplay on a regular basis is going to be an annoyance and a major problem (at the worst if the stakes are high and you’re on a streak). We realize problems can occur at the player’s end (with their computer and their particular ISP) but there’s no denying some sites are more reliable and offer less “downtime” and other such irritations than others.

  Cashouts

How much money have players won at their poker games? How easy is it to cashout your winnings? Do they credit your credit card? What charges are applied? How long does it take to receive winnings? You shouldn’t have to be a rocket scientist to figure out how to cash out what you’ve won and whether extra charges, delays, etc. are worth it. Or have the patience of a saint. And we like features such as e-mail confirmations of the withdrawal transactions verifying request, dates, and amounts.

   Free Play

Testing out poker gameplay, environment, percentages, etc. helps to familiarize yourself with what to do in the event of server crashes,how well you’ve understood the written rules of play at the particular online poker room, and the mixed quality of other players you may encounter. This is an important feature of any good poker site although we recognize that people play differently when they’ve got real money on the line. Some sites make it easier than others to identify how to get in on the free play action without submitting heaps of personal information in advance.

 Tournaments

We definitely enjoy poker tournament play and have noticed more and more online poker rooms adding this as a feature or in beta stages of testing. We’re looking forward to seeing more variety and increased cash prizes in the future.

  Promotions

What kind of player incentives does each online poker room offer? Do they reward frequent visitors? What about high hand or bad beat jackpots? tournaments? random cash giveaways?

 Other features/conveniences

Some sites will let you choose a character image which becomes identified with your nick. Others will track your gameplay statistics for you. Some provide no charges for certain kinds of cashouts. Some track the top players. Some allow you to beta-test new games or poker tournaments in development. Others offer good poker resources in terms of celebrity columns, advice, links, etc. We like both access to quality information that’s useful to us in playing poker as well as convenience.