There are plenty of online poker sites for a player to choose from but you definitely want to perform a bit of ‘due diligence’ before you post up and start playing for real money stakes.  Most experienced players have established their own criteria for evaluating poker sites but this can be challenging for novice poker enthusiasts.  In this article we’ll discuss what you should look for when checking out a new poker site.  There’s a variety of things to keep in mind—some are obvious but some would likely not occur to an inexperienced online poker player.

Eventually, the bottom line of any poker site is simple:  “do you enjoy playing there?”  There are a few things that are essential to check out (eg: prompt payouts, customer service) but many of the factors that go into making a good poker room are a matter of personal preference.  It’s not much different than selecting a land based casino in a market like Las Vegas.  You might prefer the ‘vibe’ or other amenities at one casino over another.  You might like the crowd at one casino better than another.  Once you check off the essential fundamentals of a good poker room don’t be afraid to use your own judgment.


–BUSY, BUT NOT TOO BUSY:  It doesn’t matter if you’re playing cash games or tournaments or what level experience or stakes you are.  You need other players to play poker.  There’s nothing more frustrating than wanting to get into a game only to find nothing but empty tables at your favorite poker site.  At the other extreme, it’s also no fun to play at a site that is so busy that you have to sit and wait just to get into a game.  For that reason, you need to find a poker site that has good traffic but that isn’t inundated with players.

–THE RIGHT LEVEL OF COMPETITION:  While you might dream of going ‘heads up’ against the best players in the world for a million dollar prize pot the reality is a bit different.  Recreational players want just the opposite—they want as many bad players (called ‘fish’ in poker parlance) as possible.  Once you start to get a grasp on poker theory and the proper way to play the game finding opportunities to take advantage of weak players is the best way to build your bankroll.  They’ll not understand the importance of money management and will make poor decisions hand after hand.

–VARIETY OF GAMES AVAILABLE:  Every poker site on the planet will offer Texas Hold’em but a good selection of other games is usually indicative of a first rate operation.  At the very least, a site should offer games like 7 card stud and Omaha Hi Lo.  You want a good mix of pot limit and no limit games with a variety of stakes.  In recent years, there’s been a trend toward special games that offer the opportunity to win a huge jackpot for a small buy-in.  If these games are of interest to you, you want to make sure they’re offered.  Another trend is called ‘fast fold’ poker—it’s basically the poker equivalent of ‘rapid’ or ‘blitz’ chess.  The more variety in games offered the better.

–PLENTY OF TOURNAMENTS, FREEROLLS, AND PROMOTIONS:  A good poker site should have at the very least a morning and evening tournament as well as weekly and monthly events for higher stakes.  Plenty of freeroll events are great for beginning players.  For more experienced players, you’ll want sites that offer ‘satellite’ tournaments which allow you to win an entry into a big money live event.  A variety of promotions keeps things interesting and can provide other opportunities for winning big money prizes.