The first online poker room was established in as late as 1998, under the name Planet Poker, and it soon submerged into mediocrity, not being able to cope with the increasingly aggressive competition from other online poker companies.
The early history of the world’s most popular online card game, had its fair share of unpleasant incidents as well. Poker Spot, established in 2000, by a successful poker player, soon ran into credit card issues and went under in September of the same year. Most poker companies, however, became successful, and starting 2004, riding a newfound popularity fueled by live TV coverage of the WPT and WSOP, they exploded onto the internet in a never-before seen, almost hysterical boom.
That’s right, there are presently more online poker rooms than online casinos on the internet and their ranks are boosted on an almost daily basis. The unprecedented number on different online companies venturing into the world of online poker has sparked a fierce competition, and a marketing-war which can only be likened to the Cold War arms race.
The scale of this new kind of confrontation is nothing short of global, and the weapons used are Signup bonuses, Loyalty bonuses, out-of-this-world promotions, freerolls and bunch of other such freebies, meant to draw the player to the room and away from the opposition.
In this new type of world, online poker has created, players are confronted with issues that were nowhere in sight in 1998: which of these rooms is trustworthy, which of them offers the best bonuses, and the best financial security?
This is where I could help you. Before you do anything else towards becoming an online poker player, you should read this article. It’ll help you make heads and tails of this new incredibly complicated environment that online poker has become. No, I’m not going to tell you which online poker room you should go to (well, I’ll do that too, but in a different section) but I’ll give you a few pointers on things to look for, when you consider signing up.
First of all, you need to make sure you’re not trapped by some incredibly advantageous incentive into a one-month scam operation. Yes, there have been such operations around in the past and nothing’s going to guarantee there won’t be any more in the future. Whenever you think you found a poker room that you may like, start reading. The internet is full of review sites and online gambling forums, places where you can learn about the chosen room directly from its users.
If all feedback on a room is positive, and on top of that, it’s been around for years, chances are, it’s a completely fair operation. Next thing to check, is their gambling/gaming license. All online poker rooms are issued a license by an authority, a license which is basically a guarantee by a third party that the games you play inside are not rigged or set to short end the players.
This authority conducts regular audits on the software the poker room uses, in order to make sure the customers are protected from fraud.
The bonuses offered are rather essential too (after all it’s real money we’re talking about here), so the more generous they are, the better off you’ll be. One important thing regarding these (signup or any other type) bonuses: never think of them as money ripe for the picking… there is no exception to the fact that you need to work (in this case, play) in order to ‘redeem’ your bonus.
Many poker rooms use some kind of “poker points” system. Based on the revenue you generate for the room through the rake you pay when playing, you’ll be awarded such points.
Different rooms have different policies in regards to these points however there will always be a direct proportionality between these points and the amount of bonus released. (e.g. You get $1 of bonus released for every 10 poker points you generate) The better the bonus release scheme is, again, the better off you are. There’s no use taking up on a fabulous offer which is impossible to release…
Last but certainly not least, there’s the issue of financial security. You want to make sure the money you deposit is in safe hands right? Check the FAQ or Security section of the poker site for information on the encryption they use for money transfers. The regular stuff won’t do. Look for industrial security packages, the type banks use for their online money transfers.
Remember, when it comes to the protection of your money, being just fair will never do. Demand the best.
Oh, and before I forget: learn to play poker…