DETROIT, March 20, 2021 /PRNewswire/ -- Poker is one of the most fun and intellectually stimulating hobbies out there, but unless you live near a casino, it can be hard to find a game.
That's where playing online comes in.
Through the magic of the internet, you can play real-money poker at any time of the day or night. All you have to do is find the right card room.
Unfortunately, some of the poker websites out there are less than reputable. To help you find a trustworthy game, we've put together a list of the best poker sites that accept players from the U.S. and Canada.
Now it's up to you to get on there and start making some money.
First look at the best poker sites:
- Biggest poker site and top pick: Ignition
- Softest games: Bovada
- Best mobile experience: BetOnline
- Best rakeback deals: America's Cardoom
- Best video poker site: Red Dog Casino
- Best for grinders: Black Chip Poker
- Fastest payouts: Intertops
- Best free poker: WSOP
- Best variety: PokerStars
We'll do in-depth review of each of these sites below, but first, here is how we score poker sites in our guides:
How We Found the Best Poker Sites: Our Ranking Methodology
Simply listing the best poker sites wouldn't do you much good if we didn't also explain why we feel they're the best. Here are the criteria we used when ranking the best poker sites:
Simply put, you need players to get games going. There's nothing worse than sitting by yourself at a table for hours, waiting on action that's never going to come.
The more players a poker site has, the better.
Ok, so maybe there's one thing worse than sitting by yourself, and that's having someone sit down and clean you out in a few minutes.
You don't want to be the fish on a site full of sharks, so we looked for poker rooms that offered a nice balance of skill levels.
Playing the same types of poker games over and over again gets old after a while. If a poker site had a nice variety of options in addition to Texas hold'em, they received a boost in our rankings.
We also liked to see a variety of limits and tournaments, including sit-n-gos and massive, big-money tourneys.
It's a lesson you might have learned the hard way: not every poker site is run by reputable people.
We checked to make sure that the site runs legit games, and that your money is as easy to get out as it is to put in.
Some online poker sites have beautiful, intuitive layouts — and many others don't.
This is more than a purely aesthetic consideration, though, as ugly or confusing software could cause you to make an expensive mistake.
The rake is the money the site takes out of each pot as their cut. The more rake they take, the harder it will be for you to beat their games.
Not every site charges the same amount of rake, so those that are less greedy were rewarded in these rankings.
Poker sites compete for your business, and the biggest way they do that is by offering bonuses. These could include a deposit bonus, rakeback offer, or loyalty program.
While some bonus programs are mere afterthoughts, others can be used to add a significant amount to your bottom line.
The Best Online Poker Sites for 2021 Reviewed
1. Ignition — Best Overall, Biggest Poker Site
- Accepts players from 46 US states
- Anonymous tables available
- Lots of big-money tournaments
- Can play up to 15 tables at once
- Not available in the UK
Available in 46 states, Ignition has the most American players you'll find anywhere. It's the best place to start if you're looking to dip your toe into online action.
The site works hard to make the games fun for amateurs rather than a feeding ground for professionals. That includes hosting anonymous tables that ban tracking software and hide user names.
Pros can still make a living here. You can play up to 15 ring games simultaneously, and they have a ton of big-money tournaments.
You'll pay to enjoy all these features, though, as Ignition has a fairly high rake at around 4.35% on average. That's not insurmountable, but it is more than you'll find at many other sites.
2. Bovada — Softest Games
- Very soft games
- Zone Poker is great for fast-paced action
- Good variety of sit-n-gos
- Also has a reputable sportsbook
- Difficult to clear bonuses
- Appearance is a bit dated
Originally known as a top online sportsbook (and for being part of the Bodog network), Bovada swooped in to meet the needs of the US poker market after many of the larger sites dropped out.
Bovada is known for having some of the softest cash games you'll find anywhere, as many sports bettors drop by the poker tables from time to time.
The site attracts newbies, as they have several features that are friendly for action players. These include Zone Poker, which gives you a new hand to play immediately after folding the last one.
Their sit-n-gos are fun too, as they have special jackpot sit-n-gos that are for three players only and randomly determine the prize pool.
Their bonuses are a bit lacking, though, as you usually only have 30 days to clear them. The software seems to be trapped in the early 2000s as well, but that's not a huge issue, given the site's other advantages.
3. BetOnline — Best Mobile Experience
- Can play on a variety of platforms
- Fantastic mobile experience
- Bad-beat jackpot tables available
- Very fast hands
- Tons of fees
- PayPal not accepted
No one can say that BetOnline doesn't make it easy to play, as their client is available on Windows, Mac, iOS, Android, and Instant Play.
They definitely took the user experience into consideration when designing their software. It's full of useful features like auto-rebuys and easy-to-find hand histories. You can find a variety of bad-beat jackpot tables to play as well.
The mobile apps are just as easy to play as their desktop counterparts, and regardless of which one you're using, it's easy to get a ton of hands in.
The site's biggest downfall is its greed. They charge fees on just about everything, including card deposits and bank wire withdrawals. They also don't accept PayPal, which is frustrating.
4. America's Cardroom — Best Rakeback Deals
- Offers rakeback program
- Lots of NLHE traffic
- Has action at even the highest stakes
- Great variety of tournaments
- Rakeback deal disqualifies you from some bonuses
- Excessive late registration causes tourneys to last extremely long
If you don't like the thought of a poker room taking a cut of your hard-earned money, America's Cardroom lets you get some of it back through their 27% rakeback deal.
Signing up for the rakeback deal will disqualify you from certain bonuses and VIP benefits, however.
The NLHE traffic is excellent, and you can find cash game action at even the nosebleed stakes. You'll also find quite a few PLO and limit HE players around, if those are more your speed.
You'll find some great tournaments here, too. They have a $150k-guaranteed Sunday MTT to go with a variety of smaller PLO tourneys.
They offer late registration for those tournaments, too — as much as 3 hours or more in some cases. This can cause the events to drag on forever, as well as reducing your odds of cashing.
5. Black Chip Poker — Best for Grinders
- Good for pros
- Welcomes HUDs and other software
- Offers rewards program for high-volume players
- On-demand freeroll tournaments
- Amateurs may be at a disadvantage
- No mobile app or Mac compatibility
While anonymous tables that outlaw HUDs and other software may be all the rage, Black Chip Poker goes the other way by supporting most of the top tracking programs on the market today.
That makes it a godsend for pros, but amateurs may find it makes the cash games harder for them to beat — or even survive for more than an hour or two.
They don't have a rakeback program per se, but they do have "The Beast" — which is basically a rewards program for high-volume cash game players. Still, it's nice to get a bonus for playing cards, and they don't take additional rake to fund it, which is even better.
One thing that struggling players will appreciate, however, is their on-demand freeroll tournaments. You can play one of these anytime you want, and while the payouts are small, they're a good way to grind together a bankroll.
For some reason, Black Chip Poker doesn't have a Mac client or a mobile app, so unless you have a Windows desktop, you'll be left out of the game.
6. Intertops — Fastest Payouts
- Very fast payout speed
- Easy to deposit money
- Generous rakeback program
- Top-notch customer support
- Very small player pool
- Limited game selection
If you want to access your winnings in a hurry, Intertops can certainly accommodate you. You can get your money in one business day through Bitcoin or many third-party banking sites, or you can get a check in as little as a week.
They support a wide variety of deposit options, so putting cash on is as easy as getting it off. Their customer service is second to none as well.
Intertops even has a rakeback program that pays out at 36% — even more than America's Cardroom. So why isn't it the choice for best rakeback deal?
Simple: it's hard to earn as much money from it due to the relatively low traffic you'll find at Intertops. It can be very difficult to sustain a game, especially if you're not playing micro-stakes NLHE.
The game selection is limited as well, with only hold 'em, PLO, and PLO8 being offered.
7. WSOP — Best Free Site
- Best free action online
- No deposit required
- Can also purchase special coins that can be wagered
- Browser-based software
- Cashing out is confusing
If you don't like the idea of wagering real money — or you're not sure if poker is legal where you live — WSOP can keep you in the game without putting your bank account (or freedom) at risk.
The site works by letting poker players compete for free coins, no deposit required. However, you can buy special coins that you can use in games — and if you take coins off other players, you can redeem them for cash.
If it sounds just like real money online poker, it is — just a bit more convoluted and a lot more legal (hopefully, anyway).
If even this makes you uncomfortable, though, the free action is the best you'll find online. You don't have to download anything to play, either, as the site works in a web browser.
Cashing out your winnings is confusing as well, and it may be that way on purpose to discourage people from doing so.
Players outside the U.S. have also complained about not being able to cash out at all, so be careful if you're looking to play for real from overseas.
8. PokerStars — Best Variety
- One of the oldest poker sites on the internet
- Tons of users
- Incredible variety of stakes and games
- Never have to wait long for a game
- Some real sharks on here
- Only available in PA and NJ for American players
One of the oldest online poker rooms in existence, PokerStars is still the biggest on the planet. You'll find a ton of players at every game and limit, ensuring you can always get a game going.
They offer just about every type of poker you could want, including razz and badugi. If you ever get bored here, then there's a good chance you're just not a poker fan.
That said, you'll also run into some sharks here, as there are professionals at almost every table. You'll need to pay close attention to who's playing what, or else you could lose several buy-ins in a hurry.
There's one other big issue with PokerStars: it's only legal for poker players living in Pennsylvania and New Jersey. If you live in any other state, you'll have to stick to the play-chip games.
9. GGPoker — Best for Canadian Players
- Thriving games available all hours of the day
- Lots of cool features not found elsewhere online
- $100k guaranteed in daily tournaments
- Features keep games fresh and exciting
- Rewards program has element of chance
- No round-the-clock support
Americans can't play on GGPoker, but most everyone else can — and quite a few people do. The site has excellent traffic numbers, and you can find thriving cash games at all hours of the day.
The site has some really cool features you normally would only find in live games, such as the chance to run all-in hands up to three times or the ability to raise blind. These help keep the games fresh and exciting.
Even the tournaments have cool options, like the opportunity to make a deal if you reach the final table.
You'll find over $100,000 in guaranteed tourneys every day, so the extra features are just icing on the cake.
Some of those features work against you, however. To earn money through their loyalty program, you'll have to spin a wheel — and you may end up getting screwed out of your hard-earned rewards as a result.
The customer service is lacking as well, as they don't have round-the-clock chat or phone support.
Online Poker FAQs
How do deposit bonuses work?
Most sites offer bonuses on your initial deposit — anywhere from 100-200% up to a certain limit.
However, these bonuses aren't given out instantaneously, as unscrupulous players would then just take the free money and leave.
Instead, you have to earn your deposit bonus — and you earn it by playing raked hands. Some sites make it easy for you to earn a deposit bonus, while others require you to play for hours and hours on end.
It's a smart idea to read the fine print on a site's bonus structure before you sign up, as some look good on the surface but are nearly impossible to fully earn.
Is online poker legal in the USA?
That depends on where you live. Certain sites are legal in certain places, so check your local laws before signing up anywhere.
Are online poker sites safe?
There are two basic questions here: will the site cheat you, and will the other players cheat you.
Most sites (including the ones on this list) are reputable. They're not rigged, and they're not looking to cheat you. They want you to come back and keep spending money, after all.
The sad fact about playing online is that some of the players will always be looking for ways to get an unfair advantage, though.
While the sites have security teams that are trained to spot fraud constantly monitoring games, it's a good bet you'll get cheated once or twice in your career.
Luckily, these cheats are seldom capable of making too big of a dent in your bottom line.
How do I deposit and withdraw money?
Different sites will have different deposit methods, but you can typically deposit with a credit card, debit card, Bitcoin, or a third-party website like Neteller.
As for payout methods, you can usually withdraw money the same way you deposited it, or you can request a check or wire transfer. Some sites charge a fee for some of these transactions, so watch out for that, and they don't all have the same payout speed.
What are HUDs and other tracking software?
Some players use heads-up displays (HUDs) that show them a variety of stats on the other players at the table. These stats include pre-flop raising percentage, folding percentage, and the like.
This can give those players a boost in their decision-making skills, as they'll be able to see at a glance whether a player raises all the time or almost never.
Many people feel that this kind of software is unethical, and many sites have made a push to ban them in recent years.
Some still allow (or even encourage) their use, though, so check to see how a site feels about them before you sign up.
Which Site Will You Find Your Next Game On?
If you love Texas hold'em, Omaha, or any other card game, then playing poker online is a great way to scratch your gambling itch from the comfort of your own home.
There are a ton of options when it comes to internet poker rooms, however, and some are certainly better than others. We prefer Ignition Poker, but the sites on this list represent the best online poker sites available to North American players today.
Now that it's easier than ever to find a game, the only question is how much money can you make playing cards?
You probably don't need us to tell you that any form of gambling comes with risks and should not be undertaken as a solution to solve your financial troubles. It's worth remembering the phrase…the house always wins!
If you suffer from a gambing problem or suspect somebody you know does, then we strongly suggest that you call the National Problem Gambling Hotline at 1-800-522-4700 to talk with an advisor for help and to make gambling safer for you or your loved ones.
Poker rooms listed on our site may not be available in your region. Check your local laws to ensure online poker is available and legal where you live. Leanbackplayer is an independent and reader-supported review site and may receive commissions for recommendations made in their websites guides.
Visit these organizations for free gambling addiction resources:
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