Understanding the situation regarding online poker in America can be somewhat complicated, but that shouldn’t impede your enjoyment of playing at US poker sites. There are dozens of great sites to choose from, offering you the ability to play your favorite poker games in a safe, secure, and fun online environment. We’re here to help you find the one that is perfect for you.
Our Recommended Online Poker Rooms
Here is a list of the best online poker sites that have been reviewed and tested by our iGaming experts:
BetOnline Poker100% up to $1,000
Ignition Poker150% up to $1,500
Americas Cardroom Poker100% up to $1,000
Intertops Poker200% up to $1,000
Bovada Poker100% up to $500
Finding Legit, High-Quality US Poker Sites
To get started playing poker online, you have to first sign up to a site that you can trust. These are the important aspects that you should consider when browsing the best US poker sites:
- Licensed by well-known gaming commissions: Always look for a license from a jurisdiction known for handling online casinos and poker sites. If you can’t find the license’s seal (which should be located along the bottom navigation bar), it’s best to avoid the site.
- Secure websites: Only play at US poker sites that have SSL encryption, which ensures that all of your data is completely safe. You can tell if this is the case when the address bar says “https” rather than “http”.
- First-rate software: Ensure that the site you register with runs on a well-known poker network, such as Microgaming. There are also many sites that use in-house software, and you can find out which ones are the most reliable by browsing reviews.
- Reliable cashouts: The first sign of a US poker site that is not legit is when there are complaints about payouts. Always read reviews to find out whether the site you’re considering has any issues with processing player withdrawals.
You can find out all of this information simply by doing a bit of research. You should be able to find out about licensing, banking, and software quality by browsing player forums and professional reviews to get a good idea of which sites are most worth your registration.
On player forums, you’ll be able to get opinions from people who have been playing at specific sites for a while. You can get to know what they think about the software and if there are any specific issues that are encountered often.
Professional reviews also provide exceptional insight, as they come from experts who have experience with dozens of US poker sites. They’ll be able to dig deep into the site’s operations to let you know how every in-and-out will affect your online gaming experience.
Making Your Online Poker Experience an Enjoyable One
Of course, once you’ve gotten past all of the safety and security mumbo-jumbo, you’ll want to start enjoying yourself playing poker online. To ensure that you have the most fun possible, these are important aspects that you should consider:
Bonuses Available at US Poker Sites
Online poker operators are happy to reward players with the opportunity to take part in fun promotions. They not only provide you with a little boost to your bankroll but also get you more involved and another level of excitement to the experience. These are some of the bonuses that you can claim at US poker sites:
- Welcome Bonuses: Your first deposit is matched by 100%, giving you twice as much money to play with. A freeroll ticket may even be thrown in.
- Reloads: Existing players can receive match bonuses from 25% to 75%.
- Rakeback: Usually only available to frequent players, rakeback bonuses return a portion of their rake to them.
- Mission Rewards: By completing certain tasks (for example, using a certain deposit method or playing a specific number of hands), you get extra perks.
- Freeroll Prizes: Take part in free tournaments that can provide you with a little extra cash in your poker wallet.
Cash Game Selection
Texas Hold’em is the most popular online poker variant, but it’s important that you have a little bit of choice as well. Ensure that you play with a site that has a number of stakes available, in case you want to move up or down to suit your budget and mood, as well as different variations on the game like Omaha and Seven Card Stud. It’s always fun to give new things a try, and many players dip their toes in new games to mix things up a little bit.
Fast-fold poker games are also very popular at online poker sites. These games take you to a whole new table with a brand new hand as soon as you’ve folded. You can get in hundreds of hands per hour for a fast-paced and thrilling gaming experience.
The tournament selection at any poker site you choose should be plentiful. There should be micro stake buy-ins for players who have smaller budgets as well as events with larger entry fees for when you move up the ranks. Tournaments come in all shapes and sizes, and you have all sorts of different options:
- Turbo Tournaments: The time between blind increases is reduced from 15 minutes to about 5 minutes for action-packed gameplay.
- Rebuys: Players can buy back into the tournament for a small fee if they are eliminated.
- Satellites: You can earn entry into bigger tournaments with much larger prizes on offer.
- Bounty Tournaments: Players receive a small cash prize for every player that they eliminate.
- Sit n Gos: Small, on-demand tournaments that begin when a certain number of players register.
Is It Legal For Americans to Play Poker Online?
This is a commonly asked question, and understandably so. The laws regarding US poker sites are pretty convoluted, but players can rest assured that they won’t experience legal repercussions for playing online poker from within the United States – even if they are playing in states where the market is not yet regulated.
Players who do not have access to online poker sites that have been licensed by state gaming commission must play at offshore sites, which are privately owned and operated. You can’t get in trouble for doing this – but, it is important to be wary of where you sign up to ensure that your money is safe.
What you should always be aware of it’s the legal gambling age. Across the United States, the legal gambling age varies, so you should always ensure that you’re old enough to be playing poker. Some states require players to be 21 or older to take part in casino games while others have a minimum age of 18.
All reputable US poker sites will require you to submit identification before you can make your first withdrawal. Drivers licenses and passports are accepted to prove your identity and age, while utility bills and bank statements are used to verify your location. So, if you’re under the legal gambling age, the operator will eventually find out about it.
A History of America’s Online Poker Market
Online poker has had a long and complicated history in the United States. If you haven’t been keeping up every step of the way, it can be a little bit difficult to know exactly what is going on, so here’s a bit of a rundown just in case you’ve been feeling a little bit lost:
In 1998, the first American poker site was launched. The now-defunct Planet Poker set the bar for online poker gameplay and software, and it wasn’t long before competition arrived in the form of Ultimate Bet, Party Poker and Poker Stars. In the years to follow, online poker experienced a huge boom – with all sorts of television programs dedicated to the game and a slew of new sites popping up across the web.
By 2006, the Unlawful Internet Gambling Enforcement Act (UIGEA) was passed which caused a number of big-name sites to pull out of the American online poker market. In the years that followed, online payment systems used to transfer money to US poker sites had their funds seized and it became increasingly difficult for players to fund their accounts.
The infamous Black Friday arrived on April 15, 2011, when Full Tilt Poker, PokerStars, and Ultimate Bet were served with indictments. Their domains were seized and the sites could no longer offer their services to American players. Of the three sites, only Poker Stars continues to operate. Ultimate Bet shut down completely and Poker Stars purchased Full Tilt.
Bringing Online Poker Back to America – Regulated Markets
Lawmakers across the country weren’t very happy with the results of the UIGEA and felt that American players should have the right to access poker games online. So, by 2013, several states came forward with laws that legalized and regulated online poker. Nevada, New Jersey, and Delaware were the first three states to do so. In 2018, Pennsylvania followed suit.
In these states, only players located within their borders are permitted to play casino games and poker online. All of their poker networks are operated by existing land-based casino license holders, such as Resorts World and Borgata. These companies then partnered up with online brands like Poker Stars to offer quality US poker sites and software to state residents.
In the coming years, it’s expected that many more states will start passing online poker legislation. California, Massachusetts, Illinois, New York, and West Virginia are just a few of the states that have tabled online gaming bills that would make it legal for US poker sites to offer their services to local players.
Playing at Offshore US Poker Sites
In regulated states like New Jersey, everything regarding online poker has to go through the local gambling commission. So, players are protected by laws that must be adhered to by US poker sites and their operators.
However, if you’re playing at an offshore site, strict licensing rules still apply. All reputable brands have licenses in jurisdictions like the UK, Alderney, Malta, and Gibraltar, which hold them accountable for all of their operations. They must offer fair games and safe environments for players, so the same level of security applies even when you’re playing at an offshore site.
The main issue that you may encounter is if any of these sites pull out of the American market and start refusing to accept American players – but, even if that is the case, you should be well looked after. It’s unlikely that Black Friday will happen again, and sites have player refund reserves to ensure that you would be able to withdraw your cash should they decide to leave the country.
Is It Possible to Play on American Poker Sites from my Mobile Device?
Mobile gaming continues to take over, especially when it comes to casual games and casino games. However, if you’re an American poker player, you may have a little bit of difficultly finding mobile-optimized apps that allow you to access US poker sites.
Unless you live in a state with a regulated poker market, you’re unlikely to find real money poker apps on the Google Play Store or the Apple App Market. Laws in unregulated states are very strict about offering gambling apps to mobile players, so you may have to use the web app version of your favorite poker room while on the go.
Web apps, which run on HTML5 and are based within your web browser, tend to have limited capabilities. For example, players don’t have the choice of where to sit. They can only decide their stakes and are then placed at the next available table. Tournament selection may also be limited to a select few events.