Ever since I started playing online poker,
there have been questions raised about whether online poker sites can be trusted.
These fall into two main types:
- Are the games fair? (Which includes questions like whether there are bots or colluders as well as the deal itself).
- Is my money safe? (Will you be paid out if you win?)
I’ll address both of these questions in some detail below. As a veteran of the gambling industry since 2004, I have seen it all… with the fallout from the UIGEA in 2006 and Black Friday in 2011 the low points, and some other scandals too.
On the positive side, the online poker scene in 2020 is cleaner than ever, with licensed sites and big brands that have a long history of honoring payments.
For those readers not in the mood for the long version, here are my ‘cliff notes’ for US and non-US players:
US: BetOnline Poker are rock solid, fast to pay and benefit from a lot of casual players coming over from their big sports betting brand.10+ years active without any scandals or payment issues. www.betonline.ag
Non-US: You cannot beat the combination of being listed on the London Stock Exchange, licensed in Malta and having almost 15 years of running a squeaky-clean operation. Add to this $40 in tournament tokens (country dependent) and up to 40% cashback (use bonus code SNGPLANET) and you’ll soon see why gambling giant Party Poker is the best trusted poker site anywhere online. www.partypoker.com (terms apply).
Trusted Online Poker Sites – Fair Games
Evidence that the deal is fair in online poker is not just solid, it is absolutely overwhelming.
There are external tracking companies which test the ‘random number generator’ software of sites. There are billions (literally) of hands in databases of tracking companies which follow the players, and there are multiple billions of hands in the individual databases of users of poker tracker, Holdem manager and similar products.
None have ever found even the smallest bit of evidence of the deal being unfair.
Think about it, billions of hands, and zero mathematical evidence against a completely fair deal.
This will not convince some people. Over the years I have learned that people believe that the deal is rigged with almost religious fervor. The kind of evidence that they hold up against this tsunami of data? Well, it’s usually an anecdote from a ‘friend of a friend’, or maybe a personal perception that you are playing well yet losing.
If you want to be a profitable player, then the sooner you accept that the math and evidence that the deals are fair is crystal clear - then the sooner you can start working on your own strategy instead.
Bots and Colluders?
Collusion does happen from time to time, though it is usually so bad that it is obvious – and the people who try it (kids with too much time mostly) are caught and banned right away. Software catches most colluders, though if you see something suspicious, you should feel free to report it to your site.
Bots are largely a thing of the past; security is just too sophisticated these days. Those bots that do get though temporarily are very predictable; you should be able to beat them simply by figuring out their patterns.
Rather than bots, there are a lot of sites which suffer from too many multi-tabling nits. At the international sites these are often Russians / Eastern Euros. They infest the small stakes games, playing a tight and almost mechanical strategy. From the individual player's perspective, they are being rational. Living in a country (for example) where the average wage is less than a thousand dollars a month, why not sit at 12 tables and make $1 / hour from each one all day! For those who want to enjoy poker, these players are a drain on profits. I'd rather be playing against amateurs enjoying their sessions any day.
Avoiding the Eastern Euro parasitic poker 'tax' is easy enough. Tag them, avoid tables with more than a few on, and mute their chat (these types are often abusive, coming from countries where our Western standards of decency are not the norm).
Even better, pick sites which feature fewer of these 'human-bots'. My recommendation for international players is the super-soft www.partypoker.com - check them out now!
Trusted Online Poker Sites – Is My Money Safe?
There have been some scandals where people’s money has disappeared. The best known examples followed Black Friday, with Ultimate Bet, Absolute Poker and Full Tilt all closing. Lock Poker was a more recent offshore example.
Thankfully these are rare occurrences. For the most part, poker sites pay quickly and without dispute (you might have to supply Id, though this is straightforward enough). US Sites will naturally be slower for withdrawals. Even when you have to wait for a check in the post, this is normally with you in a week or two.
You can take some sensible precautions. Only keeping part of your total bankroll on any one site, withdrawing after a tournament win or good run and sticking to the best known sites with solid track records will ensure that you are safe the vast majority of the time.
Trust Signals – What to Look For
When figuring out what are the most trustworthy sites, there are several factors you can take into account. These are listed below.
- Track Record: 5 years is a long time in poker, if your site has a longer record than this without any major scandals, then that is a great sign.
- External RNG Certification: You’ll find links to companies which test the fairness of the deal in the footer of websites for legitimate sites. This is a must-see for me.
- Range of Payment Options: PayPal, Skrill and Neteller are all good to see. This is for non-US sites, since the US ones are restricted by Federal laws from receiving regular bank transactions.
- Licenses: Never play at an online poker site which does not have a license. US ones are awarded in the Caribbean, non-US in places like Gibraltar, Malta or the Isle of Man.
- Stock Exchange Listing: This is the icing on the cake as far as poker sites go. Listing means they need to follow financial reporting rules (for example the London Stock Exchange). Again, this is for non-US sites only.
Trusted Poker Sites – Who Fits the Bill?
Worldwide Players: Party Poker
Listed in London, externally tested RNG, huge list of payment options, licensed in Malta and more than 15 years of scandal free service… the only thing that could top this is free cash – which you'll get every Monday as part of their weekly cashback (up to 40%, depending on your volume of play). Depending on your country, you'll also get $40 in tournament tokens to get you started. Use bonus code SNGPLANET, and do check out the super-soft tables soon at www.partypoker.com
Licensed and located in Panama, BetOnline have been in business for 10 years, offering sports betting to the US market. More recently they expanding into poker, joining the fast-growing Chico Network. With a solid track record in payments, a tested RNG and a great customer service, BetOnline are rightly attracting more and more players. Add to this the super-soft games - and you have a combination which is hard to beat. Check out BetOnline Poker for yourself - you will see the difference.
See www.betonline.ag for more!