Besides not having to worry about revealing one’s poker face, there are many differences between poker night with the gang and playing online poker. Here are a few things worth knowing before registering for an online poker account.
Beginners, Stick to the Basics
From players who earn a seven-figure salary to those in debt, an experienced gamblers to those playing their very first hand of poker, nobody is ready to play with big money right away. Upon registering for an online poker account members will often be given an unlimited amount of play money. It is good practice to start off playing for free to learn the subtle rules and style of the particular site before using real money.
Once a player feels comfortable playing for free it might be time to move on to real money games. It is common to find that the skill of one’s competitors increases in proportion to the price of admission, so it is wise to begin playing the cheapest real money games first and work up from there.
New members might also want to consider playing single table sit-and-go games before joining large tournaments to gain experience in a small tournament setting first.
If It’s Too Good to Be True, It Probably Is
On their home page many poker websites (such as Party Poker, Poker Stars, Full Tilt Poker, and others) promise to match a player’s initial deposit. Sound too good to be true? Well, there’s a more than one catch. Of course, the website would go bankrupt if it doubled deposits and let members withdraw that money shortly after. To cover their investment most poker sites will not allow players to withdraw that money until they have spent that amount on rakes and tournament fees. Members also have to earn their “enrolment bonus” by a certain expiration date, or they stand to lose parts or all of their bonus.
If one deposit $50 into Party Poker and Poker Stars, for example, their account will show that they have $100 in their account. Only $50 can be withdrawn, however, until the site has earned enough to match their investment. Sites like Full Tilt, however, will slowly give players their bonus in $5 increments every time the site earns that amount in rakes and tournament fees.
Each site varies, so be sure to read the fine print before getting started.
Most poker websites offer free gear just for playing on their website. Poker sites give out prizes to its frequent users ranging from expensive electronics to gold poker chips. These prizes don’t come cheap, however, and are most often awarded through a points system which rewards players depending on the amount the website rakes from their account.
Complaints and Rumors
Poker Stars has received criticism by some members of the site for altering the outcome of games so that multiple players have strong hands at the same time, causing a larger betting pool and thus a larger profit for the website. There is no way of proving this, however, so the complaint remains no more than hearsay.
Free Money and too Many Rooms
Since the explosion of the online poker industry early in the 2000’s there has been a significant rise the popularity of poker in general. With hundreds of poker rooms attracting millions of players around the world the industry has seen a continued rise even during the recent years of economic instability. However, since the start of 2010 the online poker industry traffic levels have started to plateau and the free poker money push is becoming even more important.
Online Poker Traffic Levels and Too Many Options
Other than the largest online poker rooms, PokerStars and Full Tilt Poker, and the surprise growth of the Merger Gaming Network with Carbon Poker as their flagship room, the online poker industry has seen a significant drop in growth. During the month of June 2010 PokerScout website posted that the online poker industry as a whole is seeing a negative growth average that has never been seen before. PokerStars and Full Tilt Poker are the only rooms that seem to be keeping the bleeding to a minimum.
With the U.S. imposed Unlawful Internet Gambling Enforcement Act (UIGEA) that started June 2010 and the movement to charge individual poker rooms a licensing fee when online gambling regulations come to fulfilment in America, many poker rooms will be crushed by the added expense.
There are hundreds of poker rooms all vying for their share of poker players. Until the U.S. fully regulates the industry, thus fully opening up the industry once again, the smaller poker rooms are having trouble turning a profit. With the recent downswing in player levels these small rooms and networks may be taken over by other networks. In April 2010 a sizable number of poker rooms that were part of the Cake Network moved over to the growing Merge Network and since then Cake has been in a traffic free fall. In less than a quarter the Cake Network has seen a 50% traffic drop and there is no indication that this drop will be stopped.
The move of poker rooms from Cake is only an indication at what will happen. It is inevitable that as growth slows there will be a consolidation of poker rooms. In the meantime. poker rooms are trying whatever they can to attract as many players as possible. The premier promotion comes in the form of not enormous tournaments, but of free money.
The Free Poker Money Movement in Online Poker
Over the years free poker money was handed out to try and attract new players and this is exactly what new online players should expect too. The largest poker rooms, PokerStars and Full Tilt, do not have to rely on this tactic as their growth appears to be self-sustaining due to their size, but the mid-range poker rooms like UltimateBet and the smaller poker rooms like Power Poker and Yoga Poker are using free poker money as a major part of their growth strategies.
Free poker money sites like Pokerspace are the companies that hand out the money as they are excellent affiliates to go out and find players that are interested in starting out on a new poker room. Free money is hard to turn down, especially when it is real and the tactic is proving to be very effective. Poker rooms like Titan Poker have grown steadily over the last five years and continued success because of this promotion.
Most casino reviews reveal the future issues will be the diluting of the industry’s player base and the eventual regulation of online poker. Until the industry sees another huge explosion of potential players through another market like Asia, the next year or two will more than likely bring interesting changes to the online poker industry. But rest assured, online poker isn’t going anywhere.