How to Stay Safe Playing Online Poker

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The reverberations of the COVID-19 pandemic have impacted almost every type of business across the world –– and the online casino scene is no exception.

Lockdowns and restrictive measures at the height of the pandemic meant that virtually all brick-and-mortar casinos were forced to close shop to the public at one point or another. Indeed, even as we began to achieve some return to normal this past spring, ReviewJournal.com reported that many of the Vegas casino resorts remained shuttered –– certainly an ominous sign for in-person gaming across the country.

Things have improved since then for in-person establishments. But it should come as no surprise that while casinos were shut down, lots of gamers turned to apps and online platforms rather than abstaining from casino activity altogether. Numerous states reported increasing activity at online casinos, and internet poker in particular was looked at by some as a means of simulating in-person entertainment and socialization online. It’s reached the point that some are forecasting continued growth of online poker in the U.S. even as we continue to work our way out of the pandemic.

Given their 24-hour access and huge game variety, it’s not hard to see the enduring appeal of online poker platforms. At the same time though, those who may new to this type of online gaming may have some concerns about safety and security. Concerns like these are important to address, which is why we’ve written up some key tips to help you on your way.

1 – Research Reviews

Not all poker rooms are created equal. Luckily, word travels quickly on the internet and it’s relatively easy to determine which ones are worth trying out. The process can start with something as simple as searching for reviews of a site you’re considering. This should bring up plenty of recent player feedback for you to look over. Look out for mentions of payout times, deposit and withdrawal processes, and customer service. Meanwhile, if there are no reviews to be found then treat it as a red flag and find a different platform.

2 – Password & Access Safety

When choosing your poker platform, you should first and foremost look out for two-factor authentication –– a process that requires users to log in by verification on two separate devices (rather than just through one password). If a platform requires this kind of security access, it shows that said platform is taking your protection seriously. It’s a strong indication that you can feel good about setting up an account.

Beyond trusting in two-factor authentication though, it’s also important to approach your own password creation with care. Unfortunately, with today’s hackers getting more skilled by the day, using a simple password is no longer adequate. In act, as a NYTimes.com article recommended a few years ago, the safest approach these days is to set up a password manager, which will safely log the different passwords you use for digital platforms. The idea here is that you alleviate the burden of having to store passwords in your memory –– and in doing so enable yourself to design them with far greater complexity.

3 – Use Play Money

If you’re specifically looking to rid yourself of concerns related to deposits and betting, another way to do so is to simply play for free! In online poker, the use of “play money” effectively enables you to play high-quality, multiplayer games with only fake, in-game cash on the line.

Lest you worry that this sort of game will feel less like the real thing, we’ll point out that some of the most reputable poker sites out there support this type of gameplay. Online platforms like Zynga and PlayWPT prioritize free poker. And as a write-up for beginning players on Poker.org points out, even some of the biggest “real” online poker sites “also offer play money games.”

4 – Consider a VPN

One of the greatest benefits to online gaming is that you can play on a schedule that suits you –– whether that’s on the couch after a long day at work, or in the coffee shop at the airport. But you need to be careful when accessing sites on public Wi-Fi, whether you’re playing poker or any other type of game.

Public Wi-Fi services can be easily manipulated, and are typically less secure than your home network. But as we explained in our previous ‘10 Tips to Stay Safe Online’ you can alleviate concerns in this regard by making use of a VPN>. If you’re not familiar yet, a VPN is a program that can be downloaded to your phone, tablet, or laptop that effectively masks your internet activity. This means that whatever kind of online game you’re playing, your personal information is far less likely to be exposed to bad actors.

5 – Switch User

A final, crafty way to add an extra buffer to your gaming activity is to switch to a different profile on your computer when you play. Logging onto your gaming platform from a guest account (one that doesn’t hold admin rights) can prevent outsiders from being able to remotely install malicious programs on your device while you are actively gaming.

So long as you find a reputable platform, online poker itself is quite safe. But it’s still important to take proper precautions like the ones discussed above when engaging in online gaming today.

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