BY RUSS SCOTT
RELEASE: FEB. 21, 2012
Illinois Player Asks: Is It Safe to Play Real-Money Poker Online?
Having grown tired of the free poker games on the Internet, an Illinois player this week asks about switching to real money action on the computer.
Q: Can you tell me if it’s OK to play Bovada Poker for real money online? Is it safe? — John P. in Moline, Ill.
A: That’s the $64 question, isn’t it, John?
When the U.S. Department of Justice indicted the top three poker sites serving U.S. customers last April, the impact was epic. Effectively, online poker in the U.S. came to a screeching halt.
The unresolved legal mess still has an estimated $150 million belonging to U.S. players either inaccessible or missing.
But “America’s Game” wasn’t totally erased from our computer screens. Plenty of offshore sites, including Bovada, still claim to be open for U.S. business.
Sites with names such as Cake, Lock, Carbon, Colt and a host of others still pursue U.S. customers, promising bonuses if they make a deposit.
However, John, before you play for real money online, ask yourself two questions:
* What’s to stop the DOJ from issuing another wave of indictments, perhaps jeopardizing your money account?
The answer: Nothing! Bovada and other sites easily could be targeted by the government and shut down. Think about it: These sites basically are thumbing their noses at the Feds by continuing to operate after the crackdown.
Dodging angry government agents isn’t my idea of a good time.
* Can these smaller sites be trusted?
Even before the shutdown, it took a bit of faith to deposit money onto a foreign-based poker site. By far, most players flocked to the two largest sites, PokerStars and Full Tilt Poker.
They had more games, better customer support and, at the time, good reputations.
Now, with only small sites available, the question of trust is much stickier. I’ve always stayed away from these sites, and I tell players today to do the same. It’s just not worth the risk.
Even an “honest” small site may not be able to provide you a safe service with high customer satisfaction. A site with dependable software, for example, still could present problems or delays cashing out.
“Thanks! Your input is well taken,” you wrote in response to my answer, but I get the feeling you really would like to step past the free games at Bovada and try the money games.
If you do, keep your investment small. Spend time at first just observing the cash games to get a feel for them.
Also, cash out a portion of your winnings regularly in case the site suddenly shuts down and your money is frozen.
Q: At a recent trivia night fundraiser, our team discussed this true-or-false statement: Only two states in the U.S. have no legal gambling. I suggested Utah, and you thought there was one more, so we correctly answered “true”. What are the two states? — Dave H. in Moline, Ill.
A: Utah is one, pardner! Even charity bingo is banned there. The second state, which I couldn’t remember that night, is Hawaii.
Several other states offer minimal action. For example, Vermont and Tennessee have state lotteries, but that’s it. In Wyoming, you can only gamble legally at bingo.
Nevada was the first state to legalize gambling, in 1931.
E-mail your poker questions and comments to email@example.com for use in future columns. To find out more about Russ Scott and read previous LuckyDog Poker columns, visit creators.com or luckydogpoker.com.
COPYRIGHT 2012 RUSS SCOTT
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