Online Poker in USA for Real Money
The laws for real-money online poker in the USA are still in flux but at this point just three states offer games for poker-starved Americans. If you're accessing this page in one of those States - Nevada, Delaware or New Jersey - you'll see the full list of legal, regulated US online poker sites available to you below.
As with all our online poker site reviews we meticulously test each site and rank them based on software, security, playability, bonuses, tournaments, traffic and overall skill level of opponents.
All of the sites listed are fully licensed and legal in the USA and operated by official providers vetted by State gaming organizations. Your money is 100% safe and protected.
If you reside in a State outside of those three, however, unfortunately we can only provide you with our #1 play-money poker option, Appeak Poker. Legislation is progressing though and several states - including Pennsylvania, California, Massachusetts, West Virginia, Michigan and New York - have moved closer to legalized online poker over the past few years.
Legal online poker will launch in Pennsylvania in July 2019 and with 13 million residents will be the largest online poker market in the country
As of May 1, 2018, all legalized states also signed a pact to share player traffic, which is a huge step in re-uniting the US online poker market, although currently the status of a shared player pool is under review.
When more States have officially regulated online poker you'll see all sites available to residents and visitors listed below. A fully licensed national network for online poker in the USA will happen eventually so keep your hopes up! And write your local representative to express your interest in fully regulated US online poker!
To be eligible for our exclusive bonuses and freerolls at any poker site simply click "Play Now" on a site's review page (listed below) to create a new account!
Online Poker in USA for Real Money
|Rank||Poker Site||Rating||Best Sign-Up Bonus||Why?||Play Now|
|1.||7.7||Regular: Flat $500||
||Play Now Free Download|
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US online poker players are perhaps the most dedicated and ambitious in the world but due to confusing legislation over the last 5 or 10 years there are hundreds of thousands of online poker players in the USA who still can't play poker online within US borders.
if you're one of those dedicated American players looking to play real-money poker online, there are a number of factors that affect your right to do so including the Unlawful Internet Gambling Enforcement Act (UIGEA), individual State law and the ins and outs of playing poker on U.S. online poker sites.
We'll try to break it all down for you below in our guide to playing online poker in the USA.
Is it Legal to Play Real Money Online Poker in the U.S.A.?
Yes. The confusion stems from the passing of the Unlawful Internet Gambling Enforcement Act (UIGEA) bill in 2006 as part of an unrelated port securities bill.
What that did was make it ostensibly "illegal" for banks to process transactions for online poker sites doing business in the USA for fear of money laundering.
Because legal interpretations of the UIGEA were somewhat split at the time a few poker sites (PokerStars, Full Tilt Poker, Absolute Poker) decided to remain offering online poker to the US while several major poker sites (partypoker, Betfair, 888poker) left the U.S. market.
That all came back to roost in 2011 when the US Department of Justice shut down the poker sites who remained in the US and seized all player funds (now since returned to all players, however).
Since then the US online poker market has slowly rebounded with state-by-state legislation finally allowing US poker players to return to playing online poker. More and more progress is made each year but as of the end of 2017, just three States offer officially licensed and regulated online poker - Nevada, New Jersey and Delaware.
A fourth - Pennsylvania - has now joined in passing legislation to legalize online poker and will join the online poker ranks in July 2019. West Virginia has also now passed the required legislation and will launch shortly after Pennsylvania.
If you are a resident or visitor physically within the boundaries of those States - and of course you're over the legal age - you are legally entitled to play online poker in the USA on any poker site licensed and sanctioned by State Gaming Authorities.
If you are located outside of those state boundaries and considering playing on an unsanctioned poker site, know that you are treading into questionable territory with regards to Federal law.
What is the UIGEA?
The UIGEA was signed into law by President Bush in mid-October, 2006, and makes it illegal for banks to process transactions from unlicensed online gambling sites. The law does not make the player liable in any way, but makes the bank liable for accepting funds or wagers associated with Internet gambling.
As an online poker player located in the United States you are not violating the UIGEA or any other federal law when you play online poker. But you may be violating state or tribal law depending on the laws of the state or Native American Reservation where you are located if you choose to play poker on an unsanctioned online poker site.
It is the player's responsibility to determine the legality of playing Internet poker under the law where he is located.
When the UIGEA was passed in 2006 there were a number of online poker sites that pulled out of the market due to the unclear legality of online poker in U.S. PartyPoker and 888 Poker were among the biggest sites to leave the USA in 2006. It's worth noting that most of the companies that left were publicly traded.
Meanwhile, prominent online poker sites like PokerStars and Full Tilt that are privately owned and don't offer other forms of online gambling continued to offer online poker to American players. A 2011 effort to enforce the UIGEA resulted in the closure of PokerStars, Full Tilt and Absolute Poker to US players, but several sites do remain open and PokerStars has returned to the US poker market in New Jersey.
How Do I Deposit Money on US Poker Sites?
Check out our Online Poker Deposit Options guide for more information, but in a nutshell there are a variety of ways to get money on to US poker sites.
Depositing money onto legal, state-sanctioned U.S. poker sites is just like another other online transaction with major credit cards, debit cards, bank transfers and third-party online payment processors like PayPal and Neteller all available.
As each US online poker partner also has a land-based casino partner you can even deposit money physically in person at the cashier cage of any partner casino in the state.
Each individual US online poker site has several different methods for deposits and withdrawals, so be sure to check out the options on the site's payments page before you put cash on a site.
Some poker operators that accept US players even accept Bitcoin if you prefer to put your faith in cryptocurrency, although fluctuating value can always be an issue.
Will Online Poker Ever Be Fully Licensed and Regulated Across the US?
It looks that way, although no one knows exactly when it will happen. There have been numerous bills over the last few years that if passed would allow for regulated, legalized and taxed online poker.
Organizations like the Poker Players Alliance and the newly former FairPlayUSA continue to lobby hard for fully legal online poker. There has been some positive work done on a state-level but thus far USA-wide fully-licensed online poker has eluded fans of the game.
New York, California and Massachusetts are a few of the states on the verge of offering legal, licensed online poker in the coming months and Pennsylvania and West Virginia have already passed legislation that will see online poker live in 2019.
Can I Play Real-Money Online Poker on Unlicensed US Poker Sites?
The answer to that one is, well, yes and no. There are still a few "rogue," unlicensed (in the US, that is) online poker sites that allow US online poker customers to sign up and play poker online against other American players.
Needless to say, there is a TON of risk that comes with doing that. With no government or business oversight they can (and often do) go out of business, taking player funds with them.
Games are not monitored for fairness, better business practices are not enforced and you are not guaranteed you will get your money either on or off the site properly. Terms and conditions can change on a whim and you get no assurances any of your wins will be paid out.
We recommend against playing on any unlicensed and unregulated poker sites still offering online poker to US customers.
Can I Play Real-Money Online Poker Outside of Licensed States?
Another question most frequently asked by eager online poker players in the US that don't live in one of the licensed state is "can I still play on a licensed poker site from my own state via VPN?"
The answer to that is a clear "no." You are welcome to create a poker account at one of the poker sites offering poker in a licensed state but you may only use your account if your are physically within the borders of that state.
For people who live close to a licensed state this is often a very viable option. For poker players who live in New York, for example, they can often pop over to New Jersey to play for a weekend or play when visiting Atlantic City.
The same holds true for players in California who visit Las Vegas (or anywhere in Nevada).
For poker players who don't live close to a licensed state the temptation to try using a VPN to play on either a licensed US poker site or an internationally licensed poker site (eg. PokerStars, 888poker etc) can be strong but we assure you it's not worth it to try from the United States.
Poker site security is very good at detecting players using a VPN and if caught your account will be immediately shut down and all funds confiscated. You can still play on many international poker sites when you travel but from within US borders it is not worth your while to try game the system.
Can I Play on PokerStars in the USA?
Yes! As of 2016 PokerStars has been officially licensed to offer online poker in New Jersey along with its land-based casino partner, Resorts Casino & Hotel.
It reached a full settlement with the US Department of Justice re. the events of Black Friday and has entered into agreements in other US states (eg. California) to again offer online poker in the USA when proper state legislation is passed.
If you live in or are visiting the state of New Jersey (and are of legal age) you are welcome to create an account at PokerStars NJ and play online poker for real money. You are under no obligation to play for real money, of course, as you can also access all of PokerStars' play-money games as well.
Depositing money on PokerStars in also a snap in New Jersey. For more information on playing on PokerStars in the USA, check our PokerStars NJ review here. PokerStars is also expected to be offered in Pennsylvania starting in the summer of 2019.
Can I Play Free Online Poker in the USA?
Absolutely. If you're not playing for real money or trying to make a deposit on a poker site not licensed in the USA, you can play free poker online at virtually every poker site.
All you need to do is either play the in-browser free play version or download the software (for all of the full features) and stick to the play-money tables. Learn more about free online poker right here: