Online Poker FAQ

The online poker world can be a strange one indeed. In many ways, starting on your online poker journey is quite simple. However, as you research online poker, you will likely encounter conflicting or dated info. In addition, much of the info you will find will have an inherent bias. Our goal at SafestPokerSites is to give it to you straight. We remember what it is like to be a new player or even an experienced player who may not be proficient in a certain aspect of online poker.

That’s why we are pleased to present you one of the most comprehensive Frequent Asked Questions on online poker, the SafestPokerSites FAQ. In this FAQ, we attempt to answer the most common questions about getting started in online poker, the always vital questions of the safety of online poker as well as the subtle differences in online poker sites. Lastly, get your questions answered on arguably the most important of all — at least for US players — payment processing.

Feel confident that you are getting the right answers to your questions, and if you happen to have any questions that are not addressed by our FAQ, please don’t hesitate to contact us.

Safest Poker Sites Index

Getting Started – A Background on Poker

What is Black Friday?

Black Friday occurred on April 15, 2011. It is when the U.S. Department of Justice indicted online poker sites, operators and payment processors. PokerStars, Full Tilt Poker and Absolute Poker were the targets of the action. PokerStars and Full Tilt Poker left the market immediately. Absolute Poker failed later in 2011. PokerStars bailed out Full Tilt players when it was discovered Full Tilt did not have enough cash to cover U.S. deposits.

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What is the UIGEA?

UIGEA is an acronym for the Unlawful Internet Gambling Enforcement Act. It was a law that passed in October 2006. It was attached to the Safe Port Act. The law made it illegal to process payments for illegal poker sites. The law opened the door for regulated poker and casino games in Delaware, Nevada and New Jersey.

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What is a prop player?

A prop player is paid by the house to help start games. The pay is usually 100% rakeback. Prop players are typically found only at small sites.

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Can I play online poker on a Mac?

Most online poker rooms offer a Mac platform. Those that do not usually offer a java or no download poker version. Players can also run a Windows emulator to run the PC platform at an online poker site.

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What is speed poker?

Speed poker is a new variant that permits players to get dealt as many as 300 hands per hour. This is done because a player that folds is automatically moved to a different table and is dealt in as soon as all seats fill. Most speed poker tables are at No Limit Texas Hold’em and Pot Limit Omaha.

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Can I play online poker on an iPad?

Most poker sites offer an iOS platform.

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Can I play online poker on Android?

Most online poker sites offer an Android platform.

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What is the difference between the PC and app version of a poker site?

Most online poker apps only allow players to play one table at a time. Most features that are available on the PC or Mac version of a poker site are absent from apps. Some sites only spread tournaments and sit and gos on apps. It is common to find Texas Hold’em as the only game on an app version of an online poker room.

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What online poker games are available?

The most popular online poker game is by far No Limit Texas Hold’em. Other popular games include Fixed Limit Texas Hold’em, Omaha, Omaha High/Low, Seven Card Stud and Seven Card Stud High/Low. Some poker sites offer mixed games such as 8-game, 10-game and HORSE mixes. Merge Gaming and PokerStars also offer draw games like Five Card Draw, Badugi, A-5 Triple Draw and 2-7 Triple Draw.

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What is the difference between live poker and online poker?

Online poker rules are similar to live poker rules. The most noticeable difference is that online poker is two or three times faster than live poker. Online poker also offers lower limits, lower rake and there is no dealer to tip. Players do not have to leave the comfort of their own home to play online poker either. Tournaments are often much bigger at poker sites as opposed to live casinos.

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How do poker sites make money?

Poker sites take a percentage of the pot. The rake is usually 5% up to a certain amount, depending on the limit. A micro limit game typically has a cap of $1, while higher limit games cap at a $3 max rake. This is much better than live poker rooms that rake 10% up to $4 or $5. Online poker tournaments usually have a rake of about 10%. This is much more player friendly than the 20-30% that live tournaments take out of the prize pool.

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What is rake?

Rake is how poker rooms make money. Online poker rake tends to be 5% of the pot, where live poker typically rakes 10% of the pot. Tournament rake online is usually 9-10% of the prize pool. Live casinos typically charge at least twice that.

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What is rakeback?

Rakeback is a promotion used by smaller poker sites. It pays players a specified percentage of rake paid back in the form of cash. This money may be withdrawn immediately or added to a poker bankroll.

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What is a poker bonus?

Online poker rooms will offer players first deposit bonuses. These typically match a percentage of a bonus. Players do not usually receive this bonus in cash. There is a point requirement to clear the bonus. Points are typically tied to rake. Most bonuses expire 30-120 days after being accepted and release in certain increments. Make sure to read the Safest Poker Sites reviews and the online poker room’s bonus terms and conditions to understand the exact rules for clearing a bonus.

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What is a bad beat jackpot?

A bad beat jackpot is offered at some online poker rooms. The Winning Poker Network is the only U.S. facing online poker network that offers one. A player must lose four of a kind 8’s or better to release it. An additional rake is taken from the pot to cover this jackpot.

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What is a poker skin?

Most online poker rooms are a member of a network of sites. These individual poker rooms on the network are known as skins. Each network has its own policy on how skins operate. Some skins offer their own banking and support, while others are simply turnkey sites where the network handles everything except marketing. An example is True Poker being a skin on the Winning Poker Network. PokerStars is not a skin because it does not share it players with any other poker room.

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What is a poker network?

A poker network is a group of skins that share cash games and tournaments. You can view more info in our poker network reviews.

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Are online poker winnings taxable?

This depends on what country the player resides. Most countries do not tax recreational gambling winnings. The United States is an exception. Players in the U.S. are expected to declare all gambling winnings on their tax returns.

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Do you also review online casinos?

Yes and you can view our list of Safest Online Casinos or our page specifically for US Casino Sites. We also have a sister site fully dedicated to online casinos with the most up-to-date information at – SafestCasinoSites.com.

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Do you review Las Vegas poker rooms?

Yes, our lead content writer lives in Vegas and frequents many of the card rooms. You can find his full reviews on the Las Vegas poker rooms page.

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Where were the first online poker rooms located?

The first online poker rooms were run out of basements or in small countries in the Caribbean and Central America.

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How easy is it to make money at online poker rooms?

It takes skill and luck to make money at online poker. Don’t expect to win every time. On the other hand, if you study the game and become skillful at it, you will greatly increase your chances of winning.

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What are the easiest poker games to win money at online?

While No Limit Hold’em is the easiest poker game to find on the internet, we feel that Omaha and Stud games are easier to beat. This is due to the lower number of experts at these games.

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How do I determine a proper bankroll for online poker?

The best rule for poker bankroll is to have 100 buy-ins. This means that a $5 tournament player should have $500. A cash game player at $.05/$.10 where the maximum buy-in is $10 should have $1,000.

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What was the first online poker room?

Planet Poker was the first online poker site. It opened in 1998 and closed in 2007.

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Online poker peaked before the UIGEA took PokerStars, Full Tilt and Absolute Poker out of the U.S. market in 2011. There are still dozens of poker sites available with PokerStars being the largest.

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Do poker sites offer games other than poker?

Yes. Most poker sites also spread casino games and a sportsbook.

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Do U.S.-friendly online poker rooms only have Americans on them?

Most poker sites that accept Americans have players from other countries at the same tables. The exceptions are the regulated poker sites in Delaware, Nevada and New Jersey.

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Online Poker Safety

Is online poker safe?

Not all online poker sites are safe, but most are. That is why we built this website. Some online poker sites have failed over the years without paying players.

Lock Poker was a scam site that operated years after it paid any players, hustling deposits from unsuspecting victims. Lock Poker eventually failed, stiffing players of $15 million.

That does not have to happen to you. Read our reviews from top to bottom to discover which online poker sites are safe and which are not.

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Where are online poker sites licensed?

Most online poker sites hold a license from a gaming commission. Some are better than others. The best online gaming commissions are Isle of Man, Alderney, UK, and Gibraltar. The Kahnawake Gaming Commission has been around since the 90’s and gets mixed reviews, mostly because it licensed Absolute Poker and Ultimate Bet during their cheating scandals. Safest Poker Sites feels that Curacao and Malta are two gaming commissions that are simply ISPs and do not hold any enforcement power.

There are some gaming commissions that only oversee local or regional gaming. These include the Nevada Gaming Control Board, the New Jersey Division of Gaming Enforcement, ARJEL in France, and IAGR in Italy. These gaming commissions oversee the action only within the borders of their state or country.

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There is no federal law against playing online poker. Louisiana, Utah and Washington have laws that make it illegal to play the game. Nobody has ever been convicted of playing online poker in these states or any other.

Delaware, Nevada and New Jersey passed laws that legalized and regulated online poker. There are licensed sites that operate in these states.

You can read more in our articles about the US Poker laws.

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Are online poker sites rigged?

There are some players that feel that online poker sites are rigged due to the bad beats. This perception may come from the faster speed of online poker compared to live games. It may also be due to the lower limits played at online poker sites. This causes looser play than higher limit live games where players chase draws more often. This may make it seem like the cards are juiced to generate more action than normal. Regardless, no site has ever been caught dealing rigged cards despite the best efforts by the “poker is rigged” crowd to prove otherwise. In other words, online poker is not rigged.

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Can I play online poker on VPN?

Never attempt to play online poker on a VPN. That is because of the connection is not local to your registered address or country, the poker site may wish to audit your account if it gets flagged in this way. If you are caught playing from a banned country, you could be forced to forfeit all funds.

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Are shuffles random or audited?

All legitimate poker software is audited by a third party to ensure that the random number generator is programmed correctly.

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Can I set loss limits at a poker site?

Yes. Most online poker rooms will allow a player to set deposit limits for a day, week and month.

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Can I opt out at a poker site?

Yes. Most poker sites will allow you to temporarily close your account. This can be done in the cashier. The player can usually set the number of days to do so.

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Where do I go if I think I have a problem with playing poker?

Gambling addiction is a serious issue. If online poker is no longer fun and you are spending money you cannot afford to lose, it is time to stop. Contact Gamblers Anonymous.

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How risky are U.S. poker sites?

There is always a small risk at playing at offshore poker sites from the United States. Always make sure to read our news updates and reviews to find the safest poker sites. Poker sites in regulated states are as safe as bricks-and-mortar casinos.

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How risky are non-U.S. poker sites?

There is little risk in playing at non-U.S. poker sites. Most sites are licensed by the same gaming commissions that oversee casinos.

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What does the future hold for U.S. poker legislation?

Unfortunately, there has been no movement for online poker legalization in the U.S. since 2013. It seems highly unlikely that will change anytime soon. Pennsylvania is the favorite to become the next state to do it.

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How can I make sure I deposit safely?

Generally speaking, depositing an online poker room is safe. Take a look at the poker room’s reputation as well as current cashout times. Check for poker rooms that offer many options available, should one payment method have issues, so you can always move to another. Our payment processing reports and safety scores are helpful in making these decisions.

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Why should I trust your reviews and scores?

Online poker experts maintain Safest Poker Sites. They have spent decades playing online poker and monitoring the industry. We have an excellent reputation and our editors have a long and respected record watching the industry. We should note that we are an affiliate site and we get paid by poker rooms for referrals. However, we make it our mission to not let this fact affect decisions that could negatively impact our users.

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What are the most common practices of a scam/failed site?

A scam or failed site will reveal itself with slow cashouts. Check out our cashout reports for rooms you have concerns about. Besides slow cashouts, other symptoms of failed poker rooms include:

  • Declining traffic.
  • Terrible software that hasn’t been updated forever.
  • Slow and bad customer service.
  • Sometimes promotions that are too good to be true.

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How often have legitimate sites turned into scam sites?

Though very rare, some legitimate poker rooms can end up failing, even if they didn’t intend to be a scam. A recent notable example is PKR, which Alderney regulated and ring-fenced markets. Most online poker rooms regulated by reputable jurisdictions (Isle of Man, Gibraltar, U.S. and European countries) are strictly regulated and require segregated player funds.

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What do I do if I think a site is rigged?

If you think a poker room is rigged, you can contact us to discuss your concerns. You can also post on a poker forum, like reddit.com/r/poker or TwoPlusTwo. Fair warning, however, claiming that a poker room is rigged is usually met with extreme skepticism – and often mockery — from other players.

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What do I do if I think the site is a scam?

If you think an online poker room is a scam, you can first check out our online poker reviews to see what we say about the safety of an online poker room. A quick google search can also sometimes quickly tell you whether a given online poker room is a scam. When doing your research, you should note that online poker players severely overuse the term “scam”. A poorly run online poker room is not usually scam, even though all scam poker rooms are poorly run (obviously). If you think you have encountered a poker room that has treated you unfairly or is a scam, please let us know so we can address your concerns.

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Is it safer to play poker online or at brick and mortar poker rooms?

It depends. The occasional online poker rooms have had such issues such as super users and bankruptcy (resulting in the loss of player funds). There are also safety issues that can mar a brick and mortar room such as collusion and card marking. If a reputable jurisdiction regulates the games, you can consider both online and live poker as very safe. For online poker rooms catering to the U.S. — who often don’t operate under strict regulations — it’s hard to argue that these rooms are safer than their brick and mortar counterparts. With that said, many U.S. online poker rooms have proven to be safe for well over a decade.

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Can I start an online poker site?

The answer to this depends a lot on your location. For people located in the United States, you could run into trouble, but be sure to check your local laws and regulations. The easiest way that small time business owners start an online poker room is through “skins” on a network. Although less popular than it once was, networks such as iPoker and Microgaming provide entrepreneurs a way to enter the market at a lower cost than starting from scratch. The market is very competitive these days.

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About Online Poker Sites

What are the easiest poker rooms?

The easiest poker rooms tend to be tied to sports books. In the United States, that is all of them. At that point, the next step is to consider is the site does to discourage professional play. Ignition Casino does the most to discourage this type of action.

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What are the best cash games for U.S. poker players?

Ignition Casino and BetOnline offer the best cash games for U.S. players. This is due to the lack of rakeback and high number of sports bettors.

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What are the best U.S. online poker rooms for tournament players?

Ignition Casino and the Winning Poker Network are the best options for U.S. poker tournament players. Ignition Casino offers a weekly $100,000 guaranteed tournament and many other set prize pools daily. Winning Poker offers a $1 million guaranteed tournament several times a year.

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What is the largest U.S. poker site?

Ignition Casino is the largest U.S. poker site. It is a member of the Bodog Poker Network. It was once known as Bovada.

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What poker room has the best VIP program?

The Winning Poker Network’s Elite Benefits is the best VIP program.

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What poker rooms offer fast fold poker?

Most major poker networks offer fast fold poker. These include PokerStars, Microgaming, iPoker and Ignition Casino.

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How many tables can I play at the same time?

This depends on the poker site. You will be able to play at least four cash games at any poker site. Some do not have any limit on the number of tables you can sit at any given time.

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Can I play online poker with my friends?

Online poker player friends may enter the same tournaments. Most sites will prevent friends from sitting at the same cash game table if there is enough association between the two accounts. This includes sharing IP addresses or payment processing information.

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What are the maximum stake levels at poker sites?

Each site determines the highest limit available. At most sites, it is at least 3/6 for no limit games and 10/20 for limit games. The largest sites have tables with blinds of $100 or higher.

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What is the minimum stake level at poker sites?

Most poker sites offer $.01/$.02 blind games. Those that don’t will start at $.02/$.04.

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What is the best time of the day to play online poker?

The games at online poker rooms tend to be better late at night and on Sunday afternoons.

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What is the safest U.S. poker site?

BetOnline is the safest poker site. It has a long history of paying its poker players.

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Which U.S. poker site has the juiciest games?

Ignition Casino is home to the juiciest poker games.

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Why does Ignition Casino have the juiciest online poker games?

Ignition Casino does not permit tracking software. Players must take an available seat as opposed to using a wait list. Another feature at Ignition Casino is that it all players are anonymous. This keeps loose players from being followed from table to table.

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Which poker site has the best rake?

All poker sites use the same rake schedule these days. It is one cent for every 20 cents in the pot. The cap is usually $3, except for those that give breaks to micro limit games where the maximum rake taken is usually $1 or $2.

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Which poker site has the best rake?

All poker sites use the same rake schedule these days. It is one cent for every 20 cents in the pot. The cap is usually $3, except for those that give breaks to micro limit games where the maximum rake taken is usually $1 or $2.

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Which poker rooms have enough traffic for action?

The largest poker rooms are PokerStars, 888 and iPoker. Players outside the U.S. will find the most action at Ignition Casino, Winning Poker and BetOnline.

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What types of player rewards programs are offered?

Most sites have a VIP program. The value of it varies greatly. VIP programs are usually paid based on the amount of rake taken from the pot.

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Which U.S. poker networks still offer rakeback?

The two U.S. poker networks that offer rakeback are Winning Poker and Horizon Poker.

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Online Poker Deposits

What are the easiest poker sites to deposit at?

The easiest poker sites to deposit at are typically related to sportsbooks. This includes BetOnline and Intertops. Another key to look for is the acceptance of American Express. This often means the site has a great payment processor.

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Can U.S. Players deposit by credit card?

All poker sites accept credit cards. The acceptance rate varies greatly from one company to another. Most U.S. online poker sites accept Visa deposits and Mastercard deposits. Most credit cards are declined at offshore sites. The solution is to use an international prepaid debit card. Some sites will also process American Express and Discover.

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Can U.S. players deposit by debit card?

Poker sites accept Visa and Mastercard debit cards.

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How do credit card deposits work?

The player must enter his name, address, credit card number and security card. The site will then verify the player’s identity and validity of a credit card.

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Is an online poker credit card deposit processed as a purchase or cash advance?

It depends on the site. Regulated poker sites charge a credit card as a cash advance. Offshore sites process payments as a purchase.

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What is a credit/debit card authorization form?

Poker sites require a player to fill out a form that proves ownership of the card before receiving a withdrawal. This requires an image of the front and back of the credit or debit card, as well as a signature.

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How do I make an online poker Western Union deposit?

There are two ways to make a Western Union deposit for online poker. The first step for both is to contact the poker site to find out the receiver and his location. One way is to go to an agent location with cash. These are usually grocery and checking cashing stores.

There is a form to fill out to send money that requires information about you and the receiver. Depositors that wish to use a bank transfer, credit or debit card must use Westernunion.com to initiate the transfer. There is a web form to fill out that asks for the same information. Once the transaction is approved, contact the site with the money control number.

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How do I make an online poker Moneygram deposit?

MoneyGram deposits works the same way as Western Union. The poker site will provide a name and location for the receiver. Take that information to a MoneyGram retailer or go to the Moneygram.com website and include your information as well as the receiver’s name and location. MoneyGram will provide a reference number that the poker site needs to pick up the money.

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Is there a way to play online poker with Bitcoin deposits?

Most U.S. poker sites accept Bitcoin. These include BetOnline, Ignition Casino, Intertops and the Winning Poker Network.

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What is the smallest online poker deposit I can make?

The minimum deposit at a poker site varies. It is often in the $10 to $25 range. It may be as high as $50.

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What is the smallest online poker deposit I can make?

The minimum deposit at a poker site varies. It is often in the $10 to $25 range. It may be as high as $50.

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How long do online poker deposits usually take?

Most online poker deposits are instant. Some Bitcoin and cash transfer take as many as four hours to process.

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How long do online poker withdrawals take?

It depends on the type of withdrawal. Bitcoin and ewallet withdrawals are typically processed in less than a day. Cash transfers arrive within a few days. Checks and bank wires may take anywhere from a week to a month.

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Are there any fees associated with deposits?

There may be a fee of around 5% when using a credit card. Some Bitcoin deposits have a 1% fee. Cash transfers can cost as much as 10%, however sites may cover that fee on deposits of $250 or more.

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Are there fees associated with withdrawals?

Most withdrawals made by online poker players will incur a small fee. The exceptions are Bitcoin withdrawals at Ignition Casino and Intertops. Most other online poker rooms charge a fee of about 2% for withdrawals. Checks and bank wires often have a fee of about $50. Cash transfer fees will often be in the range of 10% to 15%. Some sites may offer a free check withdrawal once per month or year.

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Is there any risk in making an online poker deposit?

The main risk behind making a poker deposit on the internet is what happens at the tables. Otherwise, the same security protocols are used by gaming sites as any other online merchant.

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Are there any online poker ewallets for U.S. players?

The only ewallets available for online poker players are at regulated sites in Nevada and New Jersey.

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Which ewallets do Nevada and New Jersey players have available?

Online poker players in those two states may use Skrill, Neteller and PayPal.

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What are the best ewallets for players outside the U.S.?

Neteller, Skrill and PayPal are the best online poker ewallets available to players outside North America. Canadian players will find more success with credit cards, debit cards and bank transfers.

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Can U.S. players use electronic checks for poker deposits?

Only players in Delaware, Nevada and New Jersey may use a bank account to directly fund a poker account. This is widely available to players in other countries.

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Do poker sites require documentation to play?

No. Most sites will not require a document be signed to play. There are exceptions that include when a site is unable to verify a player.

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Do poker sites require documentation to play?

No. Most sites will not require a document be signed to play. There are exceptions that include when a site is unable to verify a player.

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Are bonuses credited when I make a deposit?

A first deposit or reload bonus appears in the player’s bonus account when making a deposit and using a proper bonus code. Players must clear these bonuses by paying a certain amount of rake that is typically in the range of 20-25% rakeback.

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How do I use a bonus code when depositing?

The poker site’s cashier will have an optional section marked “bonus code” on the deposit screen. This is where the bonus code goes. There may be no need for a bonus code on a first deposit. Make sure to read the poker site’s promotions page to see if one is required to claim a bonus.

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