Here is a list of the legal poker sites for the US players. Download apps, sign up to play online and enjoy nice bonus offers and promotions. 

#
Website
Bonus
Rating
Sign Up
1
WSOP Poker
100% Bonus up to $600
4.8 rating
See Full Review
2
Americas Cardroom
100% Bonus up to $1000
4.9 rating
See Full Review
3
Ignition Poker
100% Bonus up to $1000
4.9 rating
See Full Review
4
888Poker
100% Welcome Bonus up to $1500
4.8 rating
See Full Review

Poker has always been a favorite game in the US and in addition to being able to play at land-based casinos and poker rooms, there are some options when it comes to legal online poker rooms as well. When it comes to the legality of online poker, state, federal, and international laws all play a role. The game has been played in the US since the 1800s but the only version of the game is only about 20 years young. It all stated at PlanetPoker, a site that launched in 1998. 

The foundation of online poker was laid in the late 1990s with an explosion of online gambling sites entering the market. PlanetPoker broke onto the scene and was immediately successful. With an initial rake at 5%, the site set the industry standards. Unfortunately, Planet Poker fell prey to the enactment of UIGEA and stopped taking real money bets in 2007.

Today, individual states have the ability to set their own laws regarding online poker access and poker rooms. While not many states offer operating poker rooms at this time, you can expect many to emerge in the coming years and more and more states are looking to legalize online gambling as a source of revenue and to prevent players from spending their money at off-shore gambling sites.

Understanding the Effects of UIGEA

In 2006, Congress passed the UIGEA and it was then signed into law by President Bush as part of the Port Security Bill. The law actually had no impact on the legalization of online gambling or accessing online poker rooms like may believe. Instead, it made it illegal for sites to offer online gambling services to US residents. When the bill was passed, many offshore gambling sites faced possible federal prosecution if they offered their services those residing in the US. In addition. Any banks that processed transactions to such sites would also be prosecuted.

It did not become illegal for individual players to access online poker sites and engage in real money play. However, it did make it almost impossible to find payment methods that could be used at these sites. US players were not able to use credit or debit cards, were restricted from some ewallet services, and did not have the option to use bank transfers. Basically, the only way left to fund an account at an online poker room was through the use of a prepaid card. While players could deposit funds, they faced many problems when trying to withdraw winnings, all due to UIGEA.

After the passage of UIGEA, a lot of lobbying began in efforts to bring down the law. The Poker Players Alliance was an active protester of the law and they lobbied in Washington and conducted many fundraisers to increase public awareness. This Alliance still is active with millions of members.

Black Friday in Poker

Even after the passage of UIGEA, online poker rooms remained active and players from the US found ways to create and manage their online accounts. Everything changed in the world of online poker on April 15, 2011. This day, known as Black Friday, was the day that the US Department of Justice unsealed an indictment against the executives of Full Tilt Poker, Absolute Poker, and PokerStars. A civil complaint was also filed against these companies. Those named faced many years in prison and the civil complaint went after $3 billion in assets from mentioned sites. As a result, Full Tilt Poker and PokerStars immediately ceased offering poker games online to US players and Absolute Poker soon followed suit.

Not only were these poker room sites charged with being in violation of the UIGEA, but they also had charges of money laundering, fraud, and illegal gambling thrown at them. That same morning, two individuals named in the indictment were arrested and the remaining 8 defendants were currently outside of the US. 

Any player that then visited these sites was greeted with a seizure notice from the DOJ and FBI. It only took until that afternoon for PokerStars to block US players from accessing any real money poker games online. Full Tilt and PokerStars did continue to offer their services to players from other locations. A little over a week following Black Friday, US players were able to start to withdraw their balances from accounts. 

While Black Friday completely shut out US players from leading poker sites, it also resulted in the loss of the license for Full Tilt Poker, which was issued by the Alderney Gaming Control Commission. A lawsuit was filed by players demanding their funds.

Online Poker Returns to the US

Even after Black Friday, Full Tilt Poker and PokerStars continue to operate, focusing their services on players from other countries. This changed in 2013 when online poker returned to the US in a regulated form. Many companies had obtained licensed in the state of Nevada to be able to offer online poker rooms, with one of them being Ultimate Poker. This was the first site to launch online, opening on April 30. Just after that, WSOP.com entered the industry in September and remains one of the leading online poker sites in the entire country.

After Nevada started to offer regulated online poker, New Jersey and Delaware were the next two states to follow suit. At the end of 2013, online gambling was active in the state of New Jersey and Ultimate Poker and WSOP.com were among those sites that were active. Unfortunately, Ultimate Poker would shut down in 2014 and later left the state of Nevada as well. In 2016, PokerStars NJ launches, bringing online poker to the state. 

For a few years now, online poker rooms have been legally operating in a few US states and many others are looking at creating laws that would allow for the operating of such sites. As mentioned, Nevada, Delaware, and New Jersey were the first to offer an online poker room that provided real money games. Players from these states are also allowed to play against each other and multi-state poker is one of the top choices for gamblers from these locations. 

In 2019, Pennsylvania became the fourth state to introduce laws that would allow online poker and casino games, though, at this time, there are no poker rooms that are up and running. The most recent addition to the list of states offering legal online poker is West Virginia. An online gambling bill was signed into law on March 27, 2019.

If you are residing in New Jersey, you will find four poker networks being offered and you will find some amazing cash games and tournaments being offered. The sites that are currently available include WSOP NJ, PartyPoker NJ, PokerStars NJ, and Pala Poker. For those of you from Nevada, you will find that the online poker industry is dominated by WSOP NV and in Delaware, there only one poker site operating and that is 888 Poker.

While online poker has been legalized in PA and WV, you will not find any sites that are active yet. They are expected to be launched late in 2019 or early 2020, so be sure to watch for updates so you can discover the great thrills of online poker action in these two states.

When it comes to playing legal poker online in the United States, WSOP is your best option. This site is available to players in New Jersey and Nevada and it is the official site of the World Series of Poker. It is also known to offer some of the largest prize pools of all operating poker sites, so you can be sure you will be playing for some amazing rewards. Not only can you win cash when playing at WSOP, but you can also earn actual seats at World Series of Poker events that are played throughout the year.

Since 2013, this site has been operating and offers access to some of the best poker tournaments being played online. One of the great benefits of playing at this site is that there is a multi-state player sharing agreement between Delaware, Nevada, and New Jersey. This means that poker sites that operate in any of these states will be able to share player pools.

When you create an account at WSOP, you will benefit from a great 100% match bonus that will be applied to your initial deposit. This can boost your account balance by as much as $1000 in free cash. You will also receive 7 gold tickets to WSOP Gold Bracelet freeroll events that are hosted at the site. As a final part of the welcome package, you will enjoy a $5 Black Poker tournament entry for your chance to win payouts as high as 10,000x your buy-in amount.

When you become a member of this recommended legal poker site, you will be able to play a variety of cash poker games and tournaments. There is the popular offering of Texas Hold’em as well as other games like Omaha, Omaha Hi/Lo, Stud games and more. If you are looking for endless Texas Hold’em action this is the place to be as there are tables that have no limit cash games as well as multi-table tournaments.

The highlight of playing at WSOP is the offering of tournaments. One of the largest poker tournaments available anywhere online is played here, ich is the weekly Sunday $100K Guarantee event. You will also be able to engage in online events that are part of the World Series of Poker tour. With tournaments offering small and large buy-in amounts as well as daily freeroll events, all of your poker tournament needs will be met at this top-rated online site.

Types of Online Poker Games

Depending on what site you choose to access, you will find a great offering of poker variations and special events that can generate some amazing payouts. Each site will have different games as well as being limits, so you will want to check these out before you make any final decisions on where to play. You will find that most sites will support all of the popular poker games, which can include:

  • Draw Poker
  • Stud Poker
  • Omaha Poker
  • Texas Hold’em
  • Casino Hold’em
  • Three Card Poker
  • Caribbean Stud

There are also other great poker games that can legally be played online for real money wagers and payouts. HORSE is one form of poker that has become quite popular with players and this is a multi-game form of poker that takes aspects of five different games and puts them into one variation. HORSE has been added to the World Series of Poker Tournament and continues to be a popular choice for real money players.

You will also find some sites offering RAZZ poker, which is a form of seven-card stud. With this game, the lowest hand will win. Seven cards are dealt to each player, but only five are used to create the lowest hand. Since 1971, this game has been an event at the World Serie of Poker and it is one of the preferred stud games featured at online poker rooms.

Despite a rough and rocky road, online poker rooms are legal in the US and you will find some outstanding sites that will meet all of your needs. While only three states are offering their own rooms, you can enjoy the action of the best games and the highest possible payouts. If you do not reside in a state where an online poker room is licensed and operating, you still have the option of accessing off-shore poker sites where you can play the same games for real money.

As more and more states alter gambling laws to allow online poker you will see many more sites becoming available in the coming months. These will all offer secure access, great bonuses, tournament action, and will also offer the chance to engage in poker games using your mobile devices, all in a safe environment regulated by local gambling laws.