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Can US Residents Play Online Poker Safely & Legally? - Yes They Can!

Guide to Safe, Legal US Poker Sites and What States You Can Play In

Make Use of This Thorough Research and Find a Fun and Legal Online Poker Game to Play Within Minutes

Online poker in the United States of America is a fairly complex subject. Many potential poker players mistakenly believe that it is illegal to play online poker in the USA. That is simply untrue! Very few states have laws on the books that cover online poker, and as such, it is perfectly legal to play from the comfort of one's own home in almost every US state and territory. The only state with a specific real money poker legal restriction is Washington State, although this two decade old law has not once been enforced and may not be eligible to be enforced due to legal desuetude. Esteemed California gaming attorney Martin Owens, has been quoted as saying:

"Basically what you have is a bunch of issues that haven't been adequately addressed or haven't been addressed at all. There are 16 states and D.C. that don't even define what gambling is! Only nine states even mention the Internet in connection with gambling at all. And most haven't updated their gambling laws in decades."

Much of the public confusion stems from misinterpretations of existing laws. For example, The Unlawful Internet Gambling Enforcement Act, or UIGEA, was enacted in 2006. This is widely regarded by the media as a reason for online poker being illegal, when in fact, it does nothing of the sort. UIGEA makes the knowing processing of deposits to online gambling sites illegal, for banks. UIGEA is in no way directed at private citizens. It was literally snuck into law on a must pass Port Authority bill by two senators. These two senators were known to be taking large sums of money from the casino lobby. The main goal of UIGEA was to underhandedly shut down real money online poker while the major US casinos played catch-up to their offshore brethren. You see, domestic casinos had greatly underestimated the potential market size of online gambling for real money. Having thought it was only a passing fad they needed a stop-gap measure in order to come up with plans to infiltrate this multi-billion dollar industry.


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Another common fallacy is the improper application of The Wire Act of 1961. In the past, this law was interpreted by some arms of government to cover online poker. However, in 2011, shortly after Black Friday, the US Department of Justice reinterpreted the Wire Act to be much more online poker friendly. Also, a slew of state lawsuits filed in Kentucky in the late 2000s were a legal hurdle. However, those cases have been settled in favor of the gaming sites without any criminal wrong-doing admitted by any parties. These changes are widely assumed by industry insiders to be paving the way for a Federally regulated framework some time in the future. However, in the mean time, there is no Federal law that would prohibit you, a private citizen or resident in the United States, from hitting the digital felt from the comfort of your home or mobile device.

Yet another misconception swirling around online poker is that it is a form of gambling. It is our contention that poker is a game of skill coupled with elements of chance. We are not the only ones with such an interpretation. For example, in a long and detailed 120 page ruling, a Federal Judge elucidated that poker is a game of skill and therefore not gambling or subject to laws about gambling. In other words, this Federal Judge ruled from the bench that poker should be treated as a skill game. A highly respected law firm hired by the Poker Player's Alliance also agrees that it is a skill game in this white paper.

We constantly compile an extensive amount of information on the subject of legal online gaming (for real money), after all, we play poker for a living! In this report we will be passing that information on to you, so that you may be better informed of the options available to you, the American poker player, in your particular state or territory. The overwhelming majority of states have no restrictions or negative laws on the books and are available to play 24/7/365, many even from one's Mac or mobile device! We have also included a review, highlighting the pros and cons of each gambling site, providing information on the cashout speeds, available games and traffic, rakeback data, whether they are Mac-friendly or not, and much more.

Many potential players also believe that there are only one or two safe offshore poker sites to choose from. However, this belief is also false. Depending upon the state in which one resides, there may easily be over half a dozen legitimate poker networks in which to satisfy one's poker fix! As you can see in the map below, most US states have no restrictions for players wanting to play online poker. But which poker sites are available to you? Scroll down to find out! Please note that most of the poker sites still servicing American players also offer other products such as sports betting, online casino, and racebooks. If you are interested in betting in the sportsbook, gambling in the casino, or putting money on the ponies these sites will also happily accept your wagers.

State by State US Poker Networks Legal Restrictions Map

97.8% of the US population is not restricted by law from playing on US poker sites in any way! Most Americans, 81.4% to be exact, can play without any restriction imposed by their state, federal government, or the US-friendly poker rooms themselves. Of the 18.6% of the population who are restricted in some way, only 2.2% of those are restricted by state laws, zero by federal laws, and the remaining 16.4% are only restricted in the sense that not all of the offshore poker sites allow them to play in their games.

States who do not have full access to all available offshore hosted real money online poker sites include: Delaware, Kentucky, Louisiana, Maryland, Missouri, New Jersey, Nevada, New York, and Washington. There are at least three poker rooms available in all of the aforementioned states. Less excluded states such as LA for example, have half a dozen options to choose from.

Our map below lists states with limited options in yellow, the other 41 states and all of the US territories are wide open. If your state is in yellow, it is not necessarily because there are laws prohibiting residents from playing online poker for real money. It simply means that some US poker sites and poker networks do not provide services your state for any of a variety of business reasons. Click the map to open a new window where you can visually see what poker websites are allowed and disallowed in your location. Then continue reading for more information and reviews. If your state is indicated as green in the above graphic, all of the following, legitimate and legal real money Internet poker rooms are available to you:

Map of USA online poker room safe sites, state by state restrictions, and more
Pai Wang Luo Poker Network
Excludes: Delaware, Maryland, Nevada, New Jersey, and New York
Chico Poker Network
Available in all 50 US states and all US territories.
Horizon Poker Network
Excludes: Kentucky, Louisiana, Maryland, Missouri, New Jersey, New York, and Washington State.
Winning Poker Network
Excludes: Delaware, Louisiana, Kentucky, Maryland, Nevada, New Jersey, and Washington.
Grand Poker Network
Available in all 50 USA states and territories.
SWC Poker (Formerly Seals With Clubs)
Available in all 50 US states and all US territories.
Cubeia Network
Available in all 50 US states and all US territories.



 

Online Poker USA - Real Money Sites Reviewed and Ranked

There are a number of reputable as well as disreputable sites available to you no matter what state you reside in. We realize that most people do not eat, sleep, and breath online poker like we do and that it may be difficult for you, dear reader, to figure out which is which. So we have done the hard work and research for you.

Our staff consists of a number of professional, enthusiast, as well as recreational players. Most of us are real money players, but one staffer, who will remain unnamed, still donks off on the play money tables. All of us have played extensively on all available US friendly rooms, some of us for over a decade. Internally, and on public forums, we endlessly discuss and debate the available options while we're playing and writing the poker news. Thus, we have an expert level grasp on the current situation in the US markets.

Below you will find our current favorites. These are the best US online poker sites and we make that determination based on traffic, ease of deposits, payout speeds, software compatibility, customer support, as well as a host of other factors. If a site fails to live up to our high expectations, it will be put into our rogue poker sites section. We promise that we will not recommend any poker site to you that we do not personally have money on ourselves. We "practice what we preach" here at Professional Rakeback, you can bet on it!

Ignition Casino BannerIgnition's positive features graphic

Ignition Casino is the hottest site available to Americans and Australians. Don't let the name fool you, its poker room has nearly twice the traffic of the nearest competitor and easy competition to boot. This Hong Kong investment firm, Pai Wang Luo, bought the poker operations of the third largest poker network in the world, Bodog (known as Ignition in the USA and Australia). Instantly, this well-funded newcomer, licensed and regulated in Hong Kong, has become the largest poker site available for players from the United States of America. New accounts are eligible for deposit bonuses on poker and online casino up to $2,000 USD.

As it is the third largest site in the world, as well as the largest available in the states, players are always able to find a suitable game to play. At any given time there are hundreds of games running, though it doesn't always appear as such, as full games are hidden from the poker lobby as a means of protecting the recreational players from sharks. The company is very friendly to recreational players and especially losing players who often find themselves privately invited to a secret VIP club where they receive additional custom bonus offers as well as a VIP host and expedited payouts (not that they are needed, the payouts here are fast!).

Ignition Poker Play Now

The cash games range from micro stakes no limit Texas Holdem up to $2,000 buy-in pot limit Omaha. They also have a variant of fast fold poker, dubbed "Zone Poker" where players can play very high paced games with no waiting for blinds to begin and the ability to see up to 1,000 hands per hour! For the more casual player there are myriad tournaments with buy-in amounts below one dollar all the way up to $540 high roller tourneys. All tournament action culminates in a weekly $100,000 guaranteed tournament that is known to exceed $200,000 prize pools on occasion. Add to this frequent tournament series with 4-6 million dollar collective prize pools, and one has no problem finding a fun MTT to unwind in. One thing we like about their tournaments is that they do not allow re-buys or re-entries, i.e. all tournaments are freeze outs. Once you buy-in, you know that the tournament will end in a reasonable time frame and you won't be dragging ass at work tomorrow because you were up until 4am playing a tournament!

Like Bovada before them, Ignition has excellent payout options and players rarely have to wait more than 10 days for a pay out. In fact, players that opt for bitcoin payments are paid out in 72 hours or less! The game play is anonymous on this site, another way in which they protect recreational players from being hunted by aggressive sharks. Some novice players fear anonymous tables, thinking them ripe for collusion and infested with bots, but that simply isn't the case. Ignition Casino has a proactive security department, purchased all of the IT tools Bodog had to suss out cheaters, and is actively working creating even more swift and robust methods of detecting shady behavior among players (which is more than we can say for some online poker rooms *cough* Ourgame *cough* FulPot *cough*).

Ignition Poker Get Bonus Now

Professional Rakeback recommends Ignition's poker room as our top rated site for Americans. You can sign up today and get up to a $2,000 deposit bonus by using our sign-up link. In order to take advantage of this offer you must first clear your cookies or we can't guarantee you'll get the proper deposit bonuses, so be sure to clear the cookies in your web browser (should take 30-90 seconds) before using our $2,000 max bonus Ignition Poker sign-up link above. If you would like to read more about Ignition, please see our Ignition review.

Betonline and Sportsbetting.ag, leading poker sites on the Chico Poker NetworkChico's positive features image

Recommended by Professional Rakeback, Betonline and sister site Sportsbetting.ag are the best US friendly poker sites on the Chico Gaming Network. Chico is a recreational poker network who prioritize their sportsbook and casino operations over poker. While at first that statement might be off-putting, it is actually great news. You see, the tables have a higher than normal proportion of gamblers from the sportsbook and casino.

This also means they have a lot of sports and casino bonuses and reloads if you are into that sort of thing. Since this is a poker review, we will focus on the poker bonus, which happens to be the largest bonus on offer of any site on this page, or any site available in the US-friendly market for that matter. The poker deposit bonus is a 100% matching bonus up to a maximum of $2,500! It clears at an above average 33% effective rakeback rate as well. All new players who deposit on this site are eligible to compete in a weekly new depositor freeroll, with a $5,000 prize pool, held every Sunday. Speaking of freerolls, if you happen to be low on funds at the moment, both BetOnline and sister site SportsBetting offer hourly no-limit hold'em freeroll tournaments to help you build your bankroll from nothing. If you are into Bad Beat Jackpots, this site has a six figure BBJ that recently hit for $650,000! Not all tables are included, so you can choose to play for the BBJ or not if you so desire.

Chico Poker Play Now

The poker software was once a reason not to recommend this room, but that is no longer the case, quite the opposite in fact. In the middle of 2016 the poker software was rewritten by a brand new software provider and is now quite smooth and glitch free. It also deals more hands per hour than the previous software which is great because the old software was boringly slow. It no longer has those annoying blackjack mini-games attached to it either! In fact, a great deal of our Mac users prefer this software over all other options because it is so fluid, responsive, and bug-free.

High volume players will be happy to know that the Chico Network offers a number of rake races to take advantage of, no matter what games or stakes one plays. There is a rake race for cash games, sit and goes, and for multi-table tournament grinders. All rake races are broken up into small, medium, and high stakes brackets to keep the competition on a fair level. The weekly $5,000 sit and go race keeps the SNG grinders happy. The multi-table tournament leader board is a weekly tournament race that rewards top MTT grinders with $5,000 worth of extra prizes each week. The top 100 MTT grinders are also invited to a special Leaderboard Face-Off Tournament each month. Cash game grinders are treated to a rather large $10,000 per week race that is solely based on accumulated rake, the more you grind the more you earn back!

With super soft games, upgraded software, and a generous maximum $2,500 initial poker deposit bonus, BetOnline and Sportsbetting.ag are great choices. Please note that this is the new management and ownership team that came on board in mid 2013, before that, Professional Rakeback did not recommend this group because of slow payouts. However, for four-plus calendar years now Chico Network payouts have been extremely prompt under the new owners. After clearing your browser's cookies, you may sign up directly at BetOnline or Sportsbetting.ag or opt to take some time and read our full BetOnline & Sportsbetting.ag reviews before continuing. Chico Network adheres to International Law and World Trade Organization guidelines and thus they accept players from all fifty US states.

Juicy Stakes and Intertops Poker are safe online poker rooms for US playersHorizon's positive features image

Juicy Stakes and Intertops are the only two ProfRB.com recommended safe and secure online poker sites on the US-facing Horizon Network. Juicy Stakes is available to players in 43 US states, while Intertops Poker is available to players in 49 states. Both rooms offer multi-table tournaments and sit-n-go's which are structured to be fast, fun, and priced just right for recreational players.

Players can safely deposit on Juicy Stakes and Intertops with a larger than normal amount of deposit methods. There are over a dozen types of withdrawal and payouts available in the Intertops cashier which services its sportsbook, casino, and Internet poker room. Payouts from both sites come well within stated time frames, usually within 5 business days for up to $3,000 checks or 2 business days or less for bitcoin payouts. The initial deposit bonus for poker is an above average 200% match up to $1,000 - meaning that a mere $500 deposit will maximize your bonus potential.

Horizon play now cta

Cash game player traffic picked up noticeably throughout 2016 and there are regularly up to $200 NLHE games to be found during peak Euro and US hours. Pot limit Omaha games run less frequently, but often a half-dozen or more games can be found running, and they are of excellent quality with plenty of fishy gamblers. The Holdem cash games that run are of good quality, if a little nitty at times, but they are especially good when coupled with the highest rakeback in the US market at 36% dealt methodology rakeback - paid daily on Intertops and weekly on Juicy Stakes. The network recently added heads up tables, so if heads up is your game, you'll want to check out one of our other recommended sites.

Juicy Stakes and Intertops offer daily freerolls for all players as well as a weekly $20,000 rake race on top of all the other promotions. If you're sold and want to sign up immediately for 36% rakeback at Intertops then click the banner above (after you clear cookies in your web browser!). If you would like to read more about either Horizon network site, please check out our detailed Intertops Review and Juicy Stakes Poker review.

Safe US Online Poker Rooms America's Cardroom, Black Chip Poker, True Poker, and Ya Poker on the Winning Poker NetworkWinning Network's positive features image

America's Cardroom, Black Chip Poker, and True Poker are the leading brands on the US-friendly Winning Poker Network, which is a fine destination for US and international players alike. Professional Rakeback works with all three sites because the WPN owns all three of them directly. You can be sure all of them are safe and securely backed by the parent company, an A+ rated sportsbook that has been in operation for going on two decades now.

Currently the WPN is the 8th largest online poker network in the world and second largest available to American players. The WPN offers a plethora of cash games, multi-table tournaments, and sit-n-goes with steady traffic and plenty of options for players of any skill set. This is the toughest US friendly network and if you are looking to sharpen your skill at the tables, this is the site for you.

Players can take advantage of a 100% matching bonus up to $1,000 while safely depositing on any of the recommended rooms on the WPN using their debit or credit card as well as cash transfer methods such as Western Union & MoneyGram. However, we highly recommend depositing with bitcoins. The WPN now offers very swift and convenient bitcoin deposits and withdrawals in amounts up to $25,000 USD as well. This method is fast and easy to use. If you're unfamiliar with using bitcoin, we have got you covered with our bitcoin gambling guide which provides convenient pictures and step-by-step set up instructions. Payouts dependably arrive within stated time frames. Clients who prefer cash can take advantage of a unique debit card withdrawal feature that is popular among many players because it can pay out up to $2,500 per week onto a foreign debit, card which can be spent like a credit card or used at ATMs to get cash directly.

Black Chip Poker Play Now

The rooms on the WPN are also among the very few that still allow Peer-To-Peer or P2P transfer ability. P2P allows players to send poker funds to their friends with just a few clicks, enabling easy staking, tournament swapping, and helping your friend out if he needs a loan for that upcoming big tournament. Speaking of tournaments, WPN offers many special events, including the popular High Five and Online Super Series tournament series each quarter. In fact, WPN is the only US-friendly room who hosts $1,000,000 guaranteed tournaments. Their most recent version of Million Dollar Sundays was a huge success. In fact, for the first time ever, Million Dollar Sundays at WPN were larger than PokerStars's Sunday Million tournament! The next Million Dollar tournament is scheduled for September 3rd, 2017.

The large rewards offered to higher volume players can reach upwards of 60% on their Elite Benefits VIP program, which is a virtual clone of PokerStars's old, prestigious, and sorely missed rewards plan. On top of these rich rewards there are weekly progressive rake races for both cash game and SNG players. The highest volume grinders on this site make 90-100% effective rakeback each year!

ProfRB.com has extensive reviews of America's Cardroom, Black Chip and True - all of which have the same cashier, promotions, staff, shared player pools - and recommends them as safe online poker rooms for American players. If you do not have an account at any or all of these fine places, please consider signing up with Professional Rakeback! Sign up for your Elite Benefits VIP account by clicking either of these links Americas Cardroom or True and using bonus code PROFRBVIP. If you're looking for a flat rakeback account instead, please go here.

Grand Poker Room LogoGrand's positive features image

Grand Poker Room is the newest poker site to make itself available to American poker players. But don't let that fool you, this new online poker network is owned and operated by the 5Dimes group of sports books, who carry an A+ rating virtually anywhere you care to look. This group of companies is not new, they have been around for well over a decade, and are known for lightning fast payouts for its casino and sportsbook customers as well as its reduced juice sports betting lines.

This new poker site offering has a smooth interface, is natively Windows and Mac friendly, has a slick mobile poker app, and sports a small but growing player base full of fishy sports and casino players. Since this is a network owned site, they are promoting it aggressively by allowing Professional Rakeback to give new sign-ups anywhere from 50 to 100% rakeback via an innovative "SNG for cash" rakeback system. You can read more details about this at our comprehensive Grand Poker Network review page.

Grand Network play now cta

Even though this is the newest competitor on the block, the sports book and casino operation backing it is old school. The payment processing is first grade, and the amount and variety of deposit and withdrawal options offered to American online poker players is second to none. GPN even offers bitcoin deposits and withdrawals! Professional Rakeback recommends clearing browser cookies and then signing up with 5Dimes by clicking above in order to access the GPN.

SWC Bitcoin Poker, available to all US online poker players.SWC's positive features image

SWCPoker, formerly Seals With Clubs, is the leading #1 Bitcoin-only online poker site. Independently operated, players can deposit and withdraw, using the ever-popular crypto-currency known as Bitcoins. This leads to lightning quick payout time frames and ease of transfer when making withdrawals. SWC is truly one of the last "Wild West" types of poker rooms available, offering cash games, multi-table tournaments, and sit-n-go's with steady traffic. The games are odd in that the recreational players are bad of course, but a strange type of bad, perhaps because of the whole "technology nerd" aspect of even getting funds onto a bitcoin poker site. There is always action at the micro and small stakes and even high stakes players who are willing to wait around and start games will find easy short-handed action up to 25/50 USD equivalent at times.

SWC play now cta

Deposits are nearly instant and players are credited with SWC chips, which are used to enter tournaments and ring games alike. Their 'Krill' rakeback program is cumulative over the life of your account as well, meaning it never resets and ultimately caps out at 50% rakeback coupled with industry low rake of only 2.5%. And SWC offers popular special features such as their weekly Sunday 2,000-chip Big BTC event and opportunities to earn special bonuses at random tournaments and cash games. Plus, SWC is available to all American poker players in all 50 states! You can sign up directly now by clicking the "play now" button above or continue reading our Seals With Clubs review.

Nitrogen Sports logo banner

Nitrogen Sports decided to dip its toe into the online poker space a few years back, complementing its popular sportsbook and casino with a virtual cardroom. As a Bitcoin-only gambling company, they do not deal in USD, GBP, EUR, or any other FIAT currency, it permits speedy and hassle-free deposits and withdrawals without the need to submit identifying information. Each chip counts as 1 milli-Bitcoin, so 1,000 of them are equal to 1 BTC.

Nitrogen Poker targets a type of player quite different from the traditional grinder and games here tend to be on the easier side. Microstakes accounts for most of the action although it is possible to get games running at higher blind levels for those willing to table start and play shorthanded. Every day of the week, there's a 100 chip guaranteed MTT for a buyin of just 5 + 0.20, and on Sunday, a 750 mBTC prize pool beckons for a price of 25 + 1 to enter. As they pay rake at the tables and fees in tourneys, users increase their ranking in the Nitro rewards program. The ability to exchange points for instant BTC credits and free sports wagers represents a type of rakeback. On a weekly basis, players receive entry into freerolls based upon the number of hands they play and the particular blind levels they frequent.

Nitrogen sports play now cta

There are no state or country restrictions, so everyone is welcome at Nitrogen, and the fact that all gameplay is conducted over the web means that the cross-platform compatibility is excellent. Create your Nitrogen account now by first clearing your browser cookies and then clicking on “Play Now” above. Or to get more info before joining up, consult our Nitrogen Poker review.


Poker Scam Sites to Avoid

Now that we've told you about the places we recommend, we think it is more important to inform you of the places you should avoid.  The sites in this section are either certified scams or so shady that we not only can't recommend them to you, but that we recommend you avoid them in order to protect your bankrolls from any sort of disastrous theft.

***WARNING***  You may have heard about a site called Jao Poker. You probably heard about it on Facebook. Jao Poker "markets" extensively there by spamming every poker group they can manage to wiggle into. The Jao Poker site has a large element of multi-level marketing mixed in with it whereby they charge their affiliates $250 to join the site. Then, these affiliates have to go out and spam social media, poker forums, Skype groups, and any other place they can think of to draw in new affiliates and players to deposit at Jao Poker and make up for the money they have outlaid up front. No reputable online gambling site requires affiliates to pay money to join, it is free! Jao Poker is a scam of the classic MLM type. On top of that, Jao is operating a site for US players, from within the United States and illegally using PayPal as well. They are violating UIGEA, Wire Act, and probably Rico statutes as well. We highly advise you to steer clear of this high scam probability poker site with very few active games. Even more bizarrely, the owner of Jao Poker has been accused of defrauding his partner by illegally selling a high dollar home in California and then illegally obtaining a bank loan with the proceeds to finance Jao. Stay far, far away from this steaming pile of garbage. Click to read even more about the Jao Poker scam.

***WARNING***  You may have heard about a site called Betcoin.  When this crypto currency poker site launched, it had a lot of potential.  However, that potential has fallen flat on its face. Not only do players here report abusive and vindictive customer support agents via live chat, but many have been publicly berated by them on online message boards!  The site has busted numerous players cheating via playing on multiple accounts at the same time, acknowledged they were cheating, and yet allowed the players to continue to play.  There are numerous security concerns with some of their pages not being SSL encrypted and thus exposing users passwords to hijacking by hackers.  And to top it off, our analysis of their business model yields similar results to what we saw in Lock Poker.  Our professional opinion is stay far, far away from this poorly run poker site.

***WARNING***  You may have heard about a place called Lock Poker. We called them out from the start, and unfortunately, we were proven correct.  Lock is a deposit-only site operating a Ponzi scheme, where all player deposits go into continuing their operation. They do not pay the overwhelming majority of their players. According to the "Lock Payout Scam Report" on 2+2, there are players currently approaching a three-year wait for their cashout, with hundreds of players reporting wait times now exceeding three calendar years. We highly recommend avoiding this room at all costs!

***WARNING***  You may have heard about a place called Muchos Poker.  This company, once the darling of a major poker affiliate network, offered its services on nearly a dozen poker clients with one cashier wallet.  However, Muchos has fallen on tough times due to various business mistakes and thefts of player funds.  The ongoing legal issues here have resulted in hundreds of player reports about non-payment, as well as Muchos being kicked out of multiple networks.  Depositing here is a black hole, avoid at all costs.


State Specific Gambling Information

If you are interested in learning more about the specific legal online gambling situation for any US state, we have individual state reviews that you may find of interest.


None of the information on this web page should be construed as legal advice. While Professional Rakeback does its best to provide accurate and up to date information, it is ultimately the responsibility of the consumer to thoroughly research and comply with the laws in their particular jurisdiction.