Online Poker Funding
When you play online poker, the first decision you will have to make is how to deposit money. In the early days of internet gambling (around 1999), PayPal used to be the most popular money transfer company, but they decided to stop doing online gambling transactions. Later, during the peak years of the poker boom (2002-2006), Neteller was the most popular service. They were reputable, quick, free - and everyone loved them. There were also a myriad of other convenient options to use. Many of them were free - unless the poker site decided to pass along fee. After the Neteller crackdown in 2006, things became a lot more difficult. Many of Neteller's competitors hoped to step in and fill the void that Neteller left, but those other companies have slowly left the market.
Today, finding a reliable funding source takes a bit of time and effort. If you live outside the US you can usually get paid, although the crackdown on the US markets has definitely affected all players around the world. If you live in the US, you will definitely have trouble getting money in and out, but it can be done.
Choosing a Funding Service
- Fees - there are going to be various fees for depositing and withdrawing money. There can range anywhere from 0% on the low end to 10 to 20% on the high end (for low amounts).
- Withdrawal methods - Typically, you will have more options to deposit money than to withdraw. You want to be careful that when you choose an online funding option to deposit money which will also allow you to withdraw it.
- Withdrawal times - In the old days, you only had to wait one day for quick transfers and 3-5 days for slower transfers. Unfortunately, today it is much longer. If you live outside the US, then you may be able to still get your money quickly. If you live inside the US, it may take a couple of weeks to get paid.
- Public companies - In the older days, companies like Neteller were public companies. This meant they were more reputable than unknown money transfer services. You could also check the company's financial records to see the how financially healthy the company was. Unfortunately, with the freezing of Neteller funds by the US government, size doesn't seem to be any kind of protection for your money.
- Reputation - You are better off going with a company that has a good reputation in the gambling community. At the same time, take individual reports with a grain of salt. Even the most reputable companies will have individual customers who claim that the company is a fraud.
- Regulatory risk - Any company that does business with US customers will face the potential risk of being shut down.
- SIGN-UP & ACCOUNT VERIFICATION - After signing up, they will make a couple of micro-deposits to your checking account which you have to verify in order to get your account approved. This one-time process usually takes a few days. Many of the e-wallets will ask you for a copy of your identification (usually either a photocopy of a government-issued ID or utility bill) as proof of address in order to minimize fraud and prevent money laundering.
- BANKS - Some banks are known to block gambling transactions. After the UIGEA as passed, pretty much all of the banks ignored the US government's requests to screen block internet gambling transactions. But as the years passed, many of the banks started flagging certain transactions. For example, many of the players who tried to cash a check at Bank of America, Wells Fargo, or Chase had trouble doing so. Some people think that the smaller banks are better because their smaller operations don't have the resources to monitor transactions. This may or may not be true. You may have to test out some banks on your own. Some people like to set up a completely new account at a bank in order to process internet gambling transactions.
- When you sign-up to a money transfer company, make sure you use the same email address that you use with the online poker sites. If they don't match then your transfer may not go through.
- Expect constant change. Funding companies will come and go. Until another company comes along like Neteller, then there will always be a hodgepodge of different companies servicing the industry. They will also change their rules about depositing and withdrawing. The poker sites will similarly change which funding companies they work with.
- Expect high fees. Ever since the UIGEA money transfer fees have gone up a lot.
- Expect bad customer service - Most of these companies are small companies located offshore so their operations tend to be very inefficient. This is just the way it is. The processes of opening accounts can be cumbersome. For example, after you send in a copy of your personal information, they may claim that they never received it, and you may have to send it in in again. And your customer service inquiries may take a few days to get an answer.
- Be careful about privacy. Don't give out your social security number unless you trust the company a lot. In the old days, the funding companies were operating in the grey area and therefore didn't interact with US, so there was no need for your SSN because they never sent any tax information to the US government or IRS. Although none of the companies do so today, some of the more reputable companies may choose to do so in the future.
- Have multiple accounts
- Don't leave unnecessarily large amounts of money in accounts. There is simply no need to take the risk that you'll have a ton of money frozen for a year if the US government decides to shut a company down. Some poker players had 6 to 7-figure amounts frozen when Neteller accounts were frozen.
- Many poker sites will require you to withdraw your funds using the same method as they were originally deposited.
- Plan ahead. If you need to withdraw money from your online poker accounts, don't wait until 2 days before you need it and expect to get it. Plan ahead at least a week (or even 2) if you are depending on the money.
- Many of the online funding sites will grant you higher transaction limits after a certain dollar amount of transfers have been completed.
- Most poker sites will require you to wait a certain amount of time (such as 48 hours) from your last deposit before requesting to cash out. These days, transferring money (such as processing checks) can be an administrative pain in the ass for poker rooms, so they don't want you constantly depositing and withdrawing money.
One of the things players have done since the crackdown is to trade money with each other. You can go to the more popular internet poker communities and find posts such as: "Have Cake/Carbon, will trade for PokerStars", or "WTS: Moneybookers, will take Amazon". If you do trade with someone, make sure you trade with someone reputable. Also, you may have to give up some money (like 10%) when you are the seller.
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