US Poker Sites
1. Best-in-class credit card deposit success rates.
2. One of the highest US traffic levels.
3. Above-average Fish Rating.
The 200% bonus doesn’t hurt either, drawing less praise from me for the actual dollar amount and more for how quick the play-through requirements are.
It may do more to distinguish itself in the future but for now it is a highly-rated clone that shares all the strong features of its network sibling.
Pain-free credit card deposits, an abundance of payout methods, and high cash game traffic earn its highest ratings.
If you are a US tournament player there simply is no match with $1 million+ guarantees and 1,000+ players competing for everyday events.
Add to that some of the loosest cash tables anywhere and this is a solid contender with a lot of positives.
USA Poker FAQs
Is US online poker safe?
There is no definitive answer to this question and if a website claims anything about US online poker is 100% safe they’re placating you in order to make themselves money. The simple answer is we’d all like to think so.
I certainly feel confident in the poker sites I choose to recommend and they have been safe for years up to this point. However, the vast majority of Americans are forced to play on privately-owned US poker sites that aren’t regulated in the US.
No one can know the future or guarantee the safety of any US online poker room. The best I can do is say anyone I link to has been safe for payouts and (to the best of anyone’s knowledge) game fairness for at least several years.
Who are the best US poker sites?
There’s good news and bad news. The good news is that I feel very confident in the safety and trustworthiness in the few best USA poker sites I choose to link to. They’ve been around for at least 5 years with very good payout speed and reputations.
The bad news is that the best US poker sites occupy a very small space with the majority of former sites closing down, scamming players, or cutting off new signups. I do cover the US poker market extensively and here are a few of my best resources to get you started.
Who can play at a US poker site?
Some US poker sites disallow players from specific states like Washington or New York due to laws on the books or for their own interpretations of state laws. Players from every other state and, of course, just about any other country in the world are free to sign up and play for real-money.
Even if you’re from a restricted state you might have luck at another USA poker site that has different rules. I note restricted states in each of my US poker site reviews.
The US poker saga is stranger than fiction
The twists and turns experienced by the US online poker market would make a fascinating book someday. We’re all characters in it awaiting the final chapter. US online poker is at a crossroads and I would like to help players navigate it as painlessly as possible.
History of USA poker sites
Prior to late 2006 the US online poker market was no different than the rest of the world (ROW). American players could play at the same sites and use the same convenient e-wallets (e.g. NETeller) as their ROW brethren. Online poker was booming with no end in sight.
The UIGEA in 2006
Everything changed in September 2006 when the Unlawful Internet Gambling Enforcement Act (UIGEA) was secretly attached onto an unrelated must-pass port security bill at the 11th hour before a recess of congress.
According to senators no one apart from the Act’s sponsors was aware of its inclusion and no one had read the final draft.
Subsequently, all publicly-traded poker sites stopped allowing US players, allowing private mega-sites like PokerStars and Full Tilt Poker to take over the US market.
Payment options slowly returned to US players and the market seemed to stabilize into a new normal: a distinct separation between US poker rooms and those serving the rest of the world.
Is there and has there ever been an "online poker ban" in the US? Unfortunately, casual players and the general public may think so. Here I examine what has actually happened and what this means for US players.
Black Friday in 2011
The next shoe to drop was online poker’s Black Friday in April 2011, which involved a district of the US Justice Department taking action against the 3 largest remaining poker sites servicing US players.
PokerStars was the only outfit that survived the ordeal, settling up with the US government to the tune of $731 million and maintaining its dominant position for ROW players.
A recap of one of the most significant days in online poker history - April 15, 2011 - in which the US Department of Justice attacked 3 of the largest online poker rooms still servicing American players.
The current state of US poker rooms
Small privately-owned poker rooms have filled in the gaps for US players in non-regulated states. No US-facing site currently has exceedingly high traffic and the market is at its smallest point with previous mainstays removing their emphasis on new players.
Still, real-money poker in the US remains a viable option and I’ve reviewed those allowing new players above. Deposit options still exist but are highly dependent on the poker room.
The US online poker market is also fragmented with a select few legal US states offering state-sanctioned games. This is currently limited to less than 5% of the nation’s population but appears likely to expand to more states in the future. It’s an intriguing possibility.
The future of US poker sites
As mentioned earlier we are at a crossroads for online poker in America. I see 3 main possibilities for online poker over the next 5 years with none able to be ruled out.
1. We maintain the status quo. A handful of smaller states offer legalized games while the majority of the country gets by with small private offerings.
2. Online poker gets legalized in a major state and a majority of the Union follows their coat tails. This could be California, Pennsylvania, or New York. Should one of those states finally get through the red tape it would be a game-changer.
3. We see a coordinated attack on the industry, bringing down the remaining private options. I don’t see this as a likely scenario unless a UIGEA-like backdoor effort is orchestrated by corrupt politicians and casino owners.
Actually, that doesn’t sound so far-fetched. It’s already happened once. Let’s just hope it doesn’t again.