Online Poker: How not to get cleaned out

How to protect yourself when gambling online from the potential pitfalls of hackers, scammers and shady or illegitimate sites.

Short-handed scams

There is one other potential issue new poker players should be wary of; scammers. Differing from hackers, scammers are people who will try to convince you to give them money, rather than taking it from you directly. This is done in a number of ways.

The most common is by gaining access to someone's instant messenger when playing poker online, and then chatting to that person's friends and asking for a small loan. This is typically done using the same methods for e-mail hacking.

Temporary loans between "friendly" poker players is quite common as it can be awkward to move money around, but you need to be especially careful to check the person you're sending to is who they say they are. Asking them a question only they would know the answer to is a good way to do this.

Scared yet?

While all of this may sound a little scary, the reality is most users will never be the target of any kind of hacking or scamming. It isn't worth the hacker's and scammer's time to target those with a few hundred dollars in their accounts when there are high stakes players with hundreds of thousands.

Nonetheless you can never be too careful. A basic checklist of a virus scanner, firewall and anti-spyware software will go a long way to keeping your system clean and if you're smart at managing your passwords, and not disclosing them, as well as sticking to reputable sites for your online poker, you'll be reasonably protected. Poker is a fun pastime, that can be a great hobby – and sometimes a profitable one – so why not give it a try?

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