Choosing The Right Poker Room

As far as feeling secure with your money and checking out the legitimacy of an operation goes, many of the same considerations you should have when shopping around for an online casino also apply to finding a good poker room to play at. There are however, a couple of poker room specifics you should keep in mind:

How many players are there?

At an online casino it doesn’t really matter – if anything there might be a multi-player blackjack, roulette or craps game which really only needs a couple of companions to enjoy as intended. Normally, it’s just you against the house, in which case other players aren’t really needed. At a poker room, you need real people to play against, and the more there are around the more likely you are to find a table with the right game at the right limits, with opponents at the right skill level. Some new (or less popular) poker rooms simply don’t have enough players on at any time – so everything other than the most popular games have a lot of empty tables and people waiting for a game (i.e. Looking for a high-limit Omaha game? You might be disappointed if there’s only a few hundred players online.)

What poker variations are there?

At an online casino game variety counts, but as an online poker player if you prefer playing anything other than Texas Hold’em, where you choose to play is very important.
Many poker rooms, including some very popular venues – simply don’t carry some less popular poker types such as Omaha or Seven Card Stud Hi/Lo. There’s really no need for them to do so to get in the business, as most people prefer Texas Hold’em games (largely because that’s what we see on television tournaments all the time). MAke sure the poker room you choose offers the games you like – and then still keep in mind the above point – they can offer it, but if nobody’s playing that won’t help you much.

What’s the average players skill level like?

There’s everything for horrible to fantastic players at pretty much all online poker rooms these days, but some in particular attract a better crowd skill-wise. If you’re looking for weak competition, try poker rooms that are tied in with online casinos – these tend to have a lot of ‘drifters’ – casino players who are trying their hand at the poker room after some cross promotion (generally not the best caliber of players.) Places like Poker Stars who advertise heavily with the tournament circuit are more likely to have their share of pro’s or wannabe pro’s at least, which normally makes for stiffer competition.

With the above poker room specifics in mind, there’s a few general online gambling considerations you should bear in mind as well:

What contact options are available?

While you probably won’t have any troubles during your play, in the event there are any issues with your time at an online poker room, you’ll want to be able to get a hold of customer support as easily as possible. Those offering form-based or e-mail only support more common in the poker world than online casino industry, but a 24hr support via phone contacts and instant chat are still welcome options when you need assistance if you can find it.

What kind of bonuses are offered?

Just like online casinos, many poker rooms offer some kind of bonuses to new players to sweeten the deal. These are usually cash bonuses which are added to your bankroll either along with your initial deposit, or in small increments as you play hands at the poker room and ‘clear’ it bit-by-bit. Again, these are often a percentage on top of your initial deposit.

Unlike online casinos, software types aren’t terribly important when choosing a poker room – the few poker ‘networks’ sharing the same software types aren’t nearly as popular as some independent rooms that are better established. Unlike online casinos, at poker rooms payout percentages are nonexistent as well – the host simply takes a rake so there are no ‘odds’ to speak of.