Best Online Poker Sites 2021: Your Pick
Choosing between the best online poker sites can seem daunting. Especially for someone new to this who may not know exactly which poker games they want to play. But honestly - the best online poker site is the one that's best for you.
Maybe it's something as simple as the way the software looks or which avatars you can pick. Maybe it's because of the tournament schedule with the biggest guarantees. Whatever your poker experience, our goal is to give you all the info you need to find that perfect poker room. Just go through our expert poker site reviews. Ultimately it may be best to choose more than only one poker site and play free online poker on. Just to see which one you enjoy more. Then, you can play most of your action there.
If you're from either the US or the UK you might want to check out the Best Online Poker Sites in your country below:
How All Online Poker Sites are Different
Poker is one of the rare games where you don’t necessarily want to play against the best all the time. Most people, in fact, would rather sit at a table with marginal players that like to gamble. Because if you find the right poker games with just the right wildcards, you can rake in some serious cash. Other online poker players are happy to punt around at the small stakes and relax after a stressful work day. Whatever your situation, there's an ideal place out there for you.
If you stick to one of the biggest poker sites, such as PokerStars, 888poker or partypoker, you'll definitely find cash games or tournaments that appeal to you. If you try out one of the smaller poker room skins on a bigger network, such as Tiger Gaming Poker, you'll find easy games and a smaller community. Not every poker room has thousands of players online at all hours of the day. And there are some distinct advantages to playing on a smaller poker site.
Some poker rooms have notoriously bad players and it’s worth putting up with the smaller fields. Smaller sites also tend to offer a better poker bonus or more lucrative loyalty rewards as you play more hands. It’s also worth remembering that certain poker rooms are known for particular games. For example, PokerStars is known as the best online poker tournament room - and the best site to play online poker mixed games. But there are arguably better cash-game sites. So if you want to try out new poker variations, like Short Deck Hold'em (6+ Hold'em) - and you can find it at GGPoker now too.
If you manage to find poker rooms with extremely bad players you probably want to stick around a bit. And probably keep it a secret. Soft competition is another factor we consider when reviewing online poker sites.
- Best Poker Sites for actual cash
- Best Bonus Offers 2021
- Top Poker Apps
- Mac Poker Sites
- Online Poker Deposit Options
European Poker Rooms Have it All
The multi-country PokerStars.eu and PokerStars.com poker rooms have the largest player pools and game selection by far. All running around the clock. They have a wide selection for different stakes and also have good selection for non-NLHE games, such as Omaha and Limit Hold’em. Other providers in Europe like 888poker, partypoker and Unibet Poker have very similar platforms and player pools they can draw from although have slightly less traffic/slightly worse software than PokerStars.
Both France and Spain used to have segregated player pools but recently signed an agreement to merge the two, making for much better cash-game and tournament pools. If you're playing online poker in the UK you'll need to create an account at a poker room that has been officially licensed by the UK Gaming Commission. All of the major bookmakers you're used to - William Hill, Ladbrokes Coral, Betfair etc. - have affiliated poker rooms although the best action is still at the major online poker sites above.
Most European poker rooms have very good volume for the most popular limits of NLHE, such as $1/$2, especially at peak hours. The farther you are from peak times the less volume there will be, especially at higher stakes.
Even in Europe, though, poker games other than No-Limit Hold'em have smaller volume. But you should still be able to find a PLO or mixed game most hours of the day. At the smaller poker rooms, most of your opponents are likely to be regulars so you can get a very good gauge on their abilities. And therefore, where your most likely profits lie.
As a general rule, poker rooms have a lot of fish at the lower stakes and tough players at the highest stakes. So watch your game selection closely. In the biggest weekly tournaments you'll find plenty of tough competition. However, at the lower stakes, you may be able to take advantage of bad play.
Meanwhile, if you’re looking for the best online poker sites for US players - sites like Global Poker - then visit the pages below:
- Pennsylvania Poker
- New Jersey Sites
- Michigan Poker Sites and Apps
- Nevada Poker Options
- Poker in Delaware
- West Virginia Online Poker
- Check Connecticut Poker Online
Great Poker Bonuses at European Poker Rooms
As virtually all poker rooms are licensed and regulated in Europe, competition for new players is extreme. This makes for very good new player bonuses. The total poker bonus deals offered on European poker rooms are definitely attractive. There are often deposit bonuses, reload bonuses, and points for cash. We must say poker rooms in the States tend to suffer from lower bonus deals. However, you can expect these to grow exponentially as the US market returns to full strength. Check the latest bonus codes here:
About Our Online Poker Reviews
Looking for online poker reviews is never an easy task, especially when there are hundreds of online poker sites out there. But randomly picking a site to play online poker on is like taking a shot in the dark. Our online poker reviews are here to help you choose wisely! Only the best online poker sites make our poker list and allow you to make the most of your deposit.
Our reviews rank sites based on software quality, security, sign-up bonuses, average skill level of competition, and more. Our top poker sites are also the best place to play No-Limit Hold’em and Pot-Limit Omaha. And sometimes, even more obscure games like Seven-Card Stud and 2-7 Lowball.
For over 17 years, PokerListings has worked with the best online poker rooms to provide the biggest sign-up bonuses. Check the poker room toplist for where each site ranks and read the full review for strengths and weaknesses. We’ve been doing this since this game exploded in the early 2000s and we’ve learned a thing or two along the way. So what are the best poker sites 2021? Read on and click the PLAY HERE link to get started with our exclusive sign-up bonuses and poker bonus codes!
At its very core PokerListings is a database of online poker reviews and poker site rankings. That’s how it’s been since the very beginning and our editors are all very experienced online poker players. Between us, we've logged thousands of hours on online poker sites like PokerStars, GGPoker, partypoker, and more. The objective of our top-rated poker room reviews is to give our visitors all the information necessary to make an informed decision about where to play poker. If you live in the US, find the best real-money online poker sites on this page.
Online Poker Sites: Deeper Reviews on Where to Play Poker
You’ve just seen our online poker rankings for the above sites. Let’s now dig deeper into our top four and what makes them really stand out.
GGPoker is one of the new poker sites to hit the scene, having been established in 2017. But already it’s made a big splash, having shot up to number 3 on online poker traffic rankings. Undoubtedly because it’s offering what is arguably some of the best online poker software around. Including over the top poker features like rabbit hunting, snap cam, and one of the first platforms to offer staking - the in-app online poker betting feature. The site is mainly aimed at recreational players to offer max enjoyment and takes measures to prevent HUD use.
The brand has established big-name ambassadors like Daniel Negreanu, Fedor Holz, ElkY, and Bryn Kenney. And further solidified its status as a world-class contender by partnering up with WSOP.com and hosting the very first 100% online WSOP series in 2020. This was monumental not only because it was open to countries worldwide who could play from home, without traveling to Vegas. But also because they offered the biggest guarantee of any online tournament ever - $25 Million. Which they smashed, offering over $27 Million in prizes and over $3 Million for first prize in the Main event.
GGPoker is the GGNetwork flagship brand which initially started as one of the largest in the Asian poker market. Now, the site is also open to European and Canadian players and ranks among the highest-traffic sites. Notably, the rake is a bit higher compared to many European competitors. However, the abundant promos, massive guarantees, consistent series events and weak competition all make up for that. As we said, this is not the place for professionals and grinders, but for pure enjoyment and thrills of wins.
PokerStars is the biggest poker room in the world - the online world at least. Poker traffic 2021 reports even indicate that it’s still the highest-traffic site, with almost 11,000 players online at peak hours. So you’re guaranteed to always find games running 24/7, from the micro-stakes right up to the highest levels. However, there’s also a play money poker cash game and tournament schedule if you’re just looking to practice a new format.
PokerStars is considered one the best online poker rooms in the business due to the many game formats the software provides. You can play mixed games, 8-game, Razz, all Stud variations - you name it. Combine that with the massive tournament schedule, and it's no surprise PokerStars has been the leader of all poker brands for years.
A true innovator in poker software, PokerStars has continuously grown its offerings. With variations like Zoom Poker and Jackpot Spin & Gos. Alongside a wide range of mixed games and new poker formats like Short Deck Hold'em. PokerStars is also one of the best poker sites for private games - both cash games and tournaments. You just set up your own club for poker home games and game format and invite members to play.
On top of all that, it’s the only place you can enter or qualify for their world-class live poker online tours. Namely the EPTs and PSCS events - for which you can now win a full all-expenses paid package.
- Get your signup bonus from our expert PokerStars review
- Play the best online poker New Jersey has at PokerStars NJ
partypoker is another one of the top poker brands that have gone the distance, having launched back in 2001. They dropped off for a while, especially after UIGEA, but ended up making a huge comeback. Thanks to a total live poker tour revamp spearheaded by EPT founder John Duthie and voiced by the late Mixe Sexton. The software has also been revitalized with tons of new features, like rabbit hunting and hot hands. And pumped up by strong ambassadors like Ike Hexton, Sam Trickett, Mikita, Jason Koon, Kristen Bicknell and Kevin Hart.
While PokerStars may have been the "grinder's favorite" place for much of the past decade. But that mantle has started to shift over to partypoker more and more because of their awesome loyalty rakeback program. Plus, the various satellites into huge events like their flagship MILLIONS and annual Powerfest. Always drawing in both the amateur and the best online poker players into the poker room by the thousands. It’s really anyone’s shot at the giant prize pools.
You’ll find all your standard cash games, tournaments, and Fast Forward Poker (fast-fold poker) and even Shortdeck. They also have sit & go tournaments and their own SPINS variant (S&Gs with a jackpot). These are perfect for playing wherever and whenever on their highly-rated mobile app. Along with any other game, because the mobile experience is also excellent.
- Find out more in our expert review of partypoker
Alternatively, play some of the best online poker New Jersey has to offer, in partnership with the Borgata:
4. 888 Poker Site
Since its launch in 1997, 888poker has become one of the best and most trusted poker sites in the industry. Their increasingly improved software is available on any mobile device too. Over 10 million registered players have taken advantage of their main attraction: the mega 888poker sign-up bonus. Including a $88 FREE bonus - no deposit required - which you will not find elsewhere.
With players joining constantly, there’s a steady traffic flow at all games and stakes. Texas Hold’em, Omaha and 7 Card Stud are the main game options. And tournaments, cash games and sit and go’s are all available 24/7 to players around the world. 888poker even has its own version of the ultra-popular fast-fold poker variant called SNAP poker. Here a player folds, they are immediately re-seated at a new table with a fresh hand. If you like to play from your phone or on a short work break, Fast-Fold Poker is the best way to get lots of hands in - fast.
For many amateurs, play-money poker games are also a good option for getting started. But you'll quickly find that it plays a lot more like a crapshoot. The real-money games are where you can find an edge with proper poker strategy and win real cash prizes. 888 Poker ensures player safety and security and is verified by McAfee, GameCare, ICRA and multiple gaming commissions across dozens of jurisdictions. Online deposits and withdrawals run 24/7 with a fast and easy quick deposit payment method. Likewise, for cashing out winnings and money transfer, everything is made easy by just clicking on the cashier tab where the withdrawal and money transfer options are found.
- Find out more in our expert review of 888 Poker
Is Playing Poker on these Sites Legal?
PokerListings.com is an international brand and we’re always tracking the legality of online poker in various countries around the globe. Of course laws are always changing and we frequently update our poker list to reflect that. Skip to our online poker reviews.
Why Care About the Best Online Poker Software?
Simple - because this has a huge effect on the overall user experience. Many poker rooms share common software platforms for which we detail the pros and cons. Playing on a poker site with buggy, unappealing software is something no player should suffer. Some software is simply sluggish and bloated while others are lightweight and lightning-fast.
It also depends what kind of player you are because certain software is much better for tournaments while other software excels in running cash games. There are some features that can only be found at certain sites. Like rabbit hunting and staking on the GGNetwork sites: GGPoker and Natural8. But others have become standard, like four-colored decks.
There are also questions about compatibility because some sites only run on Windows computers and not Apple devices. We take all of these factors into account when we are reviewing the best poker software.
How Does Traffic Affect Poker Rooms?
It goes without saying that player traffic is very important. You want someone to play against right? There are sites where there are games going 24/7 and then there are sites where you may have to wait an hour. Player volume dictates how fast you’ll be able to find a game.
Keep in mind that some sites offer more tournaments while others are focused on cash games. It’s also worth noting that even if less popular poker games like Seven-Card Stud and Draw are on offer, there may not be enough volume for those games. When we review a site, we take into account the traffic in every game of that site.
You should also remember that some sites hit peak traffic during European hours while others are more focused on North American or Asian time zones. Also some sites get almost all their traffic in micro to small stakes while others offer legitimate high-stakes volume.
Our Poker Site Reviews Consider Opponent Skill
This isn’t something that every new player immediately thinks about. But when it comes to poker, most players would rather play against bad players because making money is fun. The average skill level varies considerably from site to site and we try to guide our players to softer sites. Or at least let them know where they’ll find the tougher competition.
It can be tough to quantify which sites have the “worst” players. But we take into account the average amount of cash contributed to a pot preflop to help find loose players. Sometimes you’ll find the softest sites are the lesser-known ones. So we’re always hunting the next hidden gem. Never discount player skill when it comes to signing up for a new poker site.
The Various Games Online Poker Sites Offer
Some sites like Pokerstars are vastly superior when it comes to their selection of games. Offering even more obscure games like 2-7 Lowball, Razz, Badugi and Five-Card Draw. However, many sites tend to offer just the most popular poker games, namely No-Limit Texas Hold’em and Pot-Limit Omaha. But even if you’re the most steadfast Hold’em purist, we recommend trying your hand at games like Seven-Card Stud and variants like Shortdeck. You may find an edge in those games, considering everyone is still trying to figure out the best strategy.
Even beyond all the traditional games there are sites that offer poker variants they invented. These can be a welcome change of pace to standard Texas Hold’em poker online and you won’t find them anywhere else. For a full rundown of the rules for most poker variations, visit our extensive poker rules page.
Bonuses and Promos Can Help You Choose
The poker industry has become highly competitive in 2021. So to attract new players, online poker sites often host free tournaments - freerolls, or offer bonus cash after a deposit. This free play is a solid way to build a bankroll. So you may want to play attention to the various bonuses and promotions on each poker site. PokerListings consistently secures the best poker sign-up bonuses around.
One of the most popular online poker site promotions is the deposit match. Basically, the site matches whatever you deposit - provided you play enough hands on the site. Some of the top deposit matches go up to 200% and will match up to a staggering $2,000.
You may also be surprised to learn that some of the best deals are located on smaller sites. This is because they need to do more aggressive markets to attract players. Some players base their entire game on finding the best bonuses and running up a bankroll from there. At PokerListings we save you time by compiling a comprehensive list of the various online poker sites and the sign-up bonuses they offer.
Why Do We Review Poker Sites?
We think that you should never play on a site you don’t trust. You absolutely have to feel safe on the poker site you chose to play at. So PokerListings first ticks off a deep security analysis before laying out the poker site’s pros and cons. It helps that we communicate regularly with online poker sites to get a good idea of what’s going on behind the scenes.
Equally important to software security is having solid customer support options in case something should go awry and you need to talk to someone. Most top-tier online poker sites now have instant chat options to speak with a customer support agent live immediately. When reviewing online poker sites we carefully take into account the security of the client. As well as the support options and their quality.
Online Poker Rooms FAQ
What is the best online poker site?In general, the biggest online poker sites are the safest choice. However, the best online poker site for you may depend on a number of factors. We rank GGPoker, PokerStars, 888poker and partypoker at the top of our lists. However, check our fully-comprehensive online poker room reviews on this page for full details and comparisons on experience.
Is it legal to play online poker in the US?Yes, online poker is officially legal in Nevada, New Jersey, Delaware, Pennsylvania, Michigan, West Virginia, and Connecticut. However, only the first four states have legal online poker rooms available.
In New Jersey, you can play on the following using our exclusive bonus codes:
- PokerStars NJ
- partypoker NJ
- 888poker NJ
In Nevada and Delaware, you can play using our exclusive bonus codes on 888poker and WSOP.
In Pennsylvania and Michigan, you can play using our exclusive bonus codes on:
- PokerStars PA & MI
West Virginia and Connecticut online poker rooms are coming soon.
In unlicensed states, we recommend you play on Global Poker using Sweepstakes coins. These can be redeemed in cash. This helps you avoid all the unlicensed and hence unsafe poker sites that operate in the US and other grey jurisdictions.
USA Poker Laws
The confusion about online poker /gambling legality in The States stems from the passing of the Unlawful Internet Gambling Enforcement Act (UIGEA) bill in 2006. This makes it illegal for banks to process online transactions in the States for fear of money laundering. So in 2011, the US Department of Justice shut down the sites still operating in the US.
How Do I Know if the Best Poker Sites are Secure?You need to ensure you’re playing on the safest online poker site before you put cash in. Fortunately, the best online poker sites are monitored by official governments and endure countless audits by external organizations. Online poker sites have random number generators and encryption processes analyzed. Along with whether player funds are segregated, ensuring you can withdraw your cash at any time.
All our online poker reviews verify certification from an authorized online gaming regulatory body. If you're playing poker online from mainland Europe, Canada, Mexico, Asia or the UK, the list of regulated poker rooms is long. But if you live in the US, your choices are somewhat limited. Read about licensed and regulated online poker sites here: Best US Poker Sites.
How Do I Deposit When in Poker Rooms Online?Legit online poker sites function like any other business, so you can just pull out a Visa / Mastercard. Punch your numbers in and money will arrive in your account instantaneously. E-wallets, cards and even Bitcoin are common Deposit Options. In legal US states like New Jersey, you can even reload viaPayPal or stop at a local 7-Eleven.
In other states, poker rooms fall into a bit of a grey area, so pay attention to the deposit options offered. Playing on poker sites in the USA is not illegal, but playing on unlicensed sites is risky. Because you can’t guarantee your deposits or gameplay is monitored for fairness and security. For more information of the top rated online poker sites for US players, check out: Best Online Poker Sites USA.
What are the Differences Between US and European Poker Rooms?Only a few US states currently offer active poker games online: New Jersey, Nevada, Delaware, Michigan, and Pennsylvania. Meanwhile, Connecticut and West Virginia may also offer poker as long as they also have a full-scale casino, which may also include online casino poker.
Players in Nevada, New Jersey and Delaware have entered a player-sharing agreement. So at least the player pools are reasonably active with all three states playing against each other.
So far, the WSOP/888 is the only network operational in more than one state. Otherwise the state with the best options is New Jersey. And you’ll find the best online poker New Jersey has to offer at partypoker NJ (partnering with Borgata), WSOP NJ / 888poker NJ (partnering with Caesers) and PokerStars NJ. To play at any of the best poker sites for US players, you must be a resident of any of those four states. Or at least be a visitor within the state borders.
For more information, check our US poker page.
How Do I Get My Poker Bonus?The best poker sites have a great deal of traffic and will make an effort to get new players into their games. That means all the best poker sites give you a poker bonus for opening a new account and making a deposit. Most commonly a 100% match deposit bonus. So if you deposit $50, you get another $50 in free bonus money. You’ll likely need to play a few hands to unlock the full bonus.
However, there are sites that offer smaller, but immediate bonuses, which better suits casual players. Poker rooms, like 888poker, also offer a free bonus - no deposit required. Just register, play and build a bankroll. Most poker rooms will also give you benefits on top like tickets into free poker tournaments where you can win actual cash. We suggest comparing the best poker sites in our reviews before deciding on the bonus for you.
Which Poker Rooms Have the Best Software?This has improved immensely over the last decade so no reason to waste time playing in a slow, boring, poker room online. Even the lesser-known online poker sites are up to par. So it’s great to find those that go the extra mile in terms of features for online poker players. Like multi-tabling, quick seating, rabbit hunting, multicurrency, stacks in big blinds, snap cam, straddles, bad beat jackpots, and all-in insurance.
The best online poker software is fast, easy and flawless on any device. PokerStars used to beat all poker rooms, but GGPoker is now a contender. Meanwhile, 888poker is consistent and partypoker relaunched a dramatically-improved software that closed the gap further. Another distinguishing factor among poker rooms is their Poker Apps and Mac Only Poker Sites. Our advice? Play the free online poker games) to get a feel first.
Can you make money playing online poker?Yes, but it’s not guaranteed. Online poker is all about making the right moves at the right time. If luck is on your side and you consistently make the right decisions, it’s possible to make money playing poker. Indeed, the world’s top poker pros prove it's possible. Just remember that it’s not always easy.
Is online poker legal in Australia?The 2017 Interactive Gambling Amendment Bill made it illegal for companies to offer online poker and gaming in Australia. A lot of operators, including Partypoker and PokerStars, exited the market after this bill was passed. However, there is nothing in the law that says players will get in trouble for using offshore sites. It’s the poker operators that face legal action. Having said that, it might not be a good idea to play online poker if you live in Australia.
Is online poker actually rigged?No, all legit online poker sites use random number generators (RNGs) that are tested and certified as fair by third-party companies. Even if you don’t believe this, ask yourself this: who are the games rigged for? The house doesn’t play. It’s you vs. another human, so it makes no sense for a poker site to rig its games.
Is online poker banned in the US?No, it’s not. Although there is a federal law that makes it illegal for poker sites to process payments from US residents, the game itself hasn’t been outlawed. Moreover, States’ Rights to precedence in the US. Therefore, states can enact their own poker laws. That means online poker is legal in various states, including New Jersey, Nevada, and Pennsylvania.
Is poker skill or luck?Poker is part skill, part luck. The more correct moves you make, the better your chances of making money are. However, even if you make the right bet at the right time, nothing is ever 100% guaranteed in poker. Therefore, there’s always some luck involved.
Can you make real money on PokerStars?Yes. PokerStars has free-play games as well as real-money tables. That means you can make a deposit, buy into a game and win some cash.
Where do I play online poker with friends?A lot of sites allow you to set up private games and play poker with friends. Some sites to check out if you want to play online home games are PokerStars, 888Poker and partypoker.
Are online poker winnings taxed?It depends on where you live. Online poker winnings aren’t taxed in the UK but they are in other countries such as the US and Norway. Make sure you check your local tax laws before you ante up.