The US online poker landscape consists of one dominant leader (Bovada) and several smaller poker networks competing for the second position. While the selection of US-friendly sites is significantly smaller than it was, say, a decade ago, you still have a few solid options to choose from – here’s what you need to know about them. Here will see the Best US Poker Sites and their networks.
- Best Legal Us Online Poker Sites Real Money
- Best Legal Us Online Poker Sites 2019
- Best Legal Us Online Poker Sites Online
All of our recommended sites have a proven track record and enough player traffic to keep you busy. It’s worth noting that those physically located in Delaware, Nevada or New Jersey are able to play on licensed sites that are 100% legal and regulated. The sites below are popular in the US but operate from offshore locations. They continue to accept US customers but have no licenses to operate in the US. They’re also the only options for those living outside of Delaware, Nevada and New Jersey.
Our Top Ranked USA Online Poker Sites
5) Licensing at Legal Online Poker Sites for Real Money. Check the poker room has an online gambling license before depositing at any online poker real money USA site. After all, licensed legal online poker sites are required to adhere to the strictest legislation and operating standards. As said before, Global Poker, a sweepstakes legal online poker site, can be accessed in all US states except for the state of Washington. This legal online poker platform was launched in 2106, and since then, many players use its services. The virtual currency gaming business model is what makes it unique.
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Winning Poker Network
America’s Cardroom and True Poker are two of the biggest US poker sites in the Winning Poker network. They’ve been around for a long time and even though they’re relatively unknown compared to all-in-one US gambling sites like Bovada and BetOnline, they’ve got a strong reputation for being reliable and on-time with cashouts.
All sites in the Winning Poker Network prohibit customers from Louisiana, Nevada, Missouri, New Jersey, New York and Washington DC. And winning Poker is only compatible with Windows.
VIP Programs and Rake on the Winning Poker Network
Winning Poker network’s poker rooms offer their customers either 27% rakeback for all the rake they’ve generated (you get 27% of what the poker room has taken as rake back to your account) or a chance to participate in the VIP program which was made according to PokerStars’ model (a good idea, considering how PokerStars has the most successful VIP program ever). In fact, the VIP program does exactly what it’s supposed to (encourage you to play more) and makes sense for more active players. New players will also receive a 100% first deposit bonus up to $1000.
Both America’s Cardroom and True Poker are known for processing check withdrawals fast relative to competition – I can’t confirm if the rest of the sites on the network do the same, but then again I recommend signing-up at the better-known sites anyway. Winning Poker also accepts bitcoin deposits and withdrawals. Player-to-player transfers are allowed as well, making Winning Poker’s money transactions relatively flexible in the US.
What are the reasons NOT to sign-up at one of the websites on Winning Poker’s network?
Bovada is the #1 option due to highest player traffic, fastest cashouts and best software. In other words, Winning Poker network has less traffic (1/4 of Bovada’s traffic), slightly slower processing of withdrawals (although only by a couple of days) and its software still showcases buggy behavior here and there (more-so than Bovada). Furthermore, Winning Poker is unavailable for iOS and its mobile client only runs Jackpot sit and go tournaments.
Overall, Winning Poker is a fine network, and its flagship sites Americas Cardroom and True Poker have treated their customers well throughout the years. There are better options out there – such as Bovada – but if you’re looking to sign-up at a few site to catch the best games, it would make sense to be able to play on this network as well.
Chico Poker Network
Best US Poker Sites for the Chico Poker network are the flagship poker rooms BetOnline and SportsBetting, both of which accept customers from all the states (as the only sites doing so). Chico Poker also has TigerGaming and PayNoRake poker rooms but they only accept customers from outside of the US.
One of the clear advantages of playing on this network is its recreational-friendly customer base, as BetOnline and SportsBetting both are better-known for their sports book and even casino games which you can participate in with the same player account, so there’s a constant stream of traffic stemming from other parts of the site which are more prone to recreational players / gamblers than poker rooms in general.
New customers at BetOnline get a 200% deposit bonus up to $1000 on their first deposit while SportsBetting offers a 200% up to $2500.
BetOnline draws a decent amount of multi-table tournament players due to their MTT Leaderboard Challenge and (sometimes) huge tournament overlays (meaning the guaranteed prize pool is much bigger than what players have paid in entrance fees). For beginners, there are real-money freerolls every hour.
What about the downsides of playing at Chico Poker network?
It has the third highest traffic in the US, meaning you’ll find more opponents at Bovada and Winning Poker. The software is not that easy on the eye and slightly buggy, unlike Bovada’s software which is the best in the US market.
- Withdrawal-processing is an important thing for US customers as a check withdrawal is usually the only way to go. Relative to competition, Chico Poker still has work to do.
- BetOnline processes cashouts are reasonably fast (a little over two weeks) but still slower than Bovada or Winning Poker. The minimum limit for BetOnline withdrawals is $100 and fees are $40 per withdrawal at minimum.
- SportsBetting offers a 2-day (business days) withdrawal option where they take a 8-10% cut of the withdrawal amount. There are no player-to-player transfers at Chico Poker.
Equity Poker Network
Full Flush Poker is the flagship site in the Equity Poker network, which has been operating since 2013. Equity has done well considering how new it is and is now the fourth highest-trafficked US-friendly poker room.
Equity offers a few appealing reasons to sign-up:
- They constantly have attractive multi-table tournament overlays, which means they guarantee a bigger prizepool than what participating players have paid in entry fees. For multi-table players, Equity Poker offers an interesting chance to play profitably. Equity is Mac-compatible, unlike Winning Poker and Chico Poker. Players from all over the US are accepted except for New Jersey, Delaware and Nevada.
- What some tournament players dislike is their low buy-in tournament selection. For smaller buy-ins – as mentioned – they offer good opportunities for profitable play, but the selection is rather limited for bigger buy-ins (this goes for both multi-table tournaments and sit-n-go tournaments).
- Equity Poker has reasonable check withdrawal times: a little over two weeks. Interestingly, bitcoin transfers are available only to customers outside of the US. There are no player-to-player transfers allowed.
Merge Gaming Network
Carbon Poker and Sportsbook.ag are the sites representing Merge Gaming network. Merge is on the crisp of being a decade in the business and has steadily grown throughout that time. It had a strong position in the US poker market by having the second-highest traffic numbers, however, it has recently had payout issues due to which the network fell into the fourth position traffic-wise.
Aside from the payout issues, Merge Gaming’s traffic suffers due to prohibiting customers from 11 states: Delaware, Utah, Kentucky, Louisiana, Maryland, Missouri, New York, Washington, Nevada, New Jersey and Washington DC.
Merge Gaming poker rooms offer a seemingly attractive 200% up to $5000 first-time deposit bonus. However, even though size-wise it seems like a good deal, the bonus is relatively harder to clear than what Merge’s US competitors offer.
All-in-all, especially considering the recent payout issues and the decrease in traffic, the options mentioned above currently offer US players much better value for their money.
Questions and Answers
The following are some common question that any person could have at any moment regarding several important topic for US players. If you believe there is a question that should be solved or that you have a specific question in mind not solved here please contact us.
Why Are There Sites Specifically for the US?
Not all sites are willing to accept customers from the US due to legal reasons. Due to the Unlawful Internet Gambling Enforcement Act (UIGEA), gambling operators are prohibited from knowingly accepting payments related to unlawful gambling. And since, from our point-of-view (and, apparently, plenty of gambling operators agree), online poker is illegal in most states, the majority of online poker operators have decided to target other legally safer markets. The same is true, although to a smaller degree, in the U.S. online casino market.
Due to the UIGEA, it’s also harder for internet poker operators to find reliable payment processors. This adds greatly to the difficulty level of operating an online poker site and contributes to the willingness of sites to stay away from the USA market.
How Can US Players Deposit Money to the Best US Poker Sites?
There are still ways to deposit money to United States online poker rooms, and our guess is that pretty much everyone can do it if they want to. Still, US citizens will experience more hurdles when depositing money to internet poker rooms than those outside of the US, excluding those physically located in Delaware, Nevada or New Jersey.
Here are the common deposit methods:
- Credit, Debit and Gift Cards:
All of the Best US Poker Sites we’ve seen accept Visa card deposits (with the exception of Bitcoin-only sites). Mastercard is available at some of them while American Express is a rare sight. Card deposits are known for not going through every time (this goes for credit, debit and gift cards). The only way to find out if a card works is to try to deposit and see what happens.
It’s likely (if not certain) that you have to withdraw your poker winnings as a check if you made the deposit with a credit card. This is the case at all the US-friendly sites we can think of.
- Money Transfer Services:
Most sites accept Western Union. I recommend paying attention to whether you can both deposit and withdraw the money via a money transfer service (in some cases, a USA poker site only allows you to deposit). If money transfer cashouts are unavailable, you’ll have to order a check withdrawal.
Top part would be inserted through the coin chute while the bottom would be inserted into the coin slot. This would jam the machine and propel the machine to eject the coins it had collected. The bill validator device. This was one of the most effective slot cheats. It involved a device that would trick the slot machine into taking a $1 bill. How to make a slot machine bill validator device invalid. Bill acceptor beater This manual includes multiple methods that work on the most popular bill acceptors, validators, and changers. These bill acceptors are found on many gambling machines at casinos, pubs, cruise ships, etc. Even with Electric Devices the bill Validator tend to be the target. Voltage Spiking is a method of cheating a slot machine by sending a electronic spike into an ungrounded pulse bill validator. When a spike hits one of these ungrounded bill validator the machine adds several hundred credits in just a few fractions of a second. Bill Validator Device. This is a little device that is wrapped around a bill to fool the slot machine into thinking it is accepting a $100 bill when in reality it is just accepting a humble $1.
- Electronic Cheques:
This option is no longer available at any of our trusted US-eligible online poker sites.
Is It Legal to Play Online Poker in the United States?
Since there’s no federal law that either legalizes or prohibits online poker in the US, you have to look at state laws. And in most cases, it’s likely (“likely” because we’re not lawyers and have never studied law) that online poker is illegal in most parts of the US. Many state laws target poker on the internet indirectly by making all forms of gambling that haven’t been specifically legalized, well, illegal.
Three states have legalized, regulated and licensed internet poker and those are Delaware, Nevada and New Jersey. They’re the only states in which you can be 100% legally safe when playing poker on the internet.
Why are so many still playing online if it’s illegal to do so in most parts of the United States? Laws against playing poker online for real money haven’t been enforced – yet, at least. So far, only the ones operating gambling businesses or acting as payment processors between players and gambling businesses have been in trouble with the law.
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As more states legalize online gambling, more sites offering the opportunity to play online poker for real money are opening to Americans. That leaves more Americans with a question or two about how online poker works, where to play, and, most importantly, if it’s legal in their state.
We’ll be covering all the above and more right here on TechNightOwl. Let’s start with the basics.
What States in the US Offer Online Poker for Real Money?
At present, there are only six states in the US where online poker platforms are legal: Nevada, Delaware, New Jersey, Pennsylvania, Michigan, and West Virginia. Let’s run through how that came to be.
US Online Poker Laws
The Wire Act is a US Federal Law established in 1961 prohibiting wire communications in betting transactions. The main objective of this law was to reduce the possibility of gambling and poker games becoming a part of organized crime.
The Unlawful Internet Gambling Enforcement Act (UIGEA) took effect in 2006 when it became illegal for banks to transact with unlicensed online gambling platforms. The banks — not the players — became liable for any violation cited or observed.
These regulations shut down online poker platforms in the United States. However, both the Wire Act and UIGEA created gray areas in the law and were subject to misinterpretation. In 2012, it was one of those grey areas that led a New York federal judge to rule that the Wire Act of 1961 didn’t apply to poker because it was a game of skill rather than chance.
New Jersey Online Poker Platforms
New Jersey was one of the first states in the United States to legalize online poker for real money. New Jersey Governor Chris Christie signed the legislation in 2013, less than a year after the 2012 ruling.
The requirements for any individual to play on a licensed online poker platform include:
- Age: Players must be 21 years or older
- Location: New Jersey, Delaware, and Nevada entered into a compact that went live in 2018 that allows interstate gambling. You must be physically present in one of these states to play online poker for real money in New Jersey.
- Verification: Players who sign up for online poker platforms in New Jersey must undergo a thorough verification process to determine if they are qualified to play.
Because New Jersey is one of the earliest states to legalize online gambling platforms, this state offers more poker rooms than most other states, including:
- Pala Poker
- playMGM Poker
Players in New Jersey can also play on the Nevada-based poker site, WSOP.com, the primary interstate poker provider.
Delaware Online Poker Platforms
Shortly after New Jersey, Delaware also legalized online poker sites in 2013. Like NJ, players must be 21 years of age or older. Delaware also requires geo-tracking software to confirm your location.
The state currently has three online poker sites where you can play for real money:
- Dover Downs
- Delaware Park
- Harrington Raceway
All the above run on 888Poker software. Like in New Jersey, players in Delaware can also play on WSOP.com.
Nevada Online Poker Platforms
Nevada legalized online poker for real money right around the same time as Delaware and soon became a hub for interstate games, being the home-state of WSOP.com.
Currently, the only other poker platform in the state is Real Gaming. Ultimate Poker was previously also available in Nevada, but the platform failed in 2014.
State player requirements are similar to those in other states, with the minimum player age being 21 and geolocation mandatory, but they also add a few additional provisions:
- Player fund transfer is not permitted.
- You may only have one account on each poker platform.
Pennsylvania Online Poker Platforms
Pennsylvania was the fourth state in the United States to legalize online poker for real money with legislation taking effect in 2017.
Since Pennsylvania has one of the largest populations in the United States of over 13 million residents, online poker for real money established a massive player base. PokerStars is currently the only active online poker gambling platform in the state.
Pennsylvania has yet to join the interstate gambling compact, and so WSOP.com is not available, but efforts are in the works to change that. Numerous other land-based casinos have also been granted licenses to operate and may open platforms soon, including:
- Harrahs Philadelphia
- Hollywood Casino
- Parx Casino
- Rivers Philadelphia
- Valley Forge Casino
- Wind Creek Casino
Beyond restricting players to in-state games, the player requirements in Pennsylvania are the same as other states. You must be over 21 and allow geo-tracking software.
Michigan and West Virginia Online Poker Platforms
Michigan and West Virginia both legalized online poker for real money in 2019. However, neither state has any licensed operating poker platforms as of June 2020.
The Stars Group, operator of PokerStars, has already taken steps to obtain a license in Michigan and is a strong contender to be the first option open in the state. West Virginia has yet to finalize its licensing regulations.
What Other States in the US Have Plans to Offer Online Poker for Real Money?
The following states have plans to legalize online gambling platforms. Some even have ongoing legislative reviews about the pros and cons of legalizing online gambling platforms.
- New York
The Best Online Poker Platforms for Real Money
Now that you know which states you can play in and all the poker platforms available in those states, your next question is likely which should you play on—assuming you have more than one option. The best online poker platforms in the US include:
Let’s take a quick look at each.
As mentioned, WSOP.com is an interstate provider serving New Jersey, Delaware, and Nevada. They are operated by Caesars Interactive Entertainment, a name you likely recognize if you’re familiar with the hotel gaming and gambling industry.
WSOP.com is the largest real-money online poker platform in the United States and is backed by the World Series of Poker. They offer fixed- and pot-limit Texas Hold’em, Omaha, and Seven Card Stud, all with Hi/Lo options. There are roughly 50 tournaments daily, some with cash prizes as high as $50,000.
The site regularly offers bonus promotions and also has a generous loyalty point program. You’ll earn points online towards the Action Club Rewards Program for every game you play—win or lose. Points can be redeemed for cash.
The second-largest online real-money poker platform, 888Poker is only available in New Jersey and Delaware. Delaware’s platform is accessed via three racinos (listed above) rather than the 888Poker site directly. Nevada’s WSOP.com also runs on 888Poker software, but the two aren’t interconnected.
888Poker only offers Texas Hold’em and Omaha, but they do have a range of tournament and match offers, including SNAP, Blast, and Classic poker options. They have a mobile app but are also well-known for their instant-match, no-download games.
The site has many generous bonus promotions and is among the only online casinos left with a true no-deposit bonus. You’ll get $1 to spend anywhere on the site, 14 free 50-cent entries, and a pending $80 bonus. You unlocked the $80 by earning points for the platform’s rewards program (a cash-back offering similar to WSOP.com’s rewards). For every 100 points you earn, you unlock $10. You can earn those points using the initial free credits granted to you.
PokerStars is Pennsylvania’s only real-money online poker platform. They also operate in New Jersey and are likely to be available in Michigan soon. The site offers Limit Hold ’em, Omaha, and Seven-card stud, as well as 2-7 Triple Draw, HORSE, and Razz, though as these games are less popular, it may be harder to find a table.
There are multiple daily tournament options, including big-ticket hourly Sunday games with massive cash prizes. For instance, the Sunday Special held at 6 pm EST has a $200 buy-in and a $45,000 guaranteed pot.
Like WSOP.com and 888Poker, the site does have a rewards program. You can earn Star Coins, which can be used to purchase merchandise or free play tickets. They also match your first deposit 100% up to $600.
How to Choose the Best Online Poker Game for Real Money
With so many online poker games on the internet, it is wise, especially when the stakes involve real money, to choose the right gambling platform. Here are some factors we considered when choosing the best real-money online poker sites in the US.
Player Experience: An online gambling website or app’s aesthetic, functionality, and ease of navigation should all be excellent. Ideally, you want to choose a site that doesn’t make you jump through hoops to get to your desired page.
Game Selection: While not all players prefer to play multiple poker game types, we prefer sites that give you the option to do so.
Safety: Safety should be the utmost priority for any gambling, betting, or poker site. All the platforms we recommend are credible, have all the necessary licenses to operate in the US, and comply with all the regulations imposed by the states they operate in.
Bonuses: Some online poker sites provide attractive promotional and sign-up bonuses that can benefit players and give them a competitive advantage over their opponents.
What Is Global Poker?
For those who can’t visit states where it is legal to play poker online for real money, Global Poker is an option. Global Poker functions similarly to any online gambling platform. The catch is instead of dealing directly with real money, there are sweepstakes, and players get a virtual currency which they can “cash in” via PayPal. Thanks to this unique twist, it does not fall into the category of illicit activity, and anyone with an internet connection can access it anywhere within the United States.
How Much Does It Cost to Play Online Poker for Real Money?
The buy-in cost for online poker games ranges dramatically, but the average is relatively affordable. Around 50% of online poker games have an entry fee of $8 to $10. Players can even join online poker tables with buy-ins starting at $0.01 to $0.02 and $1 to $2. There are high-stakes games as well, with buy-ins closer to $100 to $200.
What Are the Payment Options for Online Poker?
Best Legal Us Online Poker Sites Real Money
There are a variety of ways to deposit money to play poker online for real money. Here is a breakdown of online banks that online gambling platforms you can trust:
Essential factors to consider when making online money transactions, especially on online gambling platforms, include:
Privacy and Security: All licensed online gambling sites are required to encrypt your information and are held to strict privacy and security regulations. Dealing with an unlicensed poker site can put you at risk for identity theft and loss of funds. Never enter your financial information on a site that asks for banking details such as pin or password.
Support: Credible online gambling platforms have 24/7 live chat support to address any questions, concerns, or issues about your financial transactions. If a site doesn’t have readily accessible contact information, that’s a red flag. Avoid making deposits on these sites.
Play Poker Online for Real Money
There are many advantages to playing online poker for real money. Because online games generally have significantly lower buy-ins, you have more control over your bets. Wait times are also shorter because there are endless virtual tables.
The periodic bonus offers you can grab to gain a competitive edge over other players are just icing on the cake—but remember to read the terms and conditions.
Best Legal Us Online Poker Sites 2019
You can play poker online for real money in the comfort of your home, which makes it a great way to pass the time—no more stuffy dress codes in brick-and-mortar casinos. You can play games in your pajamas if you like!
Best Legal Us Online Poker Sites Online
Of course, getting the most out of these benefits requires playing on a legal, reputable real-money poker platform—and that’s just what you’ll find reviewed on TechNightOwl! We regularly update our content to reflect the latest online gambling,betting, and poker regulations, as well as the best real-money poker platforms in the US.