Best US Poker Sites

Read all you need to know about the best US poker sites below, as we are determined to help you find the best places where you can play poker in the USA.

The USA is a vast country, so there is a large number of online poker sites that offer their services to Americans and compete against other websites. This is where you as a player can benefit a lot from analyzing all of these sites and choosing to play only on the best ones.

However, we understand that it is not an easy task. Therefore, we’re determined to show you the best US poker sites, as well as teach you how to find them by yourself. When researching poker websites, we usually look at safety, legality, software, and variety. These are the main pillars that you should consider. Stay with us, as we will lead you through the entire process below.

The Best US Online Poker Sites in 2019

  1. Bovada Poker
  2. Ignition Poker
  3. BetOnline Poker
  4. Sportsbetting Poker
  5. Americas Cardroom
  6. Black Chip Poker

The Process of Finding the Top US Poker Websites

We’ve already determined that finding the best US poker sites is an arduous task. In order to do it successfully and avoid risking any big mistakes that could have serious safety consequences, you need to have a lot of prior knowledge and put in a lot of time in the process.

We mentioned the four main things that you need to pay attention to, so let’s elaborate on them.

Safety

Safety and legality go hand in hand, and you need to make sure that both of these criteria are met before you decide to make a deposit. Check whether the US poker site you’re considering has SSL encryption and firewall protection. Both of these are supposed to keep your personal information (real name, banking information, ID, etc.) safe, and protect you from third-party breaches.

Licensing

One of the ways to check whether a poker site is good to go is to make sure that it is licensed. As online gambling in most of the states in the U.S. is not regulated, you will see that most poker sites that offer their services to the United States hold a license through Kahnawake, Antigua & Barbuda or Curacao. To be honest, these licenses don’t mean that much for defining a licensed US poker site it’s not too much value. Therefor we can not recommend that you never play on unlicensed websites, as their would be no choice for most states. So, most of the US friendly poker sites are licensed, but take the value with a grain of salt.

Software

When we were developing this list of reputable US poker websites, we also considered the software these sites were using. All of our recommended sites are huge companies and make use of their own software. If a website supports free play, we recommend that you give it a try and play a couple of rounds for free. That way, you can check whether the software runs smoothly and if there are any glitches, bugs, or other problems.

Mobile App

Another criterium that could be a deal breaker for you is if they are also offering a mobile poker app. Does the poker website we are reviewing even have a dedicated app or supports mobile play? Most do, but not all of them. Mobile gaming is of crucial importance today, as smartphones and tablets have become an inseparable part of our lives. Therefore, the majority of players find it incredibly important to have the possibility to play on the go, wherever they are. In our opinion, it’s nice to have a dedicated poker app besides from the desktop version. However, from our experience, a mobile page can be a great solution as well, if executed in a satisfactory way. This can give you the same playing experience as a native app would be able to do.

Payment Options

Payment options are especially important when it comes to choosing the best US poker sites. The reason is that a lot of credit card companies in the US do not allow gambling-related transactions. Therefore, you need to make sure that there is a viable way for you to make a deposit and withdraw any winnings. The best option for American poker players is using cryptocurrencies like Bitcoin, Litecoin or Ethereum. They provide you with a lot more privacy and protection compared to fiat currencies, so it’s a win-win combination.

User Reviews

Last but not least, consider other people’s reviews. What kind of experiences did other poker players have on these websites? This is one of the best ways to see what you can expect on a certain poker site and whether you should watch out for some red flags. Just do a Google search and see what comes up. If there are too many negative reviews and bad experiences about a website, it’s not worth giving it a try.

What Are the Most Popular Poker Games in the US?

When choosing where to play poker in the US, you can opt for a specialized poker website, or you can play poker in an online casino that provides other casino games as well. Depending on your selection, you will have a bigger or smaller number of choices when it comes to the types of poker games you want to play.

Poker websites that only offer poker games usually have a variety of different ones to choose from. Therefore, if you are bored of the most popular poker games and you want to try something new, specialized poker sites usually feature less-known games as well.

But, if you are not nitpicky, or if you are still a beginner, you can play on regular online casino websites as well. Another reason why that is a good option for beginners is that the majority of skilled or professional players play on poker sites. Therefore, when playing poker in online casinos, you have a better chance to run into opponents who are not impossible to beat.

When it comes to the games you can play, apart from Texas Hold’em, which is the most popular, the ones you can easily find on most websites include:

  • Pot-Limit Omaha
  • Omaha
  • Omaha Hi-Lo
  • Seven-Card Stud
  • Razz
  • 2-7 Triple Draw
  • Five-Card Draw
  • Chinese Poker
  • HORSE
  • High/Low Chicago

That is not all, though, as there are other games that you can find as well, like 6+ Holdem (also know as Short Deck Poker), which recently became very popular. However, these are the most common ones that you can find most easily.

The Timeline of Gambling Laws in the US

The United States of America is a country with a complicated structure, made of 50 individual states. The laws on the federal and the state level often differ. Therefore, talking about the legality of gambling is a complicated task. Online gambling in the US is legal on the federal level, which means that each state can choose whether or not they want to allow it or restrict it. To better understand this situation, let’s take a closer look at the history of online gambling in the US and understand where it stands today.

The first online casinos in the US started operating in 1994 when operators from the Isle of Man and Antigua began accepting players from the US. By 1996, the Kahnawake Gaming Commission was set up and started issuing licenses to online poker sites and online casino sites in the US. As expected, the number of online gambling businesses started rising and by 1998, gambling revenues reached $800 million.

Attempts at Prohibition

In 1999, the US lawmakers decided that they did not like how much traction online gambling started gaining and tried to ban it by introducing the Internet Gambling Prohibition Act. However, the bill was not passed, and things remained the same until 2002.

In 2002, the attempts at prohibition were finally successful. The United States Court of Appeals brought the Federal Wire Act that prohibited only betting on sports. However, the US Department of Justice claimed that, according to the Wire Act (1), all forms of online gambling, including casino games, were illegal. Moreover, they ruled online gambling advertisements illegal as well.

The next step the US government took to strengthen the ban was in September 2006. The US Congress passed the so-called Unlawful Internet Gambling Enforcement Act (UIGEA) (2), which prohibited US banks from processing casino-related transactions. However, online casino businesses that operated outside of the country and accepted players from the US found various ways to bypass these laws.

In April 2011, three biggest online poker operators were indicted and banned from the US, after they were accused of violating the UIGEA act. These three operators were PokerStars, Absolute Poker, and Full Tilt — the three biggest ones in the world. Poker players in the US were completely banned from accessing these websites and had no other viable way to play there.

The New Reading of the Wire Act

In December 2011, the Department of Justice finally released an opinion that interpreted the Federal Wire Act in the way it was initially intended. The new interpretation claimed that the Wire Act only applied to sports betting. Thus, other forms of online gambling, including online poker and online casino games, became legal once again after almost a decade.

The first state to become brave enough to pave the way of online gambling was Delaware, in 2012. That was done through the Delaware Gaming Competitiveness Act (3). A year later, Nevada followed and authorized the issuing of online poker licenses, which was a big step forward for online gambling. A week later, the third state to follow suit was New Jersey.

That same year, the first legal online poker website, called Ultimate Poker, went live in Nevada. The next country to legalize online gambling was Pennsylvania, in 2017.

Gambling Laws in the US Today

Today, there aren’t any federal laws in the US that prohibit gambling. Therefore, most countries do not explicitly ban gambling, which means that players can freely engage in this activity. However, there are some exceptions. If you find yourself in Utah or Hawaii, remember that it is completely illegal to engage in any form of gambling. You won’t be able to find any places where you can gamble legally in these two states, and if you gamble illegally, you can get in a lot of trouble with the law.

However, you can still play most casino games, including poker, online. Except for several states, it is completely legal for residents of the US to engage in online gambling. These states include Montana, Washington, Louisiana, Oregon, Wisconsin, and Illinois. However, these prohibitions target online casino operators — not players. Therefore, residents of these states can still engage in online gambling by playing on websites that are licensed outside of the country.

The biggest problem, in this case, is that these players have no legal protection in case they fall victim to fraud. Moreover, gambling-related banking transactions in these states are illegal, which means that players need to resort to other payment options, such as cryptocurrencies. Therefore, we could say that in the US, online gambling is legal for players everywhere, since it isn’t explicitly illegal.

What About Poker?

The situation with the legality of poker in the US is similar to other casino games. It is not explicitly illegal to play poker anywhere, either online or offline. The only four states that have regulated online poker websites and made them explicitly legal are Nevada, Delaware, New Jersey, and Pennsylvania. Therefore, you can freely play poker games online.

However, if you want to play poker in land-based casinos or poker joints, make sure that you only do so in licensed ones. There are some poker rooms in the US that operate illegally, and if you engage in any activities at those places, you may get into legal trouble.

Sports Betting Becomes Legal Again

Sports betting was illegal in the United States for 26 years, much longer than casino gambling. It was made illegal in 1992 when the Professional and Amateur Sports Protection Act (4) was passed to preserve the integrity of sports. Sports betting then remained illegal until May 2018, when PASPA was overturned by the Supreme Court.

However, that means that sports betting is legal only on the federal level. Individual states can choose whether or not they want to allow it in their jurisdictions. So far, eight states have legalized sports betting, including Nevada, Delaware, New Jersey, Mississippi, West Virginia, New Mexico, Pennsylvania, and Rhode Island. On the other hand, Utah is the only state that has chosen to deem it completely illegal. A large number of other states is likely to consider legalizing sports betting as well.

Frequently Asked Questions

Is playing poker online legal in the United States?

Playing poker online is explicitly legal in the US in only four states: Delaware, Nevada, New Jersey, and Pennsylvania. However, online poker is not explicitly illegal in any other state in the United States — it is simply unregulated. Therefore, players across the US can feel free to play poker on websites that accept US players.

How to find the best US poker sites?

In order to find the best US poker sites, you need to pay attention to the important requirements that every US poker site needs to meet. The four crucial things to consider are safety, legality, software, and variety. To learn more about these, read the full article above where we explain everything in more detail.

How old do you need to be to play online poker in the US?

The legal age for online gambling differs from one state to another. In some cases, the legal age is 18; in other cases, it is 21. The best course of action is to check the gambling laws in your state and make sure that you are old enough before you start to play poker online.

How to know if an online poker site is safe?

The best way to make sure that an online poker site is safe is to check whether it has a reliable gambling license. If it does, it means that it has passed rigorous tests and that you can feel free to place bets. Moreover, check whether the online poker site in question has SSL protection and firewall protection, which will further improve your safety. All the best US poker sites that we have listed in this article are completely safe.

What types of poker games can I play in the US?

The US poker market is incredibly rich. If you play poker in online casinos, you can usually play just the most popular games such as Texas Hold’em, Omaha, Stud Pokers, and Draw Pokers. However, if you play on online poker websites, you can find less common poker games such as Razz, HORSE, Chinese poker, and so on.

How to make deposits and withdrawals on poker sites in the US?

Making a deposit or a withdrawal in the US can be tricky because many banks do not allow gambling-related transactions. Make sure that your bank does or open an account in a more suitable bank. Otherwise, you can use cryptocurrencies, which will allow you to bypass these bans. You can also consider using some e-wallets, such as Skrill, NETeller, PayPal, and so on.

 How long do I have to wait to receive my winnings?

Depending on the payment method you choose, you will need to wait up to 3-5 business days. If you use cryptocurrencies, transactions usually take only 10-15 minutes. When it comes to e-wallets, your transaction might be processed immediately, or you might have to wait for up to a day. However, banking methods can take much longer.

How to play online poker in the US as a beginner?

The best way to play online poker as a beginner is to learn the rules and practice for free before playing for real money. When you feel that you are ready, it is recommended that you play online poker in online casinos first, because the competition is usually weaker there. After that, when you become sufficiently skilled, you can move on to the best US poker sites and start winning hands there.