What is the Best Online Poker Site? [Pro's Guide 2019]

Which poker site should you play at?
A question that people ask me all the time is what is the best online poker site to play at.

Now let me state right off the top that recommending specific online poker sites is not something that I do. I just teach poker strategy on this website and in my books.

However, what I can do is give you some tips on what to look for in finding the right online poker site for you.

There are many different factors that go into deciding which poker room is best for you. For Instance:

Which poker site to play at depends on the software, cashouts, customer service, game quality, traffic, game types and rakeback. And if you are American then you also have to know if the poker site is USA friendly or not. So choosing the best poker site for you requires digging a bit deeper.

It seems that many people are focused solely on game quality these days. Fair enough, the games are not easy in today's online poker environment and this is my #1 criteria as well.

In this article though I am going to discuss all of the factors that I think are important when choosing which poker site to play at.

I will also give you suggestions on how you can research many of them for yourself. Hopefully then you will be able to make an informed decision on which poker room is best for you.


Software


Personally, there are some poker rooms that I simply cannot play on because their software is just so bad. It literally puts me on tilt.

The right buttons need to be in the right places, the right options need to be available and their software team should be receptive to player feedback.

Software is very important to me when I am multi-tabling online poker (it has to work smoothly!)



How to Research and Test This For Yourself:

The bottom line here though is that you are simply going to have to play on the site yourself in order to know whether you like the software or not.

Does the slider bar tilt you? Does your poker HUD work properly with the site? Are you able to stack, tile or cascade the tables and save the layout?

How about note taking, preset bet sizing, network latency, table customization, lobby customization and so on?

You don't need to make a deposit in order to test all of this for yourself.

Simply download the poker room software and spend 10 minutes playing the play money games. Test your HUD and any software aids that you might use for compatibility issues.

Software can make or break a poker site for me. Ask yourself if the playing experience is right for you.

Lastly, if you are unclear about anything, then you should send the poker site an email. For example, say you want to use a poker HUD.

You should email the poker site directly and ask them their policy on poker HUDs.


Cash Outs and Customer Service 


Which poker room should you play at?I don't like to beat around the bush.

I play poker to make money. Period.

And so therefore, when I make a cashout I don't want to have to wait weeks or months in order to have access to the funds.

We all know that every poker room on earth will accept your deposit with amazing speed but they are not all so quick to the task when you want to make a withdrawal.

Another important issue is customer service. I don't need to use it very often but there are a variety of reasons why I might need some help with something from time to time (such as a cashout).

I expect a reasonably prompt reply. I also expect an answer from a human being unless it is an extremely common question or a link will suffice.


How to Research and Test This For Yourself:

Many of the bigger online poker forums these days have updates about cashouts for poker sites. In some cases, poker site reps even post there themselves.

Regarding customer service, it is best to just send the poker site an email once again. Ask them point blank why you should play at their card room.

Ask them what gives them the edge over their competition. You will often be able to see very clearly by the speed and thoroughness of their reply how much they value you as a potential customer.

Also, ask them specifically how long a cashout will take. Be very specific, tell them what method you will be cashing out with. Make them give you a specific amount of time before you deposit your hard earned money there.

Always remember that you are the customer when dealing with a poker room. You pay rake to play there and they profit from you. But in today's online poker environment you have all the power.

They need you way more than you need them.

Poker sites need to know that providing cashouts and quality customer service in a reasonably efficient manner is expected at all times. Otherwise we will go and give our business to their competition.


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Traffic and Game Type Availability


Another key factor when deciding which poker room to play at is the traffic and the games and limits that they spread.

It doesn't matter how great the site's software and customer service is, if there isn't much action in the games and stakes that you play in then obviously this is going to be a major problem.

Keep in mind though that just because a certain poker site gets lots of traffic it doesn't mean it is the best. There are many smaller sites that might offer softer games.


How to Research and Test This For Yourself:

Pokerscout.com has long been an excellent resource for up to date information on traffic at all major online poker sites.

They provide you with up to the minute information on what game types are offered and how many people are currently playing them.

You can break it down even further and find out how many people are playing at your particular stakes as well. Lastly, you can also find out if they accept players from your country.

This is especially important if you reside in America or Australia where there is government regulation in place concerning online poker.


Game Quality


Online poker site
Alright, let's get right into it.

Game quality is clearly a huge issue with the current environment in online poker.

Everybody wants to go play where the fish are of course. I have beat the drum to death:

There is no strategy on earth that is better for your winrate than consistently playing with bad poker players.

You can study all the advanced poker strategy you want, but if the games aren't good where you are playing, then it will be like drawing blood from a stone!

Now it obviously goes without saying that the more people there are playing at a poker room, the more potential recreational players that there should be.

However, like I just mentioned, this isn't always necessarily the case. In fact some of the biggest online poker sites are well known to attract the toughest players.

In other words, the shark to fish ratio is very bad. This is certainly something you want to avoid!


How to Research and Test This For Yourself:

The bottom line though is that you are going to have to go out and find the loose action for yourself as well by testing several different poker rooms.

You don't even have to make a deposit or even play on a poker site in order to check out what the games are like. I will often just open a handful of tables on poker room X and spend a few minutes observing the action.

I will be specifically looking for the top signs of bad poker players. This includes stuff like limping, posting blinds OOP, severely under betting the pot and so on.

Some sites will actually allow you to run a HUD and collect data as an observer for a few orbits as well.

It only takes 10 or 20 hands for the VPIP data to converge close to it's true value. If you see a bunch of 40+ VPIPs on multiple tables then chances are that the action is pretty good at that site.

At the end of the day, spread your action around and constantly be on the look out for the juiciest games. I would recommend having money on multiple sites at all times.


Rakeback


Texas holdem online poker
Rakeback should be a huge consideration for anyone who is a heavy grinder or tends to stick to one site primarily.

Rakeback is simply money that some poker sites will give you back as an incentive to play there.

Now, if you are like me and bounce around and game select a lot then this will be of less importance.

Every poker room has a different approach to rakeback. Some of them make you jump through hoops by collecting points and then buying cash rewards through some sort of VIP program.

On the other hand many other sites will simply offer you a flat rate rakeback percentage and deposit what you are owed right into your bankroll on a weekly, bi-weekly or monthly basis.

As a general rule of thumb:

The flat rate percentage rakeback sites will typically be better for low limit and low volume players. However, the VIP rakeback program sites will typically offer more value for heavy grinders and those who play a bit higher stakes.


How to Research and Test This For Yourself:

Once again, if you are confused about anything regarding the poker site's rakeback program, then I would recommend sending them an email.

Give them specifics about how much you intend to play and at what limits. Ask them to give you a specific rakeback number that you will receive based on this play.


Sign Up Bonus

Getting the right signup bonus when choosing a poker site is also important especially for players at the micros.

A big bonus can help you build your bankroll very quickly because this is because free money that you earn just by playing poker.

Now of course it is important to check the fine print and see what the specifics are for releasing that bonus, but typically if you play any kind of decent stakes (NL10 or higher) on a regular basis, you should be able to clear a big bonus.


How to Research and Test This For Yourself:

It is not difficult at all to find out what the sign up bonus is at any poker room. Just go to the main website and it will often be displayed as one of the first things that you see.

Once again, check out the specifics and shop around to different poker rooms and find out who is offering the biggest bonus which is the easiest to clear.

And as always, if you have any questions regarding the bonus and how you will be able to earn it, your best bet is to email the poker site directly and ask for specifics.


Final Thoughts


I hope that this article helped provide some guidance to you in what to look for when deciding which poker site to play at. It can be a bit of a jungle out there.

Something I also should mention is that regardless of what site you choose, your own poker strategy is going to be the biggest factor in your success or failure.

So I would recommend enrolling in an advanced poker training course like The Upswing Poker Lab.

You will learn the advanced poker math, hand reading and game theory to beat top players in today's games. And this means that you will ultimately move up the stakes faster and make more money!

If you are interested in playing online poker professionally (or even semi-pro), then I would also have a look at my latest poker book, The Micro Stakes Playbook.

This book gives you a step by step guide to the advanced strategies that I have personally used in crush small stakes games online for 10+ years as a full time pro.

When choosing a poker site game quality should be your first concern though in my opinion. We still make the majority of our profit in this game from the fish. You need soft games in order to win big.

But other issues such as software, cashouts and customer service, rakeback and bonuses should weighed into your decision as well.

Ultimately the only way for you to know for sure is to test many different sites yourself. Hopefully this article helped guide you a little bit better towards picking the right poker site for you!

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Let me know what you look for when deciding which poker room to play at in the comments below.

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