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Which is Better, BetOnline or Carbon Poker?

Carbon Poker and BetOnline are two well-known organizations that offer online poker to people in the United States and around the world. If you’ve been wondering about their respective strengths and weaknesses, then we’re here to help. We’ll tell you which site is best and why.

What's the key difference?

The main difference between Carbon and BetOnline are their welcome deposit bonuses. While both poker rooms provide 100% match deposit bonuses to new poker players, Carbon’s is valued at $1,000 while BetOnline’s bonus is good for up to $2,500.

It's obvious that the BetOnline offer presents significantly better value and this is compounded when you look at the terms for releasing the bonuses. BetOnline’s deposit bonus clears at a rate equivalent to 33% rakeback, while for Carbon it sits at a 5% return. Additionally, if you hold a BetOnline player account you will receive your bonus credits in blocks of $5, but as a Carbon player, you must reach $20 rakeback before you receive your extra playing cash.

BetOnline vs Carbon Poker head to head comparison

BetOnline vs Carbon Poker: A Head-to-Head Comparison

If you’re looking for a new site to play poker at, then you’ve probably heard the names BetOnline and Carbon Poker especially if you’re from the United States. You may be asking yourself: Is BetOnline better than Carbon Poker? Well, we’re here to answer your question with a comprehensive BetOnline vs Carbon Poker roundup. We’ll consider cash game action, tournament schedules, rakeback, deposit and withdrawal options, and promotions as we try to identify which site is better for playing Texas Hold’em poker and other varieties of online poker.

Overview of Carbon and BetOnline

BetOnline is part of the Chico Poker Network, formerly known as the Action Poker Network, which exited the U.S. market after the passage of the UIGEA in 2006. Carbon Poker, on the Merge Gaming Network, remained faithfully committed to American players apart from a few months where new U.S. signups were not allowed. In fact, immediately after Black Friday in 2011, Merge became the largest U.S.-facing poker option seemingly overnight. Unfortunately, it frittered away its advantages through a series of questionable moves, including the elimination of player rewards and the severing of ties with long-time affiliates. Meanwhile, Chico decided to get back into the lucrative American online gambling market with BetOnline in 2011. After a rocky beginning, a new management team was brought on board and BOL is now considered a reliable online poker operator.

Cash Games

Looking at the stakes offered at both sites, we see that BetOnline spreads NL Texas Hold’em poker from $0.01/$0.02 to $5/$10 whereas Carbon starts at $0.05/$0.10 and only goes up to $2/$5. So BOL is superior at both the lower and higher ends of the spectrum. Moving over to PLO, we encounter a similar pattern with Carbon failing to offer a few levels that are present at its competitor. Carbon doesn’t spread PLO8, 7 Card Stud, and 7 Card Stud/8, which are all available at BetOnline. It’s not the case that the Chico Network just lists many tables that don’t fill; traffic numbers suggest that it consistently gets about four times as many cash game players as Merge although this gap narrows a bit during peak hours. BOL scores a clear victory in this category.

Tournament Offerings

Carbon Poker has tournaments every day with buyins between $1.10 and $109 and a Sunday $162 Big Ticket that comes with a $40K guarantee. Amusingly, there are a few tournaments in formats that aren’t present in Carbon’s ring game selection, like HORSE and 7CS/8. BetOnline, by contrast, runs daily events between $0.05 and $33 except for a single $110 freezeout that draws just a handful of competitors. The weekly major at BOL is a $99 tourney that guarantees $50k, which is upgraded to a $109 buyin and $100K guarantee on the last Sunday of each month. All tournaments at the Chico network are NL Hold’em exclusively.

The way Carbon is able to fill its tournaments and meet its guarantees is a bit underhanded because it has lengthy late registration periods that, in some cases, extend for more than three hours whereas BetOnline doesn’t do anything of the sort. BetOnline also has the edge in the frequency of micro-stakes contests and freerolls. Still, these minor points aren’t enough to detract from the fact that Carbon’s MTT lineup is more varied and robust. Carbon wins in this department.


Well, we’re sorry to say it, but neither of the two card rooms allows rakeback bonus deals. This category is a tie because zero is equal to nothing. Players have to try to score a profit through their skill at the tables and through bonuses and other promotions, which brings us to our next point of discussion…

Bonuses and Promotions

Carbon and BetOnline both provide 100% match bonuses to new customers, but Carbon’s tops out at $1,000 while BetOnline’s bonus is good for up to $2,500. So right away, BOL’s welcome bonus is better. Things get worse and worse for Carbon as we delve into the details of releasing the bonuses. BetOnline’s deposit bonus clears at a rate equivalent to 33% rakeback, much greater than the puny 5% return provided by Carbon’s. BetOnline credits users with their bonus in $5 chunks, but Carbon players must wait for a bonus payout until they’ve earned $20.

comparison of bonuses at the two sites

As far as ongoing promos go, the Chico Network runs leaderboards with cash prizes, offers reload bonuses, and allows players to use comp points to buy into certain tournaments. Merge’s promotional lineup is much scantier, consisting mostly of reloads (with the same molasses-paced rate of clearance as the initial bonus) and the occasional restricted-entry freeroll. BOL wins handily in terms of the extra value it provides to new and returning poker enthusiasts.

Deposits and Payouts

Carbon Poker allows deposits by Visa card and Bitcoin. Withdrawals are processed through Bitcoin, checks, bank wires, and – for international players – ewallets. BetOnline supports all these methods plus a ton more, like Litecoin, money orders and person-to-person cash transfer. Carbon’s customers can get a free cashout once a year, but BetOnline offers them once per month. BetOnline also beats Carbon when it comes to the speed of payouts, transferring bitcoins into users’ hands oftentimes within a single day. You can read more about this important topic in our U.S.A. online poker payouts report.


The battle of Carbon Poker versus BetOnline has a clear result. Carbon must retire in defeat. It loses to BetOnline 3-1. To find out more about the victor of this matchup, including how to create a new account, consult our BetOnline review. For information on other U.S.-friendly online poker companies, check out our list of real money U.S.A. poker sites.

pros and cons of each room


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