The gambling industry has seen enormous growth and change over the last few years, and the much-loved game of poker has evolved considerably. Once a bricks-and-mortar favourite in casinos throughout the 1970s and 80s, it has now become a massive online market – and with so many operators offering video poker options, it can be tricky for punters to choose a site. This guide explains what to look out for when choosing where to play video poker online.
One of the first things to check when browsing casino sites is legal credentials and licensing status. Gambling sites should be licensed by a recognised gambling jurisdiction; this assures you that the operator has been deemed trustworthy in terms of protecting player funds, operating fairly and transparently and promoting responsible gambling. You can usually find licence information (including authority badges) at the bottom of a site's homepage or on its 'About Us' page.
It's important to note, however, that not all gambling jurisdictions are equally rigorous in their processes. If a site has a licence from a respected country or territory like the United Kingdom, Gibraltar or Malta, it will have gone through stricter checks than a site licensed in Curacao, for example.
You should also check a site's security measures. Ensure that it uses a strong encryption system, such as SSL (Secure Sockets Layer) and/or RSA data encryption, which are designed to provide secure communications and keep your personal data safe.
Lastly, check whether the site shows evidence of regular fairness testing – reputable sites should have eCOGRA approval or declare that their systems are subject to regular review by testing organisations like Technical Systems Testing (TST), which specialises in poker system audits and RNG (Random Number Generator) evaluation.
Once you've confirmed that a site is 100% safe and above board, there's the actual fun part: looking at the range of games it offers. A quality casino site will provide a wide range of games to cater for different tastes and levels of strategic proficiency. As a general rule of thumb, the best sites should offer plenty of exciting video poker variants, such as:
A top-notch video poker site should be committed to providing the best possible user experience, and a key part of this is having excellent software. Look for sites that are regularly updated and work with high-profile developers, such as Betsoft (which prides itself on the cinematic 3D graphics in its games) or NetEntertainment, which has produced a number of high-quality video poker titles and won at the eGR B2B Awards consecutively for the past five years.
If a site is powered by excellent software, it's likely to have faster loading speeds, smoother gameplay, superior graphics and fewer bugs. You should also think about how you want to play. Video poker sites usually fall into two main categories: those which offer Flash instant-play in-browser games and those which require you to download a dedicated software client to run from your machine.
There are pros and cons to each, and it often comes down to personal circumstances and preference – for example, those with limited memory on their computer may prefer instant-play browser-based games.
Of course, in today's mobile landscape, another important consideration is smartphone and tablet optimisation for people who want to gamble on-the-go. If you're a keen mobile player, it's obviously advisable to look out for video poker sites that are either mobile-optimised with compatible games, or alternatively for operators that offer a dedicated mobile app.
It's important to consider a site's deposit and withdrawal policies. Generally speaking, casino sites should offer a range of payment methods, including major debit and credit cards, cheque and wire transfer, plus online services like PayPal and Skrill.
Find out how much the minimum deposit is – this will be required by most operators – and whether there are any limits on withdrawal amount and frequency. In general, you should expect payouts to take anything from 48 hours to 7 days to be processed, depending on the payment method.
Lastly, you should always keep an eye out for good deals. Video poker is a competitive market, so sites tend to offer lots of bonuses and benefits to entice players to sign up. Before you pick a site, take some time to compare welcome and first or second deposit bonuses, as this is a good way to kick-start your gameplay while you test out the games on offer.
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