Whether you’re just starting your poker journey or you’re a seasoned shark looking for a pool of new fish, there’s nothing more important than picking the right place to play. Aside from picking up the game, this is one of the most important decisions you’ll make. Your new site will be your new online casino. But instead of looking for free room comps, buffet vouchers, and friendly dealers, you want quality software, secure games, juicy games, and more.
We know what makes a good poker site because we’re avid poker players ourselves. Everyone on staff who reviews sites is an avid poker player and they say they’re profitable. There’s plenty more discussion of who’s the best player on staff, but we’ll settle that at the tables. What we do know is that everyone’s been playing for years and has played at nearly every site imaginable. We know what makes a good site, and how to differentiate it from a bad one. Most of us lived through Black Friday and other online poker scandals and know what to look for and to avoid.
Most importantly, we play the games and know how the players are. We take a look at the competition and tell you how tough or how soft it is at every site we review. There’s plenty of other things we look into when we’re doing our in-depth online poker reviews. We’re more than happy to walk you through everything, just keep reading and get one step closer to finding the perfect poker site for you.
The State of Online Poker in 2020
Online poker has been around for more than 20 years now. It’s old enough to walk into a casino and sit down at a game itself. Planet Poker was the first online poker site back in 1998. Reviews back then were pretty easy. Now there are hundreds of online poker sites based all over the globe. It can get a bit overwhelming trying to find which ones are the best for you.
On top of that, while online poker was a bit of a legal free-for-all back in the early 2000s, governments around the world have started regulating online poker. So now there are sites available in some jurisdictions and not others. There are some sites only available in a certain country or state. In the US, online poker is regulated on a state-by-state basis. More than a handful of sites have started regulating and licensing state-sanctioned sites, and many more are discussing it. In the meantime, these state sites tend to have smaller player pools than sites used to. And who wants to read reviews about an online poker site they can’t play at?
What we really care about are sites that are available to you. That’s why we’re focusing our reviews on sites that accept players from all across the United States. There are several sites that accept players from all 50 states. This gives them bigger player pools that lead to bigger tournaments and guarantees, more cash games, and essentially, more potential earnings for you. A lot of these sites also offer online casinos or sportsbooks too, so we review these sides of the online poker rooms. We check out nearly every aspect of online poker sites, but we want to start with one of the most important things to review: what the competition is like.
What’s it Like to Play Online Poker There?
One of the most important things when it comes to poker strategy is game selection. This is the concept of picking the right place to play to make the most profit. Even if you’re just playing for fun, it’s always more fun if you’re winning money. That’s why we always play extensively on every online poker site we review. We want to get a feel for the players on each site and tell you what they’re like
Of course, every site has a wide range of players. You usually have your more inexperienced poker players playing the freerolls or lower stakes. Then, as you go up the stakes, you meet and play against more experienced and difficult poker players. But there are some more elements that can dictate what kind of players frequent a site. Some sites encourage more amateur and recreational players. This is great for most players. If you’re a beginner yourself, you don’t want to get crushed. If you’re a pro, you don’t want to swim in shark-infested waters. That’ll just cut into your profit. That’s why we always check this out during our reviews.
Some sites take measures like not showing any screen names. This means that while you’re playing against real people, you’re playing against unknown opponents. This limits players collecting and mining data on other players to use for heads-up-display (HUD) devices. This is a big tool for professional players and we always review how much a site allows. These days, some online poker sites don’t allow HUDs or third-party software in general.
Another thing we look for in our reviews is the player base. Some sites are more frequented by professional online poker players than others. Others have a steady stream of novice or amateur players. One way we look at that in our reviews is seeing what other gaming options the site offers. Just like in real life, if an online poker room has a casino attached, there’s a chance you’ll get more amateurs wandering in to throw a few bucks at a poker game.
Reviewing Promotions and Bonuses
Once you decide where to throw your bucks in, one of the best things to look at are bonuses and promotions. You can make some serious cash if you know how to take advantage of the sign-up bonuses out there. Most sites have generous sign-up bonuses, but a few of them have continued promotions that encourage you to keep depositing. Since the point of online poker is to make money, we really take a good look at promotions during reviews.
Promotions are free money, and they’re also an incentive to sign up for more multiple sites. You have to play a certain amount to clear the bonus, but once you do it’s yours. You can only clear these bonuses once, but again, since there are so many sites out there, you won’t run out anytime soon. This is one of our favorite parts about online poker and why we always take a good look at it during our reviews.
After you’re done testing out sites and cashing your sign-up bonuses, it’s time to pick your forever sites. To do this, it’s good to look at what kind of ongoing promotions sites have. This can take many different forms. Some sites have deposit freerolls, others have generous rakeback or rewards programs and others have great tournament series and guarantees. These are the things that are worth sticking around for. We always make sure to see what online poker sites offer to attract you to sign up and then keep you playing. This is always a big part of our review process.
Deposit, Withdrawal and Banking Options
There’s no point playing online poker for money if you can’t get money in or out. There are multiple layers to this and we do everything possible to cover all of them in our reviews. The two big factors are speed and variety. There’s no point playing online poker for money if you can’t get your money onto the site.
That’s why the first thing we check in our reviews is the number of banking options. A good site lets you use a number of deposit and withdrawal options. From credit cards to bank transfers, to popular eWallets like Paypal and Neteller. Sites have even started accepting Bitcoin and all kinds of cryptocurrencies. We love that about new online poker sites and we tend to have a number of different banking methods. That’s why this ranks highly in our reviews.
The second thing is speed. This varies a lot depending on the site and payout method. Payment options like Bitcoin and Paypal tend to be faster and some sites even have immediate deposits and withdrawals. Others, especially checks tend to take a lot longer. Some sites also have processing times which can add 24-48 hours on your cashout. If you’re like us, we’re pretty sure that you like to get to your money quickly. That’s why fast payouts rank pretty highly in our reviews and sites with slow payments get knocked down a peg.
The next thing we look at in online poker sites is also something practical.
How does the site look? How easy is it to navigate? Is it compatible with my phone or tablet? These are all important questions and fall under the online poker site’s software. Again, this varies between sites and as the old saying goes, the ones that work best are the ones you don’t notice at all.
Good software is smooth, sleek, and doesn’t get in your way. Sometimes you don’t appreciate good software until you’re forced to deal with bad software. Bad software tends to be clunky, hard to navigate, and worst of all crash and cause you to lose out on money. So we always make sure to review a site’s software on all devices. Most sites offer mobile options too, so we make sure to review sites on a number of devices. We see how it works on Windows, Macs, iPhones, and Android devices. We still haven’t found a site that offers Zune support though. We’ll tell you if we do.
Licensing and Safety
None of the above really matters if an online poker site isn’t safe to play on. That’s why we always make sure to check for the site’s licenses and give you the information. We don’t even consider reviewing sites that don’t pass this threshold. That’s why at the bottom of every review you’ll find out where a site is located and where it’s licensed. We also give you more information on the company behind each site and a little bit of their history. All the companies we review have been around for a while and have been known for providing safe games.
You have questions, we have answers. We’ve tried to cover everything about our online poker reviews above, but we know you still might have some questions. We’ve listed some of the top questions people tend to have about online poker and our reviews. We’re going to keep updating this list with more questions, so if you have any, send them our way.
Q: Who’s writing your online poker reviews?
A: We are! Our team here at LegalPokerSites is a combination of poker players, journalists, and poker industry veterans who live and breathe poker. Most of our authors have been playing poker for most of their lives and have been professionally involved with poker for more than a decade.
Take one of our writers, Cliff Spiller, as an example. Cliff manages most of our reviews and has been writing about online poker for more than 14 years. He writes for a number of poker sites and has written several how-to guides. It’s hard to find someone more knowledgeable and experienced when it comes to the online poker industry. When you want to know about an online poker site, you ask Cliff to review them and that’s exactly what we’ve done. There’s a chance you might run into him at the tables too!
Q: Is online poker safe?
A: This all depends on the site you’re playing on. If you’re signing up for any of the sites we’ve reviewed, then the answer is simple: yes. There are definitely some unreputable sites out there, but we make sure to avoid them at all costs. The first thing we take into consideration when reviewing a site is whether or not it’s safe. We won’t even consider it an option if it isn’t.
So as long as you do your research, then yes, online poker is completely safe. If you sign up for shady sites and don’t do your research beforehand, then online poker can be less safe. Always do your homework and always check out reviews before signing up for an online poker site.
What should I look for in an online poker site?
If you stumble across an online poker site we haven’t reviewed and are considering playing there, there are a few things you should check out. The first thing you want to do is check to see if the site is licensed and regulated in a jurisdiction. After that, you should check everything that we’ve outlined on this review page. We have some recommendations on our reviews page, but if you’re looking for some new online poker sites, make sure to check all the boxes.
So remember, check for safety, look at the player pool, and see what the sign-up bonuses are like. After that, you want to check out all the banking options and make sure they have the ones that work for you. If you want to primarily play on mobile, make sure you check out the software is compatible with your device. After that, just look for a site that you can have fun at. Poker’s a social game, so don’t forget to interact with the other players and have a good time!
Q: So Where Should I Play Online Poker?
A: So we’ve listed what goes into our reviews and what makes a good online poker site. Now, where should you start playing? We’ve reviewed several online poker sites and can recommend a few depending on what you’re looking for. Ignition Poker has a great sign-up bonus and it’s also a site that caters towards recreational players. Its software discourages professional players and they also have good banking options.
Another site we tend to recommend is Bovada. They have a great sportsbook and casino too. If you’re a sports bettor and like casino games, this is a win-win. You get to enjoy these games, but the games also bring in softer players to the poker table. Sportsbetting Poker, as you might guess from the name, also has a pretty solid sportsbook. Again, this brings in plenty of soft players. On top of that, Sportsbetting.ag gives you a 25% Bonus for Life. That’s a 15-25% match on all of your deposits up to $2,500.
These are our top three and are great places to start.