Online privacy has gained an enormous amount of attention in recent years. Casual web surfers and serious internet fanatics alike are taking strong measures to secure their identity and keep their browsing habits hidden from snooping third parties. The world of online poker is always under extra scrutiny. With so many suspicious eyes looking your way when you play online poker, especially if you’re trying to play while abroad, it’s a good idea to protect yourself with a safe and reliable virtual private network (VPN) service.
What are the Best VPNs to Play Online Poker Abroad?
- Subscribe to one of the VPNs in this guide.
- Download and install the VPN’s client software.
- Connect to a VPN of your choice.
- Now you can enjoy unrestricted access to any websites with a strong encryption.
Note about VPNs and Playing Online Poker
VPNs are useful tools that add a measure of online privacy, anonymity, and location variability to your online activities. They do not, however, exempt you from local laws. Every country has regulations governing online poker and online gambling. Each state in the U.S. also has its own set of rules. Even if you’re able to cross borders and state lines through virtual means, you’re still bound by the laws of your current location.
Virtual private networks are best used to keep your identity masked from other players, ISPs, and even hackers. They’re also perfect for accessing games while abroad. Always remember that if it’s illegal to play online poker in your current location, using a VPN to bypass that restriction is still breaking the law. Keep this in mind when doing anything on the internet with your VPN, not just playing poker. Always stay safe, and always obey the local laws.
Evaluating the Best VPN to Play Online Poker
When looking for a VPN to use while playing poker online, one thing should be at the very top of your list: privacy. And not just the normal amount of privacy, either. You want a VPN that takes its privacy policies seriously. Trust is a major factor in this, as there are few guarantees that a VPN service isn’t collecting and selling user data in secret. For this reason, you should limit your potential VPN pool to only the most reliable and well-respected services in the market.
We’ve made the process simpler for you by providing a handful of VPN recommendations below. All of them have been in business for years, and are trusted by tens of thousands of customers a month. We used the following criteria to rank them so you’ll be guaranteed the smoothest and most secure VPN experience possible.
- Logging policy – Online privacy begins and ends with a VPN’s logging policy. Data sent through the VPN’s network can be catalogued and stored, just like any internet service provider. Those logs can fall into the wrong hands or even be sold to third parties. To make sure your activities stay safe, only use VPNs that have a strict zero-logging policy against traffic. Anything else and your privacy is at risk
- Payment methods – How you pay for a VPN can make or break your online anonymity. Using a credit card or PayPal account links your identity to the VPN, making it possible to track activity back to you. To be as safe as possible, go with VPNs that allow cryptocurrency payments such as bitcoin
- Device compatibility – Online poker is chiefly a browser based experience, but there are smartphone apps that let you play through the internet, as well. To make sure you’re safe no matter how you play, choose a VPN that offers custom software on as many platforms as possible
- Speed – VPNs are, on average, a little slower than standard internet connections. Top-quality VPNs have developed workarounds for this limitation and can provide excellent download speeds without sacrificing privacy
- Traffic restrictions – Some VPNs block P2P networks, torrent traffic, and other types of connections. Keep your internet open and free by selecting VPNs that never monitor or restrict their traffic
ExpressVPN hits a wonderful balance between feature-rich and easy to use. The service’s custom apps for all modern desktops, laptops, tablets, and smartphones include everything you need for quick access to the fastest connections. With just a few taps you can change servers, perform speed and latency tests, or configure your app for stronger protection. The software also includes DNS leak protection as well as an automatic kill switch, both features that ensure your real identity and location stay safe no matter what. This is backed by 256-bit AES encryption along with a strict zero-logging policy on all traffic, DNS requests, and IP addresses.
Speed is definitely ExpressVPN’s most laudable feature. The company operates a network of 145 servers in 94 different countries. It’s a smaller collection than some VPNs, but the speed test results hit consistently higher than the competition, especially if you live in a metropolitan area. If you have a Windows, Mac, or Android device, you can even check speed and latency scores from within the app, making it easy to grab the fastest connection.
More features from ExpressVPN:
- Excellent anonymity features to retain an open and private internet connection, even in censorship-heavy countries like China and Turkey
- Accepts bitcoin payments through BitPay for easy and anonymous subscriptions
- No restrictions on bandwidth, P2P network downloads or torrent traffic
- Consistent and reliable access to Netflix streams
IPVanish knows a thing or two about staying invisible online, even while playing poker or gambling over the internet. The VPN service delivers solid 256-bit AES encryption, a zero-logging policy on all traffic, an automatic kill switch and DNS leak protection for desktop users. These features come with access to one of the largest networks in the VPN industry, an impressive 850 servers in 60 different countries. These nodes also have over 40,000 shared IP addresses between them, which makes online anonymity even easier to achieve.
No matter what you’re using the internet for, IPVanish will keep your identity and activity safe. On top of the privacy features above, this provider delivers incredibly fast connection speeds, unlimited bandwidth, and no file type or traffic restrictions of any kind. You can also pay with bitcoins for an added layer of anonymity!
IPVanish features at a glance:
- Secure servers with fast connection speeds for incredible HD video streaming through Kodi
- Lightweight custom software for Windows, Mac, Linux, iOS, and Android devices
- Download movies and TV shows through BitTorrent with full anonymity
NordVPN is one of the most well-established VPNs in the business. The company has been around for years, gathering a loyal following of customers who appreciate the service’s stellar download speeds and diversified network of nodes. With NordVPN you get access to a staggering 1,081 servers in 61 different countries, a number that’s constantly on the rise. This ensures you always have the fastest connection with the lowest latency possible, no matter where you’re connecting from. NordVPN backs these servers up with unlimited bandwidth and no restrictions on P2P or torrent traffic.
Privacy is also NordVPN’s strong suit. All of your streaming, surfing, and online gaming activities will be secured with 256-bit AES encryption and backed by a zero-logging policy that covers everything from traffic to time stamps, bandwidth logs, and even IP addresses. Custom software also provides access to DNS leak protection and an automatic kill switch to keep you safe even in the event of a disconnect. And finally, NordVPN allows all plans to be purchased and renewed with bitcoin through BitPay for extra anonymity.
More of NordVPN’s top features:
- Specialized servers that offer unique features such as faster P2P downloads, double encryption, onion routing, and DDoS protection.
- Private access to the internet, even in countries like China, Russia, and Turkey.
- Reliable streaming Netflix streams, even when other VPNs are blocked.
- Lightweight apps for Windows, Mac, Linux, Android, iOS, and more.
When privacy is your top priority, VyprVPN is probably the service for you. The most notable feature is the fact that VyprVPN owns and operates its entire network of servers, over 700 in 70 different countries. Not only is this an impressive number of locations to choose from, but it also ensures your data is never accessed by outside parties. VyprVPN backs this up with an excellent zero-logging policy against DNS requests as well as traffic, keeping your information safe on multiple fronts.
Another fantastic feature offered by VyprVPN is the Chameleon protocol. Chameleon takes encrypted packets of information and scrambles their metadata in a new layer of encryption, making it nearly impossible to determine the source or the destination. This helps defeat deep packet inspection, which is commonly deployed by ISPs to throttle VPN connections as well as governments that censor their internet (China, Turkey, Russia, etc.). With Chameleon in place you can crack the web open and browse with complete privacy and anonymity.
VyprVPN also includes the following:
- Anonymous and private web browsing and online gaming in countries around the world
- Excellent custom apps for Windows, Mac, Linux, Android, and iOS smartphones
- Unlimited bandwidth and no restrictions on P2P traffic or torrent downloads
PureVPN is an established, reliable, and private VPN service, but it also offers a host of other features that help it stand apart from the competition. The desktop versions of PureVPN’s custom software have a built-in ad-blocker, web filtering options, malware protection, even anti-virus scanners, all in addition to the encryption measures provided by the VPN. PureVPN wants to make it as easy as possible to stay safe online, which is perfect for frequent poker players or travelers abroad.
Privacy features offered by PureVPN start with 256-bit AES encryption and a strict zero-logging policy on all traffic. Your identity and real location are kept safe through DNS leak protection as well as an automatic kill switch. And when it comes time to choose a server, PureVPN lets you pick from over 750 in 141 countries, all of which are owned and operated by the same company!
PureVPN’s best features at a glance:
- Advanced features include anti-virus protection, web filters, and anti-phishing measures
- Custom-built apps for Windows, Mac, Linux, Android, iOS, and even Chromebooks
- No restriction on torrent or P2P traffic and completely unlimited bandwidth
- Unlimited server switching and five simultaneous connections
Tips to Remain Anonymous Online
The world of online poker can be a frightening place. Thousands of sites and games have been created by scammers to lure new players in and take their money. This can be as straightforward as copying your payment details and stealing money from your account, or it could be as subtle as skimming a little money off of your winnings or setting up rigged games. Either way, you can stumble into some serious problems when you play poker online. In addition to using a VPN, follow these tips below to stay safe.
- Limit your activities to popular sites – Sometimes it seems there are as many online poker sites as there are people eager to play. Not all of them are legitimate, however. Stick to well-known websites (see below) and avoid even slightly suspicious links or locations
- Avoid free VPNs – Free VPN services claim to offer fast speeds and strong privacy, but the reality is they deliver neither. In fact, many free VPNs have been caught collecting and selling user information. If you’re going to play online poker, invest in a good, paid service
- Pay for your VPN with bitcoins – Using a credit card or PayPal account to pay for your VPN creates a paper trail. If you want to step up your anonymity, pay with a cryptocurrency
Where to Play Online Poker
With your reliable VPN active and running in the background, you can now head out and start playing poker, even while abroad. Below are just a few of the thousands of poker websites on the internet. They have a good reputation and have been around for years, making them some of the best places to go when you need to get in a quick hand or two.
- Winning Poker Network – A well-established online poker network that’s been in business for over 15 years. Its flagship site is America’s Cardroom, though there are other skins that let you play through the same network with a different style. Look for the “Powered by WPN” logo at the bottom of a page to make sure you’re on a registered site. Available in most U.S. states.
- Ignition – The poker network with the largest player pool in the U.S. Residents of every U.S. state except New York, New Jersey, Nevada, Delaware and Maryland can use Ignition’s site for online games, and new players get a substantial welcome bonus for playing their first hand.
- Poker Stars – In business for nearly two decades, Poker Stars caters to international card fans outside of the U.S. The network strictly forbids VPN use if you live in the United States and set your virtual location outside of the country, but for anyone else looking for an excellent online poker game, Poker Stars is the place to go.