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CHOOSING A CARD ROOM



Factors for Choosing a Card Room Part Two
Aug 09, 2005  
by Jason Kirk  

Besides ring game and tournament selection, there are several other important factors to consider when choosing an online card room.

Security

While there's no reason to suggest that small sites are inherently untrustworthy, the fact is that a large player base gives sites more incentive to make sure that their games, their handling of player funds, and their methods of deposit and withdrawal are secure. Small sites might fold at any time, taking your money with them when they disappear from the net forever. They also lack the large operating budgets of their competition, meaning there are usually fewer people on staff looking out for your money.

Plenty of small sites have been around for a long time, though, and have great reputations for ensuring the security of all games and transactions. If you plan to play at a smaller site, read up on it before you deposit any money there. Look for information about where the site is based, whether it is regulated by the government where its servers are located, who the ownership is, and what steps the site takes to ensure security for your money. Not all sites are created equal, and it's worth knowing which ones want to earn your trust.

Software

The software used by an online card room can be a make-or-break factor for many players. Clunky, hard-to-use interfaces make online poker more difficult than it needs to be, and there's nothing worse than having your poker site's software drop your connection repeatedly. Sometimes other factors can mitigate the negative effects of bad software, but often this is one of the major factors in deciding whether or not a site is worth playing.

Most of the larger card rooms have software that's been refined over several years, and they tend to issue updates that improve security or add new features on a regular basis. Smaller online poker sites that license software from an outside company also tend to be reliable. If you are unsure whether the small site you're thinking of playing at has quality software, give it a test run in the play money rooms before you make any deposits. If it's hard to use, you might consider choosing another site, or only playing free tournaments at the site

Promotions

Here is another category where small sites usually have an advantage. Because their player bases are smaller, they have to be more creative when it comes to enticing players to deposit money with them. This leads to promotions that can benefit your bankroll. Many times these comes in the form of larger first-time deposit bonuses than you would receive at larger sites, sometimes as much as six or ten times what you'd get at a more established card room. Other times these promotions will take the form of competitions like the Sit-and-Go Challenge at Noble Poker, which offers a million dollars to the first player to win seven consecutive sit-and-go tournaments.

Larger sites are a mixed bag when it comes to promotions. Some of them don't feel the need to offer any promotions at all, because their player bases are so large that they stand to bring in new business to replace any players who get fed up and leave. Others offer plenty of bonuses but have requirements for clearing the bonus that are too high to make clearing it worthwhile. Where the larger sites do well in the promotion department is in their guaranteed prize pool tournaments. Many of these tournaments run weekly and have prizes that rival tournaments in some land-based casinos. The fields do tend to be quite big, but if you manage to make your way through them there are huge rewards waiting for you.

Not all promotions are created equal. Many times sites will increase the juice on special tournaments, or set the requirements for clearing a bonus so high that the rake they take from ring games will outweigh any money you end up withdrawing. As always, it's a smart idea to check the terms and conditions of any promotion to be sure exactly what you're getting into.

Conclusion

Every card room is different, and has something to offer that its competitors don't. It's worth checking out many rooms to see which one fits your needs the best. It may take a while, but sooner or later you'll find the right combination of software, security, promotions, and game selection. Take the time and your online poker experience will be better for it.


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