Make the Right Choice at the First Time of Asking
So you have made your decision to start playing online poker. Maybe you already play a little offline with your pals now and again and feel you have the poker knowledge to take it online and who knows, earn a few dollars while you are enjoying yourself at the tables. Your level of poker skills is not what this article is about, so let's assume you know at least the basics and are good to go. Your next big decision is where you are going to play and there are many, many, factors that you should take into consideration when making this choice and placing your money at the tables. You face a tough task as you will be confronted with a myriad of options, opinions and reviews. This article does not intend to point you in the direction of any one room in particular but to give you an idea of what you should be taking into consideration when signing up to your new room and hitting the felt. We will break the article down into sections that give you the information we at Sunshine Poker Rooms believe is imperative when making your call on where to play, what you think is important in a room and what type of game you play. Be prepared for a long and what he hope is a very informative read.
Poker Bonuses and You.
Most, if not all online poker rooms will offer all new players a welcome bonus when you sign up and make your first deposit. You need to be aware that Poker Bonuses differ from casino and sports bonuses in that there is usually no rollover and that instead, the bonus funds are released incrementally. The release of the bonus differs in each room and this is something that you will need to check out before you take it. Earning loyalty points is a common way of bonus release, an example being, if you earn 500 loyalty points then $5.00 of the bonus is paid into your account and this continues until the full amount of the bonus has been paid. Just to reiterate, that is an example and you need to check with each room. The release rate is often more important than the percentage amount on offer, so don't be fooled by huge bonuses until you have done your homework. Reload bonuses are given on a regular basis and these work in much the same way, and many rooms will also offer a new depositor free roll for amounts of between $250 and $1000. If welcome and reload bonuses are not an important issue for you then that's fine, however they can help to get your bank roll off to a good start if you are planning on playing cash games.
How to Make That Deposit.
People play poker for many different reasons. Some play simply for the fun of it and are content to sit for hours on end playing free rolls and seeing how they get on and they may even make a few dollars here and there. Some take it a little more seriously and grind away at the tables, constantly monitoring their bank rolls and making a steady profit along the way. Unless you intend on sticking to free rolls, then at some stage you are going to have to make a deposit. Depositing options could prove to be one the areas that actually forces your choice of room. There are of course many options available, but if your room of choice doesn't accept your payment method of choice then the whole deal is off. This is an area that you simply must take a look at, ok, bonuses etc you may be able to take them or leave them, but if you cannot get your money in then it's all for nothing. Most online poker rooms will accept Visa and MasterCard, in fact they are usually the easiest method of payment, and they are certainly the fastest. Other options will include bank wire, Western Union, Diners Club, Pre-Paid cards, Cash Transfer and American Express. There are more options and each room will vary on what is available so this one really is down to you to check out.
Promotions to Tempt You?
Promotions can also be a big deciding factor when choosing a room. We all want something a little extra when we lay down our hard earned cash. Online poker promotions can be wide and varied and well worth investigating before you take your pick. If these are a big deciding factor for you, then what exactly is it that you are looking for? Some players want to be part of a rewarding loyalty program that offers them good rewards for their time at the tables. Many rooms have these, and the tiered system in which most of them operate will always reward the bigger players with more, so if you intend on spending plenty of time at the tables this could be for you. If you are simply signing up to enjoy a game now and again then it could be that it's not a big issue for you. Maybe land based tournament entry is for you and there are plenty of rooms with these type of promotions on offer. From the biggest events like the WSOP to some of the smaller yet non the less appealing tournaments like the Maltese Open. You will see seats up for grabs, usually via satellite tourneys at various rooms throughout the year. Another widely used promotion that may appeal to the cash game player are the rake races that most rooms at some stage will offer. These usually involve a leader board and it's as simple as, the more you play the more points you rake up and the more chance you have of hitting the big prize. With promotions, it's a simple process...visit the site, hit that promotions tab and see if there's anything that makes you want to sign up and play at that room.
Game Variety, What's your Favorite?
Which poker variation do you prefer to play? Most rooms will predominantly offer Texas Holdem as it's by far the most popular version of the game. You will not have a problem finding other variations at cash, or ring game tables but if you are a tournament player then your options may become limited. It may be wise for you, let's say if you enjoy a game of Razz or H.O.R.S.E to check out the site and find out before hand exactly what type of games are on offer, and just as importantly, when. Also, liquidity comes into the equation. What sort of stake are you looking at playing and is it available for you to play your game at your level. Wasting time sat at a table for another player to join you, isn't many players idea of fun. You will always find action at the low stakes tables in most variations of the game, but with some variations you may have to look around to get your high stakes game on.
Many players enjoy playing in tournaments rather than at the cash tables. This gives players (in some respects) better control over their bank roll as they can decide before hand exactly how much they are going to spend in any given time on tournament play. Cash games are a different story as you never know when you are going to simply have to call, raise, or push all in. There are many different tournament types to choose from. Sit and Go's are very popular with many players as there's always a good chance of hanging on in there, beating the bubble and getting in on the cash. Same goes with Multi Table Tourneys, or MTT's. These are tournaments with a limited amount of players with a guaranteed prize pool and can be lots of fun to play. So many players now are playing online poker so they have the chance to win big, and if you have time on your hands and playing for a fair few hours at a time is what you are looking to do, then a room with big guaranteed tournaments may be the correct choice for you. Most rooms will have large guaranteed tournaments on either a weekly or monthly basis, they usually take place on a weekend, so if it's the big prize you are after and have time to spare then take your chances in some monster sized fields and attempt to hit the big one.
Where your friends play may determine where you play. Fancy a game of Heads Up against an old buddy, even though they live thousands of miles away? Well you can online and for some players this is a big plus point in a room. Not only does the room come with a thumbs up from a buddy, but you get the chance to socialize with them whilst playing a game of poker. The chat function now makes it so easy to communicate with both friends and strangers that players use this as a social tool like skype or MSN. If you know when your friends are going to be online then why not join them? A recommendation from a friend is always worth a great deal, so this could be an influencing factor when you make your decision.
Will Software be the Deciding Factor?
For some players the software is an issue, especially for those out there that enjoy rattling through sit and go's at the speed of light with four or more tables open at any given time. For this you will find it handy to have smooth game play and re-sizable tables. Some, especially newer players may enjoy having an odds calculator at hand and some rooms will provide this as part of the initial download of the client. For every want there is usually a software solution so again this is an area well worth checking out if it's going to help you decide.
Choosing an online poker room to play at is as difficult or as easy as you want to make it. If you are playing to have fun and throw a few cards around then some of the above will be immaterial, however if you are serious about poker from the off then we hope what you have read is useful. The most important thing is that you enjoy your time at the tables so choose carefully and make your decision wisely.