Summary of Games, Deposit Options And Pros / Cons For The Best US-Friendly Online Poker sites
There are two main parts to the information here, first a summary of the key articles covering US poker sites including deposits, reviews and comparisons covering tournaments and more. After this you will find a rolling news summary. Rather than repeat the news I add updates every couple of weeks concerning key news and events - with the latest at the top. For anything particularly significant, you'll see the write-up on my blog, and just a one-line summary below.
Deposits and withdrawals are still an issue of course. Sites are still accepting credit and bank cards with some success – though many do get rejected. Bovada are currently the best bet for successful deposits - they handle the costs of your first deposit each month for certain methods too. Money transfer services and wire-transfers also seem to be holding up ok, with credit cards working better in 2013 than they have for a while. Paper checks are the most popular cash-out methods, there are some minimums in place for this.
10,000's of US players are enjoying the games at the moment - and while I’m recommending some caution for all readers, there is no reason not to join the fun yourself. There is some serious rivalry between the sites (particularly Bovada and Carbon poker) when it comes to guarantees and welcome bonuses. You can take advantage of this and enjoy some very good deals as we go through 2013.
In addition to the short status messages, I'll keep track of the latest news below. If there is any big announcement this will get covered in my blog. Most of the news at the moment is pretty small, with network changes and smaller sites coming and going. I'm keeping an eye on a couple of these including the Hero Network - did not think they were worth including just yet, though it is early days. Of course any big news about legal real money poker in the US will take priority, I'll sing from the treetops as soon as I hear a thing!
Articles List: Comparisons, Payment Methods and Game-Specific US Poker Articles
Important Update November 2013: Lock Just left the Revolution Network, becoming a stand-alone-site. They were the biggest site on the network, which now faces an uncertain future. With reports of very long delays in player withdrawals, and recriminations in the media about money owed between the network and Lock, I am no longer recommending this site to SNG Planet readers... If all goes well with the network move and cash outs improve, coverage will resume in the new year. For now I am advising US players to watch and wait... If you are looking for a super-reliable alternative then Carbon Poker (who are the biggest Merge Network site) are doing great at the moment!
US Deposit Methods Articles: Just completed a big revamp of this area of the site, with the help of an experienced US colleage. This includes a main US Poker Deposit Methods piece, one which focuses on Withdrawal Methods and site specific articles covering Carbon Poker, Bovada and Lock Poker.
Head-To-Head Comparison: This takes the two Networks, Merge and Revolution, and compares what they have to offer side-by-side. You can read the full article + my verdict on the overall winner right here.
SNG Specific Reviews: Another update, these reviews are unique to SNG Planet, and focus on the Sit N Go offerings at each room. They cover 1-table tournaments, multi-table SNGs and satellite qualifiers - and conclude with my 'top 5 reasons to play' at each site. You can find the refreshed Lock Poker SNGs review here and the Carbon SNGs review here.
Best US Site For Tournaments: Well, the Sunday Million has gone, though this does not mean no tournament action at all. There are plenty of smaller buy-in < $22 games still available and some of them have decent guaranteed prize pools. This article shows you what is available for tournament fans at the remaining US-friendly sites. Best US Site For Online Poker Tournaments
Best US Sites For Cash Games: There are actually a lot of smaller stakes games available. For those playing lower to mid-stakes you’ll need to search a little harder, if you are used to multi-tabling then this can still be done – depending on your stake level you might need to combine a couple of sites. This article compares what is still on offer for cash game players. Best US Site For Poker Cash Games
Best US Sites For Sit N Goes: I could not leave these out of a site named SNG Planet! Same story again, there are a lot of smaller stakes Sit n Goes in various formats (including the popular double or nothing and turbo games). As you get above the $11 level then the games get sparse outside of peak times. Again it is possible to multi-table still if you play the lower stakes or combine sites in the evenings. Best US Poker Site For Sit N Goes
Best US Site For Satellite Qualifiers: Grabbing that seat in a live tournament is still possible, with some big prize packages which include extra cash for travel expenses and accomodation in addition to the tournament buy-ins. Here I look at the satellites running at the sites still welcoming US Players. Best US Site For Poker Satellites
US Poker Sites- Latest News Updates
1st December 2013: 2 brand new promos at Carbon Poker which are worth getting into quickly this month. 'The Bankroll Builder' and 'Winter Wish List' both reward daily play (Br Builder based on points and WW List on Tasks)... the sooner you get involved, the bigger your xmas bonus will be! Tourney fans will find a 25% increase in guarantees this month too, should be some nice tournament overlays.
25th November 2013: New Jersey goes live (well, soft launches at least!). WSOP Poker and Ultimate Poker already live, with Party, 888 and Betfair sites to follow shortly. No plans for shared liquidty with other states at the moment, but still an exciting milestone for US players. I am going to hold on and see which sites gain the biggest share, and hope to have reviews and insights in to their SNGs + tournaments in early 2104.
18th November 2013: A new network has launched accepting US players - and it is billed as a 'cooperative' rather than a traditional network. The 'Equity Poker Network' allows complete freedom for member sites and rewards recreational players above grinders. I'm a little confused at the moment about the tournaments - which seem to be run by the individual skins. There are currently 5 members, headed up by FullFlushPoker. I will try out the games and come back with a review and feedback very soon.
31st October 2013: Lock Poker have announced that they are to leave the Revolution Poker Network and become a stand-alone poker site. As they are (were!) the biggest site on the network, the future of revolution is very much in doubt. Reports suggest that network restrictions were preventing fast cashouts (Lock have been plauged with slow cashouts for a while now). Personally, I am wondering if their best players were being poached by tiny skins offering huge rakeback / under the table deals... It will be interesting to see if this is the fresh start Lock need to bounce back from the negative publicity their cashout issues generated.
October 20th 2013: Carbon Poker have announced a new online poker tournament event in the shape of the $1.5 million guaranteed 'COPS' (Carbon Online Poker Series). This runs from November 3rd through 17th, and includes 85 events with 3 buy-in levels. Really feels to me like Carbon are making a play to be the #1 US site when it comes to tournaments. Remember, if you support this type of event, the site(s) will be able to make them even bigger and better next time - a win-win!
October 7th 2013: Bovada have launched their 'Golden Spade Open' a tourney event which runs through to November 3rd, features a massive $1.5 million in prizes and includes a $300k guaranteed main event. The games start with buy-ins at just $22, and if you already know the 'recreational' crowd at Bovada (bodog) then you will not need me to tell you how easy these tournaments are. More on this cool event over at www.bovada.lv
September 17th 2013: WSOP.com Poker will launch in Nevada tomorrow, this is a big moment since US Casino Giant Caesars is behind this site. Players with long memories may recall many in the casino industry supporting the UIGEA back in the day. Clearly their objective was to clear out their established competition in order to get a level playing field to work with. This strategy could well have paid off, although Nevada is a small state - the consensus is that legal poker there is the start of something big in the coming couple of years.
September 5th 2013: Just a quick final warning - the awesome Poker Maximus starts this coming Sunday the 8th over at Carbon Poker. There is $3 Million in guarantees this time around, and a huge main event - make sure you keep supporting these events, and they will only get bigger and better.
August 19th 2013: I just put up a brand new article specifically covering the satellite qualifiers at the major US sites. Bovada have great 'alternative' trips (party in Las Vegas, Asia and Caribbean to name 3 current ones), Carbon have a weekly system for a $12,500 live event package to the tournament of your choice... and Lock do not have very much at all right now!! check out the article here.
August 13th 2013: Just as you were starting to wonder whether fast-fold poker would ever make it to the US... it has arrived. Bovada are the place to check, and the game is called Zone Poker. The combination of fast-fold + anonymous tables makes this a must-try. Canadians can also play this one on the Bovada.eu branded site.
August 1st 2013: I have just refereshed my dedicated article on the best tournaments for US players, this one is divided between the 'majors' / mid buy-ins and lower buy-ins and now covers the big-3 of Bovada, Carbon and Lock. You can find this article here.
July 24th 2013: Bovada have just announced qualifiers for the Punta Cana Classic, part of the Caribbean Poker Tour - they are giving away $5,500 packages which include transport, hotel, expenses + buy-in. Find out more over at the excellent Bovada.lv
July 18th 2013: A big update on the Winning Poker Network for America's Cardroom has been announced. This includes some features which you might have taken for granted at other sites, such as the ability to sit out at all tables at once (and back in!) + a redesign of the tables. I'll need to play a little on the new version before giving my final verdict - though visually, things do look like this change was for the better! If you can not wait any longer then you can check out the changes via this link!
July 11th 2013: Turbo Ops is coming back at Carbon Poker! This is a tournament event with 18 fast blind games, and kicks off on July 25th. Meanwhile, qualifiers are underway for the Asia-based Anonymous poker series at Bovada. Some noises from Delaware and new Jersey on their state level legal poker, but nothing concrete to report on just yet - watch this space!
1st May 2013: The first legal US Poker site went live yesterday. Called 'Ultimate Poker' this is open for Nevada residents only... This news does not affect too many people at the moment, however it is a starting point which should be celebrated. If you can access the site then please try it out, if this is a success then it may help to bring forward legistaltion in other states (or even federally). I can not access this site myself, so will continue to cover the bigger US sites instead!
8th April 2013: You can now find coverage of Bovada Poker here at SNG Planet. Already up are my detailed review, SNG specific review, depost methods and world series qualifiers.
26th March 2013: Just a quick shout for a new tournament event at Carbon Poker which runs from March 28th through to the 31st, this is called 'Turbo Ops' and has $1 million in guaranteed prize money, a leaderboard contest and plenty of qualifier opportunities. There is also a big $200k guaranteed over at America's Cardroom on the 7th of April - good signs here with the US poker tournament scene growing bigger all the time.
4th March 2013: Lock Poker have announced that they will segregate winning players... to keep them away from the biggest fish! Following the lead of non-US Party Poker, big winners will only see a selection of tables in the lobby, without the ones containing the biggest losing players. This is designed to protect new players from the biggest sharks while they gain enough experience to compete. At first view, this seems a little unfair to those who have worked hard on their game - however you should bear in mind that what is good for the poker economy as a whole is good for all players in the end.
18th Febuary 2013: Americas Cardroom have started their 'Mini Online Super Series' (MOSS) today, a smaller buy-in tournament event with $500,000 guaranteed - a nice addition to the online poker events available to US players. Meanwhile Lock are under the spotlight in the poker media, with frustration over their slow payouts turning into pointed questions about fund segregation and liquidity... I am really not sure whether this is just bad feeling over payout delays or whether there is anything factual to back it up at this point. I will keep a close eye on developments and add a warning to my Lock reviews if and when anything more concrete shows up.
24th January 2013: Merge have announced that they are stopping their flat rakeback deals from the end of the month. All players will be moved over to their VIP loyalty scheme. Some lower volume players will lose out slightly here, though the majority of players will find that daily cashback, bonuses you can buy + tournament entries more than make up for this. The Poker Maximus event is about to start again over at Carbon Poker - seats are already being won in satellites for this big online tournament event.
3rd January 2013: Better news for those looking to deposit at Carbon Poker. I am seeing a lot more deposits coming through my players there - indicating that the move to the brand new Antigua-based cashier has done the trick! With the lack of deposits over the last few months and some smaller 'Skins' leaving - there have been 'overlays' in many of the tournaments there too. I'm advising readers to take advantage quick, once the deposits flood back in these will soon disappear!
17th December 2012: More Merge news - RPM Poker, who were on the Merge Network, have closed their doors. Players are able to withdraw or to transfer their balances to Carbon Poker or Aced. While this is a sudden stop for this once popular brand, there were certainly some warning signs including a sudden stop to their reps posting at 2+2. I am getting a little nervous in general about Merge... the news does not seem to get any better and I would advise caution for those with balances on those sites (Lock seems like a much steadier outfit!). Second from merge is that PDC Poker have closed, this was an old brand owned and run by the same people who run Carbon and Aced, balances and deals are being transferred to those sites.
10th December 2012: Curious update today, with Zynga Poker applying for a licence from Nevada for their inter-state legal poker offering. While there is no positive news on legislation to report at the moment, there are two reasons that this is good news. Firstly that yet another 'outside' company is taking an interest in legal poker for the US has to be a good sign that momentum is building towards legislation. Second, the poker world in general would benefit greatly from the cross-over of play money players - even a few percent of them taking the real money plunge would be a huge boost to liquidity.
4th December 2012: Lots of changes on the Merge Network, with Black Chip Poker leaving and RMP and Hero Poker rumored to be following. On a brighter note, Carbon (the biggest site on Merge) have increased their welcome bonus to 200% matched up to a massive $5k, they are currently moving cashier system - which should help to solve some of the issues with depositing which have been reported. I will let you know when things settle down and visa cards are once again a viable option for US players.
13th November 2012: I started my coverage of Lock Poker yesterday, as a replacement for Cake (whose player move to Juicy Stakes seems to have gone well). Lock are really ambitious and want to offer a great player experience. I am tipping this site for some major success in 2013 (as long as they can steer clear of the political issues in the US). You can read my detailed review here and my SNG focused review here.
25th September 2012: A Shocker from Cake! As reported by Calvin Ayre, Cake have announced they are to stop taking new signups from US players, and will transfer all of their US players to the Juicy Stakes Poker brand... with whom they share the Revolution Network. This is brand new news at the moment, and I have not had time to check out Juicy Stakes, and do not know how this will affect the main site on this network Lock Poker. I'll aim to review and bring you details of the sites affected by the end of the week.
23rd September 2012: Merge deposits (affecting Carbon Poker featured here) have been experiencing some delays on the credit card side. Deposits with Money Transfers are currently the best bet (services such as Western Union). A Carbon contact has assured us that this issue is on the way to being solved, and that they expect to be back taking credit card payments by early October.
17th September 2012: While there has been some buzz in the press about the latest federal Bill - co-sponsored by long time gambling opponent Jon Kyl and John Reid, it looks like this one is not set to make it through. Pokerfuse got hold of a draft summary and noted a 15 month gap period, no sharing of liquidity with international player pools and a 16% tax rate. They also gave this bill a 1/20 chance of making it into law this time around... Meanwhile, Republicans have taken a decidedly anti online gambling stance in their pre-election documents. Looking more and more like the State-by-State scenario is our best hope before 2014 at the earliest.
22nd August 2012: No more bad-beat jackpots at Carbon Poker. This seems like a strange one for me, after all, those BBJ tables were hugely popular once the total got above around $250k. Anyway, once the current jackpot is won the pool will be closed and the special tables removed. This is the last of the major rooms worldwide to remove their bad-beat jackpots! For some better news, the guaranteed amounts for the Sunday Majors are going up for both Carbon (now $125k gtd) and Cake (now $110k gtd)... Oh and I just did a big revamp of many more US poker articles, including Cake Poker SNGs + the comparison of SNGs at US friendly sites.
10th August 2012: Two quick updates today, first - I have updated my US Poker Deposit Methods article for 2012... Carbon in particular are establishing a great track record at the moment with credit cards! Secondly, now the Full Tilt deal is signed we are looking at the latest date of 9th November for return of the cash - though players will need to go through the DOJ to get hold of this.
1st August 2012: The Full Tilt deal is on! With both Pokerstars and The Department of Justice confirming that a deal has been done, the wait for return of funds for many 1000's of players will be over soon. 90 days is the key point from the press releases, which means that there should be closure before the end of October. The actual process for getting the cash back has not yet been specified, though the DOJ (and not Pokerstars) will administer this. I will update my blog with the details as soon as these come in.
20th July 2012: Revolution Gaming update. Lock Poker have resolved their issues of mistreating partners, and I am happy to declare the incident to be closed. Unfortunately there are still come questions concerning lost deposits, and stories of a general lack of communication from customer services. Obviously I can not recommend this site for readers until this is resolved. If you want to enjoy the games on this network then Cake Poker are trouble-free, and have increased their welcome bonus too - this is now 200% up to $2000 - you can find my Cake Poker Review here.
July 15th 2012: For those players waiting for the return of their cash from Full Tilt there are a couple of news items which might indicate some movement (though we have thought this often before!). First, Ray Bitar of Full Tilt has flown to the US to surrender to the Feds (and has since been released on bail). Second, Pokerstars have filed for dismissal of the charges against them... more as soon as we have something concrete.
25th June 2012: Some better news today... Carbon Poker have added an Omaha Calculator to their list of downloadable freebies for players. This combines an odds calculator, HUD and more.
25th June 2012: Some strange dealings at Lock Poker have lead me to decide to temporarily ask readers not to deposit there. A mixture of some very shady sounding issues with an affiliate, stories of non-responses to support requests and an amazing e-mail sent from the CEO of Lock have combined to lead me to this (hopefully temporary) conclusion. Just to clarify - I am warning SNG Planet readers not to deposit at Lock Poker until further notice. On the same network (Revolution Gaming) Intertops Poker have announced that they are no longer accepting new US players, though players from the rest of the world can still join this brand - no explanation was given, though payment processing / uncertain legality could have been the causes.
7th May 2012: News coming through that Lock Poker have bought the Cake Poker network. Lock are currently on Merge (the same network as Carbon Poker). My initial feeling is that this will be good news for Cake, who are starting to fall behind a little in the US traffic rankings. Lock did focus their marketing on the more experienced players (using online and live poker pros) which could well lead to the 'better' players leaving Merge... Early days yet - though this certainly looks like a positive development.
26th April 2012: Thought I had better add an entry for the amazing Full Tilt / Pokerstars news this week, which could affect US readers in 2 ways. Firstly those waiting for repayment of their Full Tilt balances have reason to be optimistic if the rumors that Stars are to buy Full Tilt are true. More important for the longer-term health of US poker is that the negotiation is about a 'settlement' with the DoJ - which could eventually clear the way for Pokerstars to return to the US once the market gets regulated - all speculation at the moment, albeit with some good reasons to be optimistic.
9th April 2012: A Big announcement by Americas Cardroom, this smaller site (they were previously known as Doyles Room) are on the Yatahay Network and are planning a big MTT with a $250k prize pool to mark the anniversary of black friday. I will be playing on ACR this week and bring you a review - in the meantime you can find a summary in the entries of my Fish-o-Meter widget, or check out Americas Card Room for yourself here.
13th March 2012: The State of Nevada look like they will have their own intrastate online poker operational by the fall. While this is not particularly interesting for most players (even in Nevada there will not be enough players to build the critical mass for great games). It is looking more and more like a starting point for wider legislation - the question seems to have shifted to 'will it be states or federal legislation first?' rather than 'will we see legal poker' - great to have some good news!
28th Feb 2012: Well the news does not get better, another indictment - this time of Calvin Ayre and Bodog. This site already switched branding in the US and was operating under the name 'Bovada', this continues to welcome US players under their .lv domain. Meanwhile the non-US old Bodog brand is fully operational under the bodog.eu domain.
9th Feb 2012: Everleaf Network leave the US Market. Another casualty of frozen funds from payment processors and Federal indictments. Everleaf have been forced out of the US. While their own stats claim only 20% of the total players were US-based, this is still a significant blow to some of the sites which focused their marketing there.
6th Jan 2012: Some on-site news, I have been working hard on updating and upgrading my reviews of the leading sites. Both Cake and Carbon are included. You can see the new look Carbon Poker 2013 Review here (link to SNG review around half way down).
27th December: Interesting news from the DoJ just before Christmas, with the Wire Act clarified as only applying to betting on sporting events. This seems to clear the way for the individual states to pool together players should they choose to allow online poker - and with the current economic situation there are many states who could do with the money! We will have to wait and see how fast things move, and whether this opportunity at the State level triggers some of the 'vested interests' to move faster with federal legislation efforts.
4th December: Another update of an older guide now includes my top US pick in addition to the worldwide players choices. Check out the Best Site for Heads-Up Sit N Goes Here.
21st November: US players looking escape the winter can now qualify for the Aussie Millions (Jan 22nd to 28th, Melbourne, Australia) at Carbon Poker. Check out this article for more on how you can bag that $12,500 package!
17th November: Two new items. First I put together a detailed new article pitching Carbon Poker and Cake Poker head-to-head on cash games, tournaments / SNGs, software and the all important financial incentives. You can find out who won in here! Secondly, the state of Nevada have announced they are to license Intrastate real money poker from next year. This will be for Nevada residents to play other Nevada residents and is being seen as an opportunity for a new bunch of operators to gain some experience ahead of wider legislation. Again - watch this space!
9th November 2011: Some new tournaments from Carbon Poker to report on. Friday's now see the 'Fat Stack' games, which start with 1 million chips - and the 'Slim Stack' tournaments which start with just 10 chips! These innovations are currently fee-free. I am looking forward to the Fat Stack games which should see final table stacks measured in the 100's of millions. While there is also some good news coming out about Full Tilt cashouts, I will wait until something is confirmed on this before publishing. Keep and eye on my blog for the latest news.
12th October 2011: Carbon Poker have re-opened to US players from most states - this site have been closed for a while for new US signups, so this is a very welcome development... I rate Carbon highly and expect to make them my top choice for all poker formats. There are currently restrictions on the following states: New York, Kentucky, Washington DC, Maryland, Washington, Missouri and Louisiana. If you are outside of these states then you can check out my Carbon Review + special reader offer via this link.
11th October 2011: The Doyle's Room Brand is about to disappear. This will be transitioned into the (dormant) site 'America's Card Room' which is on the same network known as both Yatahay and True Poker. This should be smooth for existing players, who will apparently keep their same deals and bonuses. More as soon as I get the details!
3rd October 2011: General Full Tilt Update: Faint hopes of getting our bankrolls back have come around, thanks to news that Group Bernard Tapie are exploring a buyout. There are so many 'ifs' and 'buts' (especially where the DoJ are concerned) that this is more of a wait and see than a real sale... the hope is welcome though and statements have been issues with Feb 2012 as a target date.
21st September 2011: Full Tilt owners and pros have been named in a new civil suit by the Feds. Allegations cover the disappearence of money from what should have been segregated player funds into the pockets of Howard Lederer, Ray Bitar and Chris 'Jesus' Ferguson (and others). Looks like a bleak day for all of us with funds frozen on Full Tilt. I'll post more as the situation develops.
13th September 2011: Poker View announce they are to join the Merge Network: PokerView are a webcam poker site and apparently intend to integrate this with the Merge software moving forward. At the moment the Merge Network is used by many US players, however they temporarily stopped new US signups while they restructure their back office operations to deal with the increased player volumes. I personally love Merge, and believe this will be the best choice for US players once they re-open. Read my review of Carbon Poker here.
Don't forget to bookmark this page now - I'll update on the US scene as soon as any news comes in.