More and more people are heading to online casinos. In 2019, the virtual gambling industry was estimated at $59 billion and is set to grow to $92.9 billion by 2023.
There are many reasons why more people are gambling online, the biggest one being the US Supreme Court decision to legalize sports betting. Classic casino games are also a big contributor to this total – and they do not come more popular than online poker.
It was recently estimated that 40 million people around the world play online poker on a regular basis. In the US, approximately 3.8% of adults play online poker for real money, higher than the worldwide average of 2.6% of all adults.
With so many people playing regularly, it is no surprise that there are so many online poker sites to choose from. So how do you choose which one is the best for you when there are so many options?
We have put together a little guide of the five things to look for when choosing a site.
1. Choice of Games
The first question everybody should ask when looking for a poker site should be “what game do I want to play?”
Not all poker sites offer a wide variety of poker games, so if you are looking for something other than Texas Hold’em, you should head straight to the bigger sites. Smaller sites will only focus on the crowd-pleasing classics – bigger sites will offer a wider variety of lesser-known games.
But the variety of games available is not the full story. To be able to play any live casino game, you need plenty of opponents signed up to the site of your choice, ready to play.
It is also best to check where each site is based, to ensure there will be plenty of people awake and ready to play when you are. Some sites, like 888 Poker, have users around the world, so you should be able to play a live table game whenever you log on.
2. Welcome Bonuses and Promotions
Most online casinos will reward new players with a welcome bonus, to persuade them to start gambling right away. There are a variety of different incentives that are commonly used to encourage new players to sign up.
One of the most common is the deposit bonus, in which sites will equal the amount of money you place as your deposit in the site. Other sites may offer free credits which you can use to gamble and win real money.
But not all welcome bonuses are created equal, and there are various factors you need to consider before taking the plunge. For example, if you are signing up to a casino site, can the bonus be used on poker games?
Once the special offers have been taken into account, there are still other things to consider.
3. Legal Status
Before signing up to any site, you must research beyond the games and rewards on offer. The legal status of your chosen poker site is the most important factor.
Larger sites with brand name recognition will be easiest to trust, as they will usually carry a notification on their site stating they are monitored by a regulatory body. This is the sign any poker site is legitimate and is a place you can safely go to play.
If the site does not carry any such warning, this is a cause for alarm. If there is no evidence proving that it is safe and is being monitored by an organization designed to keep players safe, you should not consider playing there.
4. Ease of Use
If your chosen site passes all three of the above tests, it is time to see just how user friendly it is. For the casual poker player, there are several things to consider here.
If you are looking to play on mobile, is the site compatible with your operating system? And does the casino have its very own mobile app, that makes it easier to play on the go?
And no matter whether you are on your phone or your laptop, the site needs to be easy to navigate. Can you find the game you are looking for straight away, or have you had to scroll and click through endless pages?
Not all sites support all operating systems, so it is best to check before signing up whether you will be able to get what you want. But if you can, then there is only one big step left to consider.
5. Payment Method
If the poker site of your choice is regulated by an organization that ensures safe gambling, there should be nothing to worry about here. Most sites employ the latest technologies to ensure safe transactions, and the protection of the users’ financial details.
But there are still a few things to bear in mind before taking the plunge and signing up.
For example, what kind of digital currency can a site accept as payment? If you’re looking to pay with PayPal or even Bitcoin, instead of the usual bank transaction, can the site accept it?
And if you want to gamble secretly, will the casino show up on your bank statement by name, or will it be hidden to ensure your privacy?
If you have looked through lots of poker sites, you should find one that passes all the above tests. There are still other factors to consider, such as available languages or whether the site offers customer support.
But if it passes the five criteria we have listed above, rest assured that it is safe and ready to use. So, what are you waiting for?