Poker

Do You Need a VPN to Play Online Poker?

A VPN sign.

VPN services have grown incredibly popular lately. Whether you need a VPN to play online poker or not depends on your personal preference as well as several external factors. We’re here to help you decide if you should get one or not.

So, why are VPNs becoming increasingly common? What are they, and how can they be useful tools for online poker players? Let’s begin with the basics, starting with what a VPN is and what it does. 

What is a VPN?

VPN stands for “virtual private network.” It refers to any network that uses encryption to create private connections on a public network. In other words, it makes public networks more secure for the end user by protecting your data and disguising your Internet Protocol (IP) address.

Your IP address is a unique identifier that allows connected devices to recognize each other. Every device has a public IP address, which has to be used when accessing any public network. A VPN hides this address from prying eyes, creating an encrypted connection that’s far more secure than a public one.

Aside from a higher level of security, VPNs also allow you to change your physical location without actually leaving your home country. Online gambling is still a contentious issue in many countries around the world and gamers in these regions would have no access to casino games without the services of VPN companies.

The ability to mask your region is highly useful for players with no access to legal gambling in their own country, but these players have to be careful to avoid breaking any laws. When you play poker online for money, you have to take all the rules that apply to your location into account.

Should you get a VPN?

A man uses a VPN on his laptop.

A VPN is beneficial for gaming outside your country of origin. Even if you’re playing in your own country, the added security these services provide is more than worth the asking price. It conceals your online activities completely, allowing you to browse and game without fear of being monitored or becoming a victim of cybercrime.

That being said, a VPN isn’t completely invisible. Governments and casino sites can still detect your connection and they can tell if you’re using a VPN or not. But they won’t be able to access your information or monitor your activities. That will change if you’re doing something illegal, as VPN providers will be all too happy to give up the location information of those who break the law.

How to find and install a VPN

If you want to play online poker with friends and want a secure connection that doesn’t make you vulnerable on public networks, then a VPN is the right choice for you. The same applies to players who want to join games in other countries. However, it’s important to know that real online poker sites don’t always accept the use of a VPN.

Some sites don’t allow for the use of a VPN at all and the mere sight of one is enough to get your account terminated. In addition to this, free VPNs are a lot less effective than their paid counterparts, so there’s a lot to consider when choosing a VPN. 

If you choose a service provider that can fulfill your needs and won’t get you in trouble with the law, your only major concern will be installing it correctly.

When you’re installing a VPN, set it up properly before you access public networks. Allow it to create an encrypted network for the region of your choice, wait for the network to get set up and then connect to it. Confirm that the connection is secure and adjust the privacy settings until you’re comfortable. 

Pay special attention to location settings and connection strength as these will be different compared to if you were connecting without a VPN. For example, in online poker tournaments your location affects everything from entry to speed of play.

You also have to think about regional limitations that come with virtual privacy. For instance, if you’re playing live dealer Texas Hold’em in an online casino, the poker tournament tips that you usually use might not be applicable in another country, so you’ll have to do a bit of research on regional differences in poker variations.

Final considerations

An online poker table on a smartphone.

As we’ve already mentioned, the laws that govern online gambling can vary greatly from place to place. If you decide to install a VPN, the only way to ensure that you’re on the right side of the law is to do your due diligence through sufficient research.

Compare VPN service providers by looking at customer reviews, try out a few trial versions if they’re available and read up on gambling laws that are relevant to your location. Don’t forget to check the casino site’s policy on VPN usage and remember that the price for a premium VPN is worth it in terms of security and peace of mind.

Round out your knowledge base with BetMGM

While you’re deciding on the right VPN for your needs, why not improve your poker skills at the same time? Here at BetMGM we provide tons of extra gaming content in the form of tutorials, guides and more. Register now for access to all the information you need to become a true poker master.