While online poker is not a new phenomenon, there are still changes going on in the industry which players should be aware of. After the ‘Boom years’ leading up to 2006 (when poker was enjoyed by recreational / amateur players around the world), people started to take the game more seriously. A new generation of pro ‘grinders’ was created, with training videos, books and websites all helping them to get an edge in the games.
For a while, this squeezed the recreational players out of the game – though fortunately in recent years more and more sites are switching things around to get a better balance between the pro and amateur crowds.
This page will show you the different poker site options available to both US and non-US players so that you can choose the site which best suits your location, experience level and needs.
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Poker Sites for US Players
After the UIGEA of 2006, the larger poker sites which were publicly owned companies were forced to leave the US. While there is no law preventing individual players enjoying the real money poker tables – financial transactions between US banks and the sites were targeted. Those sites which still offer games to US players are now based offshore. Countries like Antigua and Barbuda dispute the restrictions placed by the US via global free trade agreements.
Depositing and withdrawing from these sites requires some creativity. Money Transfer services (using major brands like Western Union) works well, as do credit card payments where cards are approved to work internationally. Some more options include pre-paid Visa cards, money orders or even Bitcoin. Withdrawals usually involve a check (which banks will honor). Players should be aware that some sites will charge a processing fee for sending these and many have minimum amounts for withdrawals which are on the high side for small stakes players.
There are some great poker brands based offshore, with the biggest of these Bovada – which used to be branded as Bodog. You will find several Sports Betting brands which also include a real money poker site and casino too – examples include BetOnline Poker and Sports Betting Poker.
Below are summaries of some top rated US friendly poker sites, you will find a detailed review of each one by clicking the link below.
Bovada: By far the biggest of the US friendly poker rooms, Bovada restrict multi-tabling grinders and host anonymous games – contributing factors in keeping their games very soft. Add a generous welcome bonus (100% to $1000) and long list of promotions and you’ll see how Bovada got to be number 1. See our Bovada Poker Review for more details.
BetOnline: This site is part of a group of brands which pool together their poker players onto a common back end on the Chico Poker Network. Cash games are popular here, with a tournament schedule slowly getting bigger. For more see our BetOnline Poker Review.
Poker Sites for Non-US Players
Most of the bigger poker sites are licensed and operated from Europe. Some of these sites are the home of so many pro-grinders (and experienced players who may be slight winners or only small losers) that you need to be careful to choose games where you have an edge. Two sites which we cover in detail here at CasinoGamingStrategy.org are far more recreational in nature, attracting many first time and amateur players:
Titan Poker: This is one of the larger sites on the iPoker Network. Players on this network mainly come from the big UK based sports betting brands. These brands pool together their players on a common software platform (which is created by PlayTech). Players from all the brands see the game games and tournaments, though the promotions might be different at each site and branding / colors will be distinctive. The regular sports betting traffic keeps the games easy. iPoker spread their games in Euros, rather than the more common Dollars. See our Titan Poker Review for more.
888 Poker: A big success story over recent years is the rise of 888 Poker from a mid-table player to the 2nd largest poker site worldwide. This is due to a combination of factors including great software (which is fully mobile compatible), generous promotions and a focus on rewards for recreational players rather than rewarding high volume play from grinders. While there are some ‘regulars’, you’ll really notice the difference in expertize at the tables. Find out more in our 888 Poker Review.
Device Compatibility of Online Poker Sites
The main method of accessing online poker sites is to download software onto your computer. Most sites now have options for Mac and Window PCs. While this gives you the most stable games and access to the full range of tournaments and cash tables – it is no longer the only way to access online poker.
Mobile compatible poker sites take different formats. These range from native Apple and Android apps which give you access to all the games (for example from 888 Poker) to some more limited options. Some sites only offer cash games or fast-fold poker through their mobile site, while others give you wider access, though only to one table at a time. If you intend to play exclusively on a mobile phone it is certainly worth checking out a few different sites before you commit – the claims of ‘mobile compatible poker’ can mean many different things!
Other Key Factors when Choosing an Online Poker Site
Aside from your location, the choice of games and number of recreational players compared to pro-grinders – there are several other factors you might want to keep in mind when choosing an online poker site.
Payment methods are especially important for US players, including the reputation of each site when it comes to fast and hassle-free cash outs.
I also recommend you check that each site is licensed. For US sites this will be from offshore jurisdictions including Panama, Antigua, Netherlands Antilles or the Kahnawake tribal lands. Most sites are proud to show that their deal has been certified as fair by 3rd party testing companies – poker sites which do not have this information should raise a red flag.
Finally, make sure that there is enough traffic to sustain the types of games that you enjoy the most. Tournament players should look for bigger guarantees, especially those at the weekends – while cash game players need a choice of tables without the same old faces at each one.
Online poker is turning back from the days of too many grinders killing off the games, and is starting to attract many more amateur and recreational players. By choosing the right poker site and selecting the best games, you can safely (and even profitably) enjoy the online poker games once again.