What Are the Best Poker Sites for US Players?
Table Of Contents
- The Best Poker Sites for US Players
- Online Poker in the US & US Poker Rooms
- Is Online Poker Legal in the US?
- How to Play Online Poker From the US?
- 1. Check if Online Poker Is Legal in Your State
- 2. Choose the Best Online Poker Site for You
- 3. Register an Account
- 3. Deposit Funds to Your Account and Claim the Bonus Offer
- 4. Choose the Type Of Poker Game and Play On
- How Do We Rate US Online Poker Sites
- We List Only the Licensed Operators
- We Scrutinize the Bonuses
- Our Pro Players Look Into the Choice of Games and Quality
- We Test the Site's Software
- We Look Into Deposit Methods
- We Put Customer Support to a Test
- Regulated US Poker Sites
- NJ Poker Sites
- PA Poker Sites
- MI Poker Sites
- OffShore Poker Sites
- Best Deposit Options for US Online Poker Players
- Problem Gambling and Useful Resources
Looking for the best US poker sites to play online poker games for free and real money? Check out these poker rooms!
Finding a great site to play online poker games from the US is not that difficult. But with all the different states allowing different operators — things can get a little messy for the uninitiated poker players in the US.
On this page, you'll learn:
- What are the best US poker sites to play games online
- How many states allow you to play online poker in the US
- A few secrets about our award-winning US poker rankings
- Why off-shore poker sites are always a bad idea
- and lots more
Our team of poker pros (which includes World Series of Poker (WSOP) bracelet winner Chad Holloway) have tested and reviewed all the US poker rooms in this article. This way, you can find everything about the games, the level, and the bonuses available.
In other words, if you are looking for a list of the best online poker sites for US players in 2021, you'll love this one!
The Best Poker Sites for US Players
Online Poker in the US & US Poker Rooms
The game of poker is an epitome of gambling in the United States, and the US poker sites on the list have to meet a lot of expectations from millions of players across the country.
Luckily for you, we have completed a thorough examination of every single aspect of these poker rooms to ascertain their true worth.
Here at PokerNews we have been in the business of reviewing online poker sites and online casinos for over 15 years, and our large US fan base stands testament to the continuous high-quality content we deliver.
No matter if you are new to poker or an experienced player, you could use a bit of help figuring out which poker site is the right choice for you. It all depends on what you are after.
If lucrative bonuses are your thing, that's perfectly fine. Here, you will find the top US poker sites with the most generous bonuses.
However, you shouldn't overlook the importance of the legality of poker rooms, the number of different games available, the betting limits that apply, the variety of payment methods, and the overall reputation of poker rooms when choosing your next US online poker destination.
All this and more will be covered in this comprehensive guide, plus the legal framework of real-money online poker gambling in specific US states.
Is Online Poker Legal in the US?
The situation with the legality of online poker in the US is not so clear cut as you might expect. To get to the bottom of this, we must look at the applicable gambling laws.
First of all, gambling in the US is regulated on a state, federal, and, of course, local level.
Looking at these levels of regulations, the only viable conjecture you can derive is that things are bound to get messy.
At the moment, the Constitution allows all states to make their own laws regarding online gambling.
- A handful of states have already legalized online poker, such as Nevada, New Jersey, Delaware, and Pennsylvania. In these states, online operators are required to sign licensing agreements with the land-based casinos in order to launch their online poker rooms, and plenty of big names have already done so.
- More states are taking a leaf from their books and filing for online poker and gambling licenses in a bid to legalize the market entirely. By doing so, the states will benefit from taxes these operators will pay and will ensure their citizens have fair and safe gambling opportunities.
- The states of Michigan and West Virginia have already passed the required laws. The roll out of the first poker sites is expected by the end of 2020 at best, but it is more likely to expect them in 2021.
How to Play Online Poker From the US?
With the popularity of online poker on the rise, finding an online poker room in the US should be a breeze.
Even so, there are multiple factors you need to consider and a couple of steps you need to complete before getting a piece of the action.
1. Check if Online Poker Is Legal in Your State
The first and foremost step is to make sure the state you are playing in has legalized online poker.
The states that offer full-blown poker sites are:
Some of them even share players, namely Nevada, Delaware, and New Jersey.
Players from these states can participate in poker tournaments, which, consequently, have larger prize pools and are more appealing.
The states of Michigan and West Virginia followed suit and enacted the necessary bills and laws to legalize online poker.
Players from these states can expect legal online poker rooms soon.
Another important thing to remember here is that you don't need to be a resident in any of these states to play online poker legally.
You are only required to be physically present in any of them to register an account, make a deposit, and play No Limit Texas Hold'em, Pot Limit Omaha, and plenty of other versions of the game.
2. Choose the Best Online Poker Site for You
Next up is choosing the best online poker site for you. This means that you have to consider personal preferences, such as:
- types of games you like to play
- betting limits
- payment methods
- support options
- mobile poker apps for US players
All the US poker sites listed here will have a thing or two to offer, but the more you understand your playing habits, the better.
3. Register an Account
Once you have chosen the poker site, you can proceed to the registration process.
To do so, you will be required to provide personal details, such as name, DOB, address, email, etc.
Poker sites will ask you to provide a proof of identity as a part of their KYC (Know Your Customer) policy imposed by the legislation.
The proof of identity is usually in the form of a copy of your ID or another personal document, the final four digits of your Social Security number (SSN), a copy of your bank statement, etc.
These poker rooms make sure no underage gambling can take place and also prevent money laundering and fraud.
3. Deposit Funds to Your Account and Claim the Bonus Offer
The next step involves selecting the deposit method from the site's banking section and making the first deposit.
The top US poker sites presented here offer exciting and generous deposit match bonus offers once the players make qualifying deposits.
Check out the promotions tab and see which types of bonuses and freebies you can claim.
4. Choose the Type Of Poker Game and Play On
The final step you need to take is to choose between the different types of poker games offered by the site and take a virtual seat at the table.
The most common formats of poker include cash games and tournament poker.
- In cash games, the value of your chips corresponds directly to the monetary value, while in tournaments, you will have to buy in for a stack of chips and continue playing until you run out of chips or another player claims them all.
- In poker tournaments, the size of bets increases over time to make sure the game is action-packed.
How Do We Rate US Online Poker Sites
The entire review process of online poker sites is completed with the utmost care and diligence.
There are no stones left unturned, and we give no slack to anyone.
Our long history of 15+ years in the business and hard-earned reputation will never permit it.
Over the years, PokerNews has been declared the number one online poker guide several times, and we have been on the receiving end of quite a number of awards.
To fill you in on the process, we will try to break down the criteria we impose for our selection of key US poker sites into a couple of segments:
We List Only the Licensed Operators
All poker sites listed here have been licensed and certified by the appointed jurisdictions and authorities, which is a guarantee of safety, legality, and fairness of those sites and their poker games.
What's more, we look into the reputation of these sites to make sure players are content with the services provided and treatment.
Only after we make sure the site ticks all the right boxes do we present it here.
We Scrutinize the Bonuses
We never cease to look for the heftiest poker bonuses out there, so that our visitors can rest assured only the best possible bonus offers are listed.
What's more, we don't get carried away just by the sheer size of the bonus.
There needs to be a balance between what is being offered as a bonus and what you need to do to turn that bonus into real cash.
We look into wagering requirements, the validity period of the bonus, and other requirements that appear as the small print in the terms and conditions that, sadly, only few players consult.
Luckily for you, we check that info as well.
Our Pro Players Look Into the Choice of Games and Quality
Did you know that one of our reviewers won an actual WSOP bracelet in Las Vegas?
Our reviewers are experienced poker players who know every nook and cranny of the game, and where to look for any hidden flaws in the choice of games and rules.
The sites offered here host a number of different types of poker, with plenty of poker formats and competitions, and their player traffic is a clear sign of quality.
We Test the Site's Software
Another important part of our testing process is the test of the site's software.
We want to make sure that sites have both web apps that allow instant in-browser play and mobile apps that enable players to engage in poker games on the go.
That said, we spend hours playing the actual games before reaching a verdict.
Also, if the poker room has a fully downloadable app for PCs, we will download it and make sure its functionality and gaming experience are top-notch.
These sites need to be responsive, easy to use, simple to navigate, and user-friendly. Only such poker rooms and mobile poker sites end up on our top list.
We Look Into Deposit Methods
Another important aspect of our review process is the examination of banking methods offered by the poker room.
This list includes only sites that offer the greatest variety of online banking, credit/debit cards, e-wallets, prepaid vouchers, and other methods, all of which need to be fast, convenient, and protected by the latest SSL encryption and firewalls.
We Put Customer Support to a Test
Having knowledgeable and reliable customer support on your side when a problem occurs is imperative for poker players.
We put each site's customer support to a rigorous test to check their knowledge, response times, and amiableness. If all goes well, only then the site gets on our list.
Regulated US Poker Sites
As we briefly mentioned earlier, all states within the US are at liberty to regulate gambling as they see fit and under legal provisions.
The first poker and gambling-related laws in the USA were drafted in the 19th century, and since then, multiple other legal motions were filed and bills enacted.
One of the initial gambling laws and acts that apply to online poker and gambling was the Interstate Wire Act of 1961, otherwise known as the Federal Wire Act.
This act prohibited any sort of information and payment transmissions across state lines that had anything to do with sports betting.
The reverberations following this act spread like forest fires, and, unfortunately, included online poker and other forms of online gambling, and stymied their progress.
Another significant blow the online poker industry suffered from the US legislators came in the form of the Unlawful Internet Gaming Enforcement Act (UIGEA).
This regulatory act banned all payment institutions from processing transactions involving online gambling, including poker.
In 2011, three large poker operators were indicted for alleged foul play and breaking of the UIGEA, which effectively shut down online poker in the states. This was an event the poker community refers to as ‘Black Friday'.
With such impediments on the road, it is no wonder why it took online poker so long to reestablish a foothold in a country that is considered to be its birthplace.
Monumental changes happened in 2011 when the US Department of Justice reversed the Wire Act's decision and rendered it only applicable to sports wagering. This paved the way for states to legalize online poker anew.
In 2019, the DOJ released a revised opinion on the Wire Act, but its impacts are yet to be seen.
The following is a quick overview of how things work in key online poker states in the US.
New Jersey has been at the forefront of the online poker legalization process, and the third state to legalize it in 2013.
The first attempt to legalize online poker was vetoed by the governor in 2011, but by the end of 2013, the first poker platforms emerged.
At the moment, three operators are licensed to operate in the Garden State:
PokerStars is the only legal online poker site in the state of Pennsylvania. 888poker and WSOP Poker are expected to launch in the keystone State in 2021.
For more information about the games at PokerStars, check out this page dedicated to PokerStars US.
MI Poker Sites
The Great Lake State legalized all forms of online gambling, including online poker, in December 2019, when its governor Gretchen Whitmer signed the proposal into a bill.
The first sites and poker rooms are expected in 2021.
OffShore Poker Sites
Even though some sites might tell you that playing in offshore online casinos and poker rooms is possible, that doesn't mean it is legal or safe.
In fact, most of these offshore poker sites have not been licensed by reputable gambling jurisdictions, nor are they protected by the latest security systems.
What's more, there are no guarantees that your banking details are protected and secure from any third-party influences.
That said, you are better off playing only on legal and vetted poker sites presented here than roaming around the internet and falling prey to malicious offshore poker rooms.
Best Deposit Options for US Online Poker Players
Top US poker sites offer several popular deposit methods for their players. The most frequently used deposit method is credit/debit bank cards, such as Discover, Visa, and Mastercard.
Almost all banks in regulated states will process such payments, so you won't have any problems making a fast and secure deposit.
Another essential deposit method is the e-wallet method. Poker fans use PayPal, Skrill, and other e-wallets to transfer their funds to and from the poker site seamlessly and quickly.
Methods such as e-checks and online banking are also quite popular and widespread, although they are a little bit slower when compared to e-wallets, for example.
Finally, most US poker sites offer PayNearMe prepaid vouchers and cash deposits you can use at your local 7-Eleven stores and casino cages from the land-based casino partners, respectively.
Problem Gambling and Useful Resources
Problem gambling is a serious issue, and some Americans have a tough time dealing with it.
That is why it is important that poker sites have strong, responsible gambling policies in power and that they cooperate with the regulatory bodies dealing with this issue, such as the National Council on Problem Gambling, Gamble Aware, AMA Responsibility in Gaming, and others.
Through this collaboration and effort, the negative impact of gambling can be reduced and sensitive groups protected.
Is online poker legal in the US?
Online poker is perfectly legal in US states that have enacted specific online gambling laws.
What states allow real money poker games online in the US?
You can play real money poker games online in the states of New Jersey, Pennsylvania, Nevada, and Delaware. In the future, you can expect the list to expand to include the states of Michigan and West Virginia.
When did the UIGEA come into force?
The UIGEA came into force in 2006.
Should I play on offshore poker sites?
Players shouldn't play in offshore poker rooms as these are not technically legal in the US and are deemed as highly insecure.
Do I need to live in a state where online poker is legal to be allowed to play?
Players are not required to live in a state where online poker is legal in order to play it. You only need to be physically present in the state at the moment of play.
I am in a state where online poker is not legal. Can I use a VPN to play?
Legal online poker sites have strong geolocation software that will pierce through almost all VPN networks, thus preventing players from outside the states from engaging in real-money poker games online.