You've read the books, you've crushed your home games and you're a billionaire on the play money sites. It's time for the real thing.
There's only one last hurdle: getting cash into your online poker account.
Depending on where you live in the world this can be easier said than done. Luckily for you we're here to take the legwork out of online poker deposits.
We've got up to date and accurate information on all the options and by the time you're done reading this guide you'll know which one is best for you.
Consider Your Country
Restrictions on depositing money to online poker rooms vary widely depending on where in the world you live.
For example, if you're living in the UK or much of Europe, chances are you can make a direct deposit simply by using your credit card.
If you live in the USA, however, things are a little more complicated.
We're going to lay out the tried and true deposit methods for you here, complete with full explanations and suggestions. Once you understand your options you'll be able to make an informed decision about the best way to deposit money to your online poker account.
Visa and Mastercard
Depositing to an online poker room with a major credit card is the first thing you should try. Once you've downloaded the poker room client it only takes a few minutes to give it a shot.
If your card is declined then it's time to explore the other options outlined below.
If your card is declined it isn't (necessarily) because you're over your credit limit. In the US and a few other places banks have placed restrictions stopping you from making purchases from online gambling sites.
Bank Wires and Drafts
Bank wires and drafts are essentially direct transfers from your financial institution to the online poker room. While they have this in common, there are some important differences you should be aware of.
In the US a bank draft is synonymous to a cashier's check, a check guaranteed by the financial institution. Since you put up the money to get the cashier's check, the online poker room knows it's not going to bounce.
Your bank is going to charge you a fee for both a wire and a draft, but the draft is generally cheaper. The downside to a draft is that it must be physically mailed to the online poker room, which could take up to a few weeks.
If you're like us and you hate waiting for anything, let alone poker, the bank wire is the way to go.
A bank wire is an electronic transfer and it's practically instantaneous. You're going to be charged a premium for the convenience, however, so it's up to you to decide whether it's worth it or not.
Speak with someone at your bank to find out more or to set up a wire or draft.
eChecks are a relatively new way to deposit online and some players swear by them.
The concept is a virtual check that works the same way a regular check does.
When you deposit using an eCheck the amount of your deposit is requested from your bank and once the check clears the funds are transferred directly into your account.
eChecks are generally fast although we've heard of certain instances where it can take up to 10 days to get the cash into your online poker account. It's a very secure way to deposit and there is usually no fee involved.
The downside is that the payment method is sometimes blocked by banks in the U.S.
Web-Based Payment Processors
This category includes eWallet services that act as a middle man between your bank and an online poker room.
These services are essentially the same as PayPal and in theory it should be one of the fastest and most secure ways to deposit.
It should be noted there is a high amount of turnover in this segment. Neteller, one of the world's largest online payment processors, was forced out of the U.S. market in 2007 due to legal issues, as have numerous other online payment processors since then.
Here are a few of the current popular ones:
ewalletXpress is quickly becoming one of the most popular eWallets for U.S. players.
Before you can use ewalletXpress you need to set up an account with the payment processor, which should only take a few minutes.
Players can fund their ewalletXpress accounts with Bank Wires, eChecks, Money Orders and XpressFunds.
The major upside of ewalletXpress is that once your account is funded you have 24/7 real time access to it. That means depositing will be immediate.
Another major advantage of ewalletXpress is the fees involved with using the service are very small.
One disadvantage of ewalletXpress is that there is a $150 deposit limit when you first start your account. Fortunately it's possible, over time, to validate your account to accept up to $4,500 deposits.
UseMyWallet is another online payment processor that is unique in that you need an invite to use the service.
How do you get an invite?
You first sign up for an account through an online poker room that accepts UseMyWallet deposits.
It usually takes UseMyWallet about two days to process a request for an invite. Eventually you will receive an email that includes details about how to sign up for the service.
Once it's set up, UseMyWallet can be an extremely fast option to get money on poker sites.
UseMyWallet has a flat $30 fee for all cashouts regardless of size and there is usually a $15 fee from you bank for an international wire transfer.
Moneybookers is another cheap, easy way to send money that is hugely popular in Europe but still not permitted in the U.S.
In a nutshell, Moneybookers is an e-Wallet that is similar to Neteller. Players are given an online account, which can be funded through a variety of different methods.
Once you have cash on Moneybookers it's a very simple process getting the money on poker sites as all the major rooms accept Moneybookers.
Moneybookers charges a 1.9% fee on credit card transactions and withdrawing funds has a 1.80 Euro bank fee.
PicClub.com is unique because it acts as an eWallet but is technically a Players Investment Company, which gets around legal issues in the U.S.
Players can deposit on PicClub.com using a wide-variety of ways including VISA, MasterCard, AMEX and Diners Club.
Unfortunately PicClub is also very fee-heavy. There is a flat one dollar fee assessed on every deposit and another 6% fee by the credit card companies.
The two biggest U.S. rooms - Full Tilt and PokerStars do not allow PicClub.com.
Although most of the rooms don't list it publically on their sites it is sometimes possible to use Western Union to deposit.
Western Union is obviously very secure and quite fast as well. The major issue with the service is that it can be quite expensive and will vary for each transaction.
If you choose to deposit through Western Union you must first let the poker room know and then they will email you the name of a person you can send the money to. Usually this will be a random name in a country like Costa Rica.
The next step is to get Western Union to send money to that name and then it will subsequently end up in your account. The transfer usually goes through in one day.
One benefit of Western Union is that if you like doing things the old-fashioned way you can literally walk into one of their 340,000 locations world-wide and request a cash transfer.
Moneygram is a similar service that generally costs less.
For more local deposit options, check out the Deposit and Withdrawal options at the bottom of the individual review pages below:
The bottom line is that online poker rooms want you to play and if you can't get money on to a site it's worth contacting them through email or phone.
We've heard of rooms offering special methods of depositing for players who exhausted their other options.
Now that you're schooled up on the ways of getting money into online poker get out there and do it. An ocean of fish is waiting for you.
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