How to Choose an Internet Poker Room

Have you ever wondered how many online poker sites there are? I'm talking strictly about poker rooms where you can play poker online for real money - not including poker informational sites. If you are counting on one hand, the answer will surprise you.

No one has an official count of poker sites, but by my estimation there are over one hundred different online poker rooms. Many of the sites are "skins" of each other, meaning that they use the exact same software, but have different owners. Regardless, that is still a lot of poker rooms, especially for a player who is trying to find the best one!

This article is going to arm you with the best tactics for finding the perfect online poker room. We will discuss how you can quickly evaluate and compare poker sites, and will also recommend a few of our favorite online poker rooms if you want to skip the entire evaluation/comparison process. Let's get into it.

What Makes a Good Poker Site?

There is a lot more to a poker room than its bonus and graphics (although the sites themselves might not want you to know it). Good poker sites have:

  • Smooth, easy to use, and glitch-free poker software.
  • Lots of player traffic so tables are always running.
  • Good payment processing, including lots of deposit options such as credit cards and eChecks, and lots of withdrawal options such as paper checks or bank wires.
  • Responsive and knowledgeable support teams to handle any potential problems.
  • A sign up bonus with easy to understand and easy to clear requirements.
  • Reward programs that offer tangible rewards such as cash-back, merchandise, or freeroll entries (pretty much anything above and beyond reload bonuses).

The list above is organized by priority. In my opinion software is most important, followed by player traffic, payment processing, support, bonuses, and rewards programs.

Although that's my opinion, your priorities may be different. If that is the case, I recommend you compare poker sites with your own list of priorities. For example, if a big bonus is more important to you than lots of player traffic, you might want to check out Bovada Poker's $1,100 bonus even though they don't have as much traffic as bigger sites.

Now, let's dicuss how you can evaluate poker site's qualities before actually depositing your hard earned money.

How to Evaluate Poker Software

The easiest way to evaluate a poker site's software is to sign up, download the software, and hit the play money tables. The play money tables use the exact same software as the real money tables, so if you like the software at the play money tables, you will like it at the real money tables too. Simple as that.

How to Evaluate Poker Player Traffic

This is another easy one. Simply head over to and check out their poker traffic rankings. The site offers live traffic numbers from all of the major poker sites online. At the moment PokerStars is #1 with 49,445 players online, Full Tilt Poker is #2 with 21,954 players online, and Party Poker is #3 with 6.484 players online.

If you are a high stakes player you will want to choose a poker site with high traffic levels because the biggest sites have the biggest games. If you are a low stakes poker player you can play at lower traffic sites because most players will be at the low stakes tables.

How to Evaluate Payment Processing

Evaluating payment processing is another simple matter. Go to whatever poker site's homepage you are checking out, and visit their "Banking" or "Real Money" page. That page will list all of the deposit and withdrawal options available at the poker site. If you see the options you want to use, you know you will be fine at that site.

How to Evaluate Poker Support Teams

Another easy evaluation. Go to the site's website and find their "Support" page, and call, email, or live chat with the support team. Ask a few basic questions such as "What are the easiest deposit options?" and "Does your poker site offer all-in protection?"

If they can answer all of your questions, then you know the support is good. If they can't answer your questions, then you know the support is lacking.

How to Evaluate Poker Bonuses

All poker sites list the full terms of their sign up bonus on their website. Check out the bonus terms and conditions to see if the bonus is actually clearable or if it is just a marketing ploy. If you aren't sure how to evaluate a poker bonus, check out our "Poker Bonuses Explained" article, which is the next page in our beginner's guide.

A few things to watch out for with poker bonuses:

  • Make sure you have at least sixty days to clear the bonus. Most sites allow sixty or ninety days, but some poker rooms only give you thirty days which is too short of a time period for most bonuses.
  • Make sure you can withdraw your deposit money before clearing the entire bonus. If you withdraw before clearing the entire bonus you ALWAYS forfeit any remaining bonus money, but you want to make sure that you can at least get your deposit money back out in case you need it in a pinch.
  • Read the terms carefully to see if you need a bonus code to redeem the bonus. Some sites keep that quiet, and after you deposit without the code they won't give you the bonus.

Most poker sites offer fair bonuses, but there are a few sites out there with predatory terms that can put a player in a bind.

How to Evaluate Rewards Programs

Evaluating rewards programs is the trickiest task on this list. Almost every poker site uses a different system for distributing rewards, and most of the programs are pretty complicated. If you are a new poker player, we recommend just confirming that the site offers a reward program, and leaving it there.

The rewards programs are more important for high stakes players, because the rewards are based on how much rake you generate. If you are a high stakes player, we recommend playing at as they have the best rewards programs in the business.

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