What Poker Sites Are Legit These Days?
Online poker sites and casinos have had their fair share of scandals. That’s why it’s always smart to make sure your money is going to a respectable and fair site. Luckily, a lot of these scandals helped bring on better regulation and online poker is as safe as it’s ever been.
Online poker operated in a grey zone when it became popular in the early 2000s. Things got even greyer after the Unlawful Internet Gambling Enforcement Act (UIGEA) passed in 2006. Some sites like Party Poker pulled out of the United States while others like PokerStars and Full Tilt kept operating in the United States. Then came Black Friday. On April 15, 2011, the Department of Justice seized the PokerStars, Full Tilt and Absolute Poker websites. After that, sites were forced to pay out players but Full Tilt and Absolute Poker had squandered player funds and turned out to be insolvent.
It’s been almost a decade since then though. In that time poker legislation in the United States has started to catch up with other countries around the world. In 2012, a federal judge in Brooklyn ruled that poker was a game of skill, not chance, and that opened the doors for states to legalize online poker.
Sites popping up now have to abide by a strict set of rules and regulations and are regulated by third-parties. Legitimate gaming sites also have random number generator software that are consistently tested, inspected and certified.
Encryption technology has also advanced substantially in the past few years. Poker sites use this technology to ensure that all your banking and personal information is secured in a digital fortress.
Is online poker legal in the United States?
Online poker is currently regulated on a state-by-state basis in the United States. The 2012 federal court ruling opened the door for legal online poker and, not surprisingly, Nevada was the first state to walk through it.
In 2013, Ultimate Poker became the first site to deal a hand of legal online poker in Nevada. Delaware joined the poker party later that year and then New Jersey became the third –and most populous– state to offer online poker a month later. Since then, Pennsylvania and West Virginia have legalized online poker, but only Pennsylvania has started offering games so far.
PokerStars launched in Pennsylvania in late 2019 while online poker in West Virginia is expected to go live sometime in 2020.
What if I’m not in one of those states?
The good news is that there are plenty of sites looking to legalize online poker too. New York, California, Iowa and others are taking steps towards legalization. But if you’re in those states or any others across the United States, you can still fire up a game of poker.
We’ve also taken the time to review some of the best online poker sites that offer games to players across the United States. Check out our top picks below:
Best Online Poker Sites 2020
Why Ignition Poker?
You might’ve noticed that Ignition Poker tops our list of best sites for U.S. players. If you’re curious about how it earned that spot, we’re here to help. Ignition poker launched in the spring of 2016 and just a few months later, the site bought Bovada Poker’s player pool, making it the second-largest online gaming site that accepted U.S. players. One of the key elements of any poker site is the size of its player pool. This affects everything from the types of games offered, the stakes, wait times and tournament prize pools.
Ignition Poker is also a sleek-looking site with an intuitive interface that doesn’t get in the way. It easily lets you do what you’re there to do: play poker. The site is also linked to an online casino, so you get lots of recreational players in cash games and tournaments. The platform is also Bovada’s proprietary software, so it’s a true tried and tested technology fueling the fire behind Ignition Poker.
There are plenty of other neat features that also sets Ignition Poker apart from the competition.
Ignition Poker highlights
- Quick Seat: Choose a poker game like Texas Hold’em, Omaha, or Omaha Hi/Lo along with the stakes and Quick Seat automatically seats you at a table.
- Anonymous Tables: There are no Heads-Up Displays (HUDs) allowed, so other players can track your hand history. You have to get reads on your opponents the old-fashioned way.
- Zone Poker: A fast-fold feature where you’re assigned to a new table once you fold a hand. This speeds up your hands per hour significantly and could improve your profitability.
- In-Software Casino Games: If you prefer to sit through hands, you can play In-Software Casino Games like blackjack, roulette, video poker, or 3D slots.
- Mobile Poker: Play poker anytime, anywhere with the mobile poker apps for Android and iOS. Jackpot Sit-and-Go games cater to mobile poker players with winnings of up to 1000x while you’re on the go.
- Softer Opponents: Ignition Poker has a huge community of recreational players. If you study up on your game, then softer opponents means more pots and money for you.
What to look for in a poker site
If you come across another site that isn’t on our list, we’ve come up with a few things you should look for when you want to see if a poker site is legitimate and safe. Check to see if the site checks off all the things below. That’s a good indicator the site is good to play at. If a site doesn’t offer one or more of these things, you should pump on the brakes and find a site that does.
- Player Traffic: Player traffic isn’t just a good for game selection, it’s a good indicator that a site has been around long enough and been secure enough to gather a large player pool.
- Good Software: Top software means a site has dedicated time and resources to provide top-notch software. Less reputable sites don’t tend to invest as much in this. Quality software also means fewer glitches or issues that could end up costing you money.
- Experience: Do some research and see how long the poker site, or its parent company has been in business. If the site has been around for a while and has licenses or is regulated in a jurisdiction, it’s a good sign it’s reputable.
- Banking Options: It often comes down to sensible payment options, including credit cards, web wallets, and cryptocurrencies like Bitcoin.
- Security and openness: These things may seem incompatible, but good sites offer both. A quality gaming site locks the doors when it needs too, and lets people in where transparency is needed. Ideally, a site will offer encryption that protects your personal and banking information. At the same time, you want a site that lets independent third-parties audit its software to make sure the games are fair.
Are Sites Rigged? Is my Money Safe?
While there are many claims online that certain sites are rigged, there has been no math to back it up. Most sites use elaborate random number generators and algorithms that help increase entropy to ensure that every hand is truly random. Sites let independent third-party companies check out this software to test their fairness. On top of that, if a site is regulated in any jurisdiction, they have to meet stringent standards that include independent audits. This ensures that games are safe and not rigged.
If you don’t trust these commissions, then you can always trust the poker community to root out any rigged games. For instance, poker players on TwoPlusTwo conducted a thorough investigation and uncovered a cheating scandal on Ultimate Bet after players started posting about suspicious players.
Sites also have a myriad of security and banking options to help guarantee that your money is safe at all times. In addition, third-party payment processors can also handle your banking information on several sites so you never have to directly input your information on the sites. On top of that, encryption technology is getting better every day and sites are using it to lock your information behind several layers of high-tech security.
Can I Play for Free?
Yes! Most of the sites we’ve mentioned offer play money options, that means you can start playing for free. This is a great way for you to try out sites, in addition to getting a feel for the software or just brush up on your poker skills before you take a dive into real money poker.
Lots of these sites also offer freerolls that can ignite your real money poker adventure for free. However, if you want to learn a bit more while you’re not on the table, there’s been plenty of free poker content sprouting up too. You can watch hours of streamed poker games on Twitch and YouTube. Some players are really helpful in explaining and breaking down their play for new players. Online forums like TwoPlusTwo also offer a giant well of information that’ll help any poker player kickstart their career. In addition, you can also post your hands and other players will comment with hints, tips and sometimes a few needles.
To keep up on the latest advice and trends in poker, then keep reading USPokerSites. We’re constantly assessing the landscape and giving readers the best, up-to-date information available.