Summary of Games, Deposit Options And Pros / Cons For The Best US-Friendly Online Poker sites
Here is what you will find on this page:
- An intro and high level overview of US poker sites - focusing on the larger offshore sites.
- 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.
- 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 (WPN and BetOnline poker on the Chico Network) when it comes to guarantees and welcome bonuses. You can take advantage of this and enjoy some very good deals as we go into 2017. 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. BetOnline 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 than they have for a while. Paper checks are the most popular cash-out methods, there are some minimums in place for this.
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 Intertops Poker Review and my America's Cardroom Review and finally my BetOnline Poker 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 2017, 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 too.
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 ACR SNGs reviewed here and the BetOnline 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
Best US Poker Network: Of the 5 networks, I only rate 2 as really worth playing on. This piece compares tournaments, SNGs, Cash, software and rewards of the US networks. Which is the Best US Poker Network in 2017?
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 2017. For news and updates specific to the New Jersey gambling scene, I can recommend this site: New Jersey gambling sites as a useful resource.
US Poker Sites - Latest News Updates
1st June 2017: Intertops have become the 2nd US friendly site to offer mobile poker which is suitable for smartphones (including iPhones) and tablets. This a browser based game, and curiously works with 8-handed cash game tables only. I'm planning on checking it out further, and updating my Intertops Review this weekend. In the meantime, you can check out the new games for yourself over at www.intertops.eu
May 31st 2017: New deposits guide added today, this one covers LiteCoin, which is similar to Bitcoin (only a little less volatile), there are currently 2 US poker rooms which welcome this. Check out my LiteCoin Poker Sites guide for more.
May 21st 2017: America's Cardroom catching the news once again - this time with some innovative updates to their software client. You'll immediately notice the avatars (Alien, basketball guy and so on). You can change the mood of these by clicking on them and selecting from one of the options in the circle. Kind of reminds me of Full Tilt with... another change is that when you leave a cash game with a win, you'll be given a shot at gambling it 50 / 50 on the turn of a card. Not too sure about this one myself - though good to see continued innovation following the SNG 2.0 and 'Jackpots'.
May 2nd 2017: Boss is about to kick off. this is the 'Bigger Online Poker Series' which runs at America's Cardroom from the 3rd through to the 7th of May. There are $2 million in tournament guarantees, and the finale on Sunday the 7th is a definitely worth checking out. See www.americascardroom.com for more
6th March 2017: The schedule for the next Black Diamond Poker Open event has been released. This is a tournament festival which runs on the Bodog Poker network. US Players can reach the games via Ignition Poker. There is a $300k gtd Main Event, $3 million in overall guarantees, and a ton of variation in the schedule. Satellites are already running!
30th January 2017: Normally, special offers do not count as 'news', though the America's Cardroom Poker deal did catch my eye. By playing poker, you can get up to $100 in free bets for the upcoming Super Bowl 51. There are some easy to grab $5 bets, and some $25 bets at higher levels. Should make the big game all the more exciting!
22nd January 2017: Admin note... I just moved the 2015 news updates to the archive, if you are interested, you can find 2011 and on via the link under this news section. Will leave 2016 / 2017 here in view, until this time next year at least.
10th January 2017: America's Cardroom have announced a new tournament schedule. This adds a lot of new guarantees ($40k / week's worth) and some interesting new events on Saturdays. Mondays also become a focus, with $100k in guarantees. This site really is powering ahead when it comes to the tournament side of things. The (delayed) Sit N Go 2.0 is expected this month too.
18th October 2016: I have added a brand new in-depth article covering the Chico Poker network. This is an unusual poker network, in that is it dominated by one big site. Find out the details of how this is set up and what makes it different in my complete Chico Poker Network Guide.
4th October 2016: Players on the Equity Poker network site Full Flush Poker have found the usual website replaced with a message about 'Upgrading the Gaming Solutions', while the license of Full Flush appears to be pending in Curacao, Netherlands Antilles (the jurisdiction from which they operated). More details over at Calvin Ayre's news site. I am keeping an eye on developments and will report back, no word yet on retrieving player balances.
26th September 2016: A pre-annoucement from America's Cardroom on the Winning Poker Network. They are releasing Sit N Go 2.0 in mid-October, these are a hybrid of Jackpot SNGs and 9 player regular ones - though the details have yet to be released. They were created in collaboration with author Collin Moshman. One snippet I did pick up on is that the top prizes (one in 200 games, so it can't be super-big) will pay all 9 spots - making for some interesting ICM adjustments. I will report back here when these games are released. In the meantime you could keep an eye on www.americascardroom.eu for the latest updates.
9th September 2016: We are just 21 days from the big switch between Bovada Poker and Ignition. I have put together a detailed guide to the deposit methods available at Ignition Poker. If you have not yet got a Bitcoin wallet then I recommend you take the plunge, I have found this method to be very easy (no technical knowledge was needed). Here is my guide to Ignition Poker Deposit Methods.
August 18th 2016: I have now published 2 very detailed reviews of Ignition Poker. One is a regular review which covers every aspect of the site, and the other is my unique SNG focused review. I am hoping for big things from this poker site - lets see how it goes. Here are the links to the reviews: Ignition Poker Detailed 2016 Review + Ignition Poker Sit N Goes
August 10th 2016: After a quiet summer, a big change has been announced for Bovada Poker, which is the biggest single US poker site. They are moving to a new brand, and becoming part of Ignition Casino. Bovada will focus on Casino, Sports Betting and Horse Racing. Bovada Poker asked me (and all affiliates) to remove their poker mentions / links a while ago - I am assuming this announcement has been a long time in the planning. There are (unconfirmed) rumors that a certain Calvin Ayre is behind the Ignition Casino group. Existing Bovada players are being offered big incentives to move their accounts (cash, bonuses and tournament entries).
24th July 2016: America's Cardroom have annouced the latest in their series of poker tournament events - 3 of them! The 'Online Super Series Cubed' starts with a small buy-in event on August 14th, then a regular one (along with another $1 million guaranteed game) and then ends with a high-roller event. You'll find the full schedule and huge prize pools listed over at www.americascardroom.com
12th July 2016: In a development that caught many people (including me) by surprise, New Jersey have reached a tentative agreement with the UK to share player liquidity (ie, pool players on the same sites). There are many details still to cover, from a legal as well as a practical standpoint - if this does come about it would significantly transform the NJ sites.&
21st June 2016: A near miss to report for New York state as far as regulated in-state poker goes. While the legislation for DFS was passed, online poker was not and will now have to wait for another opportunity.
6th June 2016: High 6 Tournament event about to kick off at America's Cardroom. ACR have really taken the lead when it comes to tournament promotions, and the latest 'Mini Series' called the high 5 has almost a million in guarantees. The highlight is on Sunday the 12th and is a $420k guaranteed event. There are currently no bigger tournaments for US players. There are still some WSOP qualifiers available for those who would like to take a shot at this year's Main Event too.
31st May 2016: The Merge Poker Network has stopped accepting new US players. This network has been in decline for well over a year, pulling their promotions and stopping their once popular events. While it is possible that sites including Carbon Poker could reopen to US players again (they did stop accepting US players once before, only to allow them again after fixing some payment processing issues), for me it looks doubtful this time. BetOnline and America's Cardroom are clear favorites to take over the space that Carbon Poker's demise has left.
13th April 2016: 2 more days until the latest Online Super Series! We are already at number 6 for the big US friendly tournament event 'OSS' held at America's Cardroom. This one has a $2.5 million guaranteed prize pool, and includes another $1 million guaranteed event on Sunday the 24th April. There are satellite qualifiers to many of the 72 scheduled events running right now. As a side note, this site has also started their 2016 WSOP qualifiers which are based on their popular lottery Sit n Goes. See www.americascardroom.eu for details of both!
2nd April 2016: Bovada have always been solid when it comes to deposits and withdrawals, they have now added BitCoin to their list of options - this is now becoming a mainstream option accepted by all the offshore sites.
26th Feb 2016: PokerStars have announced the 21st March for their long-awaited US return. This will be for New Jersey residents only. I am sure that the software will be welcomed back, though of course the real draw for PokerStars pre black friday was the high volume of games and big tournament prizes, which will be difficult to replicate with the limited size of the player pool in NJ. At least we have a start, lets see how it goes from here.
2nd Feb 2016: A qualifier caught my eye over at Intertops Poker. This is for the TKPT on the Caribbean island of St Maarten. You can win a package which includes entry to the main event, accommodation and cash for your travel expenses. This event takes place from April 25th to May 1st.
10th Jan 2016: Just a quick admin note, I have moved the news updates from 2014 into the archive to keep this page tidy! Link at the bottom of the page.
US Online Poker FAQ
This section is designed to cover the most common reader questions on US poker rooms. Most of this focuses on the offshore sites, the smaller in-state sites also get a mention. In 2017 the scene is thriving, with the bigger offshore sites adding new players all the time – 2 of these (Ignition and the Winning Poker Network) can now be found in the top 10 poker sites list.
What Laws Apply to Online Poker, How Do They Affect Individual Players?
Law is one of those areas where the mainstream press is full of misinformation. Federal law is the main cause of this, and in particular, one act.
The ‘Unlawful Internet Gambling Enforcement Act’ (more commonly known by the acronym UIGEA) was passed back in 2006. Many players have been incorrectly led to believe that this makes online poker illegal. It does nothing of the sort. The UIGEA focuses on banks, financial networks and gambling site operators. It forbids them from sending money.
Individual players are not covered by Federal law at all. In fact, the legal status of players in the majority of states rests on statutes created before the internet was even conceived!
There are some restrictive states, for example Washington State and Utah explicitly ban online gambling including poker. Most states have vague wording regarding ‘gambling devices’, sometimes dating back to the 1800’s. There is no appetite at all to test these laws. No US player has ever been indicted for enjoying real money poker online. To top it off, some poker sites (BetOnline for example) are happy to offer games from the offshore locations to all 50 states.
More recently, there has been legal movement in New Jersey, Nevada and Delaware. These states now have their own state-regulated rooms. These are nowhere near the size of the big offshore sites at the time of writing.
Who Licenses the Offshore Sites?
Jurisdictions which provide licenses for gambling sites are usually small countries out in the Caribbean. The exception is Kahnawake, which is a native reservation inside modern-day Canada. Popular licensing jurisdictions include:
Antigua and Barbuda, Curacao (formerly known as the Netherlands Antilles) and Panama.
What Deposit Methods Can I Use?
While the UIGEA continues to make depositing and withdrawing difficult, you’ll have several ways to make poker site payments.
Banks will try to block credit card deposits, though they are not always successful. You’ll often get that credit card deposit through first time. If it is blocked, prepaid credit cards make a good alternative. Make sure you check with your poker site to find out which brands work.
All of the big offshore sites are switching over to Bitcoin for their finances. Once you are set up to use this (or Litecoin), then you’ll be able to make deposits and withdrawals from any of the sites as often as you wish.
The final commonly used deposit method involves using money transfer companies like Western Union or MoneyGram. Since these companies will not directly transact with online poker rooms, you will be sending cash to an individual. The sites will give you the details. While this sounds like an odd way of getting money on board, it is very reliable! You can find guides to the individual methods, and an overall guide to US Poker deposits over on my Poker Deposit Methods main page.
How Do I Get Money Out Again?
If you deposited with Bitcoin, then withdrawing using this is super-easy. Credit card deposits are one-way (in!) only, so you will need a new way of getting money out again. You might be surprised to know that the go-to withdrawal method for US poker players is a paper check.
Most of the sites will courier a paper check to your door for free once per month. After that you’ll need to pay an admin fee. You should also watch out for the minimum withdrawals. If this is high, then it can make withdrawing small bankrolls tricky.
You can also withdraw via money transfer services, though usually you will need to pay the fee.
What Sites Can Players from Nevada, Delaware and New Jersey Reach?
Each of the 3 regulated States have their own poker rooms. In the case of NV and DE, players can choose to play cross-state at any of the sites. All the state poker rooms are regulated, and are formed in conjunction with local casinos.
New Jersey is the only state with a big enough population to make their sites work in terms of prize pools and choice. Even their 8 million does not seem to be enough to get too much traction. The main hope for players is that more states regulate, and then allow cross-state play which will increase the liquidity for the games.
Several offshore sites do not allow players from these states (or New York / Maryland). BetOnline Poker is the exception, allowing players from all 50 states.
The balance for players is between a much bigger site, with a wide choice of games, and lack of oversight / control that you’d get with state regulated rooms.
Are the Offshore Sites Legit? How Can I Guarantee My Safety?
Some of the offshore poker sites have been around in one form or another for more than 10 years. Poker sites which are not well-run simply do not last that long. There are some things I look out for when deciding whether a poker site is legitimate. You will find those below. First, a note on guaranteeing your safety (the safety of your money). Nobody who tells you that you are 100% safe is being straight with you – there are simply too many variables. There could be something like Black Friday in the future, or one of the sites could go rogue… I play at several offshore sites, and hold balances at them, and do not worry day-to-day. I strongly recommend getting a Bitcoin wallet set up, that way you can quickly move your money around, and will not need to keep it all on any one site… the best way to reduce your personal risk is to spread the exposure.
Simple Safety Checks:
Three things to do before you commit any cash, all take 1 minute and could save you from any nasty surprises!
#1 Make sure that your site has an operating license. This will come from one of the offshore jurisdictions (Curacao, Antigua, Panama) or else Kahnawake (the sovereign native territory in Canada).
#2 Make sure that the deal is externally verified. Specialist companies test the fairness of the deal for poker sites (and also for casino games). Look for a badge in the footer of your poker room’s website. Names include TST (Technical Systems Testing), iGaming Labs and eCogra.
#3 Make sure that there are no current scandals or scams. If a lot of players are complaining about withdrawal delays, this should be a red flag. There will always be one or two people bleating on about bad beats – you’ll need to filter those out and look for payment delay type problems.
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 through to 2015. If you are interested, you can find them here.