Best US Poker Sites of May 2019
Our carefully selected and regularly updated list of the best online poker sites are specifically geared for American players.
Why is that? It’s simple…
Our job is to vet every possible poker room for you and identify the very best in class for American poker players. This way you can skip the legwork and play on the best, legal online poker rooms online:
We’ll find you all the top US poker sites that are first and foremost, legal and safe, and perform exceedingly well in all of our other ranking criteria, including fast payouts, a huge library of games, generous bonuses and more.
Once you get started with any of the sites on our recommended list, you will soon realize that finding and playing legal American poker online is not as difficult as many people make it seem.
Quality Standard Guarantee
Amongst all the criteria, here's a few important points we assess a particular site on below:
Excellent value for money
Safe reliable software
Quick secure withdrawals
Fun and friendly community
Browser and device compatibility
A Look into US Legislation and Online Poker
Playing poker games with real cash at online poker sites in America has always been legal. This fact is meant to address rumors from both outsiders and insiders who claim that enjoying online poker in the country is a crime.
The reality is that it is not illegal, even though online operators are legally restricted from providing real cash poker games to USA-based players. Regardless of the strict laws that have been plaguing online poker providers, players are in no way affected by these restrictions and thus can continue to enjoy their poker games on trustworthy international online poker sites.
The past decade transformed online poker into some sort of grey area with the passage of the Unlawful Internet Gaming Enforcement Act (UIGEA) back in 2006. Before then, compared to what we have witnessed in the past couple of years, online poker was thriving and both the players and the operators were satisfied with the completeness of the arrangement – they both benefitted from online poker in one way or the other.
Fortunately, this grey area is slowly fading away and things in the US are looking brighter.
Legal US Poker Sites for Real Money in 2019
Online poker in the USA in 2019 has been doing rather well and while we will discuss the issues the industry is currently facing in detail, we want to draw your attention to the best US poker sites first.
Played in three states and a forth on the way (launch date set for July 15), poker is currently available on a dozen fully-regulated websites based in approved markets. Let’s have a look:
Nevada was the first state to surface back from the legal limbo introduced by the adoption of the UIEGA in 2006. With the state passing its own online poker laws, legal real money poker websites were re-introduced for the first time in the United States.
The first operator to enter the sector was Ultimate Poker which arrived on April 30, 2013, but it gradually lost all its customers, plagued by a number of technical issues.
On September 17, 2013, the World Series of Poker’s website made its entry. WSOP.com has been the flagship provider of legal poker in Nevada. Today, the WSOP events are the envy of the poker world and every serious player takes it upon themselves to attend the event in person.
Nevada was instrumental to the introduction of the shared liquidity scheme that went live in March 2015, including the state of Delaware and New Jersey joining only recently in April 2018. Today, you can play poker at two established online portals in NV:
New Jersey joined Nevada shortly after the Silver State introduced its own online poker. The decisive move came on November 21, 2013, when online poker was officially signed into law. Borgata and Partypoker got a head start and they were joined by WSOP and 888 later on.
- Borgata Poker
- 888 Poker
The list doesn’t stop with these, however, and there have been new additions, specifically playMGM Poker and Pala Poker.
In general, insofar as the best online poker websites in the USA are concerned, New Jersey’s operators are the brands gamers associate the most with.
Delaware is the smallest state to offer online poker in the United States and it’s also part of the shared liquidity scheme introduced in 2015. Today you can play poker at three websites in the DE:
- Dover Downs
- Delaware Park
- Harrington Raceway
Pennsylvania is technically regulated, but no casino has launched online poker yet. However, quite a few properties have obtained a license already including noteworthy business such as Harrah’s Philadelphia, Parx Casino, SugarHouse and others.
The number of brands launching online card rooms in PA has reached 13 online casinos that have paid for a license.
Best US-friendly Offshore Poker Websites for Americans
If you are not lucky enough to be living in the states that freely offer legal online poker to US players, then there are quite a few excellent alternatives.
We’ve been play-testing offshore real money poker sites for a fair while now, and we can tell you that quite a few are in fact trustworthy. Bar a few quirks about the payment methods, you will have a blast playing there.
An offshore poker website in the US is a poker venue which is not physically present in the United States, but it still accepts customers from the country. These offshore operators can in fact be legal in the jurisdictions they operate in, usually licensed by Costa Rica or Curacao eGaming.
As of 2019, we’d recommend using one of the following offshore card rooms:
Poker Sites with Freerolls
There are many offshore websites that provide US poker players with freeroll options, including tournaments. One of the most interesting models has been developed by Global Poker which launched back in 2016.
Global Poker has introduced a great way to circumnavigate the inherent difficulties that come hand-in-hand with being a grey market operator. By introducing a virtual currency for gaming, Global Poker’s players can participate in real money games.
You need to purchase Gold Coins which fetch you the play currency known as $weeps Cash. Any $weeps Cash you manage to win can then be exchanged with WorldPay for real money.
Although Global Poker is restricted to No-Limit Hold’em and Pot-Limit Omaha, the site also comes with great leaderboard opportunities.
Best Online Poker Tournaments for US Players
Poker players in the USA have some decent options when it comes to online and live poker. State-based tournaments are usually more modest in the way of monetary reward. In New Jersey, we saw the prize pool guarantee reach $125,000 during the $320 Coast 2 Coast III #2, but not much above that.
Conversely, WSOP.com’s summer championship is the world’s crowning poker event, but it must be attended in person, though the online series have picked up some steam. Thankfully, 888 Poker provides you with sufficient options to qualify while playing poker online in any of the regulated US states.
Offshore Poker Brings Bigger Rewards
Because of the limited number of states regulating online poker in the USA, many people have been turning to offshore operators. Websites such as Ignition and Americas Cardroom offer millions worth of prizing money, usually varying between $2 million and $4 million.
The numbers fluctuate, though and the prize pool is spread across various types of contests, including:
- Sit & Go
- Multi-table tournaments
- Knock out tournaments
- On-demand tournaments & more
It’s worth noticing, though, that the US-friendly offshore poker sites have a substantial player base that allows tournaments to run in most hours, with weekends amassing the biggest crowd.
Best Bonuses for US Poker Players: A Snippet
It’s easy to find a great poker bonus in the USA. All operators we explore will offer a sign-up offer that allows you to start earning more from the moment you join the real money games. This applies to both the regulated state websites as well as the offshore ones.
You will notice that most regulated marks usually keep the sign-up bonuses within reasonable sums, although WSOP.com’s online poker portal offers dozens of superb choices when it comes to promotions:
Will the Wire Act Opinion Affect Online Poker in the US?
To understand which way online poker in the United States is headed, we will have to allocate some time explaining the most recent saga around the legalization of the industry – the revised Wire Act Opinion of 2011.
Since January 15, 2019, the Wire Act reversal has been hanging over online poker in the United States like a Damocles’ sword. The Department of Justice’s OLC Opinion poses an existential threat to poker, but we’re still unable to pinpoint the exact implications, because of DOJ’s own lack of clarity on the issue.
What we know, though is the order in which events happened.
A Chronology of Events
The chronology of events, is easy to pinpoint and it clearly depicts the evolution of the Wire Act – from a rumored bogeyman to an existential threat for the poker industry.
- In January, 2019, the revised Wire Act opinion is issued by the Office of Legal Counsel and Assistant Attorney General Stephen Engel at the U.S. Department of Justice (DOJ);
- US Deputy Attorney General Rod Rosenstein signs the Wire Act into law, giving states three months to comply;
- Pennsylvania and New Jersey’s General Attorneys Gurbir S. Grewal and Josh Shapiro make a joint statement warning DOJ that the states will sue;
- The New Hampshire Lottery Commission launches an official lawsuit against DOJ challenging the Wire Act reversal;
- The DOJ announces a 60-day delay on the implementation of its Wire Act Opinion pushing the deadline back for mid-June.
The possible consequences of the WA have been the subject of much speculation. When US Deputy Attorney General Rod Rosenstein signed the act into law, the 90-day grace period started running. With the deadline originally set for April 15, the Wire Act has just been pushed back by another 60 days in the face of mounting opposition from states, such as New Hampshire, New Jersey and Pennsylvania.
Another thing we know is how these changes would affect the best US online poker sites. Pressuring existing operators, though, is only one of the things industry experts are worried about. The WA might as well kill the momentum for the wider legalization of the industry.
Wire Act’s Most Likely Effects in 2019 Explained
As a result, the Act won’t come into effect until June 14, 2019 but will this give enough time to states that are most threatened to rally and take action?
What Will the Wire Act Mean for Online Poker in the United States?
No Inter-State Games
The first blow that the Wire Act would deal to online poker in America is to suspend inter-state games. New Jersey, Nevada and Delaware would no longer be able to pool their money together to offer better prize, cash and availability of products.
End of Poker in Certain States
Delaware only has 1 million residents. If the Wire Act suspends cross-state gaming, then DE will likely see its online poker industry die as there won’t be enough players to keep an online poker portal going.
Lack of Payment Options
The new Opinion will most likely dovetail the Wire Act with UIEGA, which will in turn limit the availability of banking options.
Reduced Prize Pools
Reduced prize pools is the least of the worries states presently face, but it’s going to be among the ones to be noticed first.
Loss of Poker Initiative
If the Wire Act is implemented successfully and it leads to high-profile shutdowns, hopes to legalize poker in places like New York, California and elsewhere in the US will most likely come to a halt.
Pennsylvania is postponing iGaming
In light of recent developments, Pennsylvania has said it would defer the expansion of online gambling, and poker for that matter, until June 15, with the Pennsylvania Gaming Control Board (PGCB) needing more time to review the Wire Act.
A revised WA will complicate matters for all parties involved in US online poker. Even today, players in Nevada and New Jersey get their transactions rejected as financial institutions find reasons to shut down payments that are linked to card rooms. Inter-state transactions have been the source of much preoccupation for banks and some payment processors lest they come under the hits of the DOJ and other regulators.
On the flipside, there are payment processors that wouldn’t give up to DOJ’s demands and exit the marked quietly. A handful of operators have invested quite a bit to give up without a fight, including:
The DOJ is leading a multi-faceted offensive against poker. On the one hand, it’s threatening states head-on, on the other – it’s applying pressure on payment processors. In the case of PayPal, this is likely to work, as one of the world’s most famous e-wallets is known to cave in the face of government pressure.
One thing that is certain is that the DOJ didn’t expect to be faced with so much opposition. So far, three lawsuits have come from New Hampshire:
- iDEA Growth
- NeoPollard Interactive
- The New Hampshire Lottery Commission
There has been a strong push from New Hampshire, but it has mostly been linked to the online lottery the state has run successfully for years now. NeoPollard Interactive supplies the state’s lottery with interactive and innovative solutions. iDEA Growth is a trade group that focuses on the expansion of iGaming in the United States.
Current Legal Online Poker in the US
We have already discussed the available legal US poker websites. The three states that are already offering legal regulated online poker are:
The newly added Pennsylvania is still in the process of launching its own industry, delaying an early Q1 launch to mid-June. Originally, Pennsylvania was on track to release its iGaming and poker industries in early 2019, but this has changed after the Pennsylvania Gaming Control Board (PGCB) met in late February and decided to defer the legalization of the industry to better assess the recent changes in legislation.
Legalizing Poker across the Country
The growth of these online gambling markets have reignited interest in other states, including California, New York, and Iowa that have been looking into tapping into the endless benefits that regulated online poker could bring to them. U.S states are now beginning to try and regulate online poker mainly because they have the mandate to enact their own unique laws.
Regardless of the fact that the UIGEA is still in place, its days are numbered since it will essentially be overruled once individual states pass bills allowing online gambling. As such, online poker in America still stands a fighting chance and more states could allow regulated online poker in 2019, thus giving poker players more local options when it comes to the best US poker sites.
For any of this to come to realization, however, we will have to wait and see how the Wire Act plays out in mid-2019. While it helps to be optimistic, there are inherent difficulties to playing on online poker sites in the US, and we should be well aware of these problems that include issues as various as;
- Declined payments
- Restricted states
- Slow payouts
- Lack of players
- Lack of online options
Poker’s problems are equally likely to precipitate. If the Wire Act hits in full and DOJ attorneys manage to win the ensuing battles in court, they will be able to wreak a lot of havoc across the board, suspending interstate activity and bleeding poker networks dry of players and funds, leading to a natural collapse of the industry.
This is a possibility but one unlikely to unfold. With so many businesses and jobs on the line, the amount of litigation that would ensue from a bid to shut down online poker in 2019 would necessitate the DOJ to pull off a super-human effort to just be able and keep track of all lawsuits piling up against it.
And yet, the anti-Online Gambling Coalition, which has been reportedly pulling the strings in DOJ, may only be seeking to introduce havoc and kill endorsement for poker in places like New York and California where lawmakers have been trying to introduce an active legislation for almost 10 years now.
An Optimistic Outcome for Poker in America
The United States legislature has been having some promising legislative talks regarding online gambling at an intrastate level. The implication here is that states that have allowed regulated online poker will be able to share players – this will not only link the entire country but will also assist in bringing a much-needed rush of liquidity.
The promise of better prize pools hasn’t managed to attract online players and NJ’s numbers have sunk to record low between October and December, 2018, with the player base still struggling to gain momentum in the first quarter of 2019. Meanwhile there are definitely many reasons to want to legalize online poker:
- Source of additional revenue to plug state deficits;
- Better customer and data protection for players
- Increased prize pools for participants
- Full implementation of laws restricting offline websites
- More balanced payouts for all participants
Nevada’s poker has picked up. With preparation for the World Series of Poker (WSOP) in full blast, some fear that New Jersey’s players might be excluded because of the WA Opinion, which would be a huge blow for the event, that has decided to increase its prize pools and introduce more WSOP bracelets for its 2019 edition.
Governing the US Poker Market: Meet the Regulators
There are a number of regulatory commissions that have been formed to govern online poker websites in the US, both within and outside the United States;
A number of online sites within the state of Nevada have applied for and have been granted full online gambling licenses. The board is the same one that oversees all licensed gambling venues or casinos in all of Nevada which, therefore, means that the online poker sites under its jurisdiction are highly regulated for the good of the players.
This board works for both the states of New Jersey and Delaware where poker enthusiasts will find fully licensed online gambling sites where they can play online poker with real cash locally and legally. The sites are therefore of the highest standards and thus every poker game or event that players partake in is completely fair and random.
This is among the few online gambling jurisdictions that are responsible for licensing a decent number of reputable US poker sites that are available for American players. Online casinos and online poker sites under this jurisdiction allow players to not only fund their accounts in US dollars but also participate in tournaments using the same currency.
This is another licensing jurisdiction that applies to poker players who are not lucky enough to be living in the three states where online poker is legal. If you are one such unlucky player who cannot access online poker sites then an offshore-operated online casino or an international poker site with a Costa Rica license would be a great option.
When it comes to offshore websites, there will be quite a number of different online poker sites offering poker players all manners of poker games as well as poker tournaments licensed and regulated in Costa Rica.
Having this in mind, players will definitely have no difficulties finding a great Costa Rica licensed and regulated site online. However, we recommend that you find one among the ones we are have listed on our site since they have been tested for virtually everything that is expected of an online casino.
Featured Blacklist - May 2019
ONLINE POKER SITES TO AVOID
Our expert review team extensively vets hundreds of online poker sites each month and makes an effort to not only recommend trusted poker rooms, but to also warn players of unreliable brands. We strongly advise you to stay clear from those listed below as they do not adhere to the review standards built from our years of experience.
Linked to cPays Group
Bad customer service
As of when you see this list, some sites may have been shutdown or they may still be running. Regardless, we recommend that you avoid visiting or involving yourself with activities associated with these brands to stay safe. We may leave certain sites on this list so people who are new and unaware stay informed.
What Does 2018 Hold for Payment Services for Online Poker Sites?
One thing that is rather clear is the fact that for the past couple of years depositing and withdrawing funds from US poker sites has gotten easier, even though 2019 may now offer a few unique challenges related to the Wire Act reversal. Established offshore or international sites have been upping their game in so many different ways to ensure that customer experience is not ruined by payment systems that do not work.
The cashier staff, for instance, have been working tirelessly in finding alternative solutions for deposits and withdrawals that are intended to cater for even those cringe-worthy times when players’ credits cards are declined when they try to make deposits. The new and improved deposits methods have proven to be very successful in providing fast and secure transactions for players, and poker rooms have grown significantly due to this. Bigger poker rooms imply that there is a bigger collection of cash tables, bigger prize pools as well as much bigger promotions and specials too.
While it is certainly true that funding your online poker account in the United States can sometimes be quite challenging, international online poker sites have found suitable workarounds that will work perfectly until online gambling is finally legalized. These include options such as Visa Credit Card, American Express, MasterCard Credit Card, MoneyGram and even Player-to-Player Transfer.
Visa is a universal payment method that comes with nominal fees and the highest clearance rate. This is a preferred option among card players from the United States who are playing at one of the legal options or heading over to an offshore online venue.
American Express is one of the most common payment options. Offering a mix of security and convenience, AmEx is a preferred way among some card players to make deposits or withdraw their money.
MasterCard is trusted for anything from e-commerce to online gambling. Just as you probably know, you can use this method to charge your card room balance and play at one of the best US poker websites online.
MoneyGram used to be a very comfortable way of depositing and withdrawing money from a poker card room in the US. This has changed due to restrictive laws ushered in by the enforcement of UIEGA in 2006.
Decentralized digital currencies are perhaps one of the biggest, if not the biggest, invention of the decade. Crypto has proven that it is here to stay and when people are not speculating on their prices or selling them, online poker players are tapping into its potential as a payment method. Many of the best US poker sites now allow for payments to be made in Bitcoin and some have even gone as far as making it their primary payment method.
Bitcoin has always been associated with volatility and technicality but neither of these is a trait that is cast in stone. They happen but to keep you convinced of their usefulness, once you deposit into your poker site account your Bitcoin is converted into USD depending on prevailing rates. Poker sites that accept Bitcoin are often located offshore, as they find the cryptocurrency to e a smart way of avoiding complications when it comes to cashouts for customers.
Top 5 Free Play Money Poker Sites
What to Expect from Our Top-Rated US Poker Sites
Our team at Online Poker America takes pride in the fact that we are just like you – passionate online poker fans – and for that reason, we know exactly what it is that you want and need from a top online poker site.
With that in mind, we’ve searched the internet far and wide to find all the best poker rooms out there, both real money and free play sites. No matter which you prefer, every online game site you choose from our recommended list has aced our strict vetting process and is 100% ‘OPA approved’ – In other words, not only will these sites meet your expectations, they’ll surpass them and blow you away!
With our years of experience in the online gambling industry, we believe OPA provides every player the best US poker sites free of hassle. Our vetting process is comprehensive and it leaves no stone unturned.
We check For When Reviewing a Site
When searching the web for real money poker sites, it’s important to read carefully into any terms and conditions, especially in relation to bonuses and cashouts. There are usually clauses and minimum play time required before you can do anything with your added bonus and potential winnings.
This is the single area in which most novice gamblers fall victim to. Many shady sites lure gamblers by offering eye-watering bonuses, but what they don’t make clear is the usually horrendous play through requirements that are attached to these unobtainable bonuses. Knowing this, we pay special attention to all bonuses and peruse the Ts and Cs to make sure that they are realistic and reasonable.
As long as you’re playing from a top US poker site listed by us, you are in good hands and won’t have to worry about bonus traps.
On the other hand, if you just want to play for fun, we’ve also got you covered and you can choose from any of our highly recommended play money brands. This is a great method to practice with play chips and test out our tips covered in our ultimate poker strategy guide which covers all the basics and more.
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What age can you play real money poker in the US?
Is online poker legal in the US?
Many states don’t even define gambling let alone address specific legal real money online poker laws! Check our legal states poker map for your state.
What can I do if online poker isn’t legal or available in my state?
Unfortunately you need to be physically playing from a legal even for real money online poker but there are alternatives such as play money poker rooms that are legal and only classed as games and not a form of gambling.
What online poker sites use real money?
If there are deposit options or payment methods on a poker site; it will use real money so be cautious and make sure you’re playing within the legal rights of your state and/or region.
How can I play real money poker on iPhone?
Some real money poker rooms such as 888 Poker will have mobile-compatible software so check the site first before making a deposit so you know the site is iPhone-friendly. Check out our approved iPhone poker sites for more information.
How can I play real money poker on iPad?
Similarly to iPhones, iPad users can check their real money poker rooms for compatibility before depositing real money for real money poker. Check out our approved iPad poker sites for more information.
How can I play real money poker on Android?
Real money poker sites for android devices work the same way as iPad and iPhone users - players just need to look for mobile compatibility on the real money poker site and they should be good to go. Check out our approved Android poker sites for more information.
What is the best real money poker site?
There is no best real money poker site as it all comes down to reference but if you check the real money poker sites list we regularly update at the top of this page; it should hopefully give you a good, unbiased and independent place to start.