Real Money US Poker Sites
Choosing a real money poker site is simple – once you know what to look out for. This page has all you need to know to find safe, easy to beat and fast-paying US online poker rooms.
Before you jump into a real money poker game, here are the key questions to ask:
- Is a Site Safe?: Choose licensed, trusted and tested rooms
- Game Selection: What choice of games, at what buy-ins?
- Bonuses / Rewards: How well will your play be rewarded?
- Is The Poker Site Legal?: This depends on which state you are playing from.
These days, the biggest and best US poker rooms are based offshore. They are licensed by their host country, and welcome players from all over the world – including the US.
You can also find smaller in-State poker rooms. These currently operate in New Jersey, Nevada and Delaware. Games are shared between players from all 3 States – and more States are expected to regulate poker in the future.
List of the Best USA Poker Sites for 2018
Licensed by the Kahnawake Gaming Commission, Bovada is one of the oldest online poker sites servicing America. Bovada offers anonymous tables and a mobile-optimized design allowing play on all mobile platforms. The design makes it feel like you’re playing in Las Vegas rather than your home computer. They offer a wide variety of cash games and tournaments with over $1.5 million in weekly guarantees.
Depositing funds is easy. Bovada accepts a wide variety of payments, including Bitcoin.
Join Bovada Poker here and get a $500 bonus!
America’s Cardroom is one of the most popular online poker rooms in the United States with over 1 million hands of poker played daily. They are a popular room because they readily accept American players and offer a wide variety of online payment options including Bitcoin.
America’s Cardroom offers a wide variety of tournaments with substantial daily guarantees. Their Sunday tournaments have guarantees ranging from $50,000 to $150,000. They also offer Jackpot Poker games where you can win up to $100,000 in a matter of minutes.
Join America’s Cardroom here and claim $1,000 in bonus cash, daily free cash and new depositor freerolls!
Ignition is a popular option for players in the United States. They offer most popular cash game variants and more than $1.5 million in weekly online poker tournament guarantees. Ignition also offers Zone Poker, similar to Zoom Poker where you’re moved to a new table and dealt a new hand every time you fold.
Ignition Poker also offer a wide variety of poker promotions. Hit a Royal Flush in a Hold’em cash game and get 50x the big blind as a bonus up to $200. Lose with a hand of Aces full of kings or better, and get a Bad Beat Bonus of 100x the BB up to $1,000.
Join Ignition Poker here and get up to $2000 free!
BetOnline is the newest online poker site for American players. This site is part of the BetOnline group which includes a well-known and reputable Sportsbook as well as an online casino. BetOnline launched their poker room in 2012 and has quickly become one of the largest US accepted poker rooms on the market.
Real money players that join BetOnline through our review will receive a cash bonus on all deposits. When you make your 1st, 2nd and even 10th deposit to the poker room, you will receive 25% upfront in cash.
Join Bet Online Poker and qualify for a $1,000 deposit bonus!
Sportsbetting.ag offers a robust online poker option with excellent cash game and tournament action. For cash games, they provide weekly cash leaderboards with $10,000 in prizes weekly. They also offer fantastic daily tournament guarantees. They offer over $45,000 in weekday guarantees, over $130,000 in guarantees on Saturday and over $275,000 in guarantees on Sunday.
If you like fast-fold poker variants like Zoom Poker, you’ll love Boost Poker. Get a new hand every time you fold in this fast-paced game.
Join Sportsbetting.ag – 100% up to $1000 for new US players!
Black Chip Poker is a legally licensed real money poker site for US players. Licensed in Costa Rica, BCP is part of the Winning Poker Network. New players qualify for a 100% deposit bonus up to $1,000 or you can take advantage of the cryptocurrency offering, giving you a 200% match bonus when you make your first deposit with Bitcoin.
The poker room provides a variety of tournaments including the Million Dollar Sunday tournaments and seats to live events. The poker room receives a decent amount of traffic to cash games, though limited to the NLH tables.
Join Black Chip Poker here and claim a 100% match bonus!
8 Things to Look For Before Playing with Real Cash
The list below covers the main factors to consider when choosing a real money online poker site. You’ll find a lot of detail below, covering games, banking and trust-factors.
It is important to choose a site which works for your experience level and skills. If you are a recreational player, who enjoys the occasional casual poker game, then your requirements are different from those of a multi-tabling pro grinder.
Here is our list of the 8 key factors to compare the best United States poker sites:
- Site Features: Games available, betting limits, in-browser access and banking
- What Current Players Say: Poker reviews, what can they tell you?
- Bonuses and Promotions: How to compare welcome deals and loyalty rewards
- Poker Variations: What formats, games and buy-ins will you find?
- Security / Licensing: How to tell which poker sites can be trusted?
- Banking Options: How to get your money in, and your profits out!
- Player Complaints: The red flags to look out for
You’ll find detailed explanations of each of these in the sections below.
Comparing The Features of Different Online Poker Sites
What features separate a great online poker site from an average one?
Without a good selection of the type of games you enjoy, the ‘bells and whistles’ are meaningless. If your site only has 1 or 2 tables of your preferred buy-in and game combination, you should be careful. Profitable online poker is all about finding easy games!
It takes a critical mass of players to run larger poker tournaments. The Winning Poker Network are strong in this area, with regular big guarantees of up to $1 million. High limit cash game players will need to select from the biggest sites. You will find $5 / $10 and above on Bovada and Ignition, though this is rare on the smaller US friendly poker rooms.
Rake is a consideration for high volume players. This is the fee which poker sites take for tournament entries, or the small percentage of each cash game pot retained by the house. Some new real money poker sites advertise low or no-rake games. Most sites charge up to 10% of tournament entries and up to 4% of cash game pots. It can pay to make sure you are not overpaying.
There are limited options for mobile / in-browser play at US poker rooms. If you plan on enjoying poker from your iPhone or Android Smartphone, I recommend ‘Zone Poker’ from Bovada. This is a fast-fold game, which allows you to get a lot of hands packed into a short session.
Finally, before you choose a poker site with real mney, you should familiarise yourself with any banking rules and restrictions.
Deposit methods are now similar across the sites. These include credit cards, money transfers and Bitcoin (plus other cryptocurrencies). What differs between sites is the minimum withdrawal amount, and administration charges. Look for sites with a low minimum, and at least one free withdrawal per month. Betonline lets you cash out on Fridays for free.
What to Look for in Poker Site Reviews?
You’ll find a lot of reviews for just about every real money poker site. Some will be detailed, specific and written by genuine players. Other reviews will be bland, short and generic. With some of these, you could change the name of the site – and the reviews could easily be for any of the poker rooms!
Look for first-hand experience. This will appear in comments about navigating through the menus, the softness (or otherwise) of the games – and other small features. I also recommend you get more than one opinion. After all, different real money poker rooms appeal to different types of player.
How to Compare Poker Bonus Offers?
Welcome bonuses are an important way to get your initial bankroll off to a great start. The key difference between this type of offer is how quickly you can get that money into your player account.
Some sites give you a target (of points you’ll collect at the tables) and pay the whole bonus in one go. Others pay your welcome bonus in increments, for example of $5 or $20.
Even more important than the size and the speed of the welcome bonus are the ongoing rewards. Typically, your welcome bonus will expire after 30 to 60 days. After that, if you enjoy the games, you could be playing at a site for many years. Making sure your site offers rakeback, loyalty schemes and regular promos before you start to play will ensure you do not miss out.
What is No-Rake Poker?
A new concept in online poker rooms is to charge no rake for play at all. These rooms are funded either by monthly subscriptions, or by using cryptocurrency tokens which increase in value with more player demand.
What Games and Variations are Available?
There are three basic formats of poker, which all real money poker sites will run. These are cash games, poker tournaments and Sit n Goes (which are smaller tournaments, with no scheduled start time).
Every site will run all 3 with No-Limit Holdem as the poker game used.
Where the US online poker rooms differ is in the non-Holdem variants, and the specifics of the poker formats.
Bovada and Ignition offer Zone Poker. This is a fast-fold format, where you play against new opponents each hand. On Winning Poker Network sites such as America’s Cardroom, you will find ‘Jackpots’. These are a 3-handed super-fast Sit N Go format, with a random prize pool.
You will find Pot-Limit Omaha poker at the larger sites. This can be found in high-only and hi-lo formats.
While the games on offer are often the same – the number of tables to choose from can be very different. Choosing the biggest sites means a lot more games, and higher stakes (or bigger tournament prizes).
Security, Licensing Trust at Real Money Poker Sites
There are two common concerns when it comes to trusting a poker site.
- Is the deal fair?
- Can I trust a site with my money and id documents?
For shuffle / deal fairness, the answer is almost always positive. Poker rooms are tested by independent auditing companies over millions of hands. It can sometimes feel that an ace always flops when you have kings. No proof of a rigged deal has ever been found – over literally billions of hands.
The other side of trust concerns holding your money – and your backup id documents. If these are areas of concern for you, then the longer a United States poker room has been running the better.
A trusted reputation is something that takes years to build. Rooms which have this have a big interest in looking after their players. Sites like Bovada and BetOnline have been offering real money games for many years.
Making sure that your site is licensed (see below) and has no major payment scandals are both sensible precautions to take before you deposit.
Who Licenses Poker Rooms? Are Any Of Them Legal?
All real money poker rooms need an operating license. Playing at an unlicensed site is taking a big risk with your money. A license allows the site to accept payments. It also gives you recourse if something goes wrong.
Three Individual States currently provide legal licenses for poker sites. At the time of writing these are Nevada, Delaware and New Jersey. Those licenses allow these poker sites to accept real money players within their borders. A separate agreement pools together players from these States, allowing them to play against each other online.
New States are considering licensing. Pennsylvania is currently determining the details of its in-State poker regulation – while others are looking into passing bills.
Offshore sites are licensed by the governments of their host countries. Popular jurisdictions include Curacao and Panama. Licenses are also offered by Kahnawake, a native settlement located within Canada.
I strongly recommend you check for a license before you deposit at any online poker site for US players. You will usually find a link in the bottom of your site’s homepage. Make sure you double check by Googling the license authority.
Banking at US Poker Sites: Depositing and Withdrawing
Getting your money deposited on a real money site is not that big of challenge – if you know which methods work.
Here are the easiest of the common poker deposit methods:
- Credit Cards: Widely accepted, though transactions can be blocked by banks, quick and easy when they do work.
- Prepaid Credit Cards: Check with your site for the best working brands, then buy from convenience stores.
- Bitcoin / Other Cryptocurrencies: One-off setup needed, though once you have a ‘wallet’ these coins will solve your deposit and withdrawal problems completely.
- Money Transfer: Send cash from your local Western Union or MoneyGram office.
The poker sites are pushing Bitcoin and other cryptocurrencies hard to their players. There are some good reasons for this. Once you are set up, you have a seamless way to both deposit and withdraw. Any risk of holding Bitcoin is minimized by the sites transferring this into dollars the moment you deposit.
There are more traditional ways of getting your money into a poker room. Credit cards work just fine most of the time. You can also use money transfer services and prepaid credit cards.
Withdrawing with cryptocurrency is easy. Other ways to get your cash out are paper checks (which banks do accept) or sometimes bank wires. Make sure you check for minimum withdrawal amounts, and any fees. Reputable sites will allow a free cash out each month, though may charge for additional withdrawals.
Poker Site Complaints: The Red Flags to Look Out for
Unfortunately, there are always bad players who claim that every site has a ‘rigged deal’. When you check feedback on forums and blogs, you’ll come across this type of complaint a lot. Keep in mind that most of these players would not be able to win, even if the deal were somehow rigged in their favour!
Far more important factors of player feedback concern payments. Delays in payments are a red flag for any poker site. Again, some players will complain about needing to provide backup documents. This is standard, though if you see a pattern of delayed or cancelled payments, I would recommend digging a little deeper.
Another important aspect of customer feedback is the softness (or otherwise) of the games. If you see a lot of comments suggesting a site is full of pro ‘grinders’, then it may be worth looking elsewhere!
It always pays to check the terms and conditions of a poker site before you play with real money. Things to look out for include caps on withdrawal amounts, high minimum withdrawals and time restricted bonuses.
Reputable poker rooms have a ‘Responsible Gaming’ policy. This includes clear information, the ability for problem gamblers to self-exclude and links to support organisations. A final factor I like to see is several contact methods. Sites which give you a phone number, e-mail and physical address are a lot more likely to be reputable compared with one with just a contact form.
Frequently Asked Questions from Players Like You!
You’ll find detailed answers to some common questions below. These cover a wide range of topics, from which is the best room through to how to play using Bitcoin!
Is Playing Real Money Poker Legal from My State?
Offshore poker sites are not under US jurisdiction. They maintain their right to allow players from anywhere in the world.
While there are no Federal laws stopping individual players from enjoying real money poker online – State laws do vary. You’ll find individual state-by-state overviews right here on this site.
Some States clearly ban playing online poker games. Utah and Washington State are two examples. Most others refer to Federal law or have very old statutes (many 100 years old or more), which were obviously created before the internet.
Federal law prevents banks and gambling sites transacting within the USA – though does not cover individual players. Read about the 2006 UIGEA laws for more on this page.
At the time of writing, no player in any State has been indicted for enjoying real money online poker.
How Can I be Sure a Poker Site isn’t Going to Just Shut Down?
There are often red flags before any poker site closes. The biggest one is significant delays in payments to their players.
You can avoid this type of problem by sticking with poker sites that have been running for a long time. Some of the bigger offshore brands have a 5+ year track record. For the offshore sites, this list includes Bovada, BetOnline and some of the WPN skins too.
Are There Any Poker Sites Which Allow You to Play with Bitcoin in the US?
Yes, all the main offshore sites accept Bitcoin as a payment option. There are some sites which accept other cryptocurrencies. Bitcoin Cash, Litecoin and Ethereum are regularly used.
The main offshore sites will convert Bitcoin deposits into US Dollars. You’ll then play games in USD. When it comes to cashing out your profits, your USD balance is converted back into Bitcoin.
In addition to the main sites welcoming BTC deposits, there are now several poker sites which operate only in Bitcoin.
What is the Best Online Poker Room? Why?
Defining objectively what makes an online poker room depends on your experience level, bankroll and game preferences. You should also find a poker site that you are comfortable playing at!
A perfect site would include soft games, a huge choice of tables, big guaranteed tournament prizes, plenty of promotions and bonuses – and smooth, fast software that can be accessed from many different devices.
Several sites come close. Some have softer games, others have more generous rewards. I recommend you try out a selection of the biggest and best US poker rooms. You can then decide for yourself where you enjoy playing the most.
Do Online Poker Players Use Computer Algorithms While Playing?
This question alludes to bots, or computer programs which make playing decisions. While these do exist, poker room security departments have become very good at spotting them.
More common are tracker / heads-up display software tools. These are used by pro players. They collect data on opponents in real time – displaying their tendencies and weaknesses over the top of the table for the users.
It is very hard for an inexperienced player to beat a pro with a ‘HUD’ / tracker combination.
If this is a concern for you, I recommend choosing Bovada or Ignition Poker. These real money poker rooms anonymise play. This makes it difficult for users of HUDs to collect meaningful data, especially if you move seat / game often.
At other sites – making notes on players you see at multiple tables, and avoiding games with too many of them, is a great work-around.
Which Poker Site is Least Likely to be Rigged?
None of the major poker sites are rigged. They use RNG (random number generator) software to deal cards. This is tested by independent auditing companies over millions of deals. Add to this the millions of hands in the databases of tracking software companies for reassurance.
While many (usually bad) players claim that online poker is somehow rigged, usually against them in particular, the math simply does not back this up.
Choose any of the big US poker rooms, and you can be sure of a fair deal.
How do US Poker Sites Structure Themselves to be Legal?
The ‘Unlawful Internet Gambling Enforcement Act’ of 2006 prohibits financial transactions to online gambling sites in the USA. Sites offering real money games to US players stay legal by staying outside of the US. In fact, these sites are fully legal in their host countries. They maintain the right to welcome players from anywhere in the world, citing global free trade laws.
While the Federal authorities might not agree, their legal jurisdiction is limited. They can enforce the UIGEA on the US banks and financial networks – making it difficult to get payments to and from the offshore sites.
The UIGEA does not cover players. Making a deposit and enjoying real money poker at offshore poker rooms has never been illegal under Federal law. While State laws vary, no player has ever been indicted under these.
Finally, with the clarification of the Wire Act in 2011, individual States are now free to license their own poker rooms and online casinos. This has already happened in New Jersey, Nevada and Delaware – with several more States likely to follow.
Is Playing Online Poker Profitable?
One of the best things about online poker is that skilled players can win money. While you won’t be profitable right away, if you are better than your opponents, then over time your bankroll will grow.
Compared to live poker games, the standard of play is much better online. You’ll need to study between sessions, and usually invest in some tracking / database tools to identify your own leaks. Once you have a winning strategy, playing more tables will increase your hourly rate.
Making a living playing online poker is possible – though this comes with its own challenges. However much you love poker when you start, multiple months of ‘grinding’ for 8 hours a day will eventually become a chore.
If you have the mindset to persevere, then playing multiple tables for a small profit on each one can add up to a reasonable wage.
Are There Restrictions to Joining Multiple Sites?
Several offshore poker sites are part of wider networks. These networks share players on a common back-end – offering more games and some of the best online poker tournaments for US players, than the individual sites would be able to manage alone.
Examples include the Winning Poker Network. This includes America’s Cardroom and Black Chip Poker. BetOnline are part of the Chico Network, and Bovada, Ignition and the Canadian Bodog Poker also pool players.
You can join more than one site, though you will not be able to play at more than one ‘skin’ at the same time. You may find rakeback deals are only offered at the first site you joined on some networks.
What Recourse Do I Have Against a Poker Site Which is Delaying Payments?
That depends on the licensing arrangement of the site you are playing at. If you chose an unlicensed site, then your chances of getting money back if they close or go rogue are small.
Complaining to the licensing body will not necessarily get your money back. However, the loss of a license is something many US poker online sites take seriously – so you have a shot. I recommend flagging payment delays quickly on popular poker forums. This is usually a red flag that something is amiss, and warning other players is welcomed.
As a defence against a site going rogue, it is smart to keep only a small portion of your bankroll online. If you deposit and withdraw with Bitcoin (or any cryptocurrency) then moving your money in and out is cheap and fast.