US CREDIT CARDS AND PREPAID CARDS ACCEPTED BLOCK-FREE: One
of the most notable advantages
has over the rest of the US market is the near-100% success rates
of credit card deposits. By utilizing proprietary processors
and almost two decades of experience in the online gaming
should be able to accept any major credit card or debit
card, including those that
may have been declined previously at other poker rooms. Pre-paid
gift credit cards should also be accepted as long as the issuing
bank allows international transactions. No third-party e-wallet or
fees are involved making
this poker room
the current industry leader in terms of pain-free US credit
NEW 200% BONUS AND INSTANT CASH BONUS: The
increased bonus package for our new
depositing players includes a 200% poker bonus and up to 25%
instantly added to your sports real money account. The 200%
bonus is valid up to $5,000 making it the largest percentage
and total dollar bonus in the US market. Despite the 25% sports bonus not
being applicable to the poker room it's an extremely rare
risk-free instant bonus opportunity that can be built up and
eventually transferred to the poker room or cashed out.
of these offers are unique in an industry that is trending
towards complicated bonuses that ultimately either rob the
player of the offer or take exorbitant amounts of time to
play through. Read more details below in the Bonus section.
With the online poker industry being forced into massive
changes in 2006 and 2011 US player priorities have also changed. With the
luxury of easy deposits disappearing from the US market the ability
to perform the simple act of funding your poker account is now a
determining factor in deciding who gets your poker business.
largely succeeds in this market because they make it a pain-free
experience for US
players to deposit. E-checks, the gold standard of convenience, had
become an endangered species following recent legal developments.
has somehow procured direct processors for them and players should
either call the poker room or chat with support for more details. No
fees are charged by the poker room for any deposit method.
This poker room has one of the best credit card deposit success rates for US
cards at nearly 100%. Despite every poker room offering credit card deposits
they're largely useless if most cardholders' banks block the
transaction. BetOnline suggests the use of debit cards over credit cards,
although you shouldn't experience issues with any originating bank,
including those issuing prepaid gift cards.
In the rare instance that you aren't able to make a direct credit card deposit
the recently-added voucher method should break the processing
barrier. With this option you use your
credit card to purchase a prepaid gift code from a third-party,
which can then be entered directly into the poker room cashier.
There are no fees involved with this method and it will have a higher success rate with some credit cards.
As a final
option cash transfer deposits are accepted, which can be done at physical
locations like pharmacies and convenience stores as well as online
with both transfer providers. Typically the poker room will reimburse players for any transfer fees,
especially if requested. Paper alternatives
include mailing the poker room a cashier's check or money order via
courier. BetOnline is a bit more generous than others for paper deposits
as they'll reimburse players for any courier fees.
seem to pride themselves on personalized service so if you cannot find
a suitable deposit option I'd recommend asking a telephone support
who has been in the online sports and casino business for over a
decade under various names, is nothing if not ambitious. In one of
the most hostile environments ever for US online gaming sites
is not only holding their US market ground but is choosing to enter
the poker market with a brand-new independent platform. Rather than
going the typical route of poker startups and piggy-backing on an
existing brand BetOnline is actually creating their own network.
This bold move of bypassing the software "skin" route has allowed BetOnline
to reap the benefits of complete control over the cashier and
self-containment of their extremely loose existing player base.
While player traffic is always going to be an issue with a new
network this poker room has done little to no marketing and is one
of the only strong options left that allows new US signups. I've
been impressed with the extremely quick growth of BetOnline, which now features active 10-seat no-limit tables up
to the $5/10 level and tens of active tables at lower limits. As US players begin
to discover this poker room, their easy deposit options, and their
incredibly soft games I expect traffic to spike even further.
In the early-to-mid 2000s US online
poker rooms were a dime a dozen with thousands of players at
countless networks. Most player prioritized the number of games,
tournaments, and the size of the initial deposit bonus. The online
poker industry is an entirely different beast today. With less new
players to loosen up the games and deposit options drying up left
and right most players are focused on finding a cashier with
realistic deposit options and cash games filled with players that
don't treat every dollar like it's their last.
has enjoyed early success with their poker room because they succeed
on both of these fronts, an incredibly rare feat in this market.
A US poker room offering e-check
checking account deposits and block-free credit card deposits seemed
like a pipe dream after the events of online poker's "Black Friday" yet
has both of them. The
cash games are also a throwback to the ultra-loose early heydays of
online poker with high flop percentages and average pots fueled by
the resident casino and sports players.
doesn't offer massive tournament numbers or the promotions
featured at the former behemoths during the US poker glory days but
US players aren't going to find that anywhere these days.
is taking a chance on the US market and it couldn't come at a better
time for players. Those willing to tolerate some transitional growing pains will
be rewarded with easy deposits, loose games, excellent customer
service, and quick payouts. In the current online poker landscape
that's enough for me to make this my top-rated US poker room.
Bonus (200% and up to 25%
instant sports cash) and Promotions:
With the poker room recently being added
on to the
offerings they previously overlooked the poker-only crowd to the
tune of no outright poker bonus. It may have taken a couple of years
management finally wizened up and now actually offers the
largest poker-specific bonus in the US market to our players. It is
a 200% first-deposit bonus, valid up to $5,000. Both of those
numbers are quite large but, as with any bonus, the play-through
terms are far more important than the gaudy numbers.
Surprisingly, the bonus release rate is
very good when compared to its competitors, clocking in at about $3
of bonus per hour of play at each .50/$1 NL table. Since 2011 I've
found the average at other US poker rooms to be about $1/2 per hour
per table, making the terms of this bonus stand out. As with every
bonus it is a glorified rakeback system, dispensing parts of your
bonus as you earn POP Points, which are given each time you
contribute rake to the dealt hand.
The specific benchmarks that trigger the
transfer of cash from your pending bonus account to your cash
account are a bit convoluted, with funds given as you earn enough
POP Points to release 10%, 20%, 50%, 50%, and 70% of the total
bonus. The rake required for each segment increases significantly
with each portion but the average hourly rate of bonus still remains
very good throughout. Players have 120 days to earn as much of the
bonus as possible, which is 30-60 days longer than the typical time
period given by competing sites.
While it is clearly publicized on the
poker promotions page the only frustrating aspect of the bonus is
that players have to manually e-mail the support team to activate it
within their account. This is a move that reminds of online poker
circa 2003 and is clearly unnecessary in the days of modern software
tracking but it is a one-time bother for a very good bonus. Again,
be sure to follow the poker room's instructions for activating the
bonus following your first deposit.
has also instituted a player reward system called POP Points, which
are awarded via cash game play or by entering tournaments. Earned
POP Points can then be as a buy-in for designated daily tournaments
that award real money. More uses for POP Points are likely on the
horizon but, for now, it is a risk-way to earn real money based on
past gameplay. The other main significant promotion
is a 100% slots bonus that can be cash out after a 50x
rollover from slots play.
Two other newer promotions that are
worth educating yourself on are a 4 of a kind and a bad beat
mini-jackpot. Both require you to manually notify the poker room if
they occur, use both hole cards, go to showdown, and provide the
hand number and other details. That is standard practice but they
also want you to do that within an hour of the qualifying hand
happening. Imagine how many players might miss out on some free
money simply because they don't know the promotion exists? What I
like about these offers is that the hand qualifications are quite
low, meaning that most players are bound to see the bonuses one or
The four of a kind bonus requires any
four of a kind, win or lose. The bad beat bonus is the lowest I've
seen, requiring only to be beaten while holding A Jack-high flush or
better. The rewards are similarly common, with up to about $40
available per occurrence but they don't require one-in-a-million
scenarios that the big jackpots do like have a straight flush
beaten. The only caveat is that these aren't run all the time,
although they should be. The four of a kind offer seems random and
the software will notify you when it is on. The bad beat rebate
happens every Friday.
Finally, freerolls are run at least once
or twice every hour and offer prizes up to $200. As a poker-only player
it was gratifying that the
management here has begun to understand the value of offering more
poker-specific promotions and responded to player criticisms. The instant free
bet offer is appreciated but
now have a much better shot at acquiring bonus-driven grinders by
competing (and exceeding) the rest of the market with the new 200%
offer. Despite the antiquated requirement of e-mailing the poker
room this is the best bang for the US buck in terms of total bonus
size and play-through requirements.
Like most players I've become
increasingly frustrated with the pervasive tightness that has
largely sucked the life out of today's cash games. The lack of new
US players, deposit difficulties, and the availability of advanced
poker strategy are largely responsible for the single-digit flop
percentages seen at the largest rooms in recent years. Fortunately,
the gambling-centric mindset of the casino and sports players here
hasn't changed much over the past decade. With the
poker room predominantly populated internally by players from their
other gaming platforms the cash tables are incredibly loose. Many of
players haven't played much, if any, poker and are simply looking
for another thrill to gamble their balance on.
cash game traffic has really improved over the past few months with
at least 10-20 active tables at limits up to $1/2 NL and several
full tables at higher limits up to $5/10 NL. Virtually every one
features flop percentages of at least 35-50% and average pots of
20-30x the big blind, which is remarkable for 10-seated games in the
current poker climate. Hunting through the lobby for the isolated
table with decent average numbers has become a common practice for
players at the former US powerhouses. It's refreshing to know that
just about every table
is filled with calling stations and maniacs chasing draws and paying
you off more often when you hit your monster hands.
bucks what has become the new norm for poker worldwide and
consistently offers cash games comparable to those "poker explosion"
days that seem like a distant memory now. Rather than focus strictly
on bringing in full-time poker grinders as the former industry
leaders had this poker room appeals to all-around gamblers and those jaded by the
tight dull games found elsewhere. The extremely easy deposits also
tend to allow players to subconsciously play a looser game and
release the fear that a lost bankroll might be impossible to
replace. Cash game traffic is now probably the largest
remaining in the US market and it certainly
earns its top Fish Rating.
The tournament schedule at
is more of a token feature at this point than a serious draw for new
players. While there still can be plenty of casual fun in play
sub-$10 events dedicated tournament players might quickly grow
impatient with the high end of guaranteed prize pools ranging from
$1,000-20,000. The most popular daily real-money events draw about
100-200 players, which is certainly modest. There are freerolls every hour with prize pools between $10-100,
although you'll be competing with 800+ players for that miniscule
prize. Some of the largest high-value events are the new $15,000
guarantees with a .99 buy-in, which is an excellent prize-to-buy-in
ratio at any site.
There are some overlay opportunities
in which the poker room guarantees a minimum prize pool but the
actual buy-ins from players fall short of that threshold. For
example, one of the better tournaments on the schedule is a $3,000
weekly guarantee with a small $11 buy-in. The entrants often only
make up $2,000 or so of the prize pool, meaning that the poker room
has to add in the other $1,000. This is essentially like starting
the tournament with a hundred players already knocked out as the
prize money is there but not the players.
They do have several weekly events with strong value in their $1,000,
$3,000, and $4,000 guarantees with buy-ins under $12.
The largest monthly guarantee is $20,000, which won't turn any heads, although the buy-in is
extremely reasonable for low-limit players at $60.
This is also a rewards system that disperses Promo Bucks, which can
be used directly for tournament buy-ins. Players can either earn
these as a deposit bonus or through special tournaments that give
away Promo Bucks as prizes. Sit and Go events are surprisingly
popular up to the $33 turbo level with only a few minutes of
wait-time per table. The "1-Up" Sit and Go tables are the equivalent
of the addictive Double Up format in which the remaining half the
table doubles their buy-in. The tournaments
are clearly still a work in progress with few large guarantees and a
modest level of traffic. Fortunately, there are still several low
buy-in events every hour, fairly busy Sit and Go tables, and overlay
opportunities to offer value to tournament players.
software is pretty standard fare although I feel that it deserves a
strong score for being clean, uncluttered, and dependable. I also
always enjoy seeing original software clients as opposed to those
that are simply lightly modified versions of a network template. The
lobby offers similar filters as other poker rooms with the ability
to show cash games and tournaments based on specific parameters like
limit and type of game. Strangely, it doesn't show the average
number of hands per hour but from my playing time I've found it to
run at an above-average speed of 60+ hands per hour.
You can choose between a couple of
racetrack-shaped table skins called "Modern" or "Retro", both of
which are no-frills birds-eye view layouts with clean graphics. I
usually prefer the Modern theme, which is pictured at the top of the
review and features a stylized stadium background. The Retro options
looks almost identical to the lounge-like graphics of the old
Paradise Poker client, which can serve as a nice dose of nostalgia
for online poker veterans of last decade. Both themes have a
minimalistic approach with a soft color scheme, stylized chairs, and
little player customization. The active player is clearly identified
with a blinking light and a colored meter tells you exactly how much
time you have left to make a decision.
Individual table stats are available and
the hand history is in basic text form.
There is a buddy list and player notes features for keeping track of
friends or following around weak players. There is little to no
player customization such as custom themes, avatars, or visual
player accolades. Table windows can be resized or tiled, if
necessary. Overall, the
software package isn't more advanced than anything else that's come out in
the past 10 years but it doesn't really need to be. It doesn't
feature many advanced options but it has good functionality with a
clean look and speedy games.
One of the reasons
has thrived in the sports market over the years is their extremely
solid reputation for quick payouts.
seem to structure themselves for returning loyal players rather than
for quick-fix bonus hunters. That being said the actual payout
request process is fairly archaic. The guidelines are strange but
once you learn to work within them it is one of the more dependable
payout services online. BetOnline
works more like an old-fashioned sports site in that you need to
e-mail them through the software to request payouts.
There is a $50 credit of withdrawal fees every month, although for some reason you
have to request them on a Friday. The most common method is paper check,
although you can request payouts via ACH, cash transfer, Moneybookers (non-US), and Neteller (non-US).
So few poker rooms actually offer live
telephone support that doing so almost automatically compels me to
give a top score.
focuses more on player support and banking ease than flashy
promotions and bonuses so they offer just about every contact method
for players. I usually take advantage of the live chat feature,
which is available both from the website directly or the poker
support team actually seems familiar with the poker room and I've always
gotten the answers I needed from them without having to call in.
Skype is even an option, which is something I haven't seen anywhere
The biggest crux of
had previously been the traffic level but it has shown remarkable
growth since the early post-launch days. Peak times usually
2,000 online players with most of them populating the cash games.
There are now 10-20 active tables per limit up to the $1/2 level
around the clock with about a dozen more up to the $5/10 level. As I prefer 10-handed
games to 6-handed I was pleasantly surprised to find just as many
full games and shorthanded ones. The most popular
tournaments draw about 300 players and Sit and Go events are
surprisingly busy. The traffic has really grown to competitive levels with table
variety at each limit.
Accepts US players. The US market is positively miniscule with
one of the few poker rooms remaining open to new players.
Easy US deposit options. The acceptance of US players means
little if they can't deposit.
BetOnline offers the easiest remaining options in block-free credit cards and
Awful players. While other US poker rooms might seem loose for the
increasingly tight market
this poker room
is loose in any market. Expect flop percentages of 35-50% at every
Free tournament entries. The actual bonus numbers aren't
overwhelming but the
free tournament Promo Bucks allow new players to enter real-money
tournaments of their choice for free.
Game Selection: Hold'em,
Limits: Limit: 1c/2c up to
$5/10 No-Limit: 1c/2c up to $5/10
Major credit cards,
e-checks via customer support, prepaid gift cards, cash transfer, cashier's check, wire
transfer, money order, Moneybookers (non-US), and Neteller (non-US).
See the "Easy US Deposits" section at the top of this page for more
details on each method.
Tips: Though you
are probably familiar with the overall concepts it's essential to
brush up on methods of combating aggressive players at
With the majority of cash games featuring high flop percentages and
large average pots you'll usually be seated with a combination of
passive calling stations that play too many hands or maniacal sports
bettors that try to run you off of every hand. With few poker rooms
matching the wild play of this poker room
over the past few years you may be a bit rusty on specific
strategies to employ against loose players. The key to profits in
loose games is to be selective with your starting hands and know
when to give and take control.
The inherent weakness in calling
stations is that they play too many hands and stay in far too long,
content to allow more aggressive players to take control and dictate
the betting. How do you extract maximum profits from calling
stations? Seize control and simply bet for value on your strongest
hands. While that may seem simple many players here overcomplicate decisions by trying advanced
plays, acting weak, or bluffing. If you expect to get called simply
act strong when you're strong and make your bet sizes as large as
possible without exceeding the post.
How do you succeed against overly
Allow them to take control and hang themselves with their poor play.
Regularly employ check-raises to trap players for a quick profit or
simply flat-call in position before making your move on the river.
Overaggressive players typically can't see the forest for the trees,
building a significant pot by making large bets at every street
while you lull them into comfort by weakly calling until the river. For this reason
I recommend holding strong made hands rather than speculative draws
when facing overaggressive players. This method works particularly
well when playing in position and heads-up post flop.