Online poker is legal in the US, but not at the federal level. In 2006, the US Congress passed the Unlawful Internet Gambling Enforcement Act (UIGEA), which prevents businesses from collecting real money wagers via the internet in states where online gambling is illegal.
Following the passage of the UIGEA, many poker sites operating without licenses in the US were forced to shut down. On April 15th, 2011, online gambling was further disrupted when some major American-based online rooms were shut down by FBI action
As of 2023, each US state can decide whether to legalize online poker or not. States like Utah and Hawaii have banned all forms of poker, including retail poker establishments. On the other hand, states like Pennsylvania, Michigan, and New Jersey have legalized online poker
As of 2023, online poker is legal in these US states
To play online poker in these states, interested players must meet some general criteria, namely:
Nevada was the first state to legalize online poker. It passed House Bill AB 114 into law in 2013. The state started with two poker sites, WSOP.com and Ultimate Poker. However, only WSOP.com remains in operation as of 2023.
Michigan is one of the few states to legalize online poker in 2019. It now houses the WSOP.com and BetMGM poker sites.
Players from Delaware, Nevada, Michigan, and New Jersey can share player pools at online poker sites. In other words, you can now participate in poker games at poker sites in other states. This move allows players to compete in larger prize pools and earn bigger payouts.
Each US state has a specific public agency that regulates online poker sites. Here's a table of the regulatory agencies operating in each poker-approving state.
|States||Agencies Regulating Online Poker Sites|
|New Jersey||Division of Gaming Enforcement, New Jersey Office of Attorney General.|
|Michigan||Michigan Gaming Control Board|
|Nevada||Nevada Gaming Control Board (NGCB)|
|Pennsylvania||Pennsylvania Gaming Control Board|
|Connecticut||Connecticut Department of Consumer Protection — Gaming Division|
|West Virginia||West Virginia Lottery|
Gamers can play online poker for real money on poker sites like WSOP.com, 888Poker, BetMGM Poker, PokerStars, Ignition Poker, and BetOnline. However, not everyone is eligible to play online poker in the United States.
To play online poker, you must be over the minimum age limit. Also, you must deposit an entry fee to access online poker rooms. Some popular local and offshore online poker sites in the US include:
|Local licensed real money poker sites||Bonus Range|
|888Poker||100 percent match-up bonus up to $1,000.
$88 free no-deposit bonus.
|WSOP.com||100 percent deposit match-up bonus of up to $1,000.
$25 free deposit bonus
$26 free no-deposit bonus.
|PokerStars||100 percent match-up bonus up to $600.|
|BetMGM Poker||100 percent match-up bonus up to $1,000.
$25 in Freeplay.
|Partypoker||100% up to $600
$30 in free credit
|Offshore real money online poker sites||Bonus Range|
|Ignition Poker||100 percent match-up bonus up to $1,000|
|BetOnline Poker||100 percent match-up bonus up to $1,000|
|Bovada||100 percent match-up bonus of up to $500|
To play real money online poker in the United States, you must be at least 21 years old. The minimum age limit applies to players in the following states: Delaware, Michigan, Nevada, Pennsylvania, and New Jersey.
Each state's regulatory agencies are responsible for enforcing this rule. These agencies will mete out penalties to poker sites that allow underage gamblers.
For example, the New Jersey Division of Gaming Enforcement and Casino Control Commission will fine casinos that allow underage gamblers to access their facilities. Under this law, underage gamblers will also pay fines ranging from $500 to $1,000 if convicted.
Offshore poker sites, on the other hand, allow 18-year-olds and older to play real money poker. These sites are independent of the state government's control.
Yes, you can play poker for real money in the US. However, this is only possible in states where online poker gaming is legalized. Seven US states approve real money online poker.
Also, some states turn a blind eye to players who use offshore poker sites. For example, Texas does not penalize residents who gamble for real money on offshore poker sites. So, residents can easily gamble on offshore poker sites like Bovada and PokerStars.
Note: It is completely illegal to play real-money poker in Utah and Hawaii. These states have zero tolerance for online poker gambling. Illegal gambling is a Class B misdemeanor offense in Utah. Offenders may face up to six months in jail or pay a fine of up to $1,000. However, it is a class A misdemeanor (felony) if the offender was previously convicted two or more times.
No. Some poker sites offer free games. However, you must create an account to access these free games. You can find free poker games at these sites:
Note: Playing online poker for real money comes with better benefits, from higher payouts to more bonuses.
You can find a safe US poker site by following these guidelines:
A gambling license is proof that a poker site is fairly safe for gambling. Public agencies will hand out licenses to casinos that adhere to their rules and guidelines. In most cases, the site must use top security software and follow fair use policies in order to qualify for a license.
So, look for the license watermark on the poker website. You may find it at the bottom part of the web pages.
There's always an online review of your preferred poker site. To search for these reviews, search for the phrase "(casino name)+reviews." This will bring up numerous reviews and mentions from other users. Stay away from sites with an overwhelming number of negative reviews. For extra precaution, ask your social circle for reviews on these sites.
Shady poker sites have one thing in common: they often try to hide their parent company. Sometimes, they leave bogus addresses on their site. So, look up the company name and other references to these companies. Also, cross-reference the company address via Google Maps and other data sources.
Poker loyalty programs are incentives given to players who participate in poker rooms. The rewards may come in the form of cash prizes, free games, or real-life perks.
Some poker sites use a tiered rewards system as a loyalty program. Poker players earn points to advance through the levels of a rewards system. The more points you earn, the higher you climb up the ranks.
PokerStars features a tiered rewards system. There are six levels in this system: bronzestar, chromestar, silverstar, goldstar, platinumstar, and supernova.
Poker bonuses and rewards are incentives for using a poker online site. Unlike loyalty programs, these offers are not limited to only loyal players. In fact, most poker bonuses are accessible to new players. For example, you'll receive a 100 percent match-up bonus of up to $2,500 for your first deposit.
What are the different types of poker bonuses and rewards at real-money online poker sites?
Yes. Online poker sites are relatively safe if they have these features:
No, high stakes aren't a requirement for real-money online poker. One of the perks of playing online poker is that you can play for extremely small stakes. Some real-money poker sites allow players to stake as little as five cents on tournaments. Also, it's quite easy to rack up huge payouts by consistently playing small stakes. So, here are the real-money tournaments in online poker that allow small stakes:
Yes. Most real money online casinos will allow you to deposit a small amount. This amount is referred to as the "minimum deposit." These real money online poker sites may set the minimum deposit between $5 and $20. Most importantly, the minimum deposit may vary depending on the payment method.
For example, e-wallets like PayPal allow poker players to deposit as little as $10. On the other hand, bank transfers often have a higher minimum deposit due to the high transaction fees. So, check the payment method before using it to make deposits on real money poker sites. Here's a list of real money US online poker sites with low minimum deposits.
|Online Casino||Minimum Deposit||Signup Bonus|
|DraftKings||$5||$60 free bonus
$25 free bonus
A 100 percent match-up bonus up to $2,000.
|BetMGM||$10||100 percent match-up bonus up to $1,000.
$25 in Freeplay.
|PokerStars||$10||100 percent match-up bonus up to $600.|
|FanDuel||$10||$100 in site credit for the first bet.|
|888poker||$10||100 percent match-up bonus up to $1,000.
$88 free no-deposit bonus.
|Ignition Poker||$20 + an extra $5 for charges
$5 for deposits via USDT
$50 for deposits via direct bank transfer and ETH.
|100 percent match-up bonus up to $1,000|
$50 for deposits via credit cards.
|100 percent match-up bonus up to $1,000.|
Yes. Online poker deposit bonuses often come with real money that you can withdraw or use to play poker. All you need to do is deposit at least the minimum amount. Then, you play the required number of games before cashing out the deposit bonus.
Keep in mind that not all online poker sign-up bonuses are in real money. Some sites will offer free chips for entering poker rooms.
Real money US casinos calculate the rake by deducting between 5 and 15 percent of the prize pool in an online poker room or tournament. Keep in mind that there are different types of rakes: pot rake, time collector, and dead drop.
In the case of a pot rake, the casino will deduct a certain percentage from each hand, usually between 2.5 and 10 percent. On the other hand, a time collection rake is deducted from the table after a set timeframe.
Rake fees have a set maximum limit in card poker. The casino only takes a commission when the hand wins.
Here's an example: Casino A has a rake fee of 5 percent up to a $10 maximum limit. If a Texas Hold’em card game has a $1,000 pot, the casino is eligible to receive a $50 rake fee. However, it will only take $10 due to the maximum rake limit.
Here's a list of US real money online poker sites with the lowest rake fees.
|US Poker Site||Rake Fee||Maximum Rake Limit|
|WSOP||5 to 6.25%||$3.5|
|PokerStars||3.5 to 5%||$3|
|888 Poker||5 to 6.25%||$3.50|
You will find these statistics in the lobby of most online poker real money sites:
The average pot size is the average sum of all pots in the last 50 to 200 games played in a poker room. This stat helps you identify tables with a lot of activity and those without.
The waiting stat helps players join a poker game when there’s an open slot. On the other hand, the players-in-hand stat reveals the total number of active players in a current hand.
Yes. Your funds are safe when you deposit on a US poker site. These sites are required by law to use high-security features to protect your funds.
Note that it is generally safer to deposit at a US-licensed poker site. You can easily send a complaint to the regulatory agency if there are issues or mishaps with your deposit. However, this is not the case for those gambling on unlicensed sites. Unlicensed sites are not under the jurisdiction of any state agency.
Yes. It's quite common for poker players to play at more than one poker site. When players use more than one site, they can take advantage of more bonuses and special offers. Unfortunately, there are issues with this strategy. So, let's weigh the pros and cons of playing at more than one poker site.
You get to explore multiple poker variations. Poker sites have a specific set of rooms and tournaments. These rooms are powered by different software developers. So, expect to see both popular and obscure poker titles. Also, you get to access rooms with different entry fees and levels of difficulty.
You can use and leverage multiple bonuses. Online poker sites offer different bonuses for new and consistent players. On some sites like Betonline, you also get access to reload bonuses. These incentives increase your leverage to earn huge payouts.
Low system performance from running multiple poker sites. You may experience system lags or a drop in performance when you run different poker sites at the same time. Online poker sites use a lot of processing power.
It is too expensive to play at more than online poker sites. To use multiple poker sites, you must deposit at least the minimum amount. Also, you need to consider the transaction fees for each deposit method. So, this strategy is not for players with low gambling funds.
Yes. You can easily cash out when you win on online poker sites. Unlike in online casino games, there are no house edges that will influence the outcome of your winnings. You're not playing against the casino but against other players. That said, you only need your skills to win at poker.
No, you don't always need to download software to play real money online poker.
Here are some of the no-download online poker sites in the US:
However, sites like PokerStars require you to download their software to play real money online poker.
Yes. Real money online poker can be played from any computing device, including a Mac, tablet, or phone. However, not all poker sites have a mobile or app version. Also, some sites do not have an app in the iOS store. So, always research if your preferred site has these options.
No. Although many online poker rooms accept credit cards, there are also a number of other options for users. Real money online poker sites also accept cryptocurrency, e-wallets, and direct bank transfers. These alternative options enable players to avoid exposing their personal financial information. For example, PayPal users only need to make deposits using their username. PayPal has no direct link to your bank account. So it's relatively safe to use.
You can cash out your online poker winnings via these options:
Each withdrawal option comes with different transaction fees. Also, some withdrawal options are faster than others. For example, a withdrawal via PayPal is often faster than bank transfers.
Online poker players can access these bonuses and incentives.
Only new players can receive a welcome bonus at online poker sites. Deposit and no-deposit bonuses are the main types of welcome offers. You must deposit the minimum amount to access a deposit bonus offer. PokerStars, BetMGM, and Ignition Poker offer one or two types of welcome bonuses.
Reload bonuses are incentives for depositing money on an online poker site. Some casinos offer these incentives for the second, third, and fourth deposit. Reload bonuses may include cash rewards, free chips, and real-life perks. Bovada, BetOnline, and Ignition Poker offer reload bonuses.
Referral bonuses reward players for inviting others to use a poker site. Players will receive the offer when the referral deposits a certain amount on the site. US Poker sites that offer referral bonuses include:
Yes. The IRS taxes any income generated from gambling winnings. This includes poker winnings. It does not matter if the poker site is licensed in the US or not. You must include the winnings under "other income" in Schedule I of Form 1040 or 1040-SR.
On the other hand, non-residents of the US must include gambling income in Form 1040NR. The federal income tax rate for poker winnings is between 24 and 30 percent. You may also apply for tax deductions to cover expenses incurred while playing poker.
Yes. There are numerous mobile-friendly poker casinos in the state. These sites are compatible with both iOS and Android-powered devices. You may even find the app version on the Play Store. Keep in mind that mobile-friendly sites will only work on devices with updated operating systems. BetMGM, 888 Poker, and FanDuel are examples of mobile-friendly poker casinos in the US.
You will find many Mac-friendly online real money poker sites in the US. These Mac-friendly poker sites include BetMGM, FanDuel, PokerStars, 888Poker, BetOnline, Ignition Poker, and Bovada. You can access these sites on your Mac device via compatible web browsers like Safari and Google Chrome. Furthermore, ensure to update these web browsers before playing online poker games.