Real Money Online Poker for US Players


Players searching for top US online poker sites can be overwhelmed with the sheer number of options. In this article, we analyze the options and isolate the factors which should be your focus as you choose USA online poker sites. We discuss key features like welcome bonuses, safety measures, and the game selection you'll find at poker rooms online. If you prefer to do the research yourself, keep reading to learn the 9 factors to consider when you choose a new online cardroom.

For those who choose one of our real money US online poker room recommendations below, here are the top priorities that we consider: 

  • Poker Room Safety: Choose honest poker rooms that are licensed and audited by a legit agency.
  • Game Options: Not only top games like Texas Hold'em and Omaha Hi-Lo, but also a wide variety of buy-ins and bet levels.
  • Bonuses & Promotions: Will you be rewarded for signups, deposits, and high-volume play?
  • USA Friendly Online Poker: Does it accept American players? Does it support US dollars and top US payment options?

For US players in most states, the best options are the trusted offshore online cardrooms. These sites might not be licensed in America, but they are licensed and regulated in their home country. They welcome poker players from most countries, have a longstanding reputation for fairness, and accept play from the United States.

All of the sites we review accept US card players from all 50 states and the District of Columbia. We recommend established well-known poker sites because they offer a large selection of games and the biggest guaranteed prize pools. The US online gambling market can be a bit confusing at times because six states have passed online poker legislation that allows for licensed online poker sites. In this article, we'll discuss the regulated and unregulated poker options, including states like New Jersey, Pennsylvania, and Michigan that license world-famous poker operators.

Legislatures in those states hammered-out state online poker laws to regulate the industry, while allowing licensed poker sites to launch online gambling portals for residents inside the state. A handful of states -- Delaware, Nevada, and New Jersey -- even created an interstate poker compact that allowed card players to bet in shared player pools. Federal and state online gambling laws evolve to this day, so this guide to US online poker will cover both the established US gambling laws that affect online poker and those which might pass in the near future. 

Here are the criteria players should use if they do their own independent research for US poker sites.

9 Things to Consider Before Playing at Real Money US Poker Sites

If you decide to pick a poker room on your own, don't do it in the dark. Instead, use the 9 factors as your guide when making your own decision. Whether you're a casual gambler, an intermediate player, or a pro grinder with the ability to play multiple tables at once, it helps to play at a trusted US online poker site.

1) Compare the Game Features of Each Top Online Poker Sites Offer

Each of the best online poker sites tends to offer similar tournaments and cash games, along with top games like Texas Hold'em and Omaha. Where they differ is in their software support and the type of features they offer. Zoom Poker is a player favorite because it changes a player's table after each hand. A few of the best US poker sites include knockoffs of this, such as Zone Poker or Boom Poker.

2) What to Look for in Poker Site Reviews?

Search for poker site reviews with first-hand accounts of the site. Poker review sites should use experienced poker players with a wide knowledge of online cardrooms. These people help you gauge the quality of the competition (softness) and other insider knowledge. Do horizontal research by reading multiple reviews from several different sources.

3) How to Compare Poker Welcome Bonuses?

Welcome bonuses boost a player's initial bankroll, helping them test different event types and game types. Look beyond the main factors like the max bonus and match rate. Also look at the wagering requirement and other terms of use, such as expiration times, loyalty programs, ongoing rakeback, and long-term promotions.

4) What Poker Games and Game Variants Are Available?

Poker sites have three basic types of gaming events: cash games, tournaments, and sit & go events (SNGs). Most sites offer standard games like Texas Hold'em, Seven-Card Stud, and Omaha Hi-Lo. Those that stand out offer events based around Razz, H.O.R.S.E., and Pineapple rules. Whatever your favorite type of poker game is, make certain the site supports that form of gaming.

5) Licensing at Real Money Online Poker Sites

One thing that might confuse new online poker players is licensing. For instance, on our US poker laws page, we discuss "regulated" and "unregulated" US online poker sites above. This can easily confuse readers because these refer to a site's status in relation to US government authorities. "Unregulated" doesn't mean the site isn't licensed or regulated anywhere; it means a poker site isn't regulated in the United States.

Most offshore online poker rooms are licensed and regulated in foreign countries: places like Curacao, Costa Rica, and Malta. Thus, even if you're playing in the offshore unregulated poker market, it's a good idea to see what a poker sites' licensing status is. Regulation confers another level of trust, safety, and reputation on a gaming site.

6) Depositing and Withdrawing at the Best Online Poker Sites for US Players

Depositing money at an online poker site typically is straightforward and easy. Players log in to their chosen poker site, visit the cashier page, and make a deposit. Here are the common deposit methods at US online poker sites:

  • Credit Cards: Visa and MasterCard are deposit methods at most sites, while Amex and Discover are less common. Since credit cards are issued by individual banks, some cards decline at online casinos. They are easy to use when they don't decline, while poker deposits build up credit card comps and cashback.
  • Prepaid Cards: Americans can buy prepaid cards at Walmart, Target, CVS, Walgreens, and convenience stores, then use the card to make a poker deposit online. Usually, Visa and MasterCard prepaid cards are accepted at poker sites. The same goes for Visa and MasterCard branded debit cards and gift cards.
  • Bitcoin & Cryptocurrencies: Players must set up a Bitcoin Wallet and buy cryptocurrency through a Bitcoin Exchange. Once this is done, crypto payments are the fastest, safest, and most private payment method. US poker sites accept Bitcoin, Bitcoin Cash, Litecoin, Ethereum, Dash, Ripple, and other altcoins.
  • Money Transfer: Players can use money transfer services like MoneyGram or Western Union. Also, they can use EFTs and bankwire transfers. These sometimes cost a fee and take longer, but are secure ways to fund your account and be paid winnings.

While deposit methods are fairly similar across different poker sites, it pays to scout out your favorite payment methods. Some US sites support several crypto payments, but others don't support them at all. The same goes for electronic money transfer companies. Also, look for the max deposits and withdrawals, because these vary wildly. Sportsbook is the site for high rollers because it supports payments as high as $100,000. Also, look for sites that offer at least one free withdrawal per month, such as Sportsbook.

7) Compare Poker Traffic at the US Poker Sites

Player traffic is a key factor when choosing US poker sites. Having a bigger poker community does several things for online cardrooms. One, it increases the guaranteed prize pool for the site’s biggest tournaments – you can win more cash if more players enter an event. Two, it increases the game variety of both cash games and tournaments. Three, it increases the variety of buy-ins and the big/small blinds in both cash games and tournaments. In short, player traffic means more and better events, giving you more poker playing options.

8) Poker Site Complaints: Look for Red Flags at Poker Sites

It pays to do your due diligence. Research poker site complaints, whether it's from review sites or player comment aggregators. Like Amazon and eBay reviews, it's better to look at the consensus of opinion instead of one standout complaint. The Internet attracts trolls, malcontents, and rivals, so any single complaint doesn't damn a site. If you spot a pattern of disgruntled customers, that's a red flag for an online poker room. This is especially true if complaints revolve around slow payments, one-sided terms of use, or a refusal to pay winnings based on spurious violations of policy.

9) Read the Terms and Conditions: Terms of Use Are a Key

Read the fine print. Find a poker site's terms page, as well as its FAQ page. Read through the different game rules, bonus terms, general terms of use, and exclusions. Legitimate poker sites have long and complicated terms of use, but these are there to protect the site and the customer. Rogue online poker sites include unfair terms and conditions. These let them deny payment for unclear reasons or slow pay on bigger jackpots. If a site has terms that don't seem fair, it's a sign you shouldn't make a deposit there.

Online Poker Real Money FAQ

Is it legal to play poker online for real money?

It is legal to play poker online in the USA for real money. Only 6 US states have licensed online poker, but Americans can play in the other 44 states without legal consequences. No US resident has ever been prosecuted for playing poker online in the privacy of their own home. Authorities go after poker operators with servers in the United States, or the payment processors who handle poker withdrawals. That's why US card players in the other 44 states gamble at offshore online poker sites.

Where can I play poker online legally?

You can play online poker legally in all 50 US states. While most states don't regulate and license poker sites, they also don't prosecute individual residents who play poker online. Instead, those go after organizers and those who support the business side of poker. Players can enjoy poker at offshore online poker sites. Most of these are licensed in other countries. Since players don't enjoy the consumer protections you'd have from sites licensed in the USA, they need to do their research. Play only at poker sites with longstanding, sterling reputations.

How secure is real money online poker?

If you play at the best online poker sites, then real money online poker is safe, secure, and trustworthy. All of the sites we review use world-class poker software, while they support world-famous payment methods like Visa, MasterCard, and Western Union. If you want an additional layer of security, you can choose payments with cryptocurrencies like Bitcoin, Litecoin, and Ethereum.

How do I make a deposit at a poker site?

First, sign up for a player account at a reputable poker site. Next, log in to your account, then find the link to the cashier page (usually in the top-right of the homepage). Visit the cashier page and choose a payment method: options usually include credit cards, debit cards, cryptocurrencies, web wallets, and bankwire transfers. Once you choose a method, input how much money you wish to deposit. Click to confirm the payment. To receive a welcome bonus, input a bonus code (if required).

Why play at real money poker sites?

Online poker sites are a better gaming environment than local poker clubs or casinos' live poker rooms for a variety of reasons. One, they're more convenient than live poker, because players don't have to leave the comfort and privacy of their own homes. Two, it's more convenient and less expensive to play poker on a desktop computer or mobile device. Three, poker sites offer more choices than land-based poker rooms: more game options, more tournaments, a wider range of buy-ins, and welcome bonuses for new players.

If they want to play poker online for free, poker enthusiasts can play poker social media sites or use poker apps downloaded at Google Play or the App Store. But if they want to play poker for real money, then they need to join a dedicated online poker site. 

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