With so many online poker sites to choose from, making the right decision about which is the best online poker room for you can become a bit of a nightmare – and getting it right first time is not easy! The type of player you are, you preference for certain poker games and how much time you have available at the tables will all influence your choice of poker site – along with how much money the online poker site is prepared to offer you in first deposit poker bonuses and rakeback!
This small guide provides food for thought about some of the online poker websites you should be looking at and how to narrow down your list of options to find the most appropriate poker room for your skill level and bankroll. No two poker players are identical, and no two online poker websites are the same. This is why choosing the best poker rooms to play at requires a little thought and some comparison between the best poker sites.
Best Poker Sites
What defines the “best poker site” is a matter of opinion. Is it the site with the highest volume of traffic, the site which offers the easiest poker bonus, the site with the lowest level of competition or the site with the best poker software? The list of how to determine the top poker websites is seemingly endless, and the views of others will be based on their own experiences, rather than what constitutes the best online poker sites for your specific preferences.
If, for example, you are a loose recreational poker player, you might not find it as lucrative to play on an online poker site containing other loose players. If you have a high level of poker skills, but not the discipline, online poker rooms which offer a substantial number of SnG poker options may be the best poker rooms for you. If you do not have a substantial bankroll, but want to compete in the biggest poker tournaments, the best poker sites for you would be the ones which offer a high volume of satellites and qualifiers. As we said, the list of what makes the best poker sites is seemingly endless, but we hope that the following advice is of value to you.
Free Poker Sites
Practically every online poker website offers some form of “free play” poker. These free poker sites are usually in the form of a practise site which mirrors the software and features of the “real” cash poker rooms or in the provision of freeroll tournaments which cost nothing to enter but payout cash prizes or tournament tokens to compete in real money games. Inasmuch as these free poker websites provide the new poker player with some experience of the web site and how to play poker, they are no reflection of what you will actually encounter when the cash is on the tables.
Although some poker players claim to have started their professional careers with money won at free online poker rooms, this is the exception rather than the rule. The standard of play of free poker sites is particularly loose because the players who compete on them have nothing to lose. If you base your real money game on the tactics you have witnessed on free money sites, it will be a very expensive lesson for you!
Easiest Poker Sites
The natural progression from free poker websites is to the easiest poker sites. These online poker rooms are where the standard of play is not very good and it is possible to win small amounts of money at micro-stakes tables or beat low buy-in tournaments. This is usually because the players on micro-stakes tables are playing recreationally or below their bankroll limits and consequently the money they bring to the tables on the easiest poker sites is money they can “afford to lose”.
Although nobody sits down at a table with the intention of losing, these easiest poker sites are a good way to develop basic poker skills before moving onto more demanding challenges. If you stay on these easiest poker sites for too long, you will never develop your game beyond a certain stage and – worse still – you might start integrating the betting practices of those who can “afford to lose” into your game.
Best SnG Poker Sites
Sit n Go poker games (SnGs) are ideal for many poker players. Without investing too much time or money, players can enjoy a mini-tournament with a reasonable chance of getting something back at the end of it. The best SnG poker sites are those which offer a variety of SnG games in different poker disciplines or in mixed poker formats at a number of different buy-ins.
The best SnG poker sites also offer SnG “Steps” programs, which enable players to qualify for more valuable SnG games or offer seats in valuable live and online poker tournaments. Unfortunately, it is rarely possible to determine the best SnG sites without having to perform the poker download and register an account, however the time spent doing this will be worthwhile once you discover the best SnG site for you.
Tournament Poker Sites
Finding the best tournament poker sites is more difficult. Whereas one or two may offer the biggest guaranteed prize funds for their feature tournaments, they also attract the largest number of players. Not only are these major poker tournament sites harder to beat, you will also spend many, many hours attempting it. Consequently, some people will regard the best tournament poker sites to be those with smaller fields for, although you will collect less money when you win them, you could be cashing more frequently.
Smaller tournament poker sites also often represent the best value when they offer a fixed guarantee but fail to attract the required number of players to match it. Know as an “overlay”, the difference between what you could win in an under-subscribed guaranteed tournament and a regular tournament hosted on a bigger poker website could be as much as 50%.
UK Poker Sites
Because of the tax breaks offered in countries such as Gibraltar and Malta, there are very few exclusively UK poker sites. Many of the high street bookmakers and casinos which provide online poker rooms on their web site are affiliated to international poker networks, and consequently you could find yourself playing on a “UK poker site” against players from Latvia, Spain and Romania. Those UK poker websites which remain independent also allow players from abroad, although in many cases these visitors add to the quality of the game rather than detract from it. For more information, check our list of UK poker sites here.
European Poker Sites
Once upon a time, the term “European Poker Sites” related to any poker site which declined to accept players from the US. Now, with European governments introducing poker legislation and licensing requirements, you could be allowed to play on some online sites and not others depending on your location. National legislation and a poker site´s policy may also dictate the nationalities of those playing against you – so whereas one online poker company may allow players from France but not Spain, another will allow Spaniards to play at their tables but not the French.
Poker Site Glossary
Here are just a few terms that you will find frequently used in poker site reviews which may be unfamiliar to a new player looking for the best online poker site:-
Lobby – Usually the first screen you see when entering a poker site. The lobby is so-called because it provides access to all other areas of the site through tabs or menus.
Cash Tables – Whereas all “real” money games are played for cash, cash tables refer to the games in which you bring a fixed sum of money to a table and leave with your winnings (or when you have lost).
SnG/Sit n Go Games – These are most often small single table tournaments comprising of six or ten players which has increasing blinds and is played until just one player remains. SnG games can also be played over a number of tables or as a “Heads-up” (1-v-1), but there is always a fixed number of entries to each game.
Cashback/Rakeback – Cashback is a percentage refund of the rake you have paid at cash tables or as entry fees to compete in tournaments. It is not offered by all online poker sites, and many require that you play a minimum amount of poker before you qualify for a cashback/rakeback offer./h2