Online Poker Networks (provided by your friends at Kick A$$ Poker)
If you’re going to play online poker, it’s best to understand the lay of the “virtual” land. There are a handful of large networks and many smaller ones, and while each network offers its own special features and has both advantages and disadvantages, it’s sometimes hard, to borrow an old baseball phrase, to tell all the players without a scorecard.
So, we’ve made up this scorecard, just for you. Split into lists of US-facing and non-US-facing (does not accept American players) sites, this list serves as a easy reference. A few networks consist of a single, large, standalone site, while others are conglomerations of smaller sites, called “skins”, that pool their players and thereby create a larger network.
KickAssPoker.com’s Online Poker Networks Guide
- Networks accepting US Players
- Networks NOT accepting US Players
- Bodog Network
- Cake Poker Network
- Cereus Network
- International Poker Network
- iPoker Network
- Partypoker Network
- Pokerstars Network
Networks that Accept US Players:
- Merge Network – Australia-based Merge is a growing network force, anchored by Carbon Poker, PDC Poker, SportsBook Poker, Poker Nordica, Aced.com, Lock Poker, RPM Poker, PokerHost, VIP.com, FeltStars, BetUSA, and a couple of dozen more. Good software and plenty of loyalty offerings mark Merge as a comer in the field.
- Bodog – Venerable Bodog remains around, anchored as always by its brisk sportsbetting offerings. Poker might be second fiddle at Bodog but it’s a strong second fiddle indeed, and there’s still plenty of poker to be found here. *Bodog Poker is not currently accepting US players.
- CIB -– Also known as G2GPros.com, this is a newer offering. We don’t know a lot about this site as yet, so check back later after we’ve had our own chance to check it out.
- Cake Network –- Cake looked set to move into the #3 spot among all US-facing sites but has flatlined in the last year, leaving it perhaps as a merger/acquisition target for another network. Mega affiliate PokerListings.com recently acquired a majority share in Cake poker so expect to see more changes in the cake poker network. There are still plenty of players here and lots of skins as well, although all the other skins dwarf in comparison to anchor site Cake Poker. Cake has recently been acquired (at least in part) by promotional-news site PokerListings.
- Everleaf Gaming -– This smaller network has been struggling to build a large 24/7 player base, but continues to inch up the ranks. Skins here include Poker4Ever, Luvin Poker, which are the most notable among a largely anonymous batch.
- Yatahay Network – Tiny Yatahay has been in business for a decade and hopes for better things with the recent arrival of nomad skin Doyles Room, which is this network’s most recognizable name. Other skins here include BetCris, True Poker, Fab Poker and Poker Shootout.
Networks Not Accepting US Players:
*On April 15th the USDOJ charged the largest US facing poker sites with a multitude of crimes relating to the UIGEA that was snuck in the back door in 2006. The biggest and best poker sites had to close down US operations even though they still remain available to countries outside the US.
- PokerStars -– The world’s largest online poker site since late 2006. In a given day Stars will be visited by over 200,000 players, from virtually every country except France and Italy, which have their own private Stars-run sites.
- Full Tilt –- The world’s second-largest site, with perhaps 40% the overall traffic of PokerStars. FullTilt offers one of the largest conglomerations of big-name poker-pro endorsers, and is a preeminent location for cash-game action.
- iPoker –- Run in conjunction with software provider Playtech, this ultra-large network currently does not accept American players but is a major destination for the rest of the world. Among the many sites currently listed as iPoker skins are CelebPoker, MansionPoker, Sports Interaction, Winner, PokerMyBet, SunPoker, Poker770, OneWayPoker, Blackpool Club Poker, BlackBeltPoker, Playgate (casino), BetMost, BoylePoker, William Hill, PokerPlex24, Blue Square, Tain, Dafa Poker, Noble Poker, Leon Poker, CDPoker, BetFred, Bet365, CentreBet Poker, Big Slick Poker, PokerOcean, Expekt, Titan Poker, PaddyPower Poker and ChiliPoker.
- PartyPoker –- A standalone site that previously absorbed a small number of semi-autonomous skins, PartyPoker runs today as the largest facet of the giant PartyGaming family, which also includes PartyCasino and other offerings. Good software and plenty of European fish.
- Ongame -– Once a big player in the US with member skins such as PokerRoom.com and Hollywood Poker, Ongame today features a couple of dozen Euro-facing skins including bWin, Betsson, Bet4Bet, Unibet, EuroSport Poker, BetSafe, RedKings, Betfair, Coral Poker, PokerLoco and many others. The network also maintains special networks servicing French and Italian players.
- PokerStars.it –- PokerStars’ Italy-facing site is so popular it ranks well within the top ten of all worldwide online poker networks!
- PeoplesNetwork.it -– Another large Italy-only site.
- PokerStars.fr -– Also within the top ten worldwide networks in terms of player traffic.
- Entraction –- Also known as the B2B Network, entraction offers literally hundreds of different skins. The better-known rooms here include Pinnacle, Martins Poker, Redbet Poker, 4Kings, Devilfish Poker, Wasa Poker and many more. Too many to list!
- 888 Poker – Consists of two sites, 888Poker and Pacific Poker, which are both faces of the same parent company, 888 Holdings. 888 is a huge player in the online casino industry, and was one of the first companies to offer online poker with its Pacific Poker brand, one of the two or three oldest online poker sites still in existence.
- Microgaming -– Also known as the Prima Poker network, this online poker veteran has trimmed down from the days when it carried more than 200 skins -– many of them questionable -– and these days services only about 40 brands. Among the more popular skins here are 32Red Poker, Poker Time, Purple Lounge, Dream Poker, Aztec Riches and more.
- Winamax.fr – The largest of the france-predominant sites, meaning Winamax is familiar to French players but is not recognizable elsewhere.
Bodog Brand Network
If you’re looking for a friendly, reliable online poker room with plenty of experience, consider Bodog. Bodog’s “network” is just one poker site –- Bodog -– though sports and casino offerings can be found here as well. Bodog’s been around for almost as long as online poker itself, and while the site’s focus has always been sportsbetting, Bodog’s poker offerings remain a popular and viable alternative to the big two (PokerStars and Full Tilt).
Read our Bodog Poker Review here.
Looking for a great reason to open an account at Bodog? We’ll give you two:
- Bodog Poker is hands-down one of the fishiest online-poker sites you’ll ever find. The reason for this is because Bodog’s poker site is run in conjunction with their sportsbook, and they active market the poker room to a lot of their sports punters. Many of these sports bettors don’t really play a lot of poker, online or anywhere else. Poker players who don’t know how to play poker? That’s a good player’s dream, and at Bodog, you’ll often find players who are weak, loose and fishy. Sometimes you’ll find lots of them, and there always seem to be even more at the next table.
- And reason number two? It’s the overlays, baby. An overlay occurs when a site such as Bodog puts up a minimum guarantee for a poker tournament -– say, $5,000 –- and perhaps only enough entrants turn out to generate $3,500 of entry fees. In a “guaranteed” tournament, the site chips in the other $1,500 (in this example), to bring the purse up to the advertised $5,000. However, there’s fewer players going after the prize money, and if you cash, you’ll get more than you would in a tournament with more players.
Here’s the kicker: On occasion, Bodog intentionally sets the guarantee too high, thereby intentionally creating an overlay for its players. In a phrase, that’s free money.
Bodog Poker Maximum Bonus Code: upto600
Bodog has upgraded its software in recent years, too, meaning it runs much better than it used to on newer computers. When you add in your solid signup bonus, this is a site where it’s very much worth it to have an account. As with most sites, Bodog even offers play-money tables, too; you can check out the software for yourself before committing a dime of your own real money.
Cake Poker Network
The Cake Poker network is composed of 28 poker rooms that all share the same software, game selection, tournaments and special features. It is one of the largest networks in the business, as an average of 7,000 poker players are online at any given time. During prime evening hours and throughout the weekend, the traffic eclipses the 20,000-player mark.
Cake Poker Network Gaming
The Cake Poker network is an excellent choice if you are looking for soft competition. There is plenty of easy prey in the low and mid stakes tables. However, if you are looking to raise the stakes, there are also various tables worth $200. Unfortunately, the game selection doesn’t feature any specialty games, but most players will be satisfied with the network’s Texas Hold’em Omaha and Omaha 8 or better options.
Cake Poker Network Features
Poker sites on the Cake Poker network are ideal if you plan on doing a lot of multi-tabling. The software allows you to see up to 24 tables at once. These tables are managed through the resizable window screens and the tiling feature. The reliable and intuitive software is complimented by a rewards program that is featured on practically every online poker site that is part of Cake. The rewards system lets you earn gold chips by playing frequently. Once you’ve accumulated enough gold chips, you earn a gold stack, which results in cash prizes.
To complete the rewards system, the Cake Poker network randomly awards gold cards that give you automatic entry into a monthly lottery where you can potentially win large cash awards and special prizes. However, many online poker sites on the Cake Poker network offer their own rewards, promotions, and exclusive tournaments, so it’s wise to enjoy everything that the network has to offer by playing at a couple of different affiliated poker sites.
Check out our Review of Cake Poker here.
The Cereus Poker Network comprises two top-rated online poker sites owned by Bianca Games, which is a private online poker company. Both sites on the Cereus Poker Network share the same player base, as well as the same bad beat jackpot, deposit options, game types and other features.
Online Poker Sites on Cereus
The Cereus Network includes two popular online poker sites: UB.com (formerly known as Ultimate Bet) and AbsolutePoker.com. By playing at these sites, you’ll have access to a massive player base, with over 20,000 players consistently online during peak hours. Absolute Poker was founded in 2003, while Ultimate Bet began in 2001. Both sites are licensed by the Kahnawake Gaming Commission.
Software Features at Poker Sites on the Cereus Poker Network
Both of the sites on the Cereus Poker Network are noteworthy because they offer downloadable software for both the Mac OS and Windows operating systems. This allows players to enjoy real money poker from a downloadable application. The Windows versions of Cereus Poker sites contain more features than the Mac versions, including customizable hot keys, 20 table multi-tabling, cascading and tiling tables, alternate table views and more.
The Mac versions of Cereus Poker Network sites also contain fewer game types for tournament play. Windows players have access to mixed game and stud tournaments, while Mac players can only enjoy Texas Holdem tournaments. However, both the Mac and Windows versions of online poker sites on Cereus allow for all ring game types, including Texas Holdem, Stud, mixed games and more.
Bad Beat Jackpots at the Cereus Network
UB and Absolute Poker both share the same Bad Beat Jackpot, which grows progressively as players wager real money at designated Bad Beat Jackpot tables. The Bad Beat Jackpot, which often exceeds hundreds of thousands of dollars, is awarded to players who lose with Four of a Kind 8s or better.
International Poker Network
The International Poker Network consists of over 50 different online poker sites. The poker sites with International Poker Network contain an average of 2,000 players enjoying real money poker. The online International Poker Network really comes to life during peak European evening hours, as there are usually over 10,000 players participating in real money games and tournaments at those times.
International Poker Network Software and Competition
All of the International Poker network websites operate on the same software platform, which provides players with standard features such as a player chat box, an in-game notation system, and the ability to play up to five tables at once.
The International Poker Network is also known for its soft competition. There are plenty of fish constantly roaming the websites with International Poker Network and they can easily be taken advantage of if you’re looking to rack up some easy winnings. Of course, this also makes it a reasonable poker network for players who are just starting out in the world of online poker. The soft competition is much more forgiving when compared to the competition found at some of the most popular online poker sites.
Different Sites on the International Poker Network
The International Poker Network provides you with over 50 different poker websites to choose from, many of which often cater to specific locations. For example, there are specific online poker sites in the International Poker network that cater to French, Russian, Spanish, Greek, Portuguese, Canadian, Scandinavian, Mexican and British players, among many other choices. Regardless of which skin you decide to use, you’ll receive access to the same network of cash games ranging from $0.10/$0.20 to $50/$100, as well as single table and multi-table tournaments.
Check out this list of International Poker Network Websites:
- Yahoo! Poker (UK)
The iPoker Network is a group of poker sites that use software developed by Playtech. All of the poker sites on the iPoker network use random number generators, or RNGs, to determine their card dealing outcomes. These RNGs have been tested by Technical Systems Testing, a third party game testing facility.
Poker Sites on the iPoker Network
The iPoker Network bills itself as the largest poker network in the world, and it contains a vast array of online poker sites for players to choose from. The sites within the iPoker Network are known as iPoker skins, since the sites offer very similar feature sets with variances in graphical appearance. All of the sites contained within the iPoker Network share the same player bases, which offers well over 30,000 players online during peak hours. In addition, most of the iPoker sites contain the same types of VIP programs, bonuses and tournament schedules. The iPoker Network skins include:
- Tony G Poker
- Winner Poker
- Centrebet Poker
- Dafa Poker
- Bet365 Poker
- One Way Poker
- Poker Ocean
- Leon Poker
- Noble Poker
- Blue SQ Poker
- BetFred Poker
- Titan Poker
- CD Poker
- Sports Interaction
- Sun Poker
- Chili Poker
- Boyle Poker
- Mansion Poker
- William Hill Poker
- Blackpool Club Poker
- My Bet Poker
- Blackbelt Poker
- Big Slick Poker
Game Types Offered by iPoker Sites
All of the sites contained within the iPoker Network include the most popular poker game types, including the following:
Security at iPoker Network Poker Sites
In addition to their high quality RNG card dealers, iPoker Network poker sites offer several measures to promote fairness and player security. These include the most advanced collusion detection and prevention tools, as well as encryption technologies such as SSL 256-bit and 128-bit to protect sensitive player information as it’s transferred to and from the site.
Merge Poker Network
Since April 15th, 2011 Merge Poker has been one of the few networks to accept players from the US. The leading skins on Merge are now Carbon Poker and Lock Poker. CarbonPoker Bonus Code: KICKASS (special for Kick A$$ Poker readers!)
The following states in the US have been blocked from signing up for real money play on the Merge Poker network:
- New York
- Washington DC
A true rising star in the online-poker field is Australia’s Merge Poker Network. This network had its beginnings in a small standalone site known several years back as Poker.com, but a legal battle between the site and the original owners of the domain name (who had rented it out), led to the retirement of the “poker.com” name and the founding of a brand new site and network, which we know today as the Merge Network.
The first true Merge Network site was Carbon Poker, and Carbon was and is the largest of the many skins that can be found on Merge today. Carbon was started by the folks who created the poker.com site as they attempted to negotiate further use of that name, and since that battle took many months, thousands and thousands of players made Carbon Poker their new Merge home. Eventually the original players from the old poker.com site were shifted to a newly-named sister site called PDC Poker; the “PDC” stood as a link to the old Poker-Dot-Com. Together, Carbon and PDC form the backbone of the Merge Network, and we offer you our exclusive Carbon Poker room review and special bonus code with our highest recommendations.
But we would be remiss in not telling you just how much the Merge Network has grown. After Full Tilt and PokerStars, several other standalone sites and networks have competed for status and US players; among these, Merge has shown strong and steady growth.
Today at Merge you can find over 50 skins, many of them very popular and recognizable brands. Here’s the complete list:
- Carbon Poker
- Lock Poker
- Poker Nordica
- PDC Poker
- GR8 8.com
- Play Aces (Sportsbook.com)
- Play Aces (Players Only)
- RPM Poker
- Poker Host
- Hero Poker
- Optimus Poker
- Black Chip Poker
- Felt Stars
- Tux Poker
- Walker Poker
- Golden Arch Poker
- Kings Club Poker
- Bet on USA
- Poker Geezers
- Poker One
- betED Poker
- Maxium Poker
- The USA Rounder Poker Room
- Worldwide Gamble
- Play Aces (Super Book skin)
- Starnet Poker Room’
- Hail Mary
- Hollywood Sportsbook and Casino
- NYC Poker
- Play Aces (Players Only VIP skin)
- Sport Fanatik
- Haha Poker
All told, this is impressive growth. The Merge Network remains a destination of choice for growing online-poker brands looking for a stable platform and US-player access.
Party Poker Network
PartyPoker Bonus Code: yesyes
If you’re not in the United States and you’re looking for a great place to play online poker, one of the very first sites you should consider is PartyPoker. Party is one of the oldest and best sites around, and exists today as its own network, otherwise called a standalone site. PartyPoker maintains just a small handful of skins, such as Empire Poker, to take advantage of any lingering brand recognition, but prefers new players to sign up through the PartyPoker site itself.
Party is one of the oldest online poker rooms around, and was for the majority of the 2000’s the largest site in the world… and that by a wide margin. That changed following the late 2006 passage of the USA’s UIGEA (Unlawful Internet Gambling Enforcement Act). Since Party’s parent company, PartyGaming, had chosen only months earlier to open a US-facing online casino called PartyCasino, and since PartyGaming was also publicly listed on the London Stock Exchange, the company had little choice but to stop servicing American players and concentrate on Europe and other markets instead. This allowed PokerStars (which smartly stayed away from online casino offerings) to pass Party in overall size, though Party is still prominent and formidable on the worldwide scene.
We recommend PartyPoker highly for our non-US players, and we’re offering one of the best player-signup bonuses around.
Whereas PartyPoker doesn’t really have any skins these days, it does have a true mega-partner, having announced a giant merger with popular European sporstbook site bWin. Together the combined market shares rank among the industry’s largest.
There are still a few sites that are linked to either Party or bWin, although some of these have special purposes, such as the Gioce Digitale site, which is for Italians only. Nonetheless, these offerings are part of the Party/bWin family:
- Gioco Digitale
If you’re reading this it means you’re new to online poker, and you’d like some reassurances about PokerStars, this giant site that you’ve heard so much about. PokerStars is really a stand-alone site as opposed to a network, but it is the poker world’s online giant. In business for about a decade, Stars quickly rose to become the biggest site of all, and services hundreds of online players each and every day. It’s a huge site unmatched in terms of games offered, features and customer service, and we recommend it as highly as possible. Please check out our Room Review.
Though PokerStars.com is a true stand-alone site, there are still several other sites which are part of the PokerStars family:
PokerStars.net: The play-money-only site created specifically for advertising purposes in countries where “dot-com” ads could create issues, such as the USA. Note that play-money tables can also be found on the PokerStars.com site, but on the special PokerStars.net site (which is often advertised in commercials), it’s play-money only. Download the software for free; no obligation. Deposit if you choose or just play for fun! PokerStars.net is a great site that offers unique promotions, and we rank it the best among all “play money” free sites on which to learn poker.
PokerStars.fr – A PokerStars site for French players only, as dictated by that’s country’s laws.
PokerStars.it – A PokerStars site for Italian players only, as dictated by that’s country’s laws.
PoolStars – Here’s one that’s often overlooked: it’s an interactive billiards site that’s run by the same people who run PokerStars. Yes, there’s lots of fun to be had here!
Check out our top online poker sites now!