?? Online Poker for USA Players
Congratulations, you’ve decided to try out the most popular card game on the planet!
Poker is no stranger to thrills, turnarounds, or turmoil, but things get even more exciting when you start playing online. And you couldn’t have picked a better time to pick up this amazing game.
Despite numerous legal obstacles, online poker sites are seeing a resurgence in the US. This directly resulted in new tables popping up all over the country, as well as new offshore sites making moves.
Such an increase in quantity has its downsides, too. It made things much more difficult for the average player. You never know when you might stumble upon a bad poker site, losing both your time and money in the process.
With that problem in mind, we created this online poker guide for USA players. It contains everything there is to know about poker sites available within the country. But we didn’t stop there.
In addition to the best place to play online poker for real money, we also touched upon the most popular variants of this game, as well as some incredibly useful tools and legal tips.
Once you’re done reading, you won’t only be able to find the best poker sites, but you’ll also be able to play like a pro. So, sit back, relax, and prepare to make a splash at every table you sit at. Ready?
? Top Places Offering Online Poker To USA Players
Even if you have all the skills and the tools in the world, that’s still not enough. To always be in the best position to win, you need to find a quality online poker site.
Searching for one might take hours or even days, which is valuable time that you could have used to hunt for that elusive Royal Flush.
We asked both players and industry experts to recommend us as many US poker sites as possible and we tested them all. Don’t worry – we didn’t cut any corners. Every site was graded using the same approach, with a special focus on everything that goes into a proper place to play poker.
The result is the list you see below. Every poker site we highlighted is 100% legal and safe, so you don’t have anything to worry about. Pick your poison and start playing. Good luck!
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❓ A Great Poker Site Offers...
You probably hear the expression ‘great poker site’ quite often. Everyone goes on about these awe-inspiring tables and websites, but it’s not always clear what that means.
To get to the bottom of this conundrum, we analyzed all the sites in our top list. The goal of this analysis was to see what they all have in common. After a few weeks of consistent gameplay and visiting tables with various limits and rulers, we were able to see a pattern.
Afterwards, we converted that pattern to a list of essential qualities that all US poker sites must have. So, if you see a website that checks most or all the boxes below, you know you’ve found yourself a keeper.
The foundation of every poker site is its software. From the design of the table to the animations and the UI, almost everything depends on the software that’s used by the site.
Winning Poker, Creatiosoft, and Digient are considered to be the cream of the crop when it comes to software providers. However, that doesn’t mean the market is top-heavy.
On the contrary – there are many indie studios and companies that make release stellar software for all types of players.
So, how do we even define great poker site software? Well, first and foremost, it mustn’t be buggy. Regardless of the amount of traffic or other factors, the gameplay must flow smoothly and evenly for all players.
Also, the best software doesn’t put a strain on your smartphone or computer. That’s right, top poker sites must work flawlessly even if you have an older device.
You should also expect to see full HTML5 compatibility, which is the current standard for all gambling-related content on the web.
The software also affects the number of features and commodities you are treated to. Suppliers are aware that nobody is interested in bare-bones tables, so they strive to make the experience as fun as possible.
Always test out a new site, especially if they have a demo version you can try out. This will allow you to gain an insight into the quality of the software.
Always test out a new site, especially if they have a demo version you can try out. This will allow you to gain an insight into the quality of the software.
Just like live casinos, online poker sites must be open to players 24/7. If you feel like playing in the middle of the night, you should be able to do so without any hassle whatsoever.
Some websites only keep their tables open during the day, mainly as a means of saving money and avoiding the need to handle too much traffic.
Of course, this is a textbook example of cutting corners, and online poker sites that do this don’t deserve your time.
Sometimes, websites close their tables in the evening because of plain laziness. Running them around the clock means having support on standby, and smaller sites simply aren’t willing to shoulder these expenses just so players can indulge their poker needs in the middle of the night.
In reality, this is a bad decision. Without these extra working hours, a site relinquishes not just profit, but a part of its player base, too.
People want to be able to join tables at all times, and a lack of around-the-clock gameplay can put them off and lead them to explore other options.
Also, you should observe the amount of traffic during nighttime. Even though a site might be open to players, you shouldn’t have to wait for an hour for more people to join in. If you see a healthy amount of players at all times, go for it.
Fishy Player Pool
Your performance in online poker is mainly dependent on the quality of your hand. This means that even a beginner can theoretically beat a pro player if Lady Luck is on their side. However, hand quality is just one piece of the puzzle.
Even if you have a superior hand, better and more experienced players can certainly gain the upper hand in the long run. Thus, you shouldn’t start off by playing at online poker sites with lots of experienced players.
Instead, you should aim for sites that have a lot of fish – inexperienced players that make erratic decisions. Such a move is quite possibly the best chance of you boosting your bankroll early one.
Remember, online poker isn’t just about your skills. It’s also about assessing the level of your opponents’ skills and exploiting their weaknesses accordingly.
Observe the action at the tables over the course of a few days or hours. If you see lots of braindead moves and stupid decisions, take the plunge and relieve others of their cash.
Rakeback - In Any Form
If you’re new to US online poker sites, you don’t really need to pay much attention to rakes and rakebacks. However, as your skill level increases and you start aiming for higher goals, a good rakeback policy can be the difference-maker when it comes to your profits.
In order to understand the concept of rakebacks, we first need to clarify what a rake even is.
Real money poker sites usually take a certain percentage of every real-money pot on their platform. That’s one of their main ways of profiting.
To offset this and provide benefits to their players, those same sites redistribute the rake back to the players. We know, it sounds confusing, so let’s look at an example.
You’re playing at a table where the pot is $1,000 and the rake is 10%. The poker site takes $100 but gives back 10% of that $100, divided amongst all players at the table.
It does not seem like much, but getting a few bucks every now and then can be a significant boost to your efforts.
Additionally, some online poker sites pay rakebacks to players on a weekly basis. The more you play, the more you can get.
It’s also worth mentioning that the rise of rakebacks resulted in players playing multiple tables at once. Even though you might lose a significant portion of your hands, the reimbursement will make the playing session worthwhile.
The beauty of online poker is that you can always win, no matter your skill level of strategy. And when you win, you should be able to claim your winnings as quickly as possible.
You shouldn’t even pay attention to online poker sites that delay payments to players. Every single transaction should be processed instantly and without unnecessarily long waiting times.
For instance, if credit card withdrawals take 3-5 because the bank needs that much time to clear them, poker sites shouldn’t add to that waiting time.
To be certain that you’re not falling into a trap, check player reviews for all sites that you’re interested in. If people constantly complain about delayed withdrawals, it’s a red flag.
Or you could go with one of our recommended poker sites for US players. All of them process payment instantly, otherwise we wouldn’t even put them on our list.
High MTT Guarantees
Multi-table tournaments (MTTs) are the pinnacle of online poker. You have to traverse many battles and outsmart a plethora of players in order to reach the finals and get a crack at that prize pool.
To make all that effort worthwhile, the MTT needs to have a high guaranteed prize pool. What does this mean, exactly?
Well, US online poker sites always set a fixed amount of money that’s guaranteed to go to the players. Of course, you can win some more along the way, but the prize pool should be your main goal.
For example, Bovada Poker might have a $2 million weekly prize pool, which would be split amongst players, depending on their placement when all is said and done.
Don’t settle for measly amounts. Play at low-paying tournaments yields nothing but stress and unnecessary risks, as you won’t be paid much once you exit the tournament. Be smart and only risk your entrance fee for a big payday.
US States With Regulated Online Poker
Online poker in the US was, from the get-go, largely affected by the Federal Wire Act of 1961. This controversial law made it a federal crime to wire money related to gambling purposes.
The reason why it was passed was in order to cripple the stranglehold that the Mob had over betting shops, casinos, and poker rooms.
While the general public mostly saw this as a good move, it turned out to be unnecessarily restrictive for everyone that enjoyed legal and legitimate gambling.
When Planet Poker, the world’s first online poker site, launched in 1997, the authorities didn’t bat an eye. Playing poker over the internet was a complete novelty, and both legislators and law enforcement agencies are slow to catch up with such advancements.
Everything came crashing down when the Unlawful Internet Gambling Enforcement Act of 2006 (UIGEA) was passed. This effectively crippled poker sites in the US, as 888poker, PartyPoker and many more left the country, out of fear that they will be slammed with federal indictments.
Other brands, such as Poker Stars and Full Tilt Poker remained, encouraged by the fact that UIGEA went mostly unenforced. Of course, this wasn’t the case for long, as evident in the Black Friday trials of 2011. Three of the biggest poker sites were shut down and had their domain seized.
The online poker industry was all but decimated until the Department of Justice unexpectedly changed the way it interpreted the Federal Wire act of 1961. Interestingly, this new legal opinion stated that said act only applied to sports betting, and not online casinos or poker sites.
What this meant was that states were technically free to legalize online poker and regulate their own in-state markets. This led the following states to take the plunge and open the door for legal poker sites to enter the country:
The Garden State is the largest regulated online gambling market in the country.
Even though sports betting and online casinos shoulder most of the weight, online poker sites have seen a massive rise in recent years.
Gov. Christie signed a landmark gambling bill in 2013, ushering in the age of legal poker.
Currently, there are seven poker sites accessible within the state, spread over four different operators. All of them have either promo codes or regular promotions, so it’s easy to get some extra value.
Even though it’s considered to be the nation’s gambling capital, there’s only one site available to US players – WSOP.com.
Interestingly, Nevada was the first state to legalize online poker sites, in 2011, but they’ve failed to capitalize on their frontrunner status.
What’s even more perplexing is that the Silver State still hasn’t made online casinos legal.
Since most poker sites in the US are run by online casino operators, it seems that this is the main obstacle to Nevada overtaking NJ as the online poker Mecca.
Because Delaware is such a small state, they knew they couldn’t muster the load of regulating online poker sites on their own.
Instead, when they legalized them in 2014, they signed a deal to participate in a tri-state poker network with NV and NJ.
Currently, there are three horse tracks that also run their own online poker sites. All three of those sites are basically a rebrand of the iconic 888poker skin we all know and love.
Last to arrive at the party, Pennsylvania made online poker legal in 2017. Gov. Wolf put his signature on a lucrative gaming package that saw expansions on multiple fronts.
However, only PokerStars PA is available to those located in the Quaker State.
It’s unclear whether online casino operators will throw their hats into the ring, but the monopoly is hiring the state’s large player base.
Popular Forms Of Poker Played Online
Just like many other card games that can be played online, poker comes in several forms. This comes as no surprise, especially given the fact that people have been playing it since the 19th century.
While the basis of the game stays pretty much the same, it’s the minor differences in rules that make every poker form unique. Some online poker sites only focus on the most popular ones, while others are most versatile.
Ultimately, it’s these four variants that you’ll encounter the most at US websites:
No Limit Hold'em
Also known as Texas Hold’em, this particular form is played with five community cards in the middle, which are visible to everyone. There are also two hole cards that are dealt to each player at the beginning of every hand.
It’s called No-Limit because you can bet an unlimited amount of money in any of the four rounds of betting – pre-flop, post-flop, turn, and river. In Limit Hold’em, you can’t do this and that’s why most players prefer No-Limit.
The amount of money you can win is virtually unlimited, but there’s also a high degree of personal responsibility and decision making involved.
Pot Limit Omaha
PLO has been gaining traction in the last few years, mainly because players are looking for exciting alternatives to Texas Hold’em. In this particular form, players are dealt four hole cards, instead of two.
To make their best hand possible, they have to use exactly two out of their four hole cards, along with three of the five community cards.
Also, unlike Texas Hold’em, PLO doesn’t allow players to bet any amount they want. The maximum you can bet is the pot amount, plus your call.
One of the most exciting forms out there, 8 Game is being adopted by more and more online poker sites.
It’s played as a mixed game, a combination of 8 different poker variants: 2-7 Triple Draw, Limit Hold’em, Omaha Hi-Lo, Razz, Seven Card Stud, Stud Hi-Lo, No-Limit Texas Hold’em, and PLO.
The rotation is fixed, exactly in the order we listed them at. Usually, the form that’s currently played changes after a certain time interval.
To be able to win, you need to know the rules of all eight games. Although it sounds challenging, a little practice is all you need to destroy other players. In 8 Game, the probability of running into opponents that don’t know how to play is much higher than in PLO or Texas Hold’em.
Short Deck Holdem
In SD Hold’em, all the 2s, 3s, 4s, and 5s are removed. The Ace can function both as a 1 and as an 11, and a hand of A, 6, 7, 8, and 9 is considered as a straight.
Another significant difference is that a Flush beats a Full House, as it’s much harder to make a flush than a full house in a deck of 36 cards.
This particular form became massively popular in the 2010s, as it’s played at a much faster pace and there’s a higher probability of getting a good hand.
Popular Tracking Tools & Software
Nowadays, it’s not enough to just practice different strategies and grind hands out until your skill level rises. With all the advancements in technology, there’s now an abundance of software that’s tailor-made for poker players.
It can be hard to think about so many things and possible outcomes at the same time, so these tools and add-ons will help you retain a clear head and keep your eyes on the prize.
Our team uses an abundance of tools at online poker sites, as we all have different preferences. However, we all agree that the following four are absolutely essential, regardless of your skill level, experience, and playstyle.
When you’re a few hours deep into a table, it’s hard to remember everything that went down. This lack of awareness can lead to bad decisions and unnecessary losses.
Well, Poker Tracker prevents this from happening. With this program, you can keep track of things such as hand histories, winnings per hand, cumulative profits and losses, and everything else that you need to be aware of.
Most importantly, you can see all of this in the form of easy-to-read tables and graphs.
If Poker Tracker specializes in displaying stats from your past hands, then Holdem Manager focuses on what’s going on in the present. In the latest version of the app, they’ve added some new advanced stats and more options for situational popups.
We loved these popups in particular, as they alerted us of things and probabilities we wouldn’t think of right away. You can also get reports and live statistics that change with every draw, bet, or community card reveal.
Now we’re getting really technical. PioSolver is a numbers-based piece of poker software, specializing in giving you tips for post-flop spots, stack sizes, and even suggests how much should you bet.
If you really want to turn online poker into a fine science, PioSolver is the app for you. It’s a bit more advanced than Holdem Manager and Poker Tracker, so you only really need it once you gain some experience.
PokerStove is mostly a comparison tool. It allows you to see the win probabilities for every hand stacked up against other possible hands. You can use it for 1v1 situations, or you can take a glance at the various hand ranges you can see in their tables.
While there are many equity calculators available, PokerStove is the best one. Unfortunately, it’s not available on any platform other than Windows. If you’re a Mac user, PokerCruncher is the way to go.