For the past several years, the ranks of reputable, high-quality US poker sites have thinned considerably. Many large poker rooms used to welcome USA players, but have since closed their doors to the US and moved their operations elsewhere. Other rooms that once focused almost exclusively on the US market have been forced to either consolidate, look for other markets, or go out of business. As a result, those who live in the USA have been confronted with persistent hurdles to enjoying the game online.[geocode id=7]
This page tracks the ever changing landscape of US friendly online poker. Find the current top-ranked USA poker sites that continue to welcome players who live within the US. These are the cream of the crop.
The Challenge Of Finding High-Quality US Poker Sites
The exodus of online poker rooms from US shores is due largely to the passage of the Unlawful Internet Gambling Enforcement Act (UIGEA) in 2006. This piece of legislation made it illegal for financial institutions in the U.S. to transfer funds to – or receive funds from – gambling sites. On April 15th, 2011 the US DOJ indicted top ranking officials from the largest US facing online poker sites, PokerStars, FullTiltPoker and Absolute Poker/UB. Since that date, other top us friendly poker sites like Sportsbook.com Poker and PlayersOnly exited the market leaving a smaller handful of quality US friendly poker sites. Check out a list of our top online poker rooms.
Despite what a lot of poker players believe, the UIGEA does not criminalize gambling. It merely prohibits banks, credit card issuers, and similar companies from processing transactions involving casinos. This is the reason there are so few high-quality US poker sites today. For many of them, it has become cost-prohibitive and difficult to continue serving USA players. In addition, a wide array of other quasi gambling opportunities have arose out of the online poker blockade. From sites like penny auctions, to binary options USA traders allowed, to weekly real money fantasy football.
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
With this in mind, we’ve compiled a short list of the best online USA poker rooms still in operation. Because “best” is subjective and based entirely on preferences, we’ll explain the criteria we consider a priority below…
Criteria For Ranking US Poker Sites
Most of us want to see specific features when we play poker online. For example, we want large sign-up bonuses that are reasonably easy to clear. We also want the software to be attractive, easy to use, and flexible with plenty of extra options to customize.
We want a large menu of games at our disposal, including a full roster of different types of tournaments. If there are qualifiers to the main events (e.g. WPT, WSOP, etc.), that’s even better.
The player traffic – both in terms of volume and skill level – is also important. More traffic is generally better than less, and we want to see it at the higher stakes as well as the smaller stakes. With regard to skill, all US poker sites offer fish to plunder; here too, more is better.
Lastly, customer service is important. We want to be able to have issues resolved in a timely and professional manner. This is one of the areas in which the USA poker sites listed below outperform their competitors.
Top USA Poker Sites
The landscape of US online poker has changed dramatically since April 15th, 2011 (Online Pokers Black Friday) with the largest sites getting indicted by the USDOJ and many of the lesser known but high quality sites fleeing the scene as well. Much of the previous content has now been stricken through because of the changes in the landscape of online poker. We will update this list with new information as the legal landscape and regulation process happens in the US. The criteria described above was used to put together the following list of top-ranked US poker sites. This list is bound to change over time as other poker rooms begin to compete more aggressively.
- Bovada – aka Bodog Poker – Bovada is again accepting new US poker players. They are a full-service gambling site that operates a casino, poker room, sportsbook, and horse betting. They’re currently offering a 100% match bonus on your first deposit up to $1,000. Top-notch customer support, easy to use software, and a healthy schedule of tournaments make Bovada a favorite among avid poker players. Click here to play Bovada Poker Online.
- Betonline – Betonline is still relatively new but offers games such as no limit and limit holdem, Omaha, and Stud poker. Their customer support is top of the line with their extensive FAQ section. They also accept credit cards. Check out Betonline here!
Despite the UIGEA, there remain several high-quality US poker sites that have managed to keep their doors open for USA players. Start with the online poker rooms listed above. Each offers an engaging playing experience that will draw you back to the tables.