Poker has been around for a long time — like a really long time — but it’s a rare poker player who picks up a physical deck of cards and sits down to a cash game. Today online poker is the ticket, and playing poker online is far more convenient than trying to get a group of friends together on a weeknight. But there are downsides too, the game is completely saturated and it’s tougher than ever to make a decent chunk of change in the game.

Online poker is seemingly everywhere. You can play free online poker, or you can play online cash games and tournaments. There’s also that sticky bit in the middle where you wonder, are these poker sites rigged? All in all, you just want to know where the right place to play poker online is. That’s why we’re laying it all out on the felt table, every online poker question you might have — answered.

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What's the best casino to play poker online?

Which site you decide to go with will largely depend on your ambitions and expectations. For example, are you playing for fun, for the social interaction or to achieve the biggest wins possible? Do you consider yourself an amateur enthusiast or a downright pro? There are also things you should always screen for, regardless of your mindset, to keep you as safe as possible when you play poker online. The following are a list of things to think about to help you zone in on the right poker site for you.

Reputation and customer support

Safety shield green background with grey lock

Go with a well-known site. Sometimes you’ll find obscure poker sites based in even more obscure locations offering bonuses and rake-back deals of your dreams. Come to cash out and you’ll be hit with so much red tape you’ll never see a penny. On the other hand, the bigger, more established sites have a reputation to look after, which means you’ll be treated fairly. Make sure the site you choose has a gambling license and check that your browser tags it as a secure site. Customer support is another big one. If a problem arises (and don’t they always?) you want to know you can communicate with some one quickly and easily. I’m a big fan of live chat, but failing that do a little research and find out what other people have to say about the site’s communication with players.

Competition level

Now this one is all about personal preference. Do you like to be challenged or do you prefer easy pickings for smaller wins? Those you share your table with will determine the style in which you play. The lower the competition, the easier it will be to win long term. Therefore it follows that the higher the competition the harder it will be. Ideally you get a nice mix of players at your table because the better ones will help you improve your game, and the weaker ones will let you scoop up on a few hands. Also consider that some rooms might be soft in tournaments but tougher competition in other formats, so you should scope all this out ahead. Think carefully about your ability level as well as your strategy before you enter an online poker room.

First deposit bonuses

You should always opt for a head start if you’re given the choice. And with the fierce competition in online poker out there, you’re bound to be inundated with all sorts of first-timer benefits. So if a site is excited to have you, allow them wine and dine you, and be sure to take your time. Scout around the best sites and compare sign up bonuses to maximize on your winnings. Bonus offers can range from 50% to 200%, and obviously bigger is better but it’s not always the only consideration.

Three arms each holding a coin

Take a look at what the maximum bonus will be on these offers. Often you’ll find they’re limited to about C$100 or C$200, which is perfectly fine if you plan to play low stakes. But if you’re in it for the bigger wins, then look out for higher bonuses that set limits at about C$500 or C$1,000. Lastly, and it’s a big one, check out the wagering requirement conditions attached to your bonus. Depending on the conditions, an offer could be worth anywhere between 10% to 50% of your rake-back. Some poker rooms will give you 30 days to clear your bonus and others up to 90. If you’re a less frequent player who mainly enters low stakes games then you should aim for the best clearing rate.

Poker game variety

Are you a strict Texas or Omaha? Or do you prefer to mix it up? Not all sites will offer a selection of poker games so check this out before you deposit your buy in. You might find a particular style isn’t for you or you get bored easily and like to switch things up. A decent site should also offer the opportunity to enter various tournaments and new styles of poker such as fast-fold poker and Spin and Go. You should consider the whole buffet before making up your mind.

That online poker traffic

Again this one depends on how serious you are about poker. If you’re looking to commit to regular play, then poker traffic becomes very important. You should be searching for poker rooms that have enough active tables during peak hours. It’s not hard to find this out. As a rule of thumb, the more popular sites will always host the most action. Most poker rooms will tell you the count of active players, so just have a quick peek.

Ways to pay and play

There’s nothing that gets in the way of your good run worse than stalled deposits and withdrawals. PayPal is one of the safest bets, although not always available, and we’ve written all about it here. Failing that, your online poker site absolutely must offer a good selection of popular providers, from debit cards to credit cards, e-wallets and money transfers. You need to feel comfortable about where you’re leaving your information and temporarily holding your money.

Are Online Poker Sites Safe?

As with anything else in life, you’ll find both the good and the bad. Are there dodgy online poker sites out there? Most definitely. But there are also completely legitimate dedicated poker sites readily available that you can trust completely. The trick is identifying these and not falling into the trap of going for that too good to be true offer. Do your research and be smart.

How to win at online poker

You’ll find a lot of tips out there, and who knows which is the best advice to follow right? Well, I had a couple chats with some long time pro poker players to gather up their top five must do’s if you want to play your online poker best. You’re welcome. Here they are:

1. If you’re playing real money poker, bankroll management consistently comes up as the number one tip to master for online poker players. In the simplest terms, your poker bankroll is the amount of money you have set aside for poker. This doesn’t include money you have in your bank account for bills and your mortgage, nor does it include any money you’re expecting to get in the future.

Poker hand with aces, jacks, kings and queens

2. Think like your opponent. If you can’t start to analyze how the other people in the poker room think, then there’s no way you’ve got a winning strategy on your hands. Observe the way your opponents play, when they fold, bluff and raise. This will give you strong insight moving forward.

3. Always play in position, and only deviate from this when you absolutely must.

4. Get in the right headspace. Focus on your strategy and avoid distractions when you’re playing

5. Don’t get cocky, make sure you keep training and stay up to date with what the top players are doing. Poker is an extremely popular and competitive sport, if you’re not keeping your eye on the ball, you’ve suddenly become the fish at the table. Watch what the best players out there are doing. A really helpful way to do this is to watch them play on Twitch to learn how they think through hands.

Which Casinos Have The Best Online Poker Bonuses?

Every single site that offers online poker will advertise the best bonuses they have to offer. But if you’re looking to make a quick comparison across the board, and the actual site doesn’t matter to you, a quick Google search should do the trick. You’ll find sites dedicated to listing the best bonuses out there, so it’s easy to take your pick. But remember, as we talked about above, the best offer isn’t always the biggest bonus!

Dogs playing poker

How to claim an online poker bonus

This may possibly vary from site to site but poker bonuses are usually applied in one of two ways. The first way is that it’s automatically added to your account once you sign up, make your first deposit or fulfil any other requirement that’s necessary. Alternatively, the bonus is advertised with a special code, which you’ll be prompted to enter during the sign up or deposit process. Both are extremely straightforward, so no cause for confusion there!

Wagering requirements for bonuses

We talked about this above when we discussed first deposit bonuses. Wagering requirements are essentially how much you have to play before you can cash out on your bonus. The timeframe you’re given to meet your requirement isn’t always the same, and the rules and requirements will vary from site to site. Obviously the easier it is to meet your wagering requirements the faster you can reap the rewards and cash out, but you’ll have to make this decision based on how often you log in to play a few hands.

Can you play real money poker online?

Of course you can. Most sites offer you both play money and real money options. Once you’re done practising on play money games, unless you were born ready to sit in with the high rollers, you can instantly jump onto the real deal after funding your account.

Are Online Poker Sites Rigged?

This is a fair question, and one asked by many players. The occasional scandal involving an online poker site has led many people to think that all poker sites are rigged. And it really doesn’t help that in our age of bots and mass organized gambling, everything starts to all feel a little too, well, automated. Once you start to consider the immense competition out there when it comes to online poker, it’s not surprising if you also start to wonder about the unfair online casino edge. It can feel like making decent winnings with online poker is all a bit of a pipe dream. So what’s the reality?

Legitimate, licensed online poker sites are not rigged. Sometimes hitting a losing streak, bad beat or getting really unlucky a few times in a row can make it feel that way, but that’s just the nature of the game my friend. You gotta take the bad with the good!

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