While poker can be a stimulating hobby, trying to find the best online poker sites—not so much! There are numerous options to choose from, all of them offering exciting tournaments with out-of-this-world bonuses.
Trying to sort through so many online poker sites can take all the fun out before you even begin playing.
Thankfully, we have taken the guesswork and trial and error out of the equation by doing the leg work for you. We have searched for the best online poker sites using our patented metrics. This means all you have to do is select the online poker site that most appeals to you, and you can get right to the fun of playing poker.
However, before breaking down the best poker sites, we first need to talk about all the important details of the game. This includes the history of poker, the best variants and how to play the game. So, let’s begin!
Poker Sites We Recommend
Poker: What is it?
Poker is a card game where you bet on who has the best card hand. The number of hands depends on the variant of poker being played. Some of the most widely played poker variants include Omaha, Texas Hold’em, 5-Card Draw, 7-Card Stud, Follow the Queen, and High/Low Chicago. The most popular of them is Texas Hold’em, a poker variant played by recreational players and professionals.
In all its various formats, poker requires a player to complete the following actions:
- Call – which means to match the bet
- Raise – which means to increase the bet
- Fold – which means to concede one’s cards
Poker is extremely popular in North America, where the modern game originated. It is played in poker clubs, private homes, and casinos—both traditional and online ones. In some circles, poker is described as America’s national card game, underpinned by the fact that its jargon and play permeate American culture.
While there are countless types of poker out there, they all seem to share certain fundamentals. Poker is played by hands, and a poker hand comprises five cards. In certain games like 3 card poker, the hand is made up of 3 cards. The value of the hand is inversely related to its mathematical frequency. This means that if the combination of cards in a hand is unusual, the hand ranks high.
Players can bet on the probability that they have the best hand. Other players must either concede or call (i.e., match) the bet. Poker allows players to bluff that they have the best hand, even if they don’t. They can even win by bluffing if players with superior hands don’t match their bet.
The Origin of Poker
Just as the game promotes misdirection and bluffing, the history of poker is full of doubtful origins and rumors: did the game develop in Persia or did it originate in China? The earliest recorded version of the game in European history is the 17th-century game “poque” which is of French origin. In fact, the word “poker” was derived from this word before making its way to the New World via French settlers. The spread of poker in America was made possible due to the Louisiana Purchase and by merchants up and down the Mississippi River.
Since the game’s inception in North America, poker has always been present in American card rooms, whether seedy dives or glitzy casinos. However, in the 1970s, it became organized, with the World Series of Poker becoming the game’s champion. The rise and proliferation of the internet also spurred poker sites all over that still attract thousands of professional and amateur players alike.
- Certain circles believe that poker was created in the 10th century by a Chinese emperor who developed the game of Mah-jong.
- In the 16th century, Persians created a game called As Nas, believed to be the ancestor of the game we called poker today.
Certain schools of thought believe that poker’s introduction to North America began in 1803 when Thomas Jefferson bought the port of New Orleans and some other land from France. At this time, Napoleon, the leader of France, needed money to fund his wars in Europe. This land purchase is known as the Louisiana Purchase, and most North American historians believe it was the major reason poker became integrated into American culture.
In 1843, the standard poker deck was changed from 20 to 52 cards, and it was at that moment that poker was revolutionized.
While there are different theories on who invented the modern game, most historians agree that it was developed in the 1800s in New Orleans. The new 52-deck game spread throughout the United States via merchants and traders traveling along the Mississippi River. Both union and rebel forces even played poker during the Civil War.
There are different variations of the game, with the most popular one being Texas Hold’em. This variation allowed a maximum of 10 people to play.
How to Play
Poker is a card game that combines the capacity to predict odds, read opponents and stay calm while making massive bluffs. With the way modern poker is played today, some believe the key is to ensure you have the best hand; however, others believe the real goal of the game is to get chips from other players, and holding the best hand is simply one of the many ways to do it.
In poker—regardless of whether it is at a casino or the best poker site—players are dealt different types of hands. These cards come in different combinations that might be better or worse than others. The players then take turns betting on chips based on how strong their hands are. They either fold if they feel they have lost, or call if they believe they have a strong hand.
When a player folds, the player with the better hand gets all the chips in the pot; however, if all players call, the game participants will be required to display their hands, and only the best hand wins. While there are a plethora of different poker variations at the top poker sites, the mechanics of each game, from Badugi and Draw to Texas Hold’em, are the same. Players bet chips based on their hands and either lose it all or win it all. Poker is a game of risk and chance that requires a little skill.
There are so many methods of playing poker, and each cardroom, casino and poker site has its unique rules. Most poker games, particularly at the best online poker sites for US players, involve some type of blind bet, which is known as an ante or a blind. These bets are played before players are dealt their cards. Only after the ante or blind is played will players be dealt cards. The hole cards are typically kept away from their opponent’s sights.
When the cards are being dealt, there are rounds where players are able to bet. At this point, they can decide to check, which implies that they don’t want to bet. Players also have the option of betting, and placing chips in the pot that must be matched by their opponents or they forfeit their hand. The last option for players here is to raise, which implies they are wagering extra chips on top of what their opponent did in their previous bet.
These betting rounds continue until each player in the game has folded. If this happens, the last person who made a wager is deemed the winner of the chips. Other times, there may be a showdown after all players have been dealt, where they will be required to display their card hands. At this point, the player with the best hand wins.
In tournaments hosted by the top poker sites USA, the hands continue until one player wins all the chips. These games can be quite intense, lasting for hours. The key attributes required in tournaments are focus and stamina.
Best Online Poker Sites
Based on our research, here are the best poker sites you can get started on today.
This is one of the best online poker sites for recreational players searching for high-octane card action. Despite its relatively young age, Ignition has become one of the top poker sites for all players, with thousands of players online at any given moment.
One of the major reasons for Ignition’s success amongst poker players is that it gets its player base, as well as its poker room from Bovada, one of the largest online gambling brands. Ignition has even been able to supplant the industry giant as one of the best poker sites for US players in its six-year run.
One of the features that makes this poker site stand out is that it has an anonymous game structure. This feature gives players assigned numbers rather than screen names, ensuring they remain anonymous while on the poker site. Ignition limits HUDs to just session statistics and bars the use of third-party tracking software. Every one of these steps have been designed to prevent professional poker players from preying on recreational ones.
This poker site has a plethora of poker variants, with Zone Poker seemingly being a major attraction. It works by maximizing your number of hands by moving you to another table with new cards the moment you fold. This poker room also reduces the amount of time you have to make a decision, moving from an average of 30 seconds in a regular game to just 15 seconds.
Another reason why Ignition is one of the best poker sites for USplayers is its Sit & Go tournaments. These tournaments come in multi-table and single-table forms. They begin the moment a quorum of players is met. Nevertheless, the real draw happens to be Ignition’s classic real money tournaments, which include an array of low-entry tournaments and high-GTD playing events that have been designed specifically for high rollers.
Players at Ignition can also enjoy numerous Daily Guarantees, Turbos, Satellites, and, of course, Bounty Hunters. A major reason why Ignition ranks as one of the best online poker sites is that it offers 100% bonuses up to $1,000 on poker, with the bonus rising to 150%, capped at $1,500 if players make their deposit using cryptocurrency.
Furthermore, players can unlock $1 of the bonus by simply attaining 30 Ignition Miles. Ignition Miles are only available by joining tournaments or cash games. And while there isn’t an official rakeback at this poker site, its welcome bonus is sure to entice just about any poker player.
Sportsbetting.ag ranks as one of the best online poker sites for US players today for various reasons. Its most compelling reason is that it enables poker players to play in real cash prize poker tournaments for free.
Players can even enjoy a $10,000 GTD Summer Freeroll alongside smaller daily promotions. New poker players and those looking for a casual game will enjoy this poker site as the competition is fairly soft. This might be because the players in the poker room are generally taking a break from the racebook, casino, sportsbook and other sections of this site.
One thing to note is that Sportsbetting.ag isn’t one of the top US poker sites that allow anonymous table gaming. This means that professionals can track weak or new players to prey on, so this is something new players should be wary of.
The Sportsbetting.ag platform is quite stable; however, poker players who want an interface with an updated design will be disappointed. Nevertheless, the interface is intuitive, and players can navigate around it, whether using the downloadable mobile application or a browser.
Cloudbet is one of the top US poker sites for players who transact using Bitcoin. As one of the best online poker sites for Bitcoin, it comes with a massive deposit match of 100%, capped at 5 BTC. Players can clear in increments of 0.001 for every 150 Welcome Bonus Points they attain while playing poker on the site.
The great thing about this welcome bonus is that it is valid for a year, so there’s enough time for even the most casual poker player to enjoy the benefits. Cloudbet also has a casino and sportsbook, which provides a plethora of betting options. While it doesn’t have a dedicated poker room like the other top poker sites on this list, there are plenty of video poker games for players to enjoy. This poker site can be accessed via mobile devices and desktops alike, ensuring that there is no reason for a break in play.
Red Dog Casino
Red Dog Casino has been designed with visually stimulating graphics and has an easy-to-navigate interface. Poker players can use their mobile devices or desktop to play online poker with negligible performance changes.
Considering that Red Dog Casino is an online casino, it doesn’t come with a separate poker platform. Nevertheless, you are bound to see lots of poker action from any of its 14 video poker games—one of the largest collections on this list of the best poker sites. Players can enjoy many poker variants, from Caribbean Draw Poker and Caribbean Stud Poker to Caribbean Hold’em.
A key hallmark of the best online poker sites for US players is excellent customer support, and Red Dog Casino takes this into consideration. It has been designed to place a premium on the wants and needs of the players.
Players can use this poker site’s FAQ page to get answers to most of their questions. For players who prefer to interact with real people, options such as phone, email, or live chat are available. Every communication channel at Red Dog Casino is available 24/7, all year round. And considering the level of traffic this poker site gets, it is surprising that players can get a response in just a few seconds.
Players interested in this poker site should note that withdrawals have a minimum limit of $150, which is a lot more than other top poker sites offer. Furthermore, the banking options are relatively limited, with just a few cryptocurrencies and credit cards.
Judging by its name, one can tell that Café Casino is another site that mostly carries casino games. This, however, doesn’t mean that poker players are left out of the fun. Players can enjoy poker action with table games such as Tri Card Poker/3 Card Poker, Let ‘em Ride, and Caribbean Hold’em.
A significant difference between a poker room and casino-style poker is that players bet against the dealer instead of online players. While this might not be an attractive prospect to some players, casino-style poker still requires some level of skill to be successful.
Nevertheless, Café Casino offers an engaging and exciting poker experience, so much so that players can overlook its limitations. In terms of welcome bonuses, new players get to choose from between two schemes. The first one is a 350% match on crypto deposits valued at $2,500. The second welcome bonus is a 250% match on the first deposit—with a wagering requirement of 40x—capped at $1,500.
Apart from the spectacular bonuses that new accounts get, Café Casino ensures that its players are always engaged, thanks to a wealth of promotional offers. For example, players can earn $100 by simply referring this poker site to other players, so long as the new players meet the minimum deposit requirement of $25. This poker site also has other incentives, such as a Perks Program to entice existing players.
As one of the best US poker sites, Café Casino accepts withdrawals and deposit requests via major credit cards and cryptocurrencies, such as Ethereum, Bitcoin Cash and Bitcoin. While these options aren’t bad, they pale in comparison to what you get at other top US poker sites.
Slots.lv is one of the best US poker sites for players searching for video poker. This poker site is heavily influenced by slots, and its casino-style poker might not be for everyone. Nevertheless, it is still a top poker site since it requires a level of skill.
New players might read this and think Slots.lv isn’t for them, but that is far from the truth. This poker site offers free casino-style poker games for individuals who want to play for fun or upskill. Another advantage that this site offers over others is its bonus packages for new players.
New players can get up to $5,000 on their first eight deposits. This amount goes up to $7,500 if players deposit using cryptocurrency. Existing customers aren’t left out of the bonuses, as players can receive free chips worth $10 by simply liking the Slots.lv Facebook page. Players can also get up to $200 for simply referring other poker players to the site, making it one of the best online poker sites.
Bovada ranks as one of the top poker sites for high rollers; nevertheless, it has been designed to offer a level playing field. Just as with Ignition and other similar US poker sites, Bovada leverages an anonymous game system to make it harder for professionals to utilize long-term analysis tools. This also means that professional players cannot prey on new or weak users by leveraging player selection.
When it comes to traffic, Bovada ranks as one of the largest, if not the largest, and best online poker sites with this feature. New and current players on Bovada are treated to a wealth of comprehensive gambling experiences. There is a racebook, casino, sportsbook and, of course, a poker platform for players to enjoy. Deposits are made easy thanks to the poker site accepting cryptocurrency.
Bovada uses the latest and most innovative software, which has helpful features, such as quick seating. While there were some minor issues, such as heavy crashes and other play disruption issues years ago, these issues have been sorted.
As one of the top poker sites USA, Bovada offers various tournaments, with the Monthly Milly being the most notable one. This tournament takes place every month on a random Sunday, and players can earn the chance to win $1 million in GTD. Aside from that, as one of the best US poker sites, players can enjoy Omaha and Texas Hold’em tournaments.
Nevertheless, players searching for massive rewards might not be attracted to Bovada since this poker site has an extremely conservative VIP program, which includes a 3% rakeback.
This is one of the top poker sites, and that is evident from its long history. While BetOnline has been in business since 2004—a long time for poker sites—its operating group has been in business for far longer, since 1991. This ensures that players get one of the best online poker sites operated with a wealth of experience.
Since its inception, BetOnline has created one of the most seamless poker sites that caters to a balanced mix of serious, casual and new players. The traffic at this poker site ranks as one of the top poker sites USA.
You can run its software on just about any operating system and device; however, the best poker experience can be had on its downloadable software. This software includes stellar features such as a buddy list, hand history, and automatic rebuys and buys.
As stated earlier, BetOnline attracts players of all skill levels, and one of the reasons has to do with its plethora of bonuses. It has a welcome bonus that provides a 100% match on first deposits, capped at $1,000. To attain this bonus, players will have to enter the bonus code “NEWBOL”.
Aside from the industry-standard welcome bonus, BetOnline also has numerous incentives for players to enjoy when they spend time at the site. There are weekly tournaments, New Player missions, leaderboard rewards and the Bad Beat Jackpot, which is the true star of the show. The Bad Beat Jackpot is typically triggered at about $40,000; however, it has gone as high as $130,000 at a point, making it a very attractive feature for any poker player.
Players new to this poker site should note that BetOnline charges a 7.5% transaction fee on credit card deposits, so it is best to use other supported banking options.
Everygame is one of the best poker sites available to players. As one of the oldest—it went live in 1996—it has become one of the most recognizable online poker sites. It offers stake flexibility, with players able to bet between $0.02 and $0.04 to $10 and $20. This flexibility is also available for no-limit and pot-limit tables, making it one of the best poker sites for new players.
Traffic on the site is moderate, so poker players don’t have to worry about queuing for tables. The majority of Everygame’s poker players flock to the low-stakes tables. What this means is that heavy hitters might need to be patient to play at this site.
Nevertheless, Everygame has one of the best poker sites for US players, thanks to its rakeback and deposit bonuses. Once a player signs up, they get a 200% match on their first deposit, a bonus that is capped at $1,000. There are also multiple reload bonuses, daily freerolls, a 36% rakeback and other promotional offers that poker players can enjoy.
Everygame provides a bit more freedom to its players, given that they can select their opponents and tables to play online poker at. Players can also take notes, review previous hand histories and utilize tracking software to develop their strategies. Overall, Everygame is one of the best online poker sites for players of all skill levels.
Americas Cardroom, or ACR, as it is also known, is one of the best online poker sites for US players today. It has comparable traffic to another poker site, Ignition, meaning there are enough tables and opponents for poker players. This increase in traffic does, however, mean that the competition is a bit stiff, especially since players can leverage HUDs, tracking software and other professional player poker tools.
Americas Cardroom is liked by poker players everywhere for various reasons; however, one that stands out is how the poker site exceptionally handles withdrawals, with the bulk of requests receiving approval and processed within three days.
New players to this best poker site can enjoy a 100% welcome bonus match on their first deposit, capped at $2,000, which is a higher cap than other poker sites USA offer. Players can also unlock $1 by accumulating 27.5 Award Points.
The interface is unique, with players being able to customize their tables. While this process might not enhance the playability of this poker site, players will enjoy the customization options. Poker players can select one of the numerous running games at any time, with tables featuring micro limits to tables that have a limit of $5 to $10. Players should note that while Americas Cardroom does have high-stake games, there is a dearth of competition. Fortunately, ACR rectifies this by constantly offering various high-stakes tournaments.
Players can make deposits via P2P, credit cards and even cryptocurrencies. While crypto transfers are fee-free, players will encounter a $65 cost when withdrawing via checks. Every poker player understands that game security is paramount, and ACR doesn’t take this for granted by allowing the reputable iTech Labs to audit its Random Number Generator.
How We Picked the Best Online Poker Sites
In order to find the best online poker sites, our experts at BetRocket have used the following metrics:
Considering that online poker requires players to miss seeing opponents face to face or being in a poker room, the top US poker sites take it upon themselves to create a uniquely stimulating virtual experience. The best online poker sites for US players on our list feature great-looking and extremely intuitive platforms that are also effective on mobile devices.
Poker, by design, is a game of skill, so it is perfectly natural for some players to have an advantage over others. Nevertheless, the best online poker sites have built-in features that provide new players with an equal footing. Nevertheless, new players are sure to love the top poker sites that offer anonymous tables more.
Considering that there are so many online poker sites, it makes perfect sense that the best poker sites for US players do something different to attract as many players as possible. These efforts result in various bonuses, with some being a lot more generous than others. Our experts go through the bonuses on offer and opt for those with the most profitable ones. We also check the wagering requirements to make certain that they are not unrealistic.
While poker is an extremely exciting game to play, it can become quite boring, especially if you are playing just one poker variant. The top poker sites ensure players are constantly engaged by offering a decent variety of poker games. What’s more, there should also be a range of other titles on offer, including slots, roulette, progressive jackpots, and many more.
Poker players have one aim: to play poker, especially against other players. This goal will be difficult to achieve if there aren’t that many opponents to play. So, this is why you look at player traffic when trying to choose the best online poker sites. All the online poker sites on this list all have more than average player traffic, ensuring that players can enjoy the benefits of playing against their contemporaries.
Playing poker on an online site will require you to make deposits first. This means you need a platform that supports your preferred deposit method. We ranked our top-rated sites by checking out the list of payment options available. Only those with reliable options like Visa, Mastercard, e-wallets, and prepaid cards made it to our list. We also checked out the withdrawal speed and only opted for those that ensured fast payouts.
Poker Terminology and Lingo
Poker utilizes a special lingo that only poker players can comprehend. The unique terminology and language were developed over the years, with players from all over the US intermingling. While non-players might understand a part of the lingo, it is completely intelligible to fellow players.
- The term Ante is given to a bet that must be placed by players before the cards are dealt.
- The term Backdoor is used to describe when cards dealt for the round fulfill the requirements for a player’s hand to be competitive.
- The term Bubble is used for the top finisher that doesn’t earn money.
- The term Burn means forgoing the card at the top before each betting round if one can change the suit or number of the card.
- The term Call is used to describe the action of placing the lowest cash amount required to keep playing into the wager pot.
- The term Check means to pass on betting—players can choose to call, fold or check when a bet is made.
- The term Flush is used to describe a hand that consists of five cards that belong to the same suit.
- The term Fold is used when a player drops from a round due to a bad hand or a seeming disadvantage in comparison to other players.
- The term Full House is a hand representing a three-of-a-kind of one card along with a pair of other cards.
- The term Quad is used to describe a four-of-a-kind hand.
- The term River describes a hand of five community cards.
- The term Royal Flush represents an ace to high straight flush and is the best possible hand in the game of poker.
- The term Straight is a hand that consists of five cards in order.
Roles and Positions
This section highlights the positions players take at a poker table.
- Under the gun: this position is given to the first person to place a bet after the cards have been dealt. This is typically a tough position as the player is responsible for starting off the betting round.
- Middle position: this player can choose a conservative style and can see what another player bets before folding, raising or calling.
- Hijack: this role enables the player to play more hands than opposing players. It is said to be more profitable than other poker table positions.
- Cut-off: this is the second best seat in poker; the player can play 25-30% more hands and is theoretically more profitable.
- Button: the button is the best position in poker as the player can play a vast array of hands, around 50%.
- Small blind: this is a disadvantaged position as players must place their bets before being dealt their hand for the round.
- Big blind: this is the second blind seat that theoretically results in huge losses.
Best Types/Poker Variants to Play on Poker Sites
More and more people are heading to the top poker sites to play poker and its many variations. With so many variations, it is no surprise that the game has become the king of casino games in the last 20 years. This boom in poker players and, of course, US poker sites began with an expansion spurred by the internet. The first poker sites, local poker rooms, gaming halls and the overall commercialization of the game were further boosted by live coverage of tournaments.
To top it off, the modern recognition of this game is not waning, with more poker sites opening seemingly every day. Players from all over the world are always interested in trying their knowledge and luck against fellow players at the best online poker sites.
With that in mind, this section of the article will highlight the top five poker variants with the largest player pool split among professionals and amateurs.
7 Card Stud
Seven card stud is another game known for its simplicity. The game starts with a player getting two cards dealt face down and one face up. The next three cards are then dealt face up, with the final card dealt face down. Players are tasked with creating the strongest combination possible out of the best five cards. Unlike the other poker variants mentioned, 7 card stud doesn’t have any community cards, so players have to stick with the cards they already have.
After the initial betting round, all players get an additional face-up card, and this routine continues until the last betting round. In all rounds, the player with the best hand showing is the first to play and gets the opportunity to dictate the action.
Players should think of seven card stud as two downs, four ups and one down. In this poker variant, players can only use the information they get from their face-up cards to create strategies. This way, a player who sees a particular suit get dropped out of the game knows that the card won’t appear in their opponent’s combination.
5 Card Draw
In theory, this type of poker is the most basic variation that most people first learn to play. For instance, if you have ever played strip poker using a Commodore 4 computer, then, in reality, you played five card draw.
The aim of this game is simple: to have the best poker hands of five cards after both the dealing round and a round where players’ cards are exchanged. This poker variant is perhaps the easiest to learn, making it fun. For this reason, it is the recommended choice for those beginning their poker journey.
Hi-Lo (High Low)
This poker variant is slightly more difficult than Omaha or Texas Hold’em. In this variant, winners are players with the strongest high and low poker hands. Unlike other poker variants, there can be more than one winner in this round, with each winning player sharing the pot.
In Hi-Lo, the ace is the lowest for both the high card and the lowest hand, while the straight and flush do not affect the lower value. The most effective low hand combination is a straight from an ace to a five (A2345), also called the wheel.
This variation of poker is found at many poker sites since it shares a lot in common with Texas Hold’em. In this poker variant, there can be a maximum of nine players, and the two players to the left of the dealer are the big blind and small blind. In this poker variant, you get four cards that correspond to the number of betting rounds.
Omaha is typically played as a pot-limit variant. This means that the bets are conditioned to the pot’s size. While a player can wager less, they can never wager more than the current size of the pot.
Nevertheless, you can play Omaha as a fixed-limit game—where a maximum wager is determined—or as a no-limit game.
Texas Hold’em is the most popular and famous poker variant in both North America and Europe. As its name states, it originates from the state of Texas. It is difficult to find a poker enthusiast who hasn’t tried to play a hand of Texas Hold’em at a traditional casino or a poker site.
One of the reasons why this variant of poker is so popular is because its rules are easy to learn. They follow a pattern that, at first glance, appears complicated but becomes second nature in no time.
Inexperienced punters might struggle at first, so it makes sense to learn about the game and study its rules before playing for real money. Fortunately, the best poker sites for US players have free poker rooms for players to build up their skills and strategies before playing for real.
Texas Hold’em starts with each player receiving two hole cards placed face down in the initial betting round. At this point, players have three options: they can choose to fold and discard their cards, match the amount of the previous bet (call), or raise their bet.
Once the initial betting round is concluded, three community cards are dealt face up onto the table, so every player can see them. This move is known as the flop. The game then continues with players calling, raising or folding until the fifth community card or river is placed on the table. In this final betting round, the players will have to show their cards, and the winner is decided by the player who has the strongest hand.
Every one of the top poker sites highlighted in this article has been in operation for at least four years, all showing that they have moderate traffic, good playability, impartial games and every other factor that can greatly benefit players searching for the top poker sites.