Overall, you're probably not as critical as you should be when it comes to picking your main online poker site.
Chances are you've missed some of the best online poker site reviews that software and bonus deals just because you didn’t study more online poker site reviews before hitting the tables.
Here's the basic thing to keep in mind before you even begin to dig into the wide world of online poker reviews:
When it comes to choosing a poker (or poker sites) to invest your hard-earned time and money in, here's another important thing to remember:
Online poker sites continually NEED new players to keep the online poker eco-system running. As players either lose their stakes or lose interest in the game, poker sites need players to fill those seats. And they're willing to pay you for it.
So new players need to be ruthless in their screening process as they navigate through the multitude of online poker site reviews out there.
But ... in what way should you be ruthless?
A good way to start this "ruthless" process is by reading as many in-depth online poker reviews as you can. And the first thing to seek out in any online poker site review is at least a small level of objectivity.
There are far too many poker review sites out there that are no more than thinly-veiled advertisements paid for by the websites being reviewed. And they will tell you that every poker site is the be all and end all of poker online.
That's obviously not the case. Yes, most poker sites have some assets you can point to that will appeal to some players. But some poker sites are decidedly better than others for specific categories of poker games, from game variety and software to bonuses and rewards.
So please employ a "ruthless" level of critical thinking as read online poker reviews online (this advice is not limited to gambling material).
Once you've determined a review’s objectivity it's worth it to take a closer look at some of the information found within a given online poker review. The most important thing to keep an eye out for?
Good online poker reviews are always loaded with information and no detail should be too small. After all, you're trying to assemble as much knowledge as possible. So don't waste your time reading a review that doesn't cover all the bases.
You should also make sure the online poker review you're reading is current. Online poker sites themselves are constantly updated and regularly offer new features and software updates.
There's no point in reading yesterday's news so always be sure to stay up to date - at least to within a reasonable time frame. It's impossible for a poker site review to be entirely up-to-date on all of its online poker sites. The changes just happen too fast.
But you should get a sense from the review that the reviewer has visited the poker site in the past year or so. Bearing these important distinctions in mind, you'll more than likely find a solid understanding of what a particular poker site can offer you at that point in time.
What really are the key differences between the best poker sites online? Well, that depends almost entirely on what you’re looking for in your online poker experience – i.e. what you feel is most important TO YOU.
You obviously want poker software that works smoothly and runs without glitches. But you also might want to know the exact level of player traffic in your favorite poker variation.
You also likely want to know:
You want to know which poker site has the most tournaments, cash games and SnGs. But you also likely want your opponents to be as weak as possible.
At the top of this page you'll find PokerJunkie's online poker reviews where our editors’ give their top picks for the best poker sites. You might not know this but our reviews ALSO take into account our visitors’ ratings for most top online poker sites.
We try to take all of the extenuating circumstances and relatable criteria for all types of poker players and factor them in to our reviews as best as possible. It's an inexact science, but we do our best to make them as comprehensive and helpful for everyone.
We hope you feel likewise.
If you base your online poker decision on our poker site rankings as listed above we're confident you'll have a great online poker experience whichever site you choose. But since we know different poker players at all stake level look for very different qualities in a poker site, it's almost impossible to say one specific poker site is "the best."
A high-stakes poker player who uses a Mac clearly doesn't look for the same things as a PC owner who wants to play freerolls and cheap satellites to big live events.
The rankings in the online poker reviews at Poker Junkie are an average score weighed on a number of factors;
In general we aim to give the average poker player who plays 5-20 hours a week a general overview of the best places they can invest their poker dollar and get the most in return.
But a poker site's position in our online poker review toplists doesn't tell the whole story, obviously. To truly find the best site for you it's always best to read the full review and sort through the details that matter to you.
For your convenience we always compare the same features in the reviews at Poker Junkie:
All poker sites have some sort of bonus for new players. Some offer a sizeable maximum bonus; others a large match bonus based on your first deposit. The best ones offer both.
In our PokerJunkie reviews we take a deeper look at all the various sign-up bonus offers available as well as the other types of promotions a site might have, such as recurring reload bonuses, refer-a-friend bonuses, freerolls for new players, VIP programs, etc.
If you want to play Texas Hold'em online you can look at any poker site's overall traffic figures and get a pretty good sense of the amount of games going on. If you play Omaha, Stud or any of the less-popular games, the total poker traffic number might be a bit misleading.
In our online poker reviews when we rate the traffic level we look at where and when people actually play at the site. How many are found at cash-game tables? How many play tournaments? How active are the other games besides Hold'em?
We also compare peak traffic hours to show when most players are active.
Rating poker site graphics is pretty subjective. While some players prefer life-like avatars and a live-poker feeling, others look for simplicity and the classic online-poker look. For some it only matters how quickly they can find a seat and whether there's an easy-to-use bet slider.
For others, and increasingly more and more poker players as we turn the pages towards 2020, it's the availability of and usability of an online poker mobile app that's by far their most important criteria for poker software.
Because of this wide range of variation we always try to give an overall picture of how the poker site looks and then let players decide whether or not the site is aesthetically pleasing. But there are still some hard facts we can rate:
There are a lot of different online poker sites out there, each with their own ideas about what functionality and graphics poker software should offer. A lot of poker sites have built or supplied their own in-house poker client while some have chosen to become a "skin," or part of a larger poker network that shares its software and player base across all sites.
Either way there are plenty of software features you'll want to consider when deciding which poker sites to play on.
One of the most important features of great poker software is the graphic interface or the way the site is presented to the player visually. You'll be spending countless hours staring at your online poker table so your poker site software should have a look or atmosphere that is pleasing to you.
You'd be surprised at how tired your eyes get when they're looking at something aesthetically unappealing. Among the most important things to consider are:
For a majority of poker players game variety isn't a major factor when choosing a poker site. Most poker players stick to Texas Holdem and all sites offer Texas Hold'em - and lots of it, both in cash-game and tournament format.
If you want to play another poker variation, though, or maybe just mix up your game once in a while we've looked at the game variety list to see just how deep a poker site's commitment to poker games is.
If you want to play, say, H.O.R.S.E, you better make sure it's offered at a site before you sign up.
There are also dozens of new game variations within Texas Holdem that sites are constantly launching including Jackpot SnGs, Fast-Fold Poker, Hyper Turbos, Bounty tournaments, Double or Nothing, etc, so we also try to take into account how many different formats you can play Holdem in.
Nearly every poker site allows you to take notes on your opposition, which is a key to successful play. Among the many benefits of some sites are being able to add "quick glance" icons to mark a certain type of player and being able to call up full notes at the table whenever you run into a particular player to take advantage of his or her tendencies.
Different poker software programs facilitate note taking and how you can access these notes in different ways, so this is another element to compare when looking at different types of online poker software.
Poker bonuses will give your bankroll a boost but to become a long-term winner you have to find weak opponents. Taking detailed notes on the players you’re up against is essential.
One of the biggest advantages a professional online poker player has over a professional live player is the ability to collect and utilize data in real-time. Online poker sites can provide detailed hand histories and reports that tell you everything that happened in a particular session, from money put in before the flop to percentage of hands won at showdown.
For some poker sites these histories may come in the form of a detailed graphic interface, which makes it easy to observe trends as they happen. Other sites may not have such an elaborate system. Some poker software instantly tracks things like how often you see the flop and how many pots you win at a showdown, others do not.
If data tracking is an important part of your game, and it should be as you improve, match up more frequently with the same players and when you move up in stakes you should be comparing the data collection capabilities of the various poker software clients.
Once you begin to become successful at online poker you may decide to try multi-tabling, or playing more than one table at a time.
Many online poker pros enjoy this feature because it can not only increase your win rate exponentially but it can also make it easier to play tight and lay down non-premium hands as you will usually have action going at another table.
The poker software of different poker sites varies somewhat widely with respect to how they handle multi-tabling, ranging from how many tables you can play at once to how you can organize them on your screen.
The best way to compare poker software features, besides reading online poker reviews, is to play on a variety of sites. All online poker site downloads are free so it doesn't cost you anything to play on multiple sites.
Once you decide which software you like best, feel free to pare down the number of poker sites you play on.
One of the absolute first things to consider when you're looking for an online poker site, of course, is what kind of computer or mobile phone you have. If you're on a PC, you have little to worry about. Every poker site is built to run on PCs so you can pick and choose whatever site you want without thinking twice.
If you have an older, slower computer you may want to stay away from super graphic-intensive poker sites - like the 3D-graphic PKR.com - but otherwise, the poker world is your oyster.
If you have a Mac, your options were a little more limited - although much, much less than they used to be. Several online poker sites now offer a native, downloadable client for Macs, but virtually every site also offers a no download or instant play version that Mac users can play real-money poker on without having to download the full client.
In the past that also meant you'd be getting an "inferior" version of software with reduced functionality, but nowadays the two versions are virtually the same.
In the end, poker players are the real winners when it comes to an increased presence of Mac poker sites as more traffic pays off in better game selection and more competition on the market means better and more perks for players.
Another important consideration is whether you're trying to play from inside the United States. Given the current climate for online poker in the US and legislation passed over the last five years, the poker sites available to US are always in flux.
Check our Online Poker in the USA page for the most up-to-date list of poker sites accepting US players.
An average Texas Hold'em player who wants a decent sign-up bonus, games up to the middle limits and basic software features can choose any top room from our online poker reviews can be very confident they've picked a poker site that will meet almost all of their needs.
If you're more of a poker specialist and looking for specific features like advanced multi-tabling, high-stakes or mixed games and exclusive rewards programs, we recommend you dig deeper into the reviews so you pick a site that offers exactly what you want.
Read our in-depth poker site reviews to get a closer look at all of their pros and cons. With over two decades of experience in online poker our editors will give you a snapshot of each individual poker site that's as accurate and up-to-date as possible.
If you have any objections or suggestions or see any information that has fallen out-of-date, please let us know and we'll update the site review asap.