Summary of Games, Deposit Options And Pros / Cons For The Best US-Friendly Online Poker sites
There are three main parts to the information here:
1) An intro and high level overview of US poker sites - focusing on the larger offshore sites.
2) Below the 'Biggest Sites' box you will find a listing of many more detailed guides, including pages covering regulated sites, specific poker formats (US tournaments, cash and SNGs all have pages) and practical guides like deposit and withdrawal methods.
3) After that is a news feed, summarizing the latest news in quick-fire format.
10,000's of US players are enjoying online poker at the moment - and while I’m recommending some caution for all readers, there is no legal reason at Federal level not to join the fun yourself. There is some serious rivalry between the sites (particularly Bovada, WPN 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 2014. Deposits and withdrawals are still an issue of course. Sites are still accepting credit and bank cards with some success - with Visa going through particularly well at the moment. 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 2014 than they have for a while. Paper checks are the most popular cash-out methods, there are some minimums in place for this.
Relative Size Of Offshore US Sites - June 2014
The numbers on the pie chart above are based on the 7 day average for cash game players according to Poker Scout. Tournament and Sit N Go players usually make up a number several times as big. As you can see, Bovada (the US facing part of the Bodog brand) are the biggest single room - in fact they are 8th overall in the global rankings. Regulated sites are still small, despite the hyperbole the biggest sites are attracting 400 concurrent cash game players between them at peak times in New Jersey, with the Nevada sites smaller still. This is only the start for regulation, and I hope to bring a lot of good news on this subject later in the year.
Special Notice: I have removed Lock Poker from this page and recommend readers do not deposit there. They are struggling with cash-out issues - and have owed a lot of players a lot of money for a long time now. I will be happy to cover them again, though only once everyone is paid and the consensus among players is that it is safe to return to the tables.
Articles List: Comparisons, Payment Methods and Game-Specific US Poker Articles
Detailed US Site Reviews: You'll find these reviews more than comprehensive, going through the cash games, tournaments, sit and goes, software, bonuses, deposits and incentives. These are more than just a dry list of features which you can find on other sites, my reviews include opinions, pros / cons and screenshots too. Here is my Carbon Poker Review and my Bovada Poker Review and my America's Cardroom Review
US Deposit Methods Articles: Just completed a big revamp of this impportant area of the site, with the help of an experienced US colleague. The good news is that deposits are pretty stable in 2014, with credit cards working surprisingly well This list includes a main US Poker Deposit Methods piece, one which focuses on US Withdrawal Methods and site specific articles covering Carbon Poker, and Bovada
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 Bovada Poker SNGs review here, ACR SNGs 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 Site 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 Site 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
Regulated Sites In NV and NJ: You can find info on the sites and upcoming legislation in this article covering the Regulated US Poker Sites in 2014
Bovada (Bodog) Are The Biggest US Site - Check Out Their Super Sundays!
US Poker Sites - Latest News Updates
14th July 2014: An odd news item today over at Calvin Ayre's site. A California tribe called the Iipay Nation of Santa Ysabel has announced they will offer real money poker games from their land without waiting for State regulation. They have some kind of licensing from the Kahnawake tribe and will open up their games worldwide, though you'll only be able to deposit from CA. Whether this will work out, only time will tell. Here is the link to the original story.
26th June 2014: Bovada have announced that they are pulling out of Nevada and Delaware (they already left NJ). It does seem like the exit of the offshore sites has had little impact on the number of players at the intra-State sites. This made the national press, with some clutching at straws on payments included...On a more positive note, Bovada has announced a $1,000,000 guaranteed poker tournament series, starting July 7th. Qualifiers to this event are already running.
18th June 2014: Despite a lot of finger pointing (at offshore sites and the affiliates who promote them), the regulated in-State sites continue to attract only small amount of traffic. I have just added a pie-chart to this page showing the size of the main players, to put this into context the biggest NJ site (Party / Borgata) only manages 7-day averages of 140 players. My personal feeling is that the State-by-State model is in trouble - with only a large network of States pooling their games able to turn the tide.
30th May 2014: Bovada can now be added to the list of sites no longer accepting players from New Jersey. Existing players can keep their accounts. This is the last of the 'big' (relatively speaking) sites to leave and just leaves the minnows or the regulated sites.
26th May 2014: More news from the regulated States, the Equity Poker Network has stopped new accounts from NV. DE and NJ. It looks like the pressure applied by the New Jersey authorities who are blaming offshore sites for their slow takeup is starting to have an effect. My opinion is that the offshore sites are a minior influence at best - as outlined in this blog post.
14th May 2014: The Winning Poker Network (which includes America's Cardroom and Black Chip Poker) have announced they are stopping activity in the regulated States of New Jersey, Nevada and Delaware. Merge (Carbon Poker) have already pulled out of these States, which leaves Bovada as the only mid-sized offshore site happy to accept players - along with a number of tiny sites. Players who had cash balances will be able to log on and make withdrawals from those States.
8th May 2014: Some State news today, bills have been introduced in New York looking to regulate online poker. As you might expect from the State who were behind the 'Black Friday' crack-down, sites who broke the UIGEA rules after 2006 are not going to be allowed to reply. A similar bill last year did not make it to a vote, so it is too early to set high expectations just yet.
29th April 2014: Poker Host, who recently left Merge for the Equity Poker Network have caused a mini-storm by banning winning players from their room. These players are tagged as 'aggressive' and are often good multi-tablers... While there are lots of angry voices on various forums and news sites, I would be willing to bet that there are many recreational players who are looking forward to the games getting easier!
9th April 2014: Carbon Poker are to bring back their bad-beat jackpot. Before they dropped this about a year ago, this used to pay 6 and even 7 figures to people getting beaten holding quad 8's or better. The new jackpot will not involve contributions from players in the form of higher rake - making it a rival to 'The Beast' over at ACR. I'll update my review as soon as this goes live!
2nd April 2014: Comcast ISP users have reported issues logging on to Bovada from some States. Comcast have denied that they are behind this, which adds a little mystery to the situation! The solution is easy, even for non-technical people, you switch your 'Domain Name Server' (or DNS) from that used by your ISP to the Google one. Here are the instructions over at Google.
29th March 2014: Merge Network news... PokerHost have announced their imminent move over to the Equity Poker Network. It is estimated that this will take some 20% of Merge's Players to this new home. For me this fits in with the pattern of major 'skins' leaving Merge, who then grow back the numbers through their main brand, Carbon Poker.I will keep an eye on the Equity Network and start to cover them here if they gain significant popularity.
21st March 2014: Some small-scale though welcome news from the Winning Poker Network and their oldest member, America's Cardroom. Their flagship weekly points race called 'The Beast' will no longer require playing on special tables, or in fact any special rake consideration at all. This will instead grow from the site's standard rake. Good news for cash games players, particularly those who enjoy putting in the hours and / or multi-tabling. I also added a new article concerning this network today, this one focuses on Deposit And Withdrawal Methods.
17th March 2014: There are 2 great online poker events about to start for US players, the Online Super Series On the Winning Poker Network returns on the 28th for it's 3rd running with $900k in total guarantees and a $200k main event. Bovada (Bodog) have trumped this with a massive event in the form of the Black Spade Open, which has $2.5 Million in guarantees and a post Black-Friday US online tournament prize pool record of $300,000 guaranteed in their main event. You can find out more about both of these in my Online Tournament Events page here.
10th March 2014: Carbon Poker have announced changes to their tournaments. There will be lower late registration, more turbo events and poker variations and more satellite qualifiers to the nightly guarantees. This follows consultation with many players on the Merge network - great to see a site listening!
25th February 2014: Interesting news from the regulated States today, with Nevada and Delaware signing a deal to share liquidity on licensed sites. This should be a small but significant traffic boost for the NV rooms - especially as the Delaware skins did not really get enough traffic to make them interesting to many players (a vicious circle). Of course, this also sets a precident for other States to follow in the future... we will have to wait and see how things work out.
16th February 2014: After a quiet month for US poker, Carbon have just done something noteworthy by releasing the first mobile poker app for US players. This is optimized for iPhones, though worked great on my iPad and just about coped with my Android phone. Let us hope that this is the start of things to come as far as device compatibility is concerned.
25th January 2014: Carbon (Merge) have announced that they are no longer accepting players from New Jersey or Delaware. No mention of Nevada in this announcement. The biggest offshore site Bovada (Bodog Brand) still has its doors open for residents of both states.
21st January 2014: Bovada have increased their tournament prize pool guarantees. An extra $100,000 per week has been added, with a focus on smaller and mid buy-in events - great news for tournament fans, as the buy-ins remain the same.
13th January 2014: COPs is coming back! The Carbon Online Poker Series is set to make a return on the 9th Feb. This tournament event is very popular and now has prize pools totalling $1.2 million - plenty of satellites to make sure that the games are full too. I'm predicting big things from Carbon and the Merge Network in 2014, and COPs will make a great start.
10th January 2014: Sponsorship of sports teams does not usually make the news feed here, however this time things are different. The NJ Devils and 76ers deal with Party Poker is the first cross over of a newly legal US poker site into the world of sports and media. This has to be a significant development and will help make a lot of people aware that poker is now legal and regulated in New Jersey. Lets hope this is the shape of things to come.
8th January 2014: The Winning Poker Network, whose members include Amerca's Cardroom and True Poker, have now started accepting Bitcoin as a payment method. There are several smaller sites including Seals with Clubs who accept BTC, however this is the first established network to do so. It will be interesting to see how this one works out.
10th December 2013: PokerStars ambitions of returning to the US took a hit today as their application for a New Jersey license was suspended for 2 years due to an 'unresolved federal indictment'. They have not given up the fight, and are in dialogue with the licensing authorities... meanwhile Party and 888 will be rubbing their hands at the thought of having a 2+ year head-start!
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!
Don't forget to bookmark this page now - I'll update on the US scene as soon as any news comes in.
Note: I have now archived the news updates from 2011 and 2012. If you are interested, you can find them here.