You can play online poker for free and for real money at various sites in the U.S. Here, we will look at online poker sites, the ways to play, promotions, banking methods, and more.
The Best US Poker Sites of 2023
With so much attention being put on online sportsbooks and casinos over the last few years, often forgotten is online poker. Online poker had been pushing for legalization during the so-called poker boom of the mid-2000s until it finally happened in Delaware in 2012.
Since Delaware, there have been six other states that have legalized online poker, four of which currently have active platforms. In fact, three of these states all formed an alliance—the Multi-State Internet Gaming Agreement by 2017—more on that later.
Is Online Poker Legal in the US?
Yes, there are seven states in which online poker is legal. These states include New Jersey, Pennsylvania, Michigan, Nevada, West Virginia, Connecticut, and, as mentioned, Delaware. Both West Virginia and Connecticut don’t have any operational online poker sites.
Can I Play Real Money Online Poker?
Yes! Online poker is available to anyone who is currently within the borders of New Jersey, Pennsylvania, Michigan, Nevada, and Delaware.
Online Poker Bonuses
With only five of the 50 states currently offering online poker, there are just a handful of online poker rooms you can choose from. Within those, however, there are different poker welcome bonuses. These are designed to attract new players to the platform and play with them versus the competition.
Let’s examine some welcome bonuses you may come across. These will help you determine which online poker room you should perhaps target to play before any other!
No Deposit Bonuses
A no deposit poker bonus is another way to say that you will receive a bonus for poker just for registering for an account. There are no caveats or terms and conditions you need to adhere to prior to receiving the funds. All you need to do is register for an account and input a promo code if necessary.
After that, you’ll receive a bonus. Generally speaking, the bonus will never go beyond $20 or so, but this is a great kick-start to your online poker playing!
Deposit bonuses are always an excellent welcome bonus to an online poker site. These are typically higher amounts of money. For example, anywhere from $600 or more.
This means you’ll just create an account, input a promo code if necessary, make your first deposit and watch it double up to whatever the limit is.
From here, there are usually some wagering requirements associated with the offer. These requirements are meant for players to reach so that you can then have access to withdraw the bonus funds you received from the welcome bonus.
Online Poker Promotions
- Free Chips: At some online poker sites, you will be given free play chips. These will have a different value depending on where you play.
- Boost Periods: There could be times throughout the day or planned in advance where players will receive extra cash back based on the cash back points received during the period.
- Leaderboards: We’ve all heard of leaderboards before even if not in the context of online poker. Simply play games, perform well, climb the rankings and win!
- Satellites: Daily fantasy sports players may see this term now and then. However, if you’re not, Satellite is a type of game in which you’d submit to a buy-in price and play. These contests will guarantee players who are successful/victorious seats at a larger contest with even larger prize pools down the line. Think of these as qualifying rounds in a way.
How To Play Real Money Poker Online
There are many ways to play online poker. Here, we’ll outline how to get in a position to play whatever your favorite style of poker is and how to sign up for accounts.
- Choose the site in which you want to play.
- Create an account.
- Deposit funds into your account.
- Take advantage of any welcome bonus or other promotions offered.
- Pick the game you wish to play.
- Start winning!
How To Sign Up To A Real Money Poker Site?
- Choose your desired online poker site.
- Find the registration button. This is usually found in the upper right-hand corner of most desktop sites.
- During this sign up, you will need to give some personal information such as your name, email, date of birth, digits of your social security number, address, and more. Online poker winnings are taxable income.
- Also during this sign up process, be sure to input any promo codes if necessary for welcome bonuses or other promotions.
- After this, the poker site you are playing on will determine if you are currently within the confines of a legal state.
- Once your location is confirmed, head over to deposit funds.
- Start playing.
What Are The Differences Between Each State?
Of the five legal states, three of them, by 2017, formed an alliance known as the Multi-State Internet Gaming Agreement. In 2015, the governors of Delaware and Nevada signed the deal.
This allowed for the states to retain their revenue based on where the player was located, but these states could now play in the same pool together.
New Jersey legalized online poker in 2013 and then went on to join the alliance in 2017.
West Virginia poker is another state to look out for. In March 2019, the West Virginia Lottery Interactive Wagering Act technically made it legal. However, there has been little-to-no emphasis on it and online casinos haven’t really pursued it.
New Jersey became the third state in the US to legalize NJ online poker. Online poker became legal in 2013. In 2017, Gov. Chris Christie signed on to the Multi-State Internet Gaming Agreement.
Legal Online Poker Sites:
- World Series of Poker (WSOP)
- Pala Poker
- BetMGM (part of the PartyPoker network)
- Borgata Poker
The first regulated online poker site, PokerStars, launched in Pennsylvania on Nov. 4, 2019. In Pennsylvania, there was a package deal for licensing that included poker, online slots, and online table game licenses. This cost $10 million.
The Gambling Expansion Act passed in 2017, but the emphasis was first put on online casinos and sportsbooks before poker.
Legal Online Poker Sites:
The legal online poker sites in Pennsylvania are the following:
Nevada was the second state to legalize online poker, coming shortly after Delaware. Nevada was also one of the two original states to enter into the Multi-State Internet Gaming Agreement.
The only legal platform to play online poker in Nevada is WSOP.
Delaware became the first-ever state to legalize online poker in 2012. However, there were issues getting it off the ground as all of the regulations had to be written by the state from scratch—there was no template to look to.
So, technically, Nevada was the first state to ever accept a wager, but Delaware, a state with less than a million people at the time, legalized it first. Overall, though, Delaware has been underwhelming in terms of implementing online poker.
Legal Online Poker Sites:
Let’s first preface this by saying 888poker runs the software and networks, but the poker sites listed below are the consumer-facing online platforms for brick-and-mortar casinos.
- Delaware Park
- Dover Downs
- Harrington Raceway
Michigan may be last to the party of these six states, but the Wolverine State has wasted little time. Since launching online poker in early 2021, Michigan got to work quickly. PokerStars launched in the state in January, followed by BetMGM in March.
These are the only two regulated online poker sites in Michigan.
After passing legislation in 2019, West Virginia is one of the most recent states to legalize online poker. Today, however, West Virginia’s implementation of online poker is similar to that of Delaware; due to its small population, West Virginia has yet to see an influx of online poker operators rushing to the state the way we’ve seen it happen in states like Michigan and Pennsylvania.
Perhaps more than any other currently legal state, West Virginia will greatly benefit from shared liquidity if it ever gets approved. Shared liquidity would let online poker states share player pools across state lines. As a result, West Virginia would see a significant increase in both the number of players and prize pools at its disposal. You should take advantage of the poker bonuses offered in West Virginia to get the most out of your casino experience.
Currently, Global Poker is the only online poker platforms currently operating in West Virginia. As a sweepstakes casino, Global Poker operates a bit differently from traditional online poker sites, but it still offers the same great peer-to-peer experience that online poker players crave. Here are a few other popular online poker operators that we expect to open up shop in West Virginia in the near future:
- BetMGM Poker: BetMGM Casino is already present in the Mountain State, so it only makes sense that BetMGM Poker had joined the party once player pool size becomes less of an issue.
- PokerStars: The world’s largest online poker brand is already live in Pennsylvania and Michigan, so there’s no reason to think that PokerStars won’t be coming to West Virginia soon.
- WSOP: WSOP is currently the premier legal online poker option in Nevada, so we expect it to be one of the first brands to open up shop in West Virginia as well.
- Borgata Poker: Borgata is already present in Pennsylvania and New Jersey, so there’s a good chance that Borgata Poker will eventually make its way to West Virginia as well.
- PartyPoker: PartyPoker is one of the most popular poker brands in the world, so it’s only natural that it would eventually make its way to West Virginia.
How Do The Sweepstakes Poker Sites Work?
Sweepstakes poker sites are similar to social casinos in that players are not playing for real money. The only Sweepstakes poker site that players can visit is Global Poker. Global Poker is legal in all of the United States and Canada, with the exceptions of Washington D.C. and Quebec, respectively.
At Global Casino, you will have virtual currency that is used to play different poker games.
Online Poker Payment Methods
With online poker, you’re going to need ways to fund your account. There are many different ways in which you can, though some sites differ from others in terms of what methods are available. Let’s look at some you can expect to find out there amongst all legal poker sites.
Online Poker Real Money PayPal
PayPal is arguably the most popular method for interacting with online poker. PayPal is an online payment system in which you would log into your account for the deposit page and use it to fund your account.
Credit Cards are another popular method for banking. However, the majority of sites will only allow Visa and MasterCard, so be sure to look for that.
Some online poker sites may offer prepaid cards. These are also known as Play+ Cards. Players who play at an online poker site that also has an online sportsbook and/or casino associated with it will likely be able to use the card for poker as well.
ACH stands for Automated Clearing House. It’s a computer-based system that, generally speaking, allows for players to transfer funds directly from their bank accounts to fund their virtual wallets.
A lot of times ACH and eCheck are synonymous with one another. The only difference is that ACH is a process for payment whereas an eCheck is just a straight payment.
Skrill is a virtual wallet that is used to make money transfers and payments online. This method is generally always available and is performed on the deposit page.
PayNearMe is an in-person cash transaction done at retailers such as 7-Eleven, CVS, or Family Dollar. There are typically different kinds of restrictions on limits with PayNearMe compared to virtual methods.
Cash At An Associated Casino
If you ever come across the term “cash cage” this implies going to the brick-and-mortar casino affiliate of the online poker site and making the transaction there in-person.
How To Deposit At A Real Money Poker Site?
Once you’ve created an account, you will usually find your virtual wallet near the sign-up/log-in buttons. Here, you will see what methods are available. From the methods available, each method will likely have fairly similar, but sometimes different minimum and maximum deposit amounts. If you’re planning on playing micro stakes poker, you’ll want to look for a poker casino with a low minimum deposit, such as $5 or $10.
Also, for most virtual payments, the payments will process instantly. The other methods you’ll find that are almost instant are wire transfers or check-by-mail, if those are available methods.
How To Withdraw From A Real Money Poker Site?
Withdrawing works the same way. In your virtual wallet interface, you will find an option to withdraw. The withdrawal options are usually similar to the deposit methods, but there are usually fewer ways. From here, like deposits, there are different minimum and maximum amounts and the timeline to receive funds can vary.
Generally speaking, the approval time for an online poker site is 24 hours. Some forms of withdrawal may also require that you used that same method to deposit in the past as well. Always review these options in advance!
Types Of Real-Money Poker Games
As with most forms of online gaming, there are multiple ways to play online poker. The games available differ from online poker site to online poker site.
Here, we have a complete list of poker games you’ll find at online poker sites.
- Texas Hold’em
- Omaha Hi
- Omaha Hi-Lo
- 7-Card Stud
- 2-7 Triple Draw
- 5-Card Draw
- 5-Card Omaha
- Chinese Poker
- Short Deck
The most popular method of online poker you’ll find is typically no-limit Texas hold’em with Omaha Hi coming after. Learning to play these different types of games can be easier with practice, but to truly dominate, like anything else, it will take practice.
There are many variations of poker that can be found online these days. Some of these games are classics like Texas Hold’em, Omaha, and 7-Card Stud. However, new games are arriving on the poker scene, such as Pineapple and Short Deck Poker. Let’s discuss a dozen major types of poker seen in online spaces.
Without a doubt, the most common form of poker, Texas Hold’em, has been the most popular amongst online players for the last few decades. While online poker service had been spotty for the better part of the 2010s, it has since improved with more regulated and offshore card rooms offering play.
Texas Hold’em is a game that involves players getting dealt two cards of their own, with the object being to create the best five-card hand using the five community cards that get laid out across the various streets – the flop, turn, and river. Each of these streets can be classified as a betting round. In each betting round, the action will start to the left of the dealer button and move in a clockwise direction. The winner is awarded the pot at the end of the betting rounds or can be rewarded prior if all opponents fold.
There are two primary forms of Texas Hold’em – no-limit and limit. No-limit, typically abbreviated as NLH, is the more popular form due to the more practical skill it requires to master and the virtually unlimited profit potential. In no-limit Hold’em, the maximum a player can bet on their hand at any given time is the amount of their effective stack. For example, if a player has $300 in their stack, they can bet $300 or less at any time.
With limit Hold’em, this is not the case. In limit, players are only able to have one bet and three raises per street, with those raise sizes being predetermined increments depending on the “small bet” and “big bet” of the game.
Omaha Hi, commonly called Pot-Limit Omaha or PLO, is a game that is very similar to Texas Hold’em. The primary difference with Omaha Hi, though, is that players are dealt four cards instead of two, as in Texas Hold’em.
Just as in Hold’em, the primary objective is to make the best five-card hand using the five community cards that are dealt out after each betting round. PLO has some very unique intricacies to it, however.
Because most Omaha games are played in a pot-limit style, this means that players can only bet the size of the pot at any given time. However, a raise can be equal to three times the most recent bet plus all the other money already in the pot, also known as “dead money.” For example, if the pot sits at $300 and a player decides to bet the pot, the most an opposing player can raise is $1,200 in total or $900 additionally.
As we will discuss later, there are other forms of Omaha that are quite popular, with many gaining popularity over the last few years with the rise of online poker.
Omaha Hi-Lo is one of the wildest of the poker variations out there. The same rules apply to Omaha Hi-Lo as they do in typical Omaha Hi, but with one very dramatic twist. In this game, players are not vying for one pot. They are vying for two pots. Omaha Hi-Lo is classified as a split pot game because of this, with players aiming to either end with the best five-card hand for the “Hi” pot or the worst five-card hand for the “Lo” pot.
Sounds simple enough, but it is one of the poker games that requires the most skill and precision to master. As with other games, the Hi-pot is awarded to the best five-card hand. However, the Lo pot isn’t simply awarded to the worst five-card hand blindly – a player must qualify with an 8 and under. The key to note here is that aces can operate as a low card and a high card to make both the high and low hands.
If a player has both the best possible high hand and the best possible low hand, this is known as the “nut-nut.” Just because a player wins one side of the split pot does not disqualify them from winning the other half.
7-Card Stud is one of the most classic forms of poker, and while it has gone down dramatically in popularity, it can still be found in some corners of the online poker world.
Before most people learned to play the technical Texas Hold’em, they learned to play 7-Card Stud and 5-Card Draw before that. Times have changed as 7-Card Stud is on the verge of going obsolete as the generation it became popular with is beginning to age.
7-Card Stud is an enjoyable game that carries far less action, on average, than a regular Texas Hold’em or PLO game. In 7-Card Stud, players receive two cards face down and one card face-up. After the first three cards are dealt, there is a betting round. Each player gets three more cards face-up and one more card face down with another betting round following it. At showdown, players will “showdown” their best five-card hand that they can make out of their seven cards dealt.
2-7 Triple Draw
2-7 Triple Draw is another classic poker variation that can no longer be found at most casinos and is rare to find online. In 2-7 triple draw, the objective is to make the lowest five-card hand with aces being high and not low.
This game is practically a cross between 7-Card Stud and Omaha Hi-Lo. In 2-7 Triple Draw, the best possible hand to have is 7-5-4-3-2 with no flush.
Key terminology to understand in this game is what perfect, smooth, and rough mean. Perfect means that a player has the best or lowest possible hand for their highest card. For example, an 8 Perfect is 8-5-4-3-2 with no flush because it is the lowest possible hand that starts with an 8.
Smooth means that players have very low cards, typically 4-3-2, after their first two cards. For example, if a player holds 9-7-4-3-2 with no flush, this is known as a Nine Seven Smooth. Rough means the exact opposite of Smooth, as can be inferred by definition, with Rough meaning that a player does not have a great low end of their high card.
5-Card Draw is one of the simplest forms of poker, and as we mentioned before, it basically comes first of the lineage prior to 7-Card Stud and Texas Hold’em. There is a ton of history behind this game, and it is one of the purest and oldest card games in existence.
This game is very easy to learn and does not require nearly the amount of strategy that games like Texas Hold’em or PLO require. This game is very hard to find in casinos these days, and it’s almost as rare to find online. Simply put, this game is on the verge of becoming obsolete.
The hand rankings are exactly the same as in Texas Hold’em, with a royal flush ranking highest and a high card ranking lowest. The game starts with all players getting dealt five cards with a draw phase following directly after, allowing players to discard as many cards as they want to from their hand in an effort to make a better one. Betting ensues, and once that completes, everyone left in the hand goes to showdown.
5-Card Omaha, also known as PLO5, runs under the same concept as PLO4, Omaha Hi, and Omaha Hi-Lo. It can be found all across online poker platforms, with both cash games and tournaments available.
The only difference between 5-Card Omaha and Omaha Hi is that players receive five cards instead of four. The odds are vastly different as hands like weak flushes and small full houses go down in value tremendously. Most 5-Card Omaha games run in a pot-limit format as well.
The objective of this game is still to make the best possible five-card hand using ten cards total, including the five community cards dealt.
HORSE is a growing game that has been around for quite some time now and even has a place in the World Series Poker. It is similar to the basketball version of HORSE, if you are familiar, but uses different card games instead of different shots.
HORSE stands for Texas Hold’em, Omaha Hi-Lo, Razz, Seven Card Stud, and Seven Card Stud Hi-Lo Split-Eight or Better. While playing this game, players must understand how to play all of these games in order to succeed. Each orbit, the game will rotate into the next letter.
Some poker purists believe that HORSE is the best test of a player’s skill as the skill set required to succeed at the game is much more diverse. For those that fully understand all the game types, it could be a perfect way to demonstrate your skill. We have not discussed the “R” yet for Razz, but we will do so next.
As part of the HORSE series of games, Razz is one of the most unique games in poker. It is a form of stud poker that is known as lowball poker, similar to 2-7 Triple Draw, where the lowest hand makes the best hand. It is well-regarded as one of the last pure forms of poker that exist and has been around for almost 200 years.
The concept is similar to 2-7 Triple Draw, as mentioned, but there are some very important differences to note. In Razz, straights and flushes do not count against players as they do in 2-7 Triple Draw. Aces are also classified as low cards instead of high. Thus, the best possible hand in Razz is A-2-3-4-5.
Razz is normally played under a limit betting format with antes. Players are dealt two cards face down and one card face-up. The highest up-card at the table starts the betting with a bet known as a “bring in.” After the first round of betting, each player will receive an additional up card. The second round of betting begins with the person that has the lowest hand showing. This pattern continues until the fifth card is dealt and betting increments are doubled. The seventh and final card is dealt face down. After the final betting round, players reveal their hands at showdown.
Chinese Poker, also known as Open-Face Poker and Open-Face Chinese Poker, is a game that is extremely weighted towards beginners but is still quite fun to play.
In OFCP, players are responsible for scoring a front hand, middle hand, and backhand. Each hand has a predetermined value if won, and there is a bonus attached to winning multiple hands. This game is most commonly played in a heads-up format but can also be seen with more players across online platforms like PokerStars.
Royalties are a large part of the game as players can get paid massive bounties for getting a straight flush or quads, a full house in their middle hand, or a three of a kind on their front hand. Naturals are also key to understanding as they act like royalties. Players receive naturals if they have three straights or flushes, six pairs, four three-of-a-kinds, three four-of-a-kinds, three straight flushes, or 13 unique cards.
Short deck poker is a game that is steadily becoming more popular among the crowd of Texas Hold’em players who are looking for more strategic action, or in other words, a challenge. It is also called 6+ poker. In this variation of the game, players play the betting rounds exactly the way they would if it were standard Texas Hold’em, but with one enormous difference in the deck. All 2s, 3s, 4s, and 5s are removed.
The hand rankings are the same as Texas Hold’em, with the exception of one flipped rank. In short deck, flushes beat full houses as the odds of making a flush are extremely low. If it takes five cards to make a flush, there are nine suited cards in a short deck, meaning a player needs 55% of the suit to make their hand. In a full deck, players only need 38% of the suit.
Expect this game to experience growth amongst card players in the near future.
Another close variation of Texas Hold’em, Pineapple, is played with three cards pre-flop instead of two. There is a more popular version of Pineapple now called Crazy Pineapple, where players are allowed to keep all three dealt cards to the flop.
In standard Pineapple, players receive their three cards but must discard one before any betting occurs. For example, if a player has A-A-5 as their cards, it would be beneficial to keep the two Aces for pocket Aces, the strongest starting hand in poker. If a player starts with something like 7-3-2, it could just be a pre-flop fold due to the lack of potential to make a strong hand.
In Crazy Pineapple, players are able to take their three cards with them to a flop after betting has taken place before the flop. If a player has A-K-Q, they have a very strong starting hand going to the flop as they are capable of making plenty of top pairs. On a Q-6-5 flop, players would then remove their K in all likelihood as they would then have top pair, top kicker.
Which US poker sites offer real money poker apps?
Looking at the legal online poker sites across the five active states, we have compiled a list of them that also offer an online poker mobile app. Mobile apps are important to online poker play as it gives players more flexibility to play on the go. Not all desktop-based platforms have a mobile app affiliate, unfortunately.
- BetMGM Poker