Any time you try something new or risk your money doing something online it can be a little worrisome.

Online poker rooms have been a reality for over 15 years.

But can we really trust them?

I trust some poker rooms completely. Some I don’t trust at all.

Some rooms I trusted in the past have lost my trust. A few rooms I didn’t trust are now okay.

What does that all mean to you?

Things change in the online poker world. What’s safe today might not be tomorrow.

Here’s a list of factors to consider when looking for online poker rooms you can trust:

How to Research an Online Poker Room

Find out how long a poker room has been in business. The longer they’ve been in business, the safer I feel.

Many poker rooms post this information on their main web page or on their about page. You can also use Google or Bing to find this information. You can also ask customer support.

Find out who owns the poker room. Some online poker rooms are owned by huge well-known companies. Others are owned by small companies.

Just because a poker room is owned by a big company doesn’t mean it can’t fail. Huge companies do stupid things all the time.

Just because a poker room is owned by a small company doesn’t mean they can’t be trusted.

These are just small pieces of the puzzle we use to help determine how safe an online poker room is.

Contact the support department. I always ask them three or four questions, usually over a few different contacts. I want to see how fast they respond to support requests and how knowledgeable the support department seems to be.

Sign up and play the poker games for free. This won’t tell you how trustworthy the room is with your money. But it will give you an idea of how well their software works. If you hate the software, it doesn’t matter whether the site is honest or not. You won’t enjoy playing there.

Look at how many real money games are running at different times of the day. Pay attention to how many tables are running the games you like to play. Do this at the times you’ll be playing. You might discover that there aren’t enough players to support your play.

I love pot limit Omaha hi lo. Many poker rooms don’t have enough players to spread these games regularly. So I have to look for ones that do.

Talk to other players who already play there. If you know other poker players ask around about the poker room you are considering.

Online poker forums are good for this, too. But not everyone is truthful on forums. Make sure you are careful about who you do or do not trust.

Look through the poker room’s site before playing. A great looking site doesn’t mean the room is safe. A poor looking site doesn’t mean it’s unsafe. But it’s a small indication to consider with the overall picture so far.

Once you collect as much information as possible you should be able to make an informed decision about the safety of a poker room. Use your common sense.

Here’s some more advice about how to have a fun and safe online experience.

Warning Signs

Want to know the first warning sign?

You can tell an online poker room has problems when the pay outs start taking longer.

When withdrawal requests that used to take a week start taking a month, find out what’s going on. It doesn’t always mean something is wrong at the poker room. Sometimes certain payment processors start having problems or become unavailable.

At one time Neteller served a worldwide market. It was fast and easy to send and receive money from poker rooms with Neteller.

But they ran into legal trouble in the United States and had to stop serving that market.

Eventually players got their money back. But poker rooms had to find a different way to process payments to US players.

If a poker room is having financial problems, it’s always because of poor management. Player funds can and should be kept in a separate account from the operating accounts of the poker room.

Poker rooms online make money the same way land based ones make theirs. They take a small percentage of every pot, called a rake. They also take a percentage of all tournament entry fees.

They pay expenses from these funds. The rest is profit. An online poker room never has a valid reason to run into financial problems that keep them from paying players.

But poor management is rampant in the business world. We shouldn’t be surprised that some poker rooms make poor decisions and go out of business. When it happens, it doesn’t just hurt the players who get stiffed. It also hurts the entire industry.

But many established poker rooms run their business well. They have a solid track record of quality customer service.

One place to investigate whether or not a poker room is having problems is the affiliate market. Most online poker rooms have affiliate programs. An affiliate program pays a commission to people who refer new players.

Some programs that start struggling stop paying their affiliates or start paying them slower. This often happens before the player payments start slowing down.

Most players have no interest in becoming affiliates. But you can check the affiliate forums to see if the poker room where you play is treating their affiliates well.

Don’t make the mistake of thinking you don’t really care how a poker room treats their affiliates. If a room will cheat their affiliates you can be sure they will cheat you too.

Another way to keep an eye out for possible problems is to follow a few of the online poker player’s forums. They usually start reporting problems with poker rooms soon after they start.

Don’t blindly believe every complainer on a forum. Many of them are false. But if more than a few players are having the same problems you should investigate it more.

Never Deposit More than You Need

You’ve heard that you should never wager more than you can afford to lose. That’s also a good way to limit your financial exposure while playing online poker.

Never deposit more into your poker account than you need. You can always make another deposit if you need to. As long as you keep your deposited funds limited, you maintain some protection.

You can’t get cheated out of any funds the poker room doesn’t have.

Request Withdrawals Often

The main reason you should request withdrawals often is so you can learn how long they normally take. You’ll also learn of any issues that the poker room may be having.

You also need to learn about all of the different pay out options that are available. The ones you can use depend on where you live.

It’s important to know what your alternatives are in case your usual pay out method can’t be used.


This makes the entire online poker industry sound scary. You might even be reconsidering your decision to play online.

Stop thinking that way.

I’ve played at dozens of online poker rooms. I’ve rarely had any issues. As long as you follow the advice about researching poker rooms and watch for the warning signs you’ll be fine.

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