Guide to Playing Online Poker in the US

In the past few years, online poker has taken a hit in popularity. The luster of hitting pay dirt has faded from the eyes of most casual American players since the feds came and took the legs out from under the major poker sites. However, there has been some recent resurgence with a couple of states legalizing online poker for real money.

Nevada, New Jersey and Delaware have regulated and legalized online poker, but the problem that these states are facing is a lack of players in the state with relatively low populations to support a online poker room outside of peak operating hours of the evenings and weekends. There has been a little bit of movement in legislation with larger states such as New York and California, but there can be nothing but speculation until actual legislation gets passed.

If California and New York passed legislation, it would do three things. First, online poker would start to become mainstream again and people would start to get interested again. Secondly, you would start to hear some real talk about combining the various states’ players into a larger pool of players that would ultimately work for trying to create one or more viable online poker rooms. Finally, you would start to see other states that are on the fence about the issue begin to create their own legislation as a snowball effect begins.

The other problem that currently faces the current online poker rooms regulated in theses states is that they cannot co-mingle with the poker players from other countries. This is been a large part of what has driven online poker from the very beginning. The fact that I could get onto to PokerStars at 9:00 AM or Noon or Midnight and not have a problem finding other players playing at ring games or tournaments was a driving force in the popularity.

Playing Real Money Online Poker in the US

If you live in one of the three states that have already legalized online poker, it’s as simple as going to one of the sites that are regulated by your state, signing up, making a deposit, and getting started. If you live in Nevada, you can try Ultimate Poker. If you live in New Jersey, you can try 888 Poker or Borgata Poker. If you live in Delaware, you can try Delaware Park.

What are the best us online poker sites if you don’t live in one of these three states?

First of all, you should check the laws in your state or jurisdiction. There are certain states, such as Alabama, Florida, Hawaii, Oregon, South Carolina, Tennessee, Utah and Washington, where you shouldn’t play for real money. This is because there are current laws on the books that makes real money betting online a crime. If you don’t live in one of those states, there may still be a chance that there is laws that prohibit real money online poker, but there is a very small likelihood that anyone will be prosecuted for such an offense.

That being said, there are still a few poker websites which allow Americans to play online poker for real money. Sites like PokerStars, Full Tilt Poker and many others will allow you to sign up and play in the Free Poker or Play Poker sections of their websites. But, sites like Bovada Poker and the Merge Poker Network rooms such as Carbon, Aced, PDC, and PlayAces are still accepting real money players from the US.


Both Bovada Poker, which is a standalone poker room, and the Merge Poker Network, which consists of players from about 40 different poker rooms (or skins), have about the same amount of players. Bovada is the most popular site, with about 10,000 players at real money tables during peak hours. Carbon Poker and Aced Poker are the most popular Merge Poker skins, but the combined player pool for all skins is about the same as Bovada.

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