Here I Go Through The Poker Sites Still Open To US Players In 2013
And Compare Their Offerings Of Cash Games
Update: All change once again, as Cake leave the US and Lock become their replacement after buying the Cake Network and renaming this as 'Revolution Gaming'. Lock are bold, ambitious and have already assembled themselves a stable of online pros - I'm backing this site to be the big US success story of 2013.
Cash games are where you can really make your skill differences count at the poker table. While the days of massive volume at Stars might be over for now, there are still some great games available – especially at the lower to middle limits.
This article is now in its 3rd version, and the news for US based real money poker players is getting gradually better. Lock Poker left the Merge Network to join Cake Poker and form the new 'Revolution Gaming Network'. This means that we now have 2 serious rivals in Merge (Carbon) and Cake - and it is the players who are benefiting from increased bonuses and some really nice incentives... those sites want your custom!
At the same time the rebranded Bodog (they are called Bovada in the US) seem to have having some problems with their payments. This site one of seveal 'minnows' who include Americas Cardroom and Bet Online. I do not have a comfortable feeling about the safety of deposits on these smaller sites - and so will stick with the bigger networks and sites within those networks which have a track record of successful withdrawals... after all, there would be little point playing on the 'best real money cash game site ever!!' if you were not able to access the money you won!
Just a quick aside. I have been updating a lot of reviews, payment method articles and related pieces like this one every few months to keep on top of the changing US situation. The main page to keep an eye on is my main page featuring poker sites open to US players in 2013. I will update there first when there is any major news - if you want the news even faster you can always check out our Facebook Group.
Ok, here is what to expect at the 2 main networks, my pick at the end of this article:
Best US Site For Real Money Cash Games 2013 – Carbon Poker (Merge Network)
Carbon are the biggest site on the biggest US friendly poker network - Merge. Before the recent departure of Lock Poker they were approaching peaks of 10,000 simultaneous players. Even after the split they maintain a healthy edge in numbers with 7k peaks putting them ahead of the 6k seen on the Revolution network.
Does bigger equal better?
Well, Carbon have a great choice of real money poker games - whichrange from 2c / 4c blinds, up to $50 / $100, with a the largest number at 50c / $1 and below and a smaller (but significant) choice up to $5 / $10 blinds. There are heads-up, 6-handed and 9-handed tables with fixed limit and pot limit games running too. While there are many poker variations available, the focus is very much on NL Holdem and Pot Limit Omaha.
In addition to game choice I put Carbon well ahead when it comes to software - in both the looks and the playability. One cool feature is the animations which players can trigger at the tables by typing in certain keywords. These add a 'fun' element to the game, which keeps the recreational players happy - leading to that 'fun == loose' atmosphere in the games (making them very profitable for those who have some poker strategy knowledge!).
Key to these cash games are the mainly recreational player base of Carbon Poker, the games are noticably softer than those at PokerStars (for example). Bad-beat jackpot tables are popular at Carbon, especially once the jackpot goes over $100k, the rake is bigger in these games, however the recreational players will flock to them once the prize gets big - making them even softer than the regular tables and balancing the extra fees.
Carbon have a great loyalty scheme with several levels, this gives cash bonuses, daily cashback - and goods from their online store. I consider this sheme generous by poker site standards. I can also offer SNG Planet readers an extra big bonus - 200% matched (max $5k) + a free cool poker calculator, simply use Carbon Poker coupon code CARBONPX when you register!
Alternate Site For US Players Seeking Real Money Great Cash Games - Lock Poker (Revolution Network)
Lock brought a lot of players from the Merge Network and injected a lot of marketing dollars, which are being put to good use right now with big bonuses and hugely improved loyalty deals! Lock not only brough a stagnant network back to life, they are now a serious rival to the Merge Network, who at one point looked like single-handedly dominating the US-friendly poker market.
Below are some of the ket reasons note on why I am tipping Lock Poker to become the #1 US site and have significant global appeal in 2013.
- Already a big player base, and growing all the time.
- The old Cake Network software is ripe for an upgrade, even though the monochrome design looks cool on its own - an upgrade could build on this strong system and lead to even more appeal.
- A big stable of online poker pros will help to spread their brand name across the world. Some of the long list of names include Annette Obrestadt, Chris Moorman and Erik Lynch.
- That bonus, you just can not beat that welcome bonus!!
Lock Poker currently offer the 2nd biggest selection of games available and goes right up to the mid-stakes. You will find PLO and PLO Hi-Lo increasingly popular too. Expect to have a good choice up to 25c / 50c, a fair choice up to $1 / $2 and a few higher stakes games too, hit the tables on a weekday evening for the max number of games which often hit the $5 / $10 blinds – and also the max number of recreational players unwinding after a day in the office.
What I really like about Lock is their loyalty schemes. You will also find a giant 200% to $4k welcome bonus too. With the two big networks fighting hard for players, you will always find a great set of promotions on the Lock Poker Website too!
Soft games, great loyalty rewards and welcomes US players… a great combo, use Bonus Code SNGPLANET to claim your 200% matched welcome bonus up to $4k at LockPoker.eu - the promos and loyalty deals will soon follow!!
Best US Site For Cash Games 2013 – Quick Note On The Rest
Bovada, Americas Cardroom and Bet Online all offer real money cash games for US Players. These are smaller player pools, though you will usually still have a choice of up to 30 tables (evenings / weekends). I am not currently comfortable recommending any of these sites - and feel that the 'big-2' offer better choice, safety and value. This might change for Bovada in the near future, and I will continue to check that site (and the feedback from players and other webmasters) and let you all know when this site becomes a good choice again.
The same applies for any regulated rooms which spring up, I am not expecting too much action at the upcoming Nevada legal poker sites - however I am open to changing my mind on this subject should they take off!
Conclusion / Next Steps – Cash Game Poker Sites For US Readers
With the two networks fighting for players, there is a great opportunity for US based readers to enjoy some big incentives as we get to the end of 2012. If I had to pick one site only it would be Lock Poker at the moment, the new Revolution Network really are making a big effort to attract and retain players with big bonuses and incentives - which has to be good for you, the player!
You can claim a massive 200% welcome bonus up to $4k with bonus code SNGPLANET - check out Lock Poker for yourself now!