One of the most fundamental issues for any online business is security – unless clients can trust that the software is providing them with complete security then they will be reluctant to engage in any online transaction, gambling or otherwise. Major online poker sites offer the same protection against hackers that banks do. At PartyPoker, for example, your playing cards, name, address, credit card details, password (and everything else that is transmitted to and from the cardroom) are protected from ‘packet-sniffers’ by the internationally accepted industry-standard SSLv3ffLSv1 encryption algorithm system. Furthermore, your own playing cards are sent exclusively to your computer – no-one else has access to your downcards.
Apart from providing customer security, the other main interface requirements of an online poker site are speed, reliability and an intuitive and attractive design. In the early days of online poker, games were often slow, with players experiencing frequent disconnection problems and having to cope with clunky, poorly designed, unfriendly interfaces. Thankfully, most (but not all) major sites nowadays offer their clients a fast, reliable and intuitive gaming experience. Incidentally, you may notice that sometimes when one site is experiencing Internet problems, several other sites also suffer downtime. There is nothing untoward about this – many poker sites have servers located in the same facility, so connection problems affecting one site are likely to be affecting other sites as well.
Although UltimateBet is one of the only sites to offer its clients the choice of two entirely different interfaces (Standard View and the innovative and attractive MiniView™), most sites do offer drop-down menus to enable you to adapt some elements of the interface to your desire. For example, you may find that for some sites the speed of your connection is improved if you remove the ‘animation’ features using the tabs in the lobby. In addition, some players (myself included) prefer to utilise the ‘four-colour deck’ option where this choice is available. This may enable you to identify the suits quicker and more accurately, especially if you are playing multiple tables and need to be able to distinguish the suits of the cards at a very brief glance.
Nearly all online sites have been designed primarily for the Windows environment. However, Apple Macintosh and Linux users can either choose to play at a site such as Pokerroom.com, where no download is required, or invest in an emulator program such as VirtualPC for Macintosh, which will enable them to access any online site.