The Best Online Poker Sites for USA Players
After many years of change, the setup for US based online poker fans has now become more settled. Banking restrictions mean that no poker sites are based in the United States, with the exception of smaller state-regulated rooms in Nevada, New Jersey and Delaware. Instead the sites are based offshore, where they legally operate in jurisdictions in the Caribbean or in Central America.
While these sites are not as big as the international giants, many of them have a good selection of games these days. You can enjoy some big bonuses, and even participate in online tournament events or qualifiers for big live tournaments.
Below you will find an overview of the three biggest and best poker sites for USA players. After that there is a quick overview of the history of US poker to date, plus notes on state regulated rooms and the different deposit options available.
Reviewing the Best US Poker Sites March 2017
|Rank||Poker Site||USA||Sign Up Bonus||Bonus Code||Play Now!|
|1||Ignition Poker||100% up to $2000||n/a - use links||» www.IgnitionCasino.eu|
|2||Bet Online Poker||25% Instant Cash||n/a - use links||» www.BetOnline.com|
|3||Sportsbetting||25% Unlimited||n/a - use links||» www.Sportsbetting.eu|
- Location: Canada
- Established: 1997
- Ref. Code: n/a
- Traffic: 5,236 Players
- Mac Friendly: No
Ignition took over the poker room from Bovada, and instantly become the biggest of the rooms which welcome US players. The software is identical. This features anonymous play instead of fixed screen names. This helps to keep the games soft and prevent 3rd party tracking services from being used.
This poker site offers a huge choice of small stakes cash games and smaller to mid buy-in tournaments. You will also find Zone poker, which is the only fast-fold poker variant available to USA players.
New players at Ignition Poker receive a generous 100% to $1000 welcome bonus. This clears in $5 increments into your account. You will also find plenty of promotions, including a loyalty program. Depositing at Ignition Poker from the US is easy – with credit cards, bitcoin and money transfer services all welcomed.
for a 100% up to $2000 Bonus!
- Location: Antigua
- Established: 2011
- Promo Code: n/a
- Traffic: 4,129 Players
- Mac Friendly: Yes
BetOnline have big advantage over the other USA friendly poker rooms. This is the fact that their primary business is sports betting. This brand has been welcoming wagers from United States based bettors for more than 10 years. A few years ago, BetOnline added a poker room (and casino). You will find that many sports fans place their bets and then cross over to check out the poker room. These are often new and novice players – which keeps the poker games very soft.
The games at BetOnline are focused on small stakes No-Limit Texas Holdem cash games. While there are tournaments and sit n goes, these areas are less developed than at other sites. New players get a big 100% to $2500 bonus, and regular players can get a new bonus with every deposit.
for a 25% Cash Unlimited Bonus!
Online Poker History in the USA
The USA has a confusing legal landscape when it comes to online poker. In 2006, the government passed the Unlawful Internet Gambling Enforcement Act (UIGEA), which attempted to prevent online gambling in the United States. Not surprisingly, the law was poorly written, vague, and unenforceable. Although this law did not specifically outlaw online poker, it made it difficult for some poker sites to process transactions for players located in the USA.
The purpose of the UIGEA was to force banks to block transactions to online poker sites. Banks process countless transactions every day so this measure has been largely toothless. Some credit card transactions are blocked, but most other transactions slip through. Banks have been fighting this bill for a long time because it’s impossible to enforce.
Poker players themselves are not the target of any federal law that we know of. Washington State passed a law that made it a felony to play online poker but this law has never been enforced. Quite simply, the legal landscape of online poker in the United States is a joke. These so-called “poker bans” were enacted by politicians with questionable motives and no intentions to actually change anything.
We aren’t lawyers and this doesn’t count as legal advice, but we can tell you that millions of Americans play online poker without a problem. The federal laws on the books only target financial institutions and not individual poker players. We’ve played online for years and so have many other USA players, and we’ve never had a problem (other than the occasional blocked credit card deposit).
On April 15th, 2011, the FBI seized and shut down the websites of four of the major online poker sites that accepted USA players (Full Tilt, PokerStars, UB, and AP). We're not sure where this leaves USA players moving forward, but we will do our best to monitor the situation. For the time being, USA players can continue to play online poker on the websites listed on this page.
State Regulated US Poker
3 States now offer real-money poker games to their residents. The first to legislate was Delaware, followed by Nevada and New Jersey. Some of the big names like PokerStars, 888 and Party Poker – which left the US following the events of 2006 and 2011 – run these rooms in conjunction with locally licensed casinos.
Take up of these poker sites has been below the original estimations, with small traffic even compared to the mid-sized offshore poker sites. It is hoped that as more states regulate the game, deals to share player pools will create sites big enough to offer big prize tournaments and a bigger choice of poker games.
Deposit Methods for USA Poker Players
Federal laws restrict US banks from allowing deposits poker sites. Over the years, the offshore sites have become very good at payment processing. You will find three main categories of deposit method – with paper checks the main way of requesting a payment.
Credit Cards: As long as your credit card allows overseas payments, you can deposit this way. Visa and MasterCard are the most widely accepted brands, though Amex and even Diners Card can be used sometimes too. If your transaction gets declined, you can also try a prepaid Visa gift card.
Money Transfer Services: This category includes Western Union and MoneyGram. These services will not allow direct transfers to the poker sites. Instead you will transfer to an individual – the site will give you that person’s details. This is a reliable and established method of getting your money on board.
Bitcoin: Depositing with bitcoin is now mainstream, and as long as you buy bitcoin and deposit them straight away, the risk from the fluctuating value is minimal. Once you have made a deposit using Bitcoin, you will also be able with withdraw using this method.
USA Poker Deposit Methods
In pre-UIGEA days, USA players were able to easily deposit to/withdraw from online poker sites with their PayPal account, which made things extremely easy. Nowadays, however, there are less deposit options available for USA players. Here are a few deposit methods that still work for players from the USA:
More USA Online Poker Resources:
- My friend Roger at Compatible Poker offers a complete USA poker guide which provides visitors with up-to-the-minute information on USA poker legislation, USA deposit methods, and USA-friendly poker sites.
- Steve over at PlayWinningPoker.com has an excellent writeup on the UIGEA, in case you still had questions.
- More reviews of USA poker sites, including PokerStars, Full Tilt Poker, Absolute Poker, Bovada, and Aced.