Surely, you know what you like and what you need, especially when it comes to playing poker. You're probably registered at some poker site and feel pretty content with what you get there. But if you're always on the lookout for a new experience, you might want to know what's on offer at other free poker sites. It can be something as great as a type of poker you haven't played online yet or something as inconsequential as avatar animations. It doesn't matter which fad is in, there are quite a few poker sites out there that can meet your needs and satisfy your every whim. You can afford to be picky.
Also, while there are millions of people bluffing away online, poker sites remain a mystery for the millions of novice online players that have no idea what to look for. They know they want to play poker, they know some big industry site names, but feel uncertain about which poker software will suit them. If you're one of these newbies, you can shy away from the whole thing and just pick any site that comes out first in the search engine, OR you can check out our ratings and make a sensible choice.
A couple more words about our ratings:
So what to look at when picking an online poker site and software?
First of all it's important to establish if you're ok with downloading and installing poker software. There's nothing wrong with doing it, but if you often play from different locations, it's more convenient to find a site that offers in-browser games. Keep in mind that, while offering in-browser gameplay, some sites substantially cut off the functionality of such no-download software versions: You'll get to play the actual game, but some features you loved may be unavailable.
More and more sites are adding Mac and Linux to the list of operational systems that their software is compatible with. It's the same story with their mobile apps that allow using your existing account for playing poker on the go. But you better check if you can run the app on your iOS or Android device. Also, if you really like a particular site but it doesn't offer the client you prefer, check back later: things tend to change pretty quickly these days.
Busy sites are usually proud of their huge traffic because, for a player, it means available tables and opponents 24/7. But at smaller sites you can easily get acquainted with other players and agree to meet up at specific times. Or simply bring your friends and form your own poker table.
That's the trickiest of all, because you'll need to get to the core of things to figure out if you like the site or not. This means downloading their software or registering to run it in your browser. Have a look at our pages with software and poker room ratings to get an idea of what to expect at the listed sites, but of course it's you who gets to make the final decision.
If you want just the game with minimum communication, avoid poker rooms that offer a lot of social features. Many players complain that they get distracted by animated avatars, live chats and other seemingly fun things, so if you're one of those, then it’s best to go to simplier sites. But if you like playing with settings, improving your user area, and taking advantage of every little customizable feature, there are poker sites where you'll totally get this. Besides, you can often tell what your opponent is like based on what his avatar looks like and what he says, so don't write off those features too quickly.
Other important characteristics are multi-tabling and the speed of software. If you’re generally a fast and aggressive player, you'll probably be bored staying at just one table. Check how many tables you can play simultaneously and see if the software lags when you opt for multi-tabling. Remember that it also depends on the speed of your computer.
If you consider playing real-money poker, make sure you start with play money to get the feel of the site, because software platforms can differ greatly. You don't want to accidentally confirm some ridiculous bet amount or type something private into a live chat box just because you didn't know that this site requires a single click instead of a double.
Chances are there is no such thing as "the ultimate poker site" – a poker room that will be better than all the rest in every possible way. You'll probably end up keeping accounts at 2-3 sites, and that's ok! Just keep checking for new things in the industry and be open to trying them out! Classic poker will always be good, but modern technology can definitely make it more exciting!