USA Online Poker is the most fervently followed and developed genre of United States online gambling in both domestic and international markets. The debate of whether poker is a game of skill vs a game of chance remains, though most players would argue that all variations of the game require distinguishable skill in order to be successful. The fact that a number of professional poker players exist, many of them making a living from playing online poker, indicates that poker play is indeed a skill based gaming platform. Nonetheless, this argument fuels a significant amount of controversy concerning efforts to legalize state based online poker here in the US.
This is a guide concerning all things relevant to online poker for players in the United States of America. Legal online poker is available to Americans through both state regulated options and licensed offshore destinations. Here, we venture to provide the necessary details of the industry as it pertains to Americans in all states. Firstly, we describe how the industry remains legal in the U.S. for most citizens and how to verify that legality for yourself. We dive into the details of the laws that are popularly thought to impact online poker gambling and explain them in plain English for non-legal minds. Then, we jump into the various aspects of the U.S.A. Online Poker industry to give you a more accurate idea of what to expect and what to look for in a provider. We have similar guides available for USA online casinos, sports betting and bingo.
Is Online Poker Legal In The United States?
Yes it is. People all over the United States can play online poker without any fear of legal intervention. It is not illegal for US residents to play online poker. In 45 states, online gambling isn’t even acknowledged in state gambling laws. There are three US federal gambling laws that apply across the land in the United States: The Federal Wire Act, The UIGEA and PASPA. None of these laws makes it a crime or bars US residents from engaging in legally licensed and regulated online poker gambling that is offer through offshore poker rooms.
When the Department of Justice issued their formal opinion concerning the application of the Federal Wire Act in 2011, they officially clarified that each individual state has the authority to prohibit or allow state regulated online poker gambling. This revolutionized the sate regulated gambling industry and ushered in the first online gambling operations regulated in the United States. As of this writing, three states have established a state licensed online poker initiative: New Jersey, Delaware and Nevada. There are also interstate gambling compacts in place between these three states that allow them to share their player pools. Players must be physically present within state borders in order to access the online poker gambling options available in these three regions.
None of the before mentioned gambling laws prohibit US residents from enjoying legally sanctioned online poker at Internet destinations that are licensed and regulated outside of US borders. There are no federal gambling laws in the U.S.A. that make the act of playing real money poker online a crime. The state of Washington is the only state in the country to specifically prohibit the act of playing poker online within their state gambling laws and criminal code, though the law goes completely unenforced.
Trusted And Legally Licensed USA Online Poker Rooms
The following is a list of the most well-established internationally regulated poker sites. These sites have earned their place on this list after an extensive period of inspection by a team of online poker professionals under our employ. They sites are each located outside of the United States deliberately to remain legal for the American online poker enthusiasts while also opening their consumer markets to places all around the world. They are backed by internationally respected gambling regulation and are consistently favorably reviewed throughout the poker community. These are the U.S. online poker sites that act as the standard for the industry.
|Site Name||Bonus||Rating||Type||USA||Visit Site|
|100% Max $500||Poker||Visit Site|
|100% Max $1,000||Poker||Visit Site|
|100% Max $2,500||Poker||Visit Site|
|100% Max $2,500||Poker||Visit Site|
State Regulated Internet Poker Rooms vs Offshore Online Poker Rooms
The state-regulated online poker rooms in New Jersey, Delaware, and Nevada are a recent addition to the global online gambling communities. Because of that, they have traditionally lagged behind in what has become the industry standard in game selection, bonuses, and member attractions. This is typically most noticeable when comparing them directly with their international competitors. Despite this, with the Governor of New Jersey willing to share the state’s customer base with globally respected gambling jurisdictions in the UK, the US market has become increasingly aware of their presence in the international eye.
USA’s domestic online poker websites have already begun to offer more lucrative Welcome Bonuses and expand their gaming libraries to meet the international standard. They do not yet really compete with the licensed offshore poker rooms, but they are moving in a direction to one day be comparable.
The international providers, on the other hand, have been at the forefront of online poker since the beginning. Their gaming libraries and member bonuses stand in direct competition with a ruthless and well-developed market of competitors in the international online gambling jurisdictions. You will find the most recent technological advancements in things such as user interface, gaming software, the most abundant gaming libraries, banking, and experienced customer service protocols. The online poker providers outside of the US simply have more experience and time in the industry. The US poker sites, however, will likely skip years of trial and error because of the already established model by the global poker powerhouses.
Are There Any Online Poker Bonuses And Promotions Available To US Players?
Each website that we have included in this guide provide several attractive bonuses and promotions for each of their members. Individually, the websites dictate a different philosophy of promotions, which translates into a wildly different bonus menu from site to site. There are, however, a few bonuses that are pretty consistent throughout the American online poker landscape.
- No Deposit Bonuses
- These function as free plays. In these bonuses, you will be gifted free chips or tokens to play in real-money poker games as a chance to test-drive the games without spending any money. If you follow the wagering requirements, you will even be able to keep your winnings.
- Welcome Bonuses
- This is the bonus that you should not complete registration without. The only bonus that can be considered an industry standard, it’s a match bonus that will provide extra funds to your initial deposit based on the advertised percentage.
- Refer-A-Friend Bonuses
- As you might guess, these bonuses provide incentives for you to refer other members to the website. Some sites may provide extra funds directly while others might provide free plays or chips to use in their gaming libraries.
- Special Promotions
- These types of offers range from tournament promos to seasonal offers related to popular events. They change regularly so its always a good idea to check out the promos section of the poker room you are visiting to see what new incentives are on offer.
What Games Can I Play At U.S. Online Poker Sites?
Most of the time, you will access the online poker games you came to play via a flash instant play or downloadable software application on your desktop, or via a web based mobile optimized app on your smartphone or tablet. In any case, the games that you will be able to choose from range from low, medium, and high stakes and vary in terms of buy-in and style of play. The internet’s global reach has allowed online poker providers to group all of the most popular forms of poker in one location.
The quintessential poker game. You’re dealt two hole cards before three rounds of betting and use the five community cards on the table to make your hand in the showdown at the end. We have a guide to playing Texas Hold’em that provides you with more information for US players interested in playing this game online.
You will be dealt four hole cards, of which you will use two at the showdown with any three of the five community cards that have been dealt after three rounds of betting. You will find multiple variations of Omaha poker at our recommended US friendly online poker sites.
There are no community cards in Stud Poker. At each of the rounds of betting you will be dealt a new hand of which you will use five to make up your hand in the showdown after betting as completed. You can find versions of stud poker that play with three, five, and seven cards. You can visit our page dedicated to covering US friendly online stud poker for more information.
A game variety that is played through multiple types of poker. The play cycles through rounds of: Texas Hold’em, Omaha, Razz (lowball stud poker), Seven Card Stud, and Seven Card Stud Split E. Learn how to play HORSE online for a unique poker gaming experience not typically offered in brick and mortar poker rooms.
U.S.A. Online Poker FAQs
Can I Play In American Online Poker Tournaments?
At each of the websites that have developed into the industry well enough to deserve your membership, you will be able to find several tournaments to play in. You can find some, which focus purely on the game entirely, or some with unique qualities like the Bad Beat Tournament that gives you a second chance if your 4 of a kind or better gets beaten. Or, the Knockout Tournaments that provide bonuses for knocking out other players. You might also see tournaments with no entry fee like the Free Roll tournaments.
Can I Play Online Poker For Free?
Absolutely. Aside from the No Deposit bonus and the Free Roll tournaments, there is a basic free play function that is also available. Simply click the “free play” or “practice play” or similarly phrased button to access the free play games. These are games that are played with other real people in live gaming lobbies, but with hypothetical currency instead of real money.
What About The Software At US Poker sites?
As the competition grew in the worldwide poker communities, gaming software was established as a way for one brand to set itself apart from the others. As competition goes, the other poker sites that accept users from the US came out and created software that allowed a user to play multiple hands, at multiple tables simultaneously. This changed professional poker forever. Professional players can now multiply their experience playing poker at rates previously unheard-of. That software is still being routinely updated and is exclusive to the brand that has released it. This makes a brand’s software one of the main deciding factors for a potential member.
Can I Play Online Poker On my Mobile Device?
HTML5 has given the freedom to online poker rooms accepting players from America to host their own mobile poker games on their own domains. Before, their size and sophistication required an app store for hosting and a native download for storing. Now, HTML5 temporarily installs components to your device, which delete themselves when you deactivate the game and runs directly from online poker provider you have chosen.
Do I Have To Wait Until There Is Federal Or State Legislation Passed Before I Can Play Online Poker?
If you specifically want to play online poker that is based and regulated in the United States, then yes, you will need to wait. While several regions have launched state regulated online poker sites, including NJ, DE and NV, the rest of the country seems to still be on stand by, watching and waiting before moving forward with their own online poker gambling initiatives.
However, there are multiple legitimate online poker sites which are based outside of the United States that welcome US players. The US friendly sites listed below are licensed by the government in their jurisdiction, and monitored by official regulatory commissions in those respective jurisdictions. They each offer a high quality experience using a trusted and well established software platform that is tested by industry authorities for fair game play technology, compliance certification and professional standard security profiles.
So in essence, being able to answer this question really depends on your personal comfort levels and preferences. We recommend that you select an online poker option that makes you feel comfortable, even if that means waiting for US based poker rooms to enter the market. If you are not comfortable with your choices regarding online poker play, you won’t really enjoy it.
For those who are ready to jump into already established USA friendly poker action, we can recommend the brands you see listed above as secure, reputable, and reliable options that will take good care of you and your investment.
State Specific Online Poker Information
Below you will find access to state specific online poker information that provides insight into which online poker sites legally accept players from individual states, how individual state laws impact online poker availability, and how to navigate the terrain without violating any federal or state poker gambling laws.