Top 5 US Poker Sites for United States Players

Playing online poker is legal in the US, and no individual has ever been arrested for playing. Due to Federal legislation concerning the financial transactions between banks and poker sites, and many State laws – many players are left in confused as to the legality of the games. With State-by-State legislation underway, the future does look good for US poker fans. If you can’t wait for your state to legislate, there are plenty of offshore sites that will allow you to play for real money right now.

You’ll find an overview of the recent history of online poker and the effects for US players after the 2006 legislation below. After this you’ll find some words about the offshore sites still welcoming US players – followed by your options for depositing at them. Last of all there is information on the States which have already got their own sites.

US Poker Sites – The Recent History Of Online Poker

Prior to 2006 online poker was in a boom. A few years earlier in 2003, the previously unknown accountant Chris Moneymaker won the prestigious World Series of Poker Main Event for $2.5 million after qualifying online in a $39 satellite. When the tournament was televised, the result was a national explosion of interest in the game and mass sign-ups to online sites.

In 2006 the Unlawful Internet Gambling Enforcement Act or UIGEA was passed as part of Port Security bill. With a few exceptions, this bill prohibited gambling websites taking payments over the internet. Larger sites, such as Party Poker were publicly listed so left the US market straight away, having a responsibility to shareholders.  Other sites, such as PokerStars and Full Tilt continued to serve US customers with the argument that the law should not cover an offshore poker site, since poker was a game of skill.

The major poker sites that had continued doing business with US customers were effectively shut out in 2011, after there were allegations of illegal money transfers made on US soil.  A large financial settlement was later made between the DOJ and PokerStars where the site did not admit to any wrongdoing, allowing for them to apply to become a state regulated site at a later date.

As a result the offshore poker sites currently accepting US players are smaller than the sites they replaced, and depositing funds has become harder – though it is still possible for residents of most states to play real money poker completely legally at these poker rooms.

What Sites Are Available For US Poker Players To Play At?

Bovada is now the biggest online poker room accepting US players. Based in Canada the company formerly branded in the US as Bodog was launched as a sports-book in 1994 before the poker site opened in 2004. It now has more real money poker games and tournaments running than any other US facing site, with a range buy-in sizes to suit all. They have a ‘recreational player model’ which discourages grinders – keeping the games easy, fun – and anonymous!

Second in size is the Winning Poker Network, also known as WPN. This is a network of individual brands including America’s Cardroom and Black Chip Poker. These sites offer bonuses for higher volume players and are now starting to ramp up their tournament offerings to take advantage of a recent boom in player numbers.

Third is the Merge Network, headed up by Carbon Poker. This is the only site to offer a dedicated mobile phone game – and have a very cool software client which includes their famous ‘animated smileys’.

There are other sites gaining good traction on smaller networks including and SportsBetting Poker on the up and coming Chico Network.

Depositing On US Poker Sites – What’s the Easiest Way to Do So?

If you are depositing funds from within the US your options are limited. While there may be times where you cannot use your preferred method on a particular site, you will normally be able to find a way to get your money on board.

Credit cards, including American Express, MasterCard or Visa, work sometimes, with Visa reportedly the best of the bunch. This includes are pre-paid Visa credit cards which you can purchase and load up at convenience stores. I recommend you check with your room first to find out which brands are currently going through easily before you buy.

It is also possible for US players to deposit using the money transfer sites, such as MoneyGram and Western Union. This is a two-step process, it is important to get the recipient name and code from the poker site before you wire the cash. You can also use these wires for withdrawals.

State Regulation Has Begun to Legalize US Poker Sites

After failed attempts at Federal legislation, individual States have been passing their own bills to allow internet poker and online gambling within their boundaries. State regulated games are now up and running in Nevada, Delaware and New Jersey, with others hopefully joining them in the not too distant future.

The main benefit to playing on State regulated site is the ease of which you can move money around with no risk. There are also notable restrictions, the main one being you have to be located in that state in order to play. This  restriction means that the sites are currently smaller than the offshore poker rooms – though as more players become aware of the possibility of playing, the numbers can only keep growing.

The leading operators of offshore sites now have a long and trusted history in the business and are licensed by local gambling authorities, so there is no reason not to play there especially if your state is yet to regulate online poker.