Playing poker online remains a very popular gaming option among avid US players. The best online poker sites give those players an opportunity to test their card playing skills online.
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Follow our breakdown of the top poker sites so you can cash in on the best welcome bonuses, tournaments, and more.
Best Online Poker Sites
The best aspect of playing poker online is the quality of the available poker room sites. The best online poker sites have created a major point of difference from the competition.
Another strong trait of the best online poker sites is the ability to bridge the gap with land-based poker rooms at casinos. This is evident through the quality and presentation of mobile apps for playing poker online.
As one of the leading online gaming brands, BetMGM holds a prominent place on the list. This starts with competitive welcome offers with promo codes. The site also has an extensive menu of poker playing options.
BetMGM Poker continues to expand its market presence through the mobile poker app. Games are broken down into three main segments: Cash Games, Sit and Go Tournaments and Multi-Table Tournaments.
Tournament play is available on a daily basis. Yet, Sunday remains the most popular day. The $535 Mega Tuesday Six-Max has become a very popular mid-week event. BetMGM Poker also offers an occasional tournament series.
The reason Global Poker is legal across most of North America is the site’s sweepstakes-based online poker room. Sweeps Coins can be earned and then redeemed for gift cards and cash prizes.
There is a Global Poker welcome offer with a bonus code. As a social iGaming site, new customers will automatically receive 5,000 Gold Coins for free play on the site. There is a wide selection of poker variants to choose from.
This popular online poker site has received high grades across the board in various online reviews. PokerStars has established itself as the biggest online poker brand on a global scale. Its base of operations in the legal US market make PokerStars prominent among avid players.
A wide variety of poker games are available through the PokerStars site and mobile app. The app is available for download by both iOS and Android devices.
The most popular cash games at PokerStars are Texas Hold’em, Omaha and Seven Card Stud. Spin & Go tournaments offer a faster rate of play. Multi-table tournaments are available on a daily basis with special events on Sundays.
Launched in 2001, Party Poker gained notoriety on a global basis as a free-play poker app. The site boasts more than 80,000 members around the world.
Real money poker play at Party Poker is available in the state of New Jersey. The site’s affiliation with Borgata Hotel, Casino & Spa in Atlantic City is a major draw. Party Poker has gained the reputation for offering some of the most lucrative online tournament play.
Party Poker will use promo codes in conjunction with any available promotional offers. The initial welcome offer for new players is one of the best in the industry.
The World Series of Poker is the most recognized poker tournament series among avid players. The WSOP poker site was developed to enhance online poker room play. This site is available for free play.
The real money poker site is owned and operated by Caesars Interactive Entertainment in Las Vegas, Nevada. A few of the states where WSOP offers legal poker play are Nevada, New Jersey and Pennsylvania.
WSOP is probably the most comprehensive online poker room in terms of ongoing tournament action. This covers a number of poker variants led by Texas Hold’em as the most popular option for tournament play.
Where is online poker legal?
Online poker sites offering free play are legal throughout the US. These types of online poker rooms are commonly referred to as social gaming sites.
Players can still win cash and prizes at social sites since poker is classified as a game of skill. The fact that the games are free to play also makes them legal in most states.
Real money poker rooms are a different classification. Online poker rooms offering real money play must be licensed. Currently, there are five states in the US market offering legal online poker play.
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How are poker sites different?
Online poker sites tend to offer the same types of competition. This includes cash games, sit-and-go tournaments and multi-table tournaments.
There is quite a bit of crossover in poker variants offered such as Texas Hold’em, Omaha and Seven Card Stud.
The biggest difference between all the various poker sites is the competition itself. Each site sets the rules and regulations for tournament play. This includes the initial stakes and guaranteed payouts.
Another big point of difference is each poker site’s promotional incentives and bonus offers. Just about every poker site has an initial welcome bonus offer and promo code. However, the entire promotional calendar will vary from site to site.
Players in legal states offering online poker rooms are free to join multiple sites. This is the best way to take full advantage of the various bonus offers and promotional incentives that are available.
Rules and regulations covering actual play remain rather standard across the online poker industry. Players should still familiarize themselves with all the rules and regulations at any poker site they decide to join.
History of online poker
The origins of online poker can be traced back to the late 1990’s. In 1998, Planet Poker made its debut. This was the first site on the internet to offer online poker.
While Planet Poker is commonly given credit as the first online poker site, it never achieved any meaningful level of success.
Paradise Poker was another early online poker site. This was the first online poker room to offer a wide variety of poker games for playing Texas Hold’em, Omaha and Seven Card Stud.
In 2000, Poker Spot made its debut as the first online poker site to introduce tournament play. The site’s lifespan was short lived due to numerous technical difficulties. However, the popularity of online tournament play had been established.
The turning point in the online poker industry was in 2001. That was the year that Party Poker first went live. Soon after, PartyStars launched its online poker room site.
With each site attracting players for ongoing tournaments, the growth rate of online players started to explode. This was fueled by the popularity of televised poker tournaments at Las Vegas casinos.
Chris Moneymaker (yes, that’s his real name) is often credited with the online poker boom of the early 2000’s. He won the World Series of Poker tournament in 2003 and a first-place prize of $2.5 million.
Moneymaker gained entry into this prestigious tournament by winning a $40 qualifying event at PokerStars. Pretty soon, anyone with an interest in playing Texas Hold’em turned to online poker sites to hone their poker playing skills.
Given this overwhelming popularity, the legality of online poker was called into question. In 2006, the Unlawful Internet Gaming Enforcement Act (UIGEA) was passed by the US federal government.
The industry faced numerous challenges in the coming years which forced many of the poker sites to cease operations in the US.
Nevada was the first state to launch a regulated online poker site. That online poker room was known as Ultimate Poker.
Delaware became the first state outside of Nevada to legalize online gambling, including poker rooms. Once states were given the right to govern and regulate sports betting within their borders, interest in legal online poker expanded.
Is it legal to play online poker in the US?
It is legal to play real money poker online in the five states mentioned above. Social gaming poker sites that are free to play are available in most states.
Will more states begin to offer online poker for real money?
Changes to online gaming laws are always taking place in the US. Since online gaming is regulated on a state-by-state basis, there should be additional poker markets joining the current list.
Is it safe to play poker online?
Since legal online poker is governed and regulated in specific markets, it does guarantee safe and fair play. Players should always use caution when playing poker at an online social gaming site. These sites are generally not regulated by an in-state gaming commission.