We’ll explain how we came up with our recommendations in the next section.
Following that, we’ll explain what kinds of games, software, and promotions Americans can expect to find at US-facing poker sites. We’ll also share some of the biggest pros and cons to playing at these poker rooms.
The goal here is to educate you on what you can expect if you choose to play online poker from the US, which can be a gray area for many players. And we want to make sure you join the only safest and best real money poker sites.
Without further ado, let’s jump right into it.
Ranking Real Money Poker Sites for the US
Choosing which real money USA poker sites to recommend is no easy task. While there are several sites that accept US players, only a few of them are worth your time.
What we want to do now is give you a brief explanation of why we selected the top online poker rooms to recommend to our readers. The goal is to show you that there was real effort and thought put into our reviews and ratings.
However, the following information will also help you find a real money online poker site if for some reason you don’t want to choose from one of our recommendations.
Okay, so when selecting a USA poker site to join, what variables or attributes should you look for?
We believe the following three factors are the most important.
We use multiple sources to determine a site’s reputation. This includes poker forums, industry insiders, our own contacts, firsthand experience, and more.
We specifically make sure that they are properly licensed to provide online poker for real money, and that they’re regulated by a reputable gambling authority.
There are two things we look for here.
The first thing we look for is whether the poker site has banking options that we can use to make a deposit. The best options today for US poker players is a credit card or Bitcoin.
The best options for cashouts are Bitcoin, followed by wire transfers, paper checks, or money transfers.
The second thing we look at is whether the poker room has a reputation for cashing out US players within a reasonable timeframe.
Traffic or player liquidity is the next important attribute to look for. That’s because poker is unique from most other forms of real money gambling in that you need other people in order to play.
There are some USA poker sites that prohibit players from certain states from joining. And you’re not going to find many players from countries outside the US on these sites for various reasons.
This leads to most poker websites having hardly any traffic. These rooms aren’t worth joining.
The US poker sites that we recommend have steady traffic so that you can find real money games to play throughout the day and, at the very least, during peak hours.
The attributes above are the most important. However, they’re not the only ones we consider when ranking the best USA poker sites. Nor should they be all the you look if you’re deciding where to play real money online poker yourself.
We also recommend you consider the following.
This encompasses everything from the types of games and formats the room offers to the variants and stakes that you can play.
You’ll obviously want to find a site that caters to your specific interests, whether that’s playing mixed game cash games or deep stack Hold’em tournaments.
Can you play poker on a mobile device? What’s more, is the room compatible on your specific device?
The top online poker rooms, for the United States or anywhere else, should all be compatible with a wide range of mobile devices nowadays.
Do you have to download the software, or do you play from your browser? Do you have a preference?
Beyond that, you also want to look at the features the software has. For example, can you use four-color decks, auto-top off your stack, and do you have the option to set up your table layout however you want?
Promotions, Bonuses, and Rewards
What kinds of deals can you claim?
Can you claim a deposit bonus?
Do they have leaderboard contests?
Do they have free plays?
Can you earn extra rewards through a VIP program?
The leading real money poker sites for the USA are all generous in terms of the extra value they offer players.
What kinds of tournaments can you play?
Are there guaranteed tournaments?
Does the poker room offer satellites to live events?
Do they have satellites?
We also recommend looking at previously scheduled tournaments. Did the guaranteed tournaments get enough registrants to meet the guarantee or did the poker room have to cover the difference for most of them?
If it was the latter, which is called an overlay tournament, then you should strongly consider joining. Those are valuable tournaments to play since you’ll have fewer players to fight through for the same prize pool.
Does the poker room offer any kind of poker education or training? Are there any tools or resources to help you learn the game and get better at it?
This is a general idea of what we look for and the questions we ask whenever we review a poker room. We recommend you do the same. It’ll ensure that you enjoy whatever US poker site you join.
Games, Features, and Options at USA Poker Sites
One of the challenges to playing real money poker online from the US is that there’s a shortlist of quality sites for you to join.
However, does that mean your options are short? Are you automatically limited on the games you can play, the features available to you, and the stakes you can play for?
That’s what we want to explore in this section.
What Poker Games Can Americans Play Online?
You won’t have a problem finding Texas Hold’em. That’s the most popular poker game in the world. You’ll also find Omaha games running too, depending on the site you join.
However, you’re going to struggle to find other games such as Stud, Razz, and mixed games. These games aren’t nearly as popular and there’s not enough player liquidity for them to run often.
That’s assuming the poker websites you join even offer them. Not all of them do.
Assuming you’re good with primarily playing Hold’em with some Omaha mixed in, you’ll have a large variety of formats, variants, and stakes to choose from.
As for stakes, most cash games will start at $0.01/$0.02 or $0.02/$0.05. The stakes don’t peak as high for US players as they do players around the world. That’s okay, because you’ll find most games running at the micros and small stakes.
The tournaments that you can buy into cost about the same as other major tournaments at European poker sites. The difference between these tournaments, though, is that the guarantees usually aren’t as large at US poker sites.
For example, you can buy into a $100k guarantee for $162 on Bovada where first place will receive around $20,000. This pales in comparison to the Sunday Million on PokerStars that you can buy into for $109 and possibly win more than $100,000 for taking the whole thing down.
The point? Well, you’re risking more to win less money. That said, the upside is that we’d expect Bovada’s tournament to have a smaller and softer field compared to PokerStars. That should help balance it out.
Overall, players in the United States will have a smaller selection of real money poker games to choose from. There will be fewer tournaments running and the guarantees will be smaller, too.
However, that’s to be expected, considering the player pool is much smaller compared to the player pool outside the US. We don’t think it’s that big of a downside in the grand scheme of things anyway.
What Kind of Software Can You Expect?
This is one area where US players won’t have to compromise too much on. Several of the top US poker sites have done a great job updating their software. They look modern and offer plenty of features.
Here are a few examples of what you can expect.
The ability to scale your tables to fit your screen. You can also tile, cascade, or stack your tables, which is handy for people who multi-table.
You’ll have the option to play five to ten tables simultaneously, and some sites allow for more.
Most top poker sites will offer features such as four-color decks, different card designs, easily readable pot and bet sizes, multiple languages, hand history replayer, and more.
Some rooms offer anonymous tables which is great for recreational players. You don’t have to worry about sharks preying on you.
Most sites offer built-in casino games and sportsbooks.
You can use third party software at some poker rooms.
You can play from your browser or download their software. Either option will be compatible with PCs AND Macs.
And more. The bottom line is that you’re not getting short-changed here. The best USA poker sites for real money have done a great job with their software.
What Promotions Do USA Poker Sites Offer Players?
US poker sites offer plenty of promotions, too. The following are a few examples of promotions you’ll be able to claim.
Deposit Bonuses – Some of the deals we’ve seen include a 100% match up to $1,000 and a 100% match bonus up to $500.
New Player Freerolls – These are tournaments that cost nothing to enter and offer a real money prize. Entry is limited to only those who signed up and made a deposit recently.
Free Play – Get a free tournament ticket or free money to use in the poker room’s casino or sportsbook.
VIP Program – Many sites will reward you for your loyalty. Perks can include exclusive bonuses, cash back, tournament tickets, and more.
Bad Beat Jackpots – Play on a BBJ table and you can win a piece of a jackpot if your hand (usually quad 2s or better) lose to a better hand.
And so on. The one thing you’ll want to pay attention to when it comes to promotions are the playthrough terms. Specifically, you want to look at how much money you need to spend to clear every $1 or $10 of your bonus, and if there’s a timeframe you need to do it in.
There are some sites that make it incredibly difficult to earn their promotions. It’s one of the biggest downsides to poker promotions but you can usually avoid it if you stick with the top poker sites and do your homework first.
It’s not easy to play real money poker online in the United States when compared to playing poker online elsewhere in the world. However, it’s not impossible, especially after reading this guide.
While you might not have all the options that other players have, such as high stakes action, tons of games running, and enough traffic for games like Pineapple and HORSE to run, there’s still plenty of action to be had.
For example, you can play Hold’em and Omaha cash games and tournaments at the micro and small stakes levels. The software you’ll play on is top-notch and both serious and recreational players will be able to find a site that caters to them.
If that sounds good to you, then the first step to getting started is to find a site to join. To ensure you enjoy playing online poker for real money, join one of the best USA poker sites.
Here’s a reminder of our top recommendations. Remember, each one has been thoroughly vetted and we’re confident you’ll have a good experience.