The internet was a game changer for the poker industry. Suddenly players from around the world could instantly connect with opponents and compete from the comfort of their own homes. The challenging part was figuring out how to work real money into the equation considering poker without a cash reward is like the tropics with no sunshine. Fortunately the internet has advanced considerably since the early 2000s and getting money on an online poker site these days is both easy and safe.
Is Real-Money Online Poker Safe?
Yes. There have been a few bad actors in the online poker world over the years but thankfully tightened regulations and more security have essentially eliminated the shady sites. These days online poker sites are looking to avoid the mistakes of the early days of online poker and provide a safe and secure environment for poker players.
Even less regulated, gray-market poker sites have been forced to get their act together as poker players began to demand the same security that’s found on the major poker sites in fully regulated regions.
The technology behind online poker sites these days is also a far cry from the Wild West of the early 2000s when companies were just beginning to understand payment processing on the burgeoning World Wide Web.
Odds Shark offers a carefully curated list of the best online poker sites.
Before You Deposit
There are a few things you should know before making your first deposit on an online poker site.
The first thing new players should consider is how much they want to deposit. This can be a very subjective question but most players like to have a bankroll of at least 20 to 50 buy-ins of their game of choice. For instance if a player likes to play $.05/$.10 cash games, then a $50 deposit would be reasonable. Meanwhile a tournament player who likes to play $2.50 buy-in tournaments would also be fine with depositing $50.
Of course this brings us to our second point to make about depositing for the first time: The bonus match. Most online poker sites run a promotion where they will match whatever a first-time player deposits up to a certain amount. Some online poker sites will match up to $1,000 (although players must play a certain number of hands to unlock the bonus).
Because of the deposit match, it behooves players to deposit a slightly larger amount than they usually would. Regardless every player should only deposit an amount they feel comfortable losing.
Methods of Depositing
Credit cards such as Visa and MasterCard are likely the most popular way of depositing on online poker sites.
It’s easy to see why, considering that credit cards are both a safe and incredibly fast way of getting money online. Prepaid credit cards are also a popular way of getting money online.
Most of the major online poker sites allow credit cards but it can vary from region to region. Some of the gray area poker sites do not allow credit cards at all.
It’s slightly more difficult using credit cards in the U.S. but the few states that offer regulated online poker also allow credit card deposit options.
Keep in mind that there are usually small fees involved with credit cards so be sure to do your research to ascertain whether it’s worth it.
Wire or bank transfers are also a popular method of depositing on online poker sites.
Bank transfers are considered one of the most secure methods of depositing because the funds are essentially going from one bank to another.
The issue with bank transfers is that they can be considerably slower than most other forms of payment processing and it can take a significant amount of time to get your money online. Sometimes it can take up to 10 days to process payments. Paper checks can take even longer.
Another issue is that fees are generally quite high with bank transfers.
Despite the negatives, bank transfers are very popular in unregulated markets because it’s difficult for governments to restrict their usage.
Online Payment Services Such as Neteller, PayPal or Skrill
Online payment services like Neteller, PayPal, Moneybookers or Skrill offer a more modern depositing method that can be lightning-fast.
Online payment services generally utilize an online digital wallet where you can store money. Once you have money in your wallet, it’s incredibly easy to make deposits online.
The advantage of many online payment services is that you don’t have to disclose your personal credit information such as credit card number or banking information. That’s why Neteller and similar companies are a great option for players in a region where poker still exists in a gray area of the law.
Fees are generally quite low for online payment services as well. Some companies, such as PayPal, will even waive the fee altogether if the deposit is large enough.
Bitcoin or Other Cryptocurrency
Bitcoin is a brand-new way of depositing on online poker sites.
There are very few online poker sites that allow Bitcoin as a deposit option but it’s an intriguing concept to be sure. Theoretically Bitcoin would allow near-instant deposits and withdrawals as well as anonymity.
The few sites that allow Bitcoin simply accept the digital currency and convert them to cash immediately.
What’s much more common is online poker sites that run entirely on Bitcoin (or similar cryptocurrency) and forgo real cash altogether.
It’s still a relatively new concept and there aren’t many sites in this segment of the market but there will likely be more in the future.
In an ideal world Bitcoin would allow poker sites to have near-instant deposits and withdrawals as well as complete anonymity.
How to Withdraw Funds from an Online Poker Site
You finally got money online and actually managed to win a big tournament or score a huge win in a big cash game session. Now comes the fun part: getting your money.
The first step is finding the cashier option in your poker client of choice. The layouts vary slightly between online poker sites but there should always be a cashier/withdrawal button that’s easily accessible.
Fortunately many of the options that players use to get money online can also be used to withdraw it. Many players also opt for paper checks delivered to their door via courier.
Bank transfers, credit cards and online payment services can all be utilized to get your money back into the real world.
Processing times will vary from option to option so be sure to read your online poker site’s FAQ to figure out your fastest method to withdraw funds.
Many of the bigger sites have been removing withdrawal fees when players use online payment services like Neteller and Skrill, which is a great step for the industry.