Top 10 US Poker Sites: Best legal USA Poker websites for 2021
Ancestors to the game of poker may have come from the Middle East and China, but the game as it stands today is thought to pretty much have been born in the United States. New Orleans, Louisiana more specifically. The earliest form of it was played there under the name of “poque”, which took place within gambling dens. It then went on to spread from the state of New Orleans and reached various other corners of the country before expanding overseas, too.
According to some sources, the earliest form of poker was created in America in the 1800s, and this based itself off of the French game of poque. That game arrived at the port of New Orleans with French sailors, with the British game of “Brag“ also coming across to the USA in the same way. It is the second card game that had a heavy influence on the earliest versions of poker in the United States, which was played with a deck of 20 cards only.
Saloons in New Orleans weren’t long in picking it up, putting on games for not only travellers to participate in, but residents of Louisiana itself. It didn’t take long for it to expand across Louisiana prior to it becoming one of the States of America.
Recommended US Online Poker Rooms
My list of the best US poker sites which I consider to be the best rooms to play in 2021:
- Ignition Poker
- BetOnline Poker
- Intertops Poker
- Juicy Stakes Poker
- Americas Cardroom
- Bovada Poker
- BlackChip Poker
- SportsBetting Poker
- True Poker
100% Legal & Licensed Verified Bonus Mobile Friendly Advertiser Disclosure. Must be +18 to participate.
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- Recommended US Online Poker Rooms
- How to Play Poker Online From the US
- How Do I Rate and Review US Poker Sites?
- Which Poker Sites Allow US Players?
- Are There Any Legal Poker Sites in the US?
- Which US Poker Site Has the Most Players?
- Do Any US Poker Sites Accept PayPal?
- Is poker legal in the US?
- Legal Regulations Concerning Online Poker in USA
- Playing Poker for Real money from USA
- The Best Depositing Option for players from USA
- Factors To Consider when playing online poker for real money
- Future of Online Poker in the US for Poker Players
- Help and Advice on Problem Gambling
- Find which US States are accepting Online Poker
- Poker Sites by US States
How to Play Poker Online From the US
Playing online poker should be a walk in the park for every US-based resident. Just in case, I’ve put together a mini step-by-step guide that will guide you through the process.
Find a suitable poker site
Naturally, the first step is to find a poker platform that suits your preferences the most. Each of the operators listed on this page is undeniably great, but they should appeal to players of different tastes.
Once you find a match, we can proceed to the next step.
Sign up for an account
This one is a no brainer. To register, you merely need to fill out some light paperwork, sharing your identity and whereabouts with the operator. You can get it done within a few minutes.
Top up your account with funds and head to the promotions section
To play real money poker games, you’ll need to load your account with funds using one of the payment methods listed in the cashier.
Following this, you should go to the promotions page and look for any bonus and promotion you can take advantage of.
Get in on the action
This is it, you’ve made it! All that is left now is to take a seat at one of the poker tables and compete in many cash games and tournaments you’re surely going to find.
How Do I Rate and Review US Poker Sites?
It isn’t easy, I can tell you that. To begin with, I and my five-man expert team personally test each of the candidates. Being passionate poker players ourselves, we know exactly how a great poker site should look like and which characteristics it should possess.
Once we sift out the poker sites that meet our strict requirements, we put them on the list and recommend them to our readers.
Here are the criteria we impose for the selection of US poker sites:
Regulation and security
First of all, we always recommend that you find one with a valid and reputable gambling licence. Every poker brand that doesn’t have a valid license by an esteemed regulatory body is immediately excluded from further consideration.
Without such, the platform has free reign to do exactly what it wants. There aren’t any regulations that it specifically has to adhere to, so therefore, while it may not go the negative route, there’s always the possibility for it to happen.
We would never recommend you an unlicensed or unreputable online poker room, so you can always guarantee that the ones on our list are safe and secure.
To earn a spot on our exclusive list, a poker site must be adequately licensed. What’s more, it must use impenetrable security measures such as SSL encryption, DPOs, and high-end firewalls.
We’re constantly on the lookout for poker sites offering the juiciest welcome bonuses. The bigger the size of the sign-up offer, the higher the poker brand offering it will rank on our list.
On recommended poker sites, you’ll find an overwhelming variety of poker games, stretching from the ever-popular Texas Hold’em to Omaha, Razz, Seven Card Stud, and Draw Poker. You’ll come across an equally impressive diversity in terms of the number of tournaments and cash games on offer.
To establish the quality of a poker client, my team runs multiple benchmark tests, analyzing the site’s user experience, usability, and functionality. As a result, you can rest assured that you won’t run into any kind of performance issues on the sites I vouch for.
The cashier section must be packed with all kinds of payment methods, namely credit and debit cards, e-wallets and cryptocurrencies. Everyone is bound to find an easy-to-use, safe, and lightning-fast deposit method. Also, I steer clear from poker sites that charge sky-high fees for deposits and cashouts.
Customer supportIt should be readily available for every user. In case you need any assistance, you can rely on the support agents to provide swift and efficient resolution to your problem through live chat and/or email.
The only other thing we’d suggest for you to do is find out what other players think about the poker site you’re intending to join.
Read not only our review of the platform, but other gamers’ comments as well. Find out if there’s any kind of recurring problem going on at it and how long it takes the site and support team to rectify such issues.
What we’re saying is, you need to ensure that the poker room is providing a good service and it doesn’t shirk around problems when they arise. Only frequent players would know about these issues, so check out reviews by other players to understand more about such.
Which Poker Sites Allow US Players?
There is no shortage of poker sites that accept US players. However, you shouldn’t rush into signing up with the first poker platform that comes to hand. Not all poker platforms are worthy of your attention, and some should even be avoided at all costs.
Our team of experts including myself have carried out detailed research and found that three US poker sites which are Ignition, BetOnline and Intertops are the go-to destinations for US poker players. Since each player has unique preferences when choosing a poker site, my advice is to check out other options and browse through the entire list listed on the table. Don’t worry; all these brands are exceptional. It’s only a matter of which one can accommodate your poker needs the most.
Are There Any Legal Poker Sites in the US?
Other operators from our exclusive list are also licensed in various jurisdictions across the US and Central America. Bottom line — regardless of the poker site you choose from my page, you can rest assured that it’s appropriately licensed and regulated, therefore legal for US players.
Which US Poker Site Has the Most Players?
It’s tough to say since all my featured poker sites have excellent traffic. Usually, the best poker sites with the highest traffic are the more established brands like Bovada, JuicyStakes and partypoker. On these sites, you can easily find an open seat during peak hours, and there are plenty of tables to play at during the off time.
Do Any US Poker Sites Accept PayPal?
Very few poker sites in the US accept PayPal as a deposit and withdrawal option. Even the handful of poker rooms that facilitate PayPal transactions support only a limited number of countries, and the United States is not one of them.
PayPal abides by the rules of the countries it operates in, and since the gambling industry still hasn’t been regulated in the US, you’ll have a hard time finding a poker site that accepts it as a deposit option.
Luckily for you, poker sites from my list feature plenty of other payment methods that are equally efficient and secure as PayPal. For instance, there is a growing number of Bitcoin poker rooms that serve US customers. Due to the anonymity and transaction speed it provides, Bitcoin is a great payment option for poker players.
What’s more, a wide range of US poker sites accepts credit and debit cards and e-wallets like Skrill or Neteller. So, despite the absence of PayPal, I’m quite confident that you’ll be able to find a suitable payment solution on US poker sites.
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Originally, it was a French colony, which explains a lot about poker’s origins being there. Because New Orleans operated as a major port on the Mississippi River, this meant that poker could travel along with the boats that went up and down the 100-mile stretch of water. This saw it introduced to various other ports and, subsequently, other towns as well. It is because of this that the middle of the 1800s saw the birth of the steamboat gambler.
At the same time, the deck of playing cards was expanded from 20 up to today’s 52 card set. The five-card poker version would also evolve at that time into a drawing game instead, with an additional round of betting being added to help sweeten the pots. It was at this time that hands could include the “flush” of five cards of the same suit. This was followed by the “straight” hand in the 1860s.
Poker hasn’t changed too dramatically in the way that it is played over the last 100 years at least. And even though several different variations of it have come to light, the basic rules tend to often remain the same. Decks and rules are pretty much standardised throughout. Yet, the idea behind playing poker is to try and make the very best hand that you can with the table cards and the cards you’re dealt.
While 5-card draw was the original popular poker game in the United States, things shifted towards stud poker, which in turn became seven cards. Texas Hold’em revolutionised the poker industry and remains as pretty much the most popular variation of the game everywhere.
Naturally, by the time the start of the 21st century came around, things were turning towards a more computerised setup. Poker sites did take hold of the USA for several years, until the introduction of the UIGEA that became effective in 2006. This made playing online poker and other online gambling options completely illegal in just about all of the country’s states. But we’ll take a look at that a bit more next.
Is poker legal in the US?
If you look at the whole picture, there are seven states and territories that have legalised certain forms of gambling within the United States. These include Nevada, New Jersey, Delaware, Georgia and the US Virgin Islands.
Furthermore, in 26 of the states, only horse racing betting is a legal form of gambling. As far as online gambling is concerned, this is only allowed in some of the states in an intrastate setup.
So, anyone playing poker within Nevada for example, can only play against other players located within that same state. Interstate agreements have been signed between Delaware, New Jersey and Nevada for online poker purposes, but we’ll touch on that a bit more shortly.
On the whole, online poker is pretty much banned in most of the states of the country, although players are not prosecuted for taking it upon themselves to access offshore online poker rooms. The only locations that provide legal online poker options are Delaware, New Jersey, Nevada and Pennsylvania for the time being. This does have the opportunity to expand to incorporate other locations, but only four states provide legal online poker options as things stand for now.
This wasn’t the case before 2006, when it was quite widespread throughout the USA. However, a bill was signed into law, known as the Unlawful Internet Gambling Enforcement Act (UIGEA), which, when combined with the 1961 Federal Wire Act, pretty much outlawed all forms of online gambling from the country. There are so many ways to interpret and reinterpret the laws though, that it’s never been made entirely clear what is and isn’t legal. However, people have guessed that online poker cannot be played in a legal setting from within the United States of America.
This means that avid gamers have turned to foreign-based platforms, which the USA doesn’t really have any control over. Residents are not punished for depositing and playing poker games at these sites, so it pretty much functions as the only route that American poker players can take, unless they reside within one of the states that provide legal online poker.
Legal Regulations Concerning Online Poker in USA
The matter of legality was bound to call for licensing issues of these sites. However, you shouldn’t be surprised to find out that the same division arises.
Namely, the three states which have legal rights to host and provide poker sites are licensed by their corresponding authorities.
More precisely, the Nevada Gaming Control Board is responsible for Nevada gambling activities, while the New Jersey Casino Control Commission is in charge of both New Jersey and the State of Delaware.
These authorities provide licenses and maintain control over any irregularities. You can also have a look at Tim Glocks’s US Poker sites top list.
The remaining US citizens have turned to offshore poker sites. These are mainly licensed by respective authorities from the jurisdiction they’ve originated of. Such legislative bodies include the license providers from Costa Rica, as well as Curaçao eGaming. Although there’s a greater preference for the poker sites licensed by Costa Rica, there’s no confirmed reason to avoid those which are connected to Curaçao eGaming.
Up-to-Date List of States That Have Legalized Online Poker in the US
Currently, only four states are operating online poker — Nevada, Delaware, New Jersey, and Pennsylvania. Michigan and West Virginia have also legalized online gambling and are expected to launch gambling sites in early 2021.
Let’s take a short trip down history lane and see how it all went down.
In 2013, Nevada became the first state in the US to legalize and regulate interstate online poker within its borders. Not long after the DOJ changed its opinion regarding the Wire Act in 2011, Nevada’s lawmakers started working on the online poker legislation.
Being home to the world’s largest poker tournaments, including the WSOP, Nevada’s legislators realized that online poker would bring in a massive revenue boost to the state’s economy and bolster the existing poker industry.
Online gambling officially became legal in the Sagebrush State on February 25, 2013, when Gov. Brian Sandoval signed Assembly Bill 114 into law. WSOP.nv is currently the only site offering online poker services in Nevada. Nevada Gaming Control Board and Nevada Gaming Commission regulate and approve this poker giant.
Online poker was legalized in 2012 through House Bill 333, also known as the Delaware Gambling Competitiveness Act of 2012. In 2013, the first poker site was launched in the First State.
Delaware had a unique framework compared to other states. Namely, each of the three racinos in the state — Dover, Harrington and Delaware Park would offer all gambling verticals (online casino, table games, and poker) under one platform. Users of all three sites were to share prize pools, jackpots, and features on the platform powered by 888poker software.
In 2014, Gov. Jack Markell of Delaware and Gov. Brain Sandoval of Nevada penned an agreement to share online poker tables as 888poker operated in both states.
Poker became legal in New Jersey on February 26, 2013, when Gov. Chris Christie signed Bill 2578. Nearly nine months later, in November 2013, the state’s first legal poker sites were launched. As per the law, gambling operators were required to partner with land-based casinos in Atlantic City. 888Poker teamed up with WSOP/Caesars, partypoker and Pala Poker merged with Borgata, and PokerStars joined forces with Resorts Casino.
In 2017, the Garden State entered into a Multi-State Internet Gaming Agreement that would provide the mechanism for player and liquidity sharing across Nevada, Delaware and New Jersey.
The WSOP/888 duo currently holds the upper hand over other poker brands in New Jersey. The poker conglomerate allows its users to compete against other players in NJ and those playing in WSOP.nv in Nevada and 888 in Delaware as a part of the shared network.
The legislation authorized the Pennsylvania Gaming Control Board to create regulations governing online poker in the state and PCGB was given the task of delivering online poker licenses to applicants.
In November 2019, PokerStars and their land-based partner Mount Airy launched the maiden online poker platform in Pennsylvania.
For the time being, PokerStars is the only poker site in the Keystone State. No other poker operator has announced its plans to launch in PA.
Playing Poker for Real money from USA
The USA are quite complex when it comes to legislation, and that is even more so proven in the case of online poker rooms. Ever since these and other gambling sites have left the US in an attempt to avoid legal measures taken against them, there was little space for poker games provided to US players.
Nowadays, these people are trying to go back to their favourite hobby, looking for ways to surpass the legal restrictions imposed throughout the country. Hence, they’ve decided to turn to other sources. Nevertheless, there are certain aspects which need to be fully distinguished before giving them any of your hard earned cash. Have a look at the list of real money poker sites from here.
These are some basic guidelines to help you straighten any possible misunderstandings and clear all doubt to whether and which poker sites are available for US players.
The Best Depositing Option for players from USA
When the UIGEA was signed into law, it didn’t only affect the poker industry directly, but the types of payment methods that could be used for sending money to such sites.
So, even with offshore platforms remaining in operation, poker players in the US were fairly restricted with how they could deposit and also withdraw from such sites.
What eventually started happening was that players would manage to register at an online poker room and then find that they had no possible way of depositing money to it. This was all due to the fact that banks and other financial institutions had placed blocks on transactions to gambling platforms of all kinds.
With those laws remaining in place, it begs the question as to how players today are able to send money to their accounts. Well, fortunately, there is a small group of payment methods that are usable for it. First of all, it is possible sometimes to make deposits through a Visa or Mastercard credit or debit card. Whether or not it processes through can depend upon the financial institution responsible for it, the amount you’re trying to deposit, even the time that you’re trying to do the transaction. So, by all means try this payment method, but be aware that it could be blocked and fail.
The best payment method that US poker players can make use of is a cryptocurrency. Several online poker rooms now accept deposits and provide withdrawals through this option today. So, if you possess Bitcoin or Ethereum or Litecoin for example, you can make use of it at various online sites. Even if you don’t own any cryptocurrencies at the moment, then you can still exchange some fiat currency for it and utilise it online. The good thing about cryptocurrencies is that they’re not connected with any central financial institution. So, for this reason, there’s nothing to block the transaction from going through. Plus, cryptocurrencies allow you to benefit from instant transactions that are free of additional charges.
The other methods that may be available at online US poker sites include things like Person to Person transfers and Money Orders. These almost always have additional fees attached to them, though. That is, unless you send a certain amount to your chosen online poker site, at which point the poker room may cover those charges for you. However, we’d always recommend the cryptocurrency option over anything else if you’re playing from the United States.
Currencies On The Poker Sites – USD Or Something Else?
The currency is one of the primary things which interest US players when determining whether the poker site is reliable or not. Most of them tend to avoid conversion, which might actually turn out to be a good strategy. After all, comparing currencies and their value at the middle of playing a hand doesn’t guarantee the best results.
For this reason, poker sites which are available to US citizens normally provide the dollar as a possible currency, as well as the digital currency bitcoins. Many sites have tried to convince US players to use bitcoins due to their characteristic nature. After all, they do seem to be hard to track and easy to transfer, with quite a high value at the moment. However, while some are sceptical about handling them, others fear that their value will reduce, and with it – their bankrolls.
Nevertheless, US citizens do indeed have suitable poker sites in regard to their currency needs.
Factors To Consider when playing online poker for real money
US poker players which reside in the remaining states that haven’t legalized gambling need to be able to choose the best US-friendly offshore poker site. Aside from these major aspects covered above, there are some additional factors for consideration.
The site’s reputation is a key factor when trusting your money to them. Plus, since a site would need a couple of years to gain proper reputation, there is bound to be more than enough information on the specifics. Player forums and private groups on the social networks should be able to tell you all you need to know about a site.
Future of Online Poker in the US for Poker Players
As it stands, online poker in the US is in a legal grey area. Only two of the four federal statutes — IGBA (Illegal Gambling Businesses Act) and UIGEA (Unlawful Internet Gambling Enforcement Act of 2006) could be applied to online poker.
The remaining two statutes — PASPA (Professional and Amateur Sports Protection Act of 1992) and the 1961 Wire Act are pro sports betting oriented.
This wasn’t always the case with the Wire Act, though.
In 2011, the DOJ changed its attitude concerning online gambling, stating that the Wire Act would only apply to sports betting. This marked a huge shift for the Justice Department that had long considered all gambling forms, and especially online poker, illegal. This decision paved the way for the expanding US online poker market as we know it today.
In November 2018, under Trump’s administration, the DOJ reversed its 2011 Opinion, declaring that the Wire Act’s prohibitions are not strictly limited to sports betting. The 23-page memo issued by the OLC (Office of Legal Counsel) stated that the prohibitions extend beyond sports betting to cover all forms of online gambling.
The government is still reviewing the decision, but if the DOJ begins enforcing the 2018 OLC opinion, it will limit the online poker industry’s growth across states.
We can only hope that the newly-elected president Biden will take a different approach to this subject. Some of the statements he made during his campaign visit to Las Vegas in December 2019 offer some reason for optimism. He then said that he would reverse the White House’s opinion and wouldn’t interfere with states’ efforts to expand online gambling.
It remains to be seen what Biden’s final decision on this matter will be. In all likelihood, his administration will advise the government to drop the case and let the states handle the issue as they please.
When Can I Expect the Rest of the US States to Legalise Playing Poker Online?
Gov. Jim Justice signed the bill HB 3067, allowing online gambling in the Mountain State.
In December 2019, Michigan became the sixth state to legalize online poker, after Gov. Gretchen Whitmer had signed House Bill 4311, creating the Lawful Internet Gaming Act.
The Act authorized the Michigan Gaming Control Board to issue licenses to applicants that meet certain criteria.
Both West Virginia and Michigan are expected to go live in early 2021.
Rep. Adam Koenig pre-filled a bill in December 2019 aimed at legalizing online poker alongside daily fantasy sports and sports betting.
The two tribes residing in Connecticut — Mohegan and Mashantucket Pequot — are on board with the legislation.
Despite the failed attempts in the previous years, New York is on the verge of legalizing online poker.
Lawmakers in the Empire State have filled bills every year since 2014, but with no luck so far.
This could change with S 18 that classifies poker as a game of skill. If the bill passes, poker would be excluded from the list of illegal games of chance.
Help and Advice on Problem Gambling
Problem gambling is a serious condition and needs to be addressed seriously. If you notice that you’re losing control over your gambling habits, I urge you to seek professional help immediately.
Some organizations can help you overcome gambling addiction through therapy and counseling. Contact the following institutions for more information:
- National Council on Problem Gambling
- Association of Problem Gambling Service Administrators (APGSA)
- American Addiction Centers
- Gamblers Anonymous
Will Online Poker Ever Be Fully Regulated Across the United States?
For now the strongest contenders remain New York and California, who have had several attempts at the matter, with New York looking as the most viable candidate after Assemblyman Pretlow voiced his support. But when or in what exact form will it officially be approved, remains to be seen.
Is it Legal to Play Poker Online? What does the UIGEA Say?
Most new-joiners to the online poker scene believe that Bush’s 2006 UIGEA (Unlawful Internet Gambling Enforcement Act) proclaims playing poker as illegal and thus fear prosecution. However, the wording in the Act that gives players a “gray area” to work with doesn’t really apply to the players themselves.
According to the UIGEA, it is illegal for banks and financial institutions to process money transfers for online gambling providers, while playing itself isn’t illegal. There was a proposal for an amendment that referred to the legality of gambling acts, but it was subsequently denied. Thus, the liability rests with financial operators, not the players, which is why most US poker players have turned to Bitcoins to bypass this problem.
What States Are Working on Making Poker Legal?
The most progress has been made in 9 States: Mississippi, New York, Illinois, Massachusetts, California, Pennsylvania, Michigan, New Hampshire, and Hawaii. And by most progress, we mean that these states have either drafted a bill or passed it through the first votes.
Is It Safe to Access an Offshore Online Poker Room?
A licence will ensure that the poker room adheres to various rules surrounding your private details and banking. Meanwhile, if you know that the site has a good reputation with other players, then the likelihood is that it’s going to operate in the same way towards you, too. Fortunately, you won’t need to look far to seek out a recommended and licensed online poker site, because we have a collection of offshore poker sites here that cater to the US market nicely and we recommend.
Find which US States are accepting Online Poker
Poker Sites by US States
- new hampshire
- new jersey
- new mexico
- new york
- north carolina
- north dakota
- rhode island
- south carolina
- south dakota
- west virginia