Contrary to popular belief, online poker is NOT illegal in most states in America. Now, certain operators who didn't play by the rules were forced to exit the US market, but that doesn't mean you can't still play the game you love online for real money. Of course, ‘most’ is the operative word here; certain states do have specific laws about playing online poker, so to find out what laws apply to you and check this guide out.
Once you know if you are legally allowed to play in your state, let's talk about where you should be playing online poker. This is the important part because US-friendly poker rooms are not operated in the USA, which means they are not governed by the same laws and protection - which could hold you out of money.
So listen up US players, because these are your best bets for safe, US-friendly poker rooms.
If you're located in NJ or NV, different regulations apply, check our other post of best USA-friendly poker rooms in NJ & NV.
The Top 3 Poker Sites for US Players
1. Americas Cardroom
Americas Cardroom isn't just one of the best sites for US players (which they've been accepting since 2001), it's actually one of my favorite places to play, period. When I think about this site, the first two words that come to mind are innovation and value. Their catch phrase is "The next big thing!" - and it's clear why. ACR is always striving to add new games, features and formats to keep poker fun and fresh.
They were the first website to offer a million dollar guaranteed tournament in the US in over 4 years, which runs every other month and boasts a buy-in of $540 dollars. This event compliments their regular tournament schedule – a schedule that offers great structure, long late registration and unlimited re-entry for players at any buy-in level.
When you sit down for a session at ACR, you're giving yourself a chance to go deep, and get your money's worth. They also offer Spinalites, which let you qualify for big buy-in tournaments for a fraction of the cost. (We're talking less than 1 cent!) These are little slot machine games you can play in the lobby; very handy if you don't have time to play a full satellite. For higher stake players, ACR offers The Cage, which you can learn more about in my interview with ACR's CEO, here.
Perhaps the most attractive thing about this site is their speedy cash outs. Using Western Union or Money Gram, you can have your cash to you in 3 days. They even offer a debit card so you can make withdrawals right from your poker account. If checks are your thing, they do those too, but it takes a little longer (21 days).
The only downside to ACR is that is not Mac friendly, but other than that, it’s dynamite.
Also known as Bodog to players north of the border, Bovada offers the juiciest place to play poker online. It is mainly a sports betting and casino site, which is why the cash games and tournaments are ridiculously soft. Cash players are limited to four tables maximum, which discourages a lot of grinders from playing. The games also have a pretty fast structure, which skips a lot of blind levels (and I'm not even talking about the turbos). Truly a gambler's paradise, Bovada offers a wide array of tournaments, SNGs and cushy cash games. They also host a regular spread of tournaments, such as the Black Diamond Poker Open which has a whopping $500,000 guaranteed main event for a buy-in of $450.
The game design is a little ghetto, but the cash outs are quick, getting to you in around 5 days with Western Union or Money Gram. The checks take about 14 days. Bovada is also an easy site to deposit to, accepting all major credit cards.
3. Carbon Poker
Carbon Poker gets serious props for offering their players amazing value. They have $300,000 guaranteed in tournaments every Sunday, including a $150,000 main event, and a massive value Carbon Poker series which has $2.3 million in guaranteed prizes which happens every 2-3 months. They also offer a free HUD and odds calculator.
If you sign up using our bonus code STACKEDPK, you will receive 4 free real money tournament tickets. And that's in addition to the clearable 100% sign up bonus.
Carbon is not only a great place to learn to play better poker, but they offer the biggest stacked tournaments of ANY site, and with 4 hours of late registration, you can hop into the action at whatever blind level suits you. This - coupled with the unlimited re-entry element - ensures that you get whatever level of gambling and entertainment you're looking for.
Carbon also runs a bunch of satellites to their Sunday major, The Big Ticket, which deals out $30K - $40K to the winner.It has a really solid structure, with pretty weak fields. Another major perk is the software; it is super fast. I'd say the fastest out there. This allows you to play more hands per hour in both cash games and tournaments, which means you will be clearing your bonuses faster. This perk will be particularly appealing to high volume players who like to mass multi-table.
The only real downside to playing at Carbon is that the cash outs are slower, usually taking 7 days from Western Union or Money Gram. Checks take around 35 days. Be prepared to wait for your money, if you feel uncomfortable with this, go with Americas Cardroom.
If you want to make some wagers while playing your Sunday majors, then Carbon Poker can facilitate that as well, offering a solid spread of sports betting.
And there you have it! That rounds out my top picks for the best US-friendly poker sites. I make a point to play their Sunday events whenever I can, and also try to jump in their series games when I get a chance. I have never had any serious problem with any of these sites, whether it be depositing, cashing out, or playing (or at least none that have not been corrected by their customer support).
BONUS: If you signup to any of these sites through me, I offer an additional layer of support and will contact my reps for any of your deposit, cashout or playing issues. Just email firstname.lastname@example.org for support.