Best online poker sites for US players

Introduction to poker in US

Although indications are that a very early form of poker was played in the Middle East, the modern version that we know today is thought to have originated in the gambling dens of New Orleans. Sources indicate that French sailors brought a version of the game “Poque” over to the US port in the 1800s. British sailors also brought a form of the game across which was called “Brag”. Together these two games influenced the modern game of poker that we know today. From Louisiana, the game spread to the rest of the USA.

How did online poker start?

IRC poker was the first free online version of poker in the late 1990’s but Planet Poker was the first website card room to offer online poker with real money in 1998. New players were introduced to online poker via tournaments that gave winners the opportunity to enter real-life tournaments such as the World Series of Poker (WSOP). The online poker boom continued through 2004 with various big acquisitions and by 2010 there were over 500 online poker websites with claiming to be the biggest poker site by player numbers.

In 2011, however, the US Department of Justice seized a host of poker domains and froze the funds of their player bases, what is known as black Friday of poker. The following year a New York court ruled that poker is not regarded as gambling under federal law as it is mainly a game of skill and not a game of chance. In 2013 the state of Nevada legally allowed people over the age of 21 to play online poker for money. By 2018, an agreement between Nevada, Delaware and New Jersey state governments allowed for player pooling across these states.

Playing at the best online poker sites in the US

Playing online poker in USA is very easy. We have listed a convenient 4-step process to follow: The first step involves finding a suitable poker platform to play on. Different poker players have different playing styles so reviewing suitable poker sites is especially important. The second step is to sign up for a poker playing account. The sign-up process should be easy and quick without unnecessary red tape. Thirdly, you will have to load your player account with money via the banking methods provided. The last step is finding a seat at a table and competing.

Reviewing the best online poker sites for US players

There is a list of important criteria to look at when reviewing US poker sites. Aspects such as bonuses, banking methods and customer support are equally important. However, the most important is Regulation and Security. To ensure safe and secure poker play, legitimate poker sites should have a valid gambling license, along with internet security such as firewalls and SSL encryption. The quality of the poker software should allow for usability and functionality. Quality poker software used will ensure that there is an adequate variety of poker games, such as Texas Hold’em and Draw Poker.

Poker bonuses on online poker sites

There are several online poker bonus types that poker rooms can offer their players. The best poker bonuses include: Sign-up bonuses, which are awarded to hook poker players signing up for a poker site. There is also the no deposit bonus which does not require the poker player to commit funds to the site. Match bonuses entail the poker site to match the player’s contribution within part or in full and can be as high as 100%. An important factor to note with bonuses is the play through requirement.

Playthrough requirements for poker bonuses

Most bonuses awarded by poker sites are subject to a requirement known as playthrough. This means that the poker player needs to wager through some multiple of the bonus before monies can be withdrawn. Let’s consider a practical example: If you are awarded a poker bonus of $100 but the terms and conditions state that there is a 5x playthrough requirement. You would then be required to wager a total amount of $500 (5 x $100) before you can collect that bonus money or winnings as a result of that bonus.

Regulation on online poker in general

Online poker platforms, operator websites and their software providers need to possess licenses to assure their players that they are legitimately registered. In short, these licenses are agreements that the poker operator will comply with all relevant gambling regulations and laws of the jurisdiction that awards the license. Players can therefore be assured that operating standards will be upheld, and that the poker room is trustworthy. Bona fide poker players can easily find the regulator at the bottom on the poker site’s homepage, such as MGA, GRA, UKGC or KGC.

Regulation of the online poker sites in the US

When it comes to gambling regulations, the US market is one of the most complicated and generally considered a grey area. The federal gambling laws currently fall under the Unlawful Internet Gambling Enforcement Act (UIGEA). However, the Federal Wire Act of 2011 meant that all 50 states can legalize internet betting and lotteries as needed. When it comes to online poker, the UIGA has a grey area in the wording that does not apply to the actual poker player. It merely states that it is illegal for financial institutions to process money transfers for online gambling. Many policans are trying to push legalized online poker for all americans so in the near future we might see online poker across USA.

How does this affect poker payment methods?

When considering a poker site to play at, poker players should establish that the poker site supports all accepted payment methods. These should include credit and debit cards, e-wallets and cryptocurrencies. Also, establish if any additional fees are charged for deposits and withdrawals. Processing times for withdrawals are also important. However, for US poker players, UIGEA affects the types of payment methods to be used for gambling sites. The best payment method for a US poker player is a cryptocurrency like Bitcoin or Ethereum, so be sure your intended site supports that.

Customer support on online poker sites

Customer support on an online poker site is of utmost importance. New players not familiar with the site, or its processes need the reassurance that knowledgeable customer support assistance is available at the click of a button. Players are also more sensitive when it comes to financial processes such as money withdrawal, so the thought of empathic 24/7 customer support carries a lot of weight. Customer support should be instantly available for every user of the poker website, so look out for online chat buttons and links, telephone numbers and email addresses.

  • Chat buttons or links on every web page
  • Dedicated help section listing email addresses
  • FAQ section for common issues
  • Toll-free phone number
  • Web-based feedback forms
  • Poker game variations at the best online poker sites

When considering an online poker site, the game variety offered by the poker operators is of utmost importance. The most popular poker variant, Texas Hold’Em poker, has become popular thanks to movies like “Rounders” and the World Series of Poker. However, there are many other variants of poker that are equally entertaining. The main types of poker are stud, draw and community card games. Omaha is a variant of Hold’Em that is gaining popularity but there are also other types such as 7-Card Stud, 5-Card Draw, High / Low Chicago and many more.

Poker game formats

In addition to the variety of poker games there are also different game formats. The main formats are cash games and poker tournaments. Cash games are typically played on one table and money is exchanged for chips. There is a minimum and maximum buy-in amount and a player can quit at any time and cash in. Tournaments can be played across multiple tables and players buy in for the same amount of tournament chips. Tournaments end with one winner with all the chips. Losers are out when they lose their chips. Some poker terms:

Ante – minimum amount to get into game

Blinds – Chips on table before deal

Raise – Wish to increase bet

Call – to match Raise

Check – no wager or raise, then check

Software quality at the best online poker sites

The quality of software used by an online poker site has an impact on the poker player’s gaming experience. When choosing a poker site, it is also am important element to consider. Poker game software is typically centrally hosted and communicates to computers and devices that the players use to play poker. Players see a graphic representation of the poker table along with opponent details and chip counts. Community cards should be visible to all and cards should be dealt randomly as it would be from a shuffled card deck.

The randomness of poker cards is assured by the use of an RNG. This is short for random number generator and is, in essence, computer code inside the poker software. To ensure randomness, this computer code produces random sequences of numbers and then converts these sequences into a specific card every timecards need to be dealt to players. This RNG ensures that the poker game software is fair. As part of licensing agreements, RNGs are also vetted periodically by third parties to ensure continued fairness to players.

Signing up for an account

Most poker rooms have made it quick and easy to sign up for a poker account. Usually, some personal and contact details are required so that the site can verify that you are a legit player and to be able to contact you when issues arise. Some poker rooms do not place new sign-ups under any obligation to make a deposit. Some also offer the ability to play poker in a free mode so that the site and it’s workings can be tried out before money is committed.

Once you have signed up and playing in free mode, there are a number of things to bear in mind to see if this is the online poker room for you. Spend some time in the play money area and watch other people play. See if the room gameplay happens at an acceptable tempo and that the graphics and sounds are suitable. Reading review on the poker room can also help you gauge other players’ experience. Poker players share their evaluation of poker rooms via room reviews. Be sure to read as much as you can.

Depositing money to online poker sites

Once you are ready to start playing for real money, you can decide by starting with making a small deposit at your chosen poker room. See which methods are available to deposit money. A good place to start is by reading the banking terms and conditions to get an idea of processing times of deposits and other fees that might be charged. Again, reviews of poker rooms could alert you to any previous issues that other players might have had with making deposits into the poker site you are considering.

Equally, if not more important, is the ability for you to withdraw funds from the poker room if you have had some wins. Again, look at the supported banking methods. Usually, it is easier to withdraw funds via the same payment method that you used to deposit funds. The site’s terms and conditions will inform you about pre-requisites to withdraw, the processing time and withdrawal fees, if any. Withdrawing money is a sensitive issue so also search for player comments on poker forums to see if there were any past issues.

Final thoughts on online poker sites

When considering an online poker platform in the US (and, in fact, also poker websites hosted offshore) the main criteria will be around licensing, safety, security and reputation. Reputable poker websites that are licenced under legitimate jurisdictions will ensure that the entire poker player journey is seamless and will promote responsible poker play. This will then in turn filter down to affect their promotional terms and conditions, customer support processes and their banking methods. Poker sites rely on players to make profits. If you do wrong by the player, the word will spread quickly.


Is online poker legal in the USA?

2006’s Unlawful Internet Gambling Enforcement Act (UIGA) has a grey area in the wording that does not apply to the poker player. It states that it is illegal for financial institutions to process money transfers for online gambling. US players have turned to Bitcoin to solve this issue.

When will online poker be fully regulated in the US?

The US states are taking these legal battles on individually. Right now only the states of Nevada, New Jersey and Delaware are officially legalized to offer online poker. It seems that the next states in line could be California and New York. Things are slowly heading in the right direction.

What other states are trying to make online poker legal?

So far, the following states have either progressed to draft bill phase or the drafts have been passed with the first vote: Hawaii, Mississippi, Illinois, New York, Massachusetts, Pennsylvania, California, New Hampshire, and Michigan. There has been some high-level talk in Washington state, but no noticeable progress to report as yet.

What about offshore poker websites?

As long as you do your homework around licensing and reputation, there should not be any concerns. A license from a reputable gambling authority will ensure that the poker site adheres to safety and privacy rules. For a thorough reputational analysis, we suggest you trawl through online poker player forums.