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The Most Popular Online Poker Sites

Which are the Biggest Poker Sites, and What Makes Them So Popular?

If you look into the traffic stats of online poker sites, you’ll see a big gap between the most popular sites and the rest. At the top of this list is PokerStars, a real giant with more than 3 times the number of players of their closest rivals. The next 4 or 5 places contain big names like Party Poker, 888 and the iPoker Network – along with the most popular US site, Ignition Poker.

This page covers the biggest and most popular poker sites. You’ll find an overview of the key brands, along with traffic stats and an idea of what differentiates each room. Choosing the bigger sites has many benefits, though there are also drawbacks. The final sections of this page cover these.

Lists the Biggest Poker Sites in 2024

Rank Poker Site USA Sign Up Bonus Bonus Code Play Now!
1 100% up to $2000 n/a - use links »
2 100% up to $500 n/a - use links »
3 100% to $2500 n/a - use links »
4 100% up to $600 n/a - use links »
5 100% to $2500 n/a - use links »
6 100% to $2000 n/a - use links » AmericasCardroom
7 100% to $2000 n/a - use links » BlackchipPoker

What Do We Consider a "Popular" Poker Site?

In case you are wondering how we defined the "popular" poker sites, here are the criteria:

  • 50,000+ Players Online, Around the Clock. This was the first qualifier, and it knocked out all but the three poker sites listed here. We didn't consider a site to be one of the most popular poker sites if it didn't have at least 50,000 players logged in around the clock. Party Poker was close, but Full Tilt and Stars blew this number out of the water (even during off-peak hours).
  • TV Commercials. All of the poker sites on this page run TV commercials all the time in the world's biggest TV markets. This enables them to bring in boat-loads of players everyday (many of which are fishy rookies!).
  • Live Tournament/Player Sponsorship. Another way that we found out about the most popular poker sites is because they sponsor major live tournaments (like the European Poker Tour circuit, sponsored by PokerStars) and the biggest-name poker pros (like Phil Ivey, sponsored by Full Tilt Poker).

What Makes a Poker Site Popular?

While the traffic number clearly show which poker sites are the biggest, the reason for their popularity is the subject of debate.

The key factor with the bigger sites is that there are enough players around the clock to keep a variety of games running – and to run a busy tournament schedule. Smaller sites often lose players who log-on and can’t find a suitable game.

Once traffic (and revenues) go up, the sites can advertise online and even on TV – increasing the number of new players further. The big tournament guarantees and headline-grabbing promotions continue to attract even more players. Building a team of popular poker pros, and sponsoring live events keeps the name of the bigger sites in people’s minds.

Pros and Cons of Choosing Big / Popular Poker Sites

Choice is the single biggest advantage of playing at the popular poker sites. This takes several forms. If you enjoy niche poker formats, then you’ll need to choose a bigger site to find your type of game. If you play NL Holdem, then table selection is a key factor. At the biggest sites, you’ll have 100’s of games to choose from at all stake levels from pennies through to $1000’s. Popular sites are also able to invest in innovative poker ideas, fast-fold poker, lottery sit n goes and progressive knockout tournaments are 3 examples of games which could not have been developed by smaller poker sites.

The second main benefit comes in terms of bonuses and promotions. Popular sites have the cash to be able to run much bigger promotions, and to guarantee prize pools in their tournaments. Welcome bonuses are similar between bigger and smaller sites – it is the ongoing benefits and one-off promotions where the biggest difference lies.

There are some disadvantages. If you choose PokerStars, you’ll find a lot of small stakes pros in the games. Many of these players have up to 12 games going at once, earning a small hourly profit at each one. This makes the games less ‘wild’ than at some smaller sites. Fortunately, once you get to know who the ‘regulars’ are, you can start to avoid games with too many of them.

Advantages of Large Poker Sites

The most obvious advantage of large poker sites is their large selection of games at all stakes. When a poker site manages to have tens of thousands of players logged in at all hours, the chances of finding games at all levels are very high. You can also find a wide variety of games other than Texas Hold'em.

In addition to that, big poker sites make a lot of money and can afford to provide their players with rewarding loyalty programs and large deposit bonuses. This extra money also allows poker sites to host large guaranteed tournaments. The PokerStars $1,500,000 guarantee, for example, is larger than most major live tournaments.

Large poker sites also have the best poker software in the industry. All the money they make allows them to constantly update and improve their software. You’ll notice frequent software updates at big poker sites such as Full Tilt and PokerStars. Smaller sites rarely have software that can compete with what's offered by the biggest poker sites.

Disadvantages of Big Poker Sites

The only disadvantage of playing at the more popular poker sites is that the competition is usually a little bit tougher than what you'd find at a smaller site. If you'd prefer to play at a smaller poker site that has a little bit easier to beat competition, check out these soft poker sites.

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