Best US Poker Gambling Sites
Online poker is alive and well in the United States. Although the industry has faced its share of hardships in recent years, it is still chugging along today. The poker sites that we list below still accept players from the United States and provide deposit options that work for Americans.
Contrary to popular myth, online poker is not illegal in the United States. There is not a single federal law on the books that outlaws the simple act of playing poker. The difficulty in finding US poker sites is related to laws that target poker site owners, not players. The good news is that there are still a number of high profile poker sites that are happy to offer games to US citizens.
If you’re ready to play real money poker right now, these are the places we recommend first:
What You Should Look for in a Poker Site
There is more to choosing a poker site than determining whether or not it accepts US players. Although that’s important for obvious reasons, there are other factors that should hold just as much weight. Some of these other factors include:
- The safety of your funds
- Traffic to the poker site
- Deposit methods
- Cashout times
Safety of Funds
The safety of your funds is just as important as whether or not a poker site accepts citizens of the United States. In the short history of online poker, we have seen numerous poker sites suddenly close for business, mismanage player funds and refuse to honor legitimate withdrawals.
Irresponsible poker site owners are a scourge on the industry as a whole. Even legitimate poker sites are viewed with skepticism thanks to the past actions of unsavory poker room operators. As long as you stick with reputable, established poker rooms, your bankroll is in no danger.
Traffic to the Poker Site
Traffic is a major hurdle that all poker sites face at some point. Poor traffic numbers are detrimental to your experience because without traffic, game selection is minimal. There are fewer tables to choose from, it is difficult to multi-table and certain game types are sometimes completely barren.
Another point is that medium and high stakes games seem to suffer the most. If you play mostly micro and low stakes games, you shouldn’t have too much trouble finding open tables. But if you play at anything above $0.50/$1.00, you’ll have a hard time finding tables at low traffic poker sites.
Poker sites that serve US citizens must always work to keep real money deposit methods available. Banking laws in the United States make it a challenge for poker sites to keep money flowing in and out. Some poker sites are adept at keeping multiple deposit methods open at all times. Other sites really struggle.
At a minimum, your poker site should accept credit card and cash transfer deposits. If a poker site consistently rejects credit card deposits or has trouble processing other deposit methods, it causes problems for you and it hurts traffic to the site as a whole.
Poker sites work in a difficult legal landscape, so we’re willing to give them some leeway. If it takes a week or two for a paper check to show up at your front door, we can live with that. It’s tough doing business when the US government tells banks not to work with poker sites at all. We can live with a couple of weeks.
But it becomes a major cause for concern when cashouts take months and months to show up. There are some poker sites right now that are experiencing 3 month delays in processing withdrawals. Slow cashouts are more than just annoying; they make us wonder if those sites are suffering serious cash flow problems. Fast cashouts, on the other hand, are a sign of good financial health and competent managers.
Software isn’t as important as some of the other factors described above, but it should still play a role in determining where you play. We don’t ask for much in this area. We just want functional, fast-moving software that stays out of the way.
You would think it’s not hard to get this one right, but you’d be surprised at how inept some poker sites are in this area. We have played at sites with such poor software that we just quit and withdrew our money. The software moved so slowly and crashed so frequently that we simply couldn’t stand playing there.
The Legal Situation in the United States
We’re not going to pretend to be lawyers here. We’re just a couple of guys who love poker and gambling. The following text is based entirely on our own research. If you have any serious legal questions about online poker, go talk to a licensed attorney.
Anyways, the act of playing online poker is not criminalized by federal law. There are laws that mention financial institutions and poker sites, but none that mention the common player. To date, we do not know of a single person being prosecuted for playing online poker.
The legal landscape in the United States is formed mostly by the Unlawful Internet Gambling Enforcement Act (UIGEA). That piece of legislation was passed in 2006 and it basically told banks not to do business with known gambling and poker sites. It also criminalized the ownership of real money poker sites.
The UIGEA was poorly written, but several of the largest online poker sites left the US market after the bill was passed. Those sites decided the risk of doing business in the US was too great to make it worthwhile. Some other sites decided to take the opposite approach by continuing to do business as normal.
One of the reasons we recommend sticking with reputable, big-name poker sites is because the sites that stayed operate outside US law. You have little recourse if such a site suddenly closes and runs off with your money. Your best bet is to play at large, profitable and well-known poker sites. Those sites have a strong reputation, meaning you would have very little to worry about when depositing your money.