Online Poker FAQ

With more and more people coming online to play poker, it may be that some players will benefit from getting an introduction to what to expect when they play online poker. Even if you have enjoyed playing poker at home with friends, playing online poker can present a rather different challenge and there is often a lot to take in.

The following questions are some of the most frequent asked questions with respect to online poker and hopefully the answers will provide you with what you want to know.


Can I play poker online for free?

There are a number of different ways that a player can enjoy playing poker for free. There are some poker sites that provide free games for players, meaning you do not have to provide any banking or personal details to play. This can be a fun and safe way to play online poker but many will find that this form of playing is not stimulating enough.

When you sign up for an online poker site, you may be fortunate enough to be provided with free money to allow you to play a few poker hands without making a deposit. Not every site offers this sort of bonus so you should be on the lookout for any bonus of this nature.
There are also plenty of freerolls to look out for on online poker sites. These games do not cost you any money to play but they can do provide cash prizes at the end of it. These are obviously very popular games in the poker community but they feature prominently on many sites. Be sure to check if you need to have funds in your online poker account before gaining access to freerolls on a site.

In short, yes, there are ways to play online poker for free and it can be fun to do so but most players will find that they need to deposit funds into an online account to make the most of their poker time.

Can I play poker on my Mac? What about my smartphone?

There have been big changes in online poker in recent times and the way that players play is one of the areas that have changed the most. Mac users used to be forced into running emulator software and then downloading the PC poke software to play online poker but this is no longer the case.

There are a number of major online poker providers that provide Mac-friendly software for players to download directly on to their Mac.

Similarly, mobile poker has come along leaps and bounds in recent years and many players are now enjoying the fun of playing poker wherever they go. While mobile poker has not quite reached the heights of mobile casino games, there are a number of major online poker sites that are providing safe, reliable and top quality fun for all of their mobile users.

How do poker sites make money?  What is rake?

With so many poker sites to choose from, it must be possible for them to make money or there wouldn’t be as much choice available to players. There are two main ways that a poker room is able to make money.

When a real money poker game is set up, the house will take a percentage of the money that has been raised from the pots. This is the rake and it is said that the rake is commonly around or less than 5% and it will be taken by the site automatically. Given that it is only the winning player that is affected by the loss of money from the pot, the rake is a common and inoffensive way for a poker site to make money.

When it comes to tournaments, there will be a fee required to gain entry to the tournament. This will be posted by the site and you will commonly see figures such as $20+$2 or $50+$5 listed. The first figure, inevitably the higher figure will be the money that is needed to buy-in to the tournament and the secondary figure will be the tournament fee that a player pays to gain access to the tournament.

These are the two main ways that an online poker site can make money but there are other ways including licensing software or providing poker room access to other sites.

Is it safe to play online poker?

Like everything in life, there are risks that come along with playing poker and it would be wrong to say it was 100% safe. However, the major poker sites are well run and well-regulated. Your details will be stored safely, commonly behind firewalls.

If you play with unlicensed or unknown poker sites, you could be putting yourself at risk so this should be avoided where possible. Poker sites licenced in respected gaming areas like Malta or the United Kingdom can provide a greater degree of confidence in the level of safety being offered by a site.

Do poker sites rig the games?

Given that there is an air of the unknown about online poker games, it is possibly inevitable that some people would claim that the games are rigged. When you get an unlucky run of fortune, it may seem as though it wouldn’t happen in real life and many people think that is down to the games being rigged.

In reality, this is not the case. Any major poker site that is well regulated will have the veracity and reliability of their games checked on a regular basis and any problems would be noted and recorded.

If people believed that poker sites were rigging games, the opinion would quickly spread on the internet and people would lose faith in that site. One of the best things about the internet is that opinions can be spread and shared quickly and can be easily checked. If you believe that a poker site is rigging your game, search online and see if other players have similar beliefs and can provide evidence.

In the end, it is extremely unlikely that any serious or major poker site would even contemplate rigging a game because there is far too much for them to lose.

Is it safe to deposit with a credit card?

Using a credit card does tend to provide an added level of protection for players but it should be considered as a 100% safe option. This is down to the fact that if you are careless or take unnecessary risks, you can have your details taken by unscrupulous people. If you are entering your card details, make sure you are playing on a well regulated site that you trust and be sure you are on a safe connection.

It is not sensible to provide your credit card details if you are using a shared computer in a shared network but this is the same for any online transaction, not just online poker. Using a credit card can provide you with a level of protection but you should always use common sense when you use your card.

Do people cheat playing poker online?

With so much money at stake and many people still believing that there is a cloak of anonymity on the web, it is inevitable that some players will attempt to cheat at online poker. How they attempt to cheat can take many different forms but the most important thing is what online poker sites are doing to prevent people from cheating or at least, prevent people from profiting from cheating.

Software will analyse every single hand played on a poker site or room, paying particular attention to any patterns that are formed. If a player, or players, are working to a system, it is likely that some habit or repetition will be present in their play and this is where analysis of poker play can uncover cheating.

It may be that some poker players manage to find a way to cheat online but it is likely that they will be caught quickly and banned from playing online poker.

How do poker sites handle cheaters?

Different sites will have different approaches but it is likely that the first action will be to take back any winnings, if found in time and then remove that player from the site. This means that their log-in will be disabled and their details will be retained to prevent them from returning to the site as far as the site can tell. Players who have lost out or been penalised by someone else cheating are often rewarded or moved up a placing in tournaments etc if the cheating has been uncovered in a reasonable time period.

In certain cases, the cheater may be reported to law authorities responsible for the site or in the cheaters jurisdiction and there may be charges brought against them.

Are poker sites regulated and licensed?

It would be wrong to say that every poker site was well regulated and licensed but the vast majority of major poker sites are. If you see a poker site that is unlicensed, you would be advised to stay clear of it and play on a more popular poker site where you are likely to be better protected.

Regulation is not just to keep you safe, it can help to ensure you receive any winnings that you are due and protect you from any disputes you may have with an online poker site.

Is it legal to play online poker in the United States?

This is a common misconception but it is important to note that it is not illegal to play online poker in the United States. The UIGEA has made it difficult for US poker players to play online but this is all down to the fact that they have passed legislation to prevent banking institutions from allowing transactions to an online gaming site taking place. There are some states that prohibit online poker but on the whole, playing online poker is not illegal in the United States.

What are poker bonuses?

With so many poker sites to choose from, it is inevitable that poker sites will be competing to get players to play on their site. There are many ways that this can be done but one of the most popular methods involves providing poker bonuses to players. There are a number of different bonuses that a poker site can provide:

The number of welcome offer poker bonuses is on the increase and these are worth checking out as they can help you get to grips with what a site has to offer without spending too much money. However, it is always important to read through the terms and conditions of each bonus because you may have to play through your money a number of times before you get access to it.

How can I cash out my winnings?

If you are fortunate enough to be a poker winner, you will have winnings that you wish to cash out. The method of withdrawing your winnings will depend on what site you are using and which territory you are in. Depending on your deposit method, you may be limited in withdrawing your funds on that card or through that process. Then again, you may find that your deposit method is not acceptable to withdraw funds from.

It is important to review the withdrawal methods on a poker site before you sign up because each site has its own terms and conditions. It may well be that you have to accept a check from the poker site to get your winnings and this can take a considerable period of time to get to you.

Hopefully these answers have given you a better insight and understanding of online poker and you can play with a greater level of confidence from now on.